Horse training is a challenging and rewarding career for those with the proper skill set for this demanding profession. Horse trainers must be patient and knowledgeable, with a keen understanding of horse behavior. A horse trainer is something of an animal psychologist, often with an acute gift for communicating with the horse.

Independent Programs

Some training programs can run up to $20,000.
Some training programs can run up to $20,000.

Many two- and four-year colleges offer equine programs; however, students should thoroughly check out the programs to make certain they offer a complete horse training component and not simply a handful of courses. Certificate programs in horse training are generally offered by independent programs and schools. In Tennessee, the John and Josh Lyons certification program is offered by Josh Lyons on his own facility and is an intense program that costs $20,000. Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre, an accredited vocational school in West Virginia, offers a six-step horse training program that can lead to three levels of certification. The Two as One Ranch in New York offers the ProTrack Horse Trainer Certification Program, a series of training opportunities that can be taken in a single year or spread out over several years. The training normally runs about $1,300 a week.

Two- and Four-Year College Programs

Two-year colleges offer hands-on horse training programs and degrees.
Two-year colleges offer hands-on horse training programs and degrees.

Lamar Community College and Northeastern Junior College, both in Colorado, are schools offering Associate of Applied Science degrees in horse training and management specifically for horse trainers. At Martin Community College in North Carolina, students can pursue a horse training track in the school’s equine technology program, and Rochester Community College in Minnesota offers an AAS equine science degree with an emphasis in riding and training. Most four-year equine programs in colleges and universities focus on the business end of the horse industry; however Centenary College in New Jersey has a bachelor’s degree in equine science with a concentration in riding and training. In Pennsylvania, Delaware Valley College’s baccalaureate degree offers a comprehensive equine program that includes some horse training, although it does not offer a specific horse training degree.

Initial Education

Entering a horse training program already knowledgeable about horses will make the program more enjoyable.
Entering a horse training program already knowledgeable about horses will make the program more enjoyable.

Before enrolling in a horse training program, a student should know how to ride a horse and be familiar with horses and their care. Riding a horse often and riding different horses of different ages and dispositions is a good way to prepare for work with a variety of horses. Reading books on horses to better understand their behavior, diseases that they may contract, their physiology and other facets of a horse’s life also helps. The more knowledgeable a student is about horses when entering a training program, the more rewarding will be the experience.

Formal Education

AAS degrees prepare students to be well-rounded horse trainers.
AAS degrees prepare students to be well-rounded horse trainers.

Most college-based horse training programs allow students to bring their own horses to school. However, the programs generally require the student to break at least one green horse, and several programs require students to break three green horses and train one additional horse. The programs teach theory but put theory to use with plenty of hands-on practice. The horse training programs generally teach a variety of skills such as ways to break horses of bad habits, horse psychology and personality and general and specialty horse training. Most students find a special type of training on which to focus. The AAS degree programs also prepare the student for management opportunities within the horse training world, which is a large industry in the U.S. and employs thousands of people. All horse training programs remind students that horses are large creatures with distinctive personalities and can be hazardous. The student trainer should plan to be kicked, bitten, bucked and stepped on during the course of the program.

Additional Education

Formal and informal opportunities help the horse trainer continue his education.
Formal and informal opportunities help the horse trainer continue his education.

There are many specialty schools and programs that provide specific skills such as farrier training, horse medicine, horse massage and other particular areas of expertise. These programs can form advanced education for a horse trainer wanting to understand as much about the animal as possible. Additionally, membership in such organizations as the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, Professional Racking Horse Trainers Association or the National Trainers Federation provide horse trainers numerous opportunities to meet and interact with other trainers, affording informal opportunities to learn different approaches and skills.