Thank you for all the responses. Some were very helpful, and I will take them into account going forward.
Guess what? If you quit and are miserable, you can always start again. And if you really can’t find any other hobbies, riding one horse after work might not seem like the end of the world.
If you have the skills and the drive, why not go to Europe? Eurodressage has an ad for a groom with an Australian Olympian based in Germany. Then you can build knowledge and experience that would be useful back home.
First a hug - I’m sure many of us have had these moments in our chosen careers - I know I have.
Now - cowboy up.
You have a goal to do specific work - you need to develop a plan.
Decide what you want to do - train, run a stable, get sponsorships to show - whatever. Then you need to make a plan to get there. Be prepared to be open to different ideas like Willesdon’s, be prepared to take a step back.
I am mindful that some professional riders - Reiner Klimke comes to mind have non-horsey careers and ride.
Many, many of us have other careers and still enjoy our passion for riding. So keep open to that too.
One time when I was complaining at work about the cost of keeping a horse, my co-workers reminded me how lucky I was to have such a passion in my life - they said few people were fortunate enough to experience that!
You’re not alone in doubting the path you’ve chosen. I agree with what has already been said, that you need to be flexible, you need to take chances. The next job you get might not be close to perfect, but that might lead to something better. Or, you might get lucky, and land in your dream situation.
Take chances now, do scary things. Once you have a partner/house/mortgage/other, it can be much more difficult to relocate/chase down opportunities that look good.
I’m sorry you’ve been burned by job situations. If this is truly your passion, don’t give up, make a plan, and be realistic about what your circumstances allow.
One of my favorite riding instructors ever, started out at the barn I was riding at and built up a client base and reputation. She moved on to a second barn, and then made a third move, where she started her own business and leased space out of that barn. This past year, she bought her own stable. It took her eight to ten years to get to this point, and she always says that she just never stopped working. I’m sure there’s an element of luck as well.
Try a new style. Maybe try dressage or try western pleasure. Or just go trail riding. I get my therapy out on the trail. Good luck to you.
I would be happy if I could find any sort of stepping-stone position where I am. Like said, I don’t feel like I have to find something where I’m riding all the time. I cannot find anyone in my general area who needs help at any level either through connections or online.
I see editing still doesn’t work… I meant to make that a quoted reply to RockingJ.
PDDT- Thanks. I’m a planner. I have written down plans for how to get where I want to get many times. The problem I’m facing is that the next step in my plans at this point is “work as an assistant/similar.” Which is where I am stuck. No positions here, too terrified to move across the country/to another country to work for someone I don’t know who could so easily take advantage of me. Moving where I am now was supposed to bring me the opportunities I was looking for, but it hasn’t. I would love to find a workaround to that particular step in my plan, but I honesty cannot come up with any ideas.
First of all - Hang in there! I know what you are going through. I too was talked into something by family that made me miserable. In my case I was talked into leaving my Manager position at a very high end barn to use my education to the fullest…I took a 9-5 job in the finance dept. of a publishing company. I hated every minute of the three years I spent there. Within 6 months of taking that job I was searching for another horse job and within a year I was actively searching and making calls. It took me at least a year and a half to find the right job. And I did still have all my contacts actively helping me.
I am not trying to discourage you, I am trying to give you some hope. Don’t give up. I did find the PERFECT situation with the greatest people and I have been here for going on seven years now. It is out there you just have to find it. I don’t remember how many interviews I went on - but it was a TON and it was at times very discouraging.
Keep your head up - maybe you can find a live-in position that isn’t necessarily in your area?
If you can not clean stalls how can you ride? This is coming from a person who has had 10 ankle and leg surgeries and still manages to clean stalls and ride their clients and my own horses. What are your skill sets and show experience that makes you a desirable hire? I know **** riders who need side jobs outside of training to pay the bills.
Honestly moving out east depending on where it is I would think would make it harder to find a job as there are so many amazing riders and trainers. Especially since you won’t clean stalls.
If I were looking for an assistant trainer I would be concerned that your physical limitations that dictate no regular stalls would limit other needed duties (tack up, cool down your own training rides, lounging, clipping).
So, as someone who took over a decade to finally admit that the traditional 9-5 is never going to work for me, I encourage you to NOT give up on what you want. If you think you will be depressed in a 9-5, you WILL. Don’t even bother - don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. Yes, it works for most people, but some of us aren’t wired that way, and that’s not a value judgement. We just need a different way of going. Don’t let anyone talk you into something you know in your heart to be a bad lifestyle fit.
One suggestion: Have you thought about going back to school in a graduate program? It would be a boring slog, but if you get a Master’s degree in something like Adult Education or agriculture, you will be eligible to teach at pretty much any of the college equine programs out there.
Have you thought about a working student or groom position, despite your experience? It’s probably going to involve mucking, but it’s a great way to make new connections and find contacts that will eventually get you the job you want. Not sure about hunters, but eventers often take people for the short term, so you’re not packing up and moving wholesale, just putting some gear in a bag and staying there for a while. Good way to test the waters in an area before you make the commitment.
I agree with everyone else in that you need to be flexible and take chances on jobs away from home, or on other disciplines. If you don’t try, you’re 100% sure to fail. There’s just no other way. Have you looked at websites like www.yardandgroom.com? I’ve found barns local to me on there that I didn’t even know were hiring.
Also think about something tangential like writing blog posts or articles, covering your local show circuit, creating a newsletter about the lessons and services offered in your area… Something that lets you meet more people, puts your name out there, provides a service and lets you work on your own schedule. Think outside the box.
Lastly, do you have enough money set aside to invest in a project horse? Take a part-time job like pet-sitting or working in a feed store, and flip OTTBs or something while you make a name for yourself? Find a barn that will let you teach on your own?
There are ways to make it all happen. Don’t give up. Good luck!
There is a lack of saddle fitters in many parts of the country… Just sayin’
Have you considered going further with your Equine degree/knowledge and pursuing a certification in some level of therapeutic horsemanship? Therapeutic Riding, equine assisted learning, etc. It definitely isn’t for everyone, and I would understand if it doesn’t sound like the right path for you, but many of those centers like having someone on staff who is capable of both running client sessions and barn management.
I personally do not know of any barns that would hire an assistant trainer that can’t clean a stall. In this business you have to be able to do it all…and then telling me they are otherwise perfectly fine to ride and deal with difficult horses. Nope, not buying it. Definite red flag to me.
Well, in a few months the dude ranches in the western states will be looking for wranglers. I doubt their horses are stalled. This may not be the perfect solution, but it’d be something and some of those places have dang nice horses. You could deliver pizzas and substitute teach at your local high school until then.
Ranchworldads dot com often has those ads up for wranglers in the spring. It may not be highfalutin work, but it also could be a ton of fun.
I agree, the not cleaning stalls is a huge red flag. What are you going to do if you have to pick out a paddock ot 2 or 3 or 4 per day? Stalls are the easy part of horse keeping.
Honestly if people missing limbs can do manual work why do people who insist they can ride for a living say they are not physically capable of doing stalls, paddocks, etc.
So I will stand up on the stall cleaning thing, here. I am one of several people I know who are able to ride (and some can ride hard), but can’t do stalls every day without doing damage to themselves. Whether it’s a back issue, a joint alignment issue, a weight-bearing issue, or some other reason, it is a thing, and it <i>bites</i> when you are trying to find a job. None of us are happy about these limitations.
Not every disability is the same; not every health issue impacts every part of every person’s life. We’re not all in the same boat. Please don’t make assumptions.