Whatever age you were when a passion for horses began, there was probably a time that you considered taking it a step further by making working with horses your career. The common advice is that a career choice made doing something you love will mean you’ll never work a day in your life. That works on paper, but it is not true for everyone. The reality is that working day in and day out in a job that entails doing something you love can actually result in burn out and the whole plan can seriously backfire.
If you have a true passion for horses and serious talent training and riding them then taking on the focus and single-minded pursuit of an equestrian athlete’s quest for success at advanced levels in sport may be the perfect career choice.
Perhaps you love the idea of nurturing horses and would like to operate an equine rescue or take up life as a medical professional in a veterinary or adjunct medical field.
But be aware that when you are working with horses on a daily basis, and dealing with all the complications and difficulties that can occur working with them and their owners, over time the passion that once ignited you to follow your love of horses can diminish to barely a spark.
Whether the horse job entails talking all day at the office working for a retailer or manufacturer of equine products or service provider, or is a hands-on horse position, burnout can creep up on you. For example, the veterinary community sees a high level of burnout in ambulatory care providers. Working on a daily basis in the horse world as a groom, competitor, barn operator or horse caregiver can be exhausting mentally and physically.
Horse lovers across the world fall into 2 major groups. The hobbyist and the professional. There is nothing wrong or second-rate about choosing to stay an amateur rider or horse owner, with horses in the backyard or boarding where the horse barn is a place of respite from the toil of everyday working life.
There are people that begin their career with horses in some realm and then opt out and never spend time with horses again. There are those folks that took a totally different career path where horses didn’t factor in at all and yet find themselves ultimately fulfilling their dream to become horse trainers and professional grade competitors or horse business owners much later in their working lives.
The positive mental and physical benefits of spending time with horses are well known, and some businesses or charities specialize in providing access to equines for those suffering from disabilities through PATH programs, PTSD programs or utilizing horses to train corporate trailblazers how to better manage their stress.
The world of horses offers many avenues for the equine aficionado to enjoy their company. But is the horse barn and life with horses better utilized as a hobby versus a job?
The Horse Barn as a Retreat
The choice to make the horse barn a place of respite, to refresh and rejuvenate body and soul is often a lifestyle choice that makes perfect sense and can help maintain balance in both family and personal life journeys.
Consider the benefits of sharing time at the barn with friends and family as a place where caring for your horse(s) evokes a feeling of harmony and makes you happy rather than a pressure cooker of managing staff, other people’s horses, financial issues, and legal liability risks of running a horse business.
The ability to mitigate your own stress levels caused by the incessant demands of today’s world through interaction with horses on a low-pressure level can equate to immeasurable enjoyment and health benefits.
If you have a job doing something non-horsey, you may also find yourself better able to afford more time (and have more money to spend) working on your own horse and riding than being overwhelmed with the needs of clients and other people’s horses or working in a job ‘thinking’ horses all the time.
Most horse business owners admit that their horse job is mentally and physically exhausting and does not usually yield a big income. In fact, the struggle to make money operating a horse boarding barn or training yard is very real.
The capital expenses of providing horse housing, pasture, and the size of property needed to run a horse enterprise are intimidating to finance for someone just starting out. Building a good clientele takes time, and of course, the passive partners in the business, the horses, are often not compliant in the endeavor. Vet bills from errant accidents, permanent career-ending injuries for the horse, or even a traumatic event requiring euthanasia can quickly turn the dream of working with horses into a nightmare.
The horse business is not without personal injury risk to the operator either, with hospital visits highly likely from time to time and the threat of a life changing injury or life ending accident always a possibility, no matter how carefully managed the horses or how well-educated and talented the rider.
For horse-oriented careers in the manufacturing and services industries the hours spent in front of a computer screen or traveling across the country or even the world can become tiresome. Though this is true not just for careers in the horse industry alone.
At the end of the day, coming home to horses in your backyard can be just the balance in life you need to make the world a better place, and enable you to enjoy the bonus of not being pressured for time and energy to be mindful when you are around your beloved equine contingent. Be they riding horses or working mules, or companion animals like donkeys and miniature horses that make great pets.
What Barn to Choose?
A modest barn in your backyard can serve as a true oasis for your horse passion.
Barns that are designed to address basic horse care needs, such as a simple two stall shed row with a supply room and overhang make a great choice for keeping a couple of horses right outside the back door. This 2-stall design offers both form, fit and function and the advantage of a small footprint.
The realization of a childhood dream to own horses and to keep them in your own backyard as a person in their ‘vintage’ years can make retirement a completely new fun chapter in your life. Special barn design ideas for the vintage rider/horse make life as straightforward and safe as possible.
The options for a backyard barn are extensive and it is smart to consider all your options before diving in. The smaller the barn obviously the more intimate the space will feel, and if you do build a larger structure with extra stalls, you know the reality is that all stalls will be filled in due course!
In your barn building decision remember that it is not about how fancy or large the horse housing is, but that it has good durability and structure and great design functionality. There are times when bigger isn’t better, and a horse barn that fits your lifestyle and accommodates your horses’ needs without causing too much extra work in your day means more time for you to spend enjoying time with your horse(s) rather than taking care of the barn and property.
The use of low maintenance materials used in construction can help alleviate any need for painting/staining and repairs down the road. The purchase of a modular structure that almost magically appears and isn’t there one day there but is the next is a good way to go because it offers the minimal amount of fuss during the building phase with the maximum amount of ability to control the costs.
If you plan to own riding horses, then naturally it is sensible to plan ahead and provide an outdoor space to ride and train. A small outdoor arena with good footing can service most needs, and a small horse trailer can easily be towed by the right SUV or pick up so adventures further afield are possible down the road.
Don’t Make Life Complicated
As with any project the more moving parts it has the more complicated it is to complete. This is especially true if you decide to employ someone to build the barn on-site. Weather delays, material substitutions, budget overruns, noise and commotion at your home, property damage resulting from incessant deliveries, and crew members accessing your backyard can all add up to a stressful build.
Whatever style of horse barn you choose, allow your head rule your heart when it comes to barn selection and follow logic to make the best choice. Financing options, ‘to the penny’ quotes for the purchase, delivery and set up of the modular horse barn makes modern day horse owning a viable option for most horse lovers.