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Home / Community home / Equestrian Advice & Guides / Building A Career In The Equin...
“The acquisition and application of knowledge, combined with the use of good business savvy can create the foundation upon which a career in the Equine Industry and Horsemanship specifically, can be built – Michael Canfield
Recently a friend/previous co-worker (the place we worked at together for over three years was sold), expressed a life goal to develop a real, career in the equine industry, that went beyond basic barn work and daily operational efforts. This led to a dinner and a long initial conversation, which inspired this writing.
During that meeting, this thought was expressed: “The journey so many of us are on, to become a more connected “student of the horse” is one that will never truly end. No matter our level of skill/understanding, we can always learn more. New points of view, new techniques or simply a new turn of phrase can often change the course of our journey for the better! Even when we see/hear/experience something we may not fully agree with, that can be a positive experience…because we clarify more about the horseperson we want to be and do not want to be.” This still holds true and seemed to apply to the conversation.
To be effective as a teacher (NOT a trainer), coach and Clinician one has to be a dedicated “student of the horse” as well as being confident, humble and focused. One has to be a savvy business person as well, which is where many “good hands” fall short. Everything from horsemanship skills, business development, marketing (branding), communication skills, market analysis, to figuring out who and what you really want to be within the industry and region of practice as to be focused on and continually managed. It is not an easy trail to ride, but if the passion and dedication is truly there, the goal of being effective and successful can be achieved.
There are stories by the trailer load about a novice “student of the horse” who wants to improve their skills and knowledge, who end up being paid peanuts, doing manual labor for long hours at some fancy barn, basking in some trainer’s presence and barely getting a structured education or even real saddle time’ in the hopes of achieving their dream of a career in horses/horsemanship. This “traditional” approach always felt “wrong” on so many levels personally and professionally. Yet, this tradition is still very present in the industry today. It is not an easy trail to ride.
The flipside is a path of self-study and finding “mentors” along the way. The individual has to be fully responsible for every aspect of their development. They will need to research, practice, and attend clinics, expos and events where more insights and knowledge can be obtained. They may need to volunteer to work at local facilities or work with rescues to get real “hands on” experiences. They may serve as “trail guides” to gain experience working with the public. They will need to read books, watch videos and find “mentors” who can guide them to developing good horsemanship and good business practices. They will need to take ownership of their education and be willing to “work a job” outside the horse industry as they journey forward to get the skills needed to be successful within the horse industry. This is also not an easy trail to ride.
Listening to one’s intuition. Being able to explore a trail and then decide if it is the right trail for you is critical to one’s development as an Equine Professional. Doing what you have to do in order to support the achievement of your goals is not easy! In fact it can be downright frustrating and even scary! Along the trail mistakes will be made and opportunities will be presented. Learn from every encounter and stay true to “who you are” and “what you wish to become.” Lastly…and this is one of the hardest things to do…BELIEVE in your WORTH while KNOWING your current market VALUE!
In Part 2 of this series, the exploration of modern “mentorship/apprenticeship” approaches and how it can help in the achievement of goals will be the focus.
Thanks for reading!
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Michael Canfield
Published on 17-08-2022
Michael is the Staff Clinician and Assistant Director of Equine Programming at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, NY. Michael is also the Founder of Lucky Star Horsemanship which offers a variety of services, from lessons to equine event organization, to the community. Michael has worked with humans and horses for over 15 years, helping them to establish a solid foundation of Communication, Confidence and Leadership.