What is a Horse Trainer?

Horse trainers prepare horses to accept riders. They help horses adapt to wearing saddles and bridles, and help them understand riding commands.

Horse trainers may also choose to specialize in equestrian disciplines, such as show jumping, reining, dressage, endurance riding, eventing, tent pegging, vaulting, polo, racing, and rodeo.

What does a Horse Trainer do?

Horse trainers will spend their time interacting, exercising, and getting horses accustomed to human contact so that they are able to perform certain behaviours when asked to do so. To get the horses used to human contact, trainers will use their voice, physical contact, treats, or other forms of positive reinforcement when the horse does something well.

Horse trainers need to practise patience and keep a cool head when working with these powerful animals.

A horse trainer outside with a horse.

A horse trainer analyzes a horse’s behaviour and uses this information to correct problems such as kicking, biting, dominance assertion, and head tossing. This could mean that trainers are sometimes bitten, kicked, or thrown off the horse.

Horse trainers also work with horses who have experienced abuse or trauma and help them adapt to being with people again. They will assess and address behaviours such as nervousness, restlessness, and bolting.

Another part of the job may be to prepare horses for racing or horse shows. A trainer understands the event or race the horse is going to be a part of, and works with the horse so that it is ready for that event. 

Horse trainers who prepare horses for shows teach them commands to perform a trick or task. Different equestrians have different events so the horse trainer will teach the horse different styles: 

  • Dressage is a series of movements within a standard arena. This is often referred to as “horse ballet.” It looks as though the horse is performing the movements all on its own.
  • Barrel racing is a rodeo event that requires the horse to complete a clover-shaped course.
  • Trail riding is where a horse learns to traverse through trails which can have uneven grounds. 
  • Cutting is a western style where the horse learns to herd livestock.
  • Western pleasure is a style where the horse is scored on whether it appears pleasant to ride. 
  • Show jumping is a style that requires the horse to jump over fences of various heights.

The three categories of horses that trainers work with are: 

Heavy Horses
Heavy horses have very short, thick legs that are bred for pulling carts or ploughing fields. This kind of horse is specifically made for heavy labour, like farming. They may also be shown at fairs and horse shows. 

Light Horses
Light horses are usually bred for riding purposes. They have longer bodies than a heavy horse, which allows for a saddle and rider to sit on top comfortably. Some different breeds of light horses are quarter horses, thoroughbreds, and miniature horses.

Most commonly mistaken for baby horses, also called foals, ponies are completely unique from both heavy and light weight horses. They have naturally thicker mains, coats, and tails. They also have smaller necks and heads from other horses.

Are you suited to be a horse trainer?

Horse trainers have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of a Horse Trainer like?

Horse trainers spend their time working one-on-one with horses, which means that the majority of their time is spent in the stable or out on the grounds teaching the horse to interact with a rider.

It is not unusual for a trainer to work long days as they typically have many horses to attend to during the day.

Horse Trainers are also known as:
Equine Trainer