Training horses is 80% work ethic, 20% perseverance and 10% talent. If you added all that up you’ll notice that it takes 110%. If you have skill and talent but no work ethic, pick another profession because you will be treading water while the trainer next to you out works you.
Training horses is not glamorous. I go into my day full on expecting to be completely covered in dirt, horse sweat, manure, and Lord knows what else. It is a labor intensive job. It requires mental and physical toughness. When it is mid summer and the heat and humidity are at an all time high, you can’t have any quit in you. When its the dead of winter in Michigan and the temperature drops below zero, you need to have some grit to make it through all the horses that day.
When you’ve got aches and pains, you have to find a way to reach down deep and ride through it.
This spring and summer I haven’t been able to work the way I want due to a back injury and surgery. But let me tell you, it has done nothing but stoke my fire to come back and work harder and smarter than ever before. It gave me time to think strategically and set some goals. It gave me time to evaluate why I’m doing this and really fuel my passion for horses. It also gave me time to think about how thankful I am to be able to do this for a living.
The doctor just recently cleared me to start riding again and I feel like I’m just chomping at the bit to be in full work mode. For now I can only ride about a half hour or so at a time. My question for the doctor was, “When can I ride for TWELVE hours at a time??” “When can I start breaking colts again?”. Of course he couldn’t give me a clear answer so I’m forced to take it one day at at time.
Training horses is not the lifestyle of the rich and famous. For every glamorous winning moment, there are a zillion sweaty, dirt crusted, homeless looking moments. But let me tell you, you won’t have one without the other. Winning doesn’t just happen to the fortunate ones, It happens to the person who put in the work and hours to get there.
Quite often I have people ask if they can come watch me train or shadow me for a while to learn my “techniques”. My answer is always yes because I love to help people and I love to see others grow and learn with their horses. But I also let them know that I have stalls they could clean or water tubs that need to be scrubbed and saddles that could be oiled. I don’t do that because I need a ton of extra help, but because if they are unable to pay me for a lesson, I want to at least know they have the work ethic to make it worth my time to try to teach them something.
The thing with learning is that if it doesn’t cost you anything to obtain the knowledge, you won’t appreciate it enough to actually absorb anything or put it into practice.
You pay for education for any other type of career, and it shouldn’t be any different if you are thinking about training horses as a career choice. It should cost you something, whether it is actual money or your time and hard work.
If you want to become a trainer because it looks fun and you want to work with horses all day, you may want to reconsider. If you want to become a trainer because you have an INSATIABLE desire to WORK with horses and learn everything there is to know about them for the rest of your life, then go fourth and conquer. The future is bright for you!