Being a horse trainer is a hard job with a lot of hours and little thanks. Horse trainers work their butts off and really don’t get paid all that much. They do it all for one thing, PASSION! Horse trainers are so passionate that they do this job out of LOVE for the horses. Check out this great breakdown of how much horse trainers actually make and then go hug your trainer!
Black Cursive Performance Horses wrote on Facebook, “How much do trainers actually make? We’re rolling in the dough, right? Wrong. Unless you have an affection for top ramen and goodwill clothing, I suggest you seek employment elsewhere, because this gig ain’t golden if you’re doing it for the money.
Let’s assume clients pay $650/month for training per horse (owner either provides feed, or pays a $75 feed charge). Let’s assume there’s 10 horses on the training roster in a given month at a particular facility. Let’s assume that the average pay rate for employee labor time is $10/hour. These numbers are estimated for your average small training facility for each month. This assumes that the trainer is the ONLY one performing the training sessions, and that no labor/time expense is spent on an assistant.
Training fees, $650 x 10 = $6500
Feed charge (if not provided) $75 x 10 = $750
*Thats $725/horse if trainer provides feed*
Total income: $7250
Hay, $75 x 10 = $750
Water, $10 x 10 = $100
Facility lease, $1000
Trainers insurance, $175
Electric for arena lights, $75
Shavings, $50 x 10 = $500
Time/labor to feed 60 feedings, $300
Time/labor to groom/tack 10hd, $300
Time/labor to clean stalls, $400
Time/labor to drag arena 2/wk, $80
Tractor fuel, $30
Facility repairs/upgrades, $100
Continued education (clinics, lessons), $250
Total estimated expenses, $4110
Balance is $3390. So now let’s break down exactly how much a trainer gets paid per session… 10 horses each day. 30 days. That’s 300 sessions in a single month.
$3140/ 300 = $10.46 per training session
We get paid near minimum wage to risk our lives building the horse of your dreams. That’s assuming that we don’t have to purchase a tractor, a trailer, pipe fencing, arena sand, hoses, panels, buckets, etc, on that particular month. That assuming that we don’t get lawn darted from a counterfeit colt, causing a $5000 medical bill. That’s assuming that the hauling rig doesn’t break down, or that a tire doesn’t blow on the trailer. That’s assuming that everything goes according to plan, just like we have predicted. Funny right? Because we know it never goes according to plan.
We work sunup to sundown, and often times, long after. We give up family dinners because “I’ve got 3 more horses to ride.” We let our personal horses sit so that we can make sure yours get worked. We take on the job that you didn’t want to, or didn’t have time to, or maybe the job you were too scared to do.
So why do we do it? We don’t train because it pays well – I’d make more money working at McDonalds. We don’t train because it’s easy – It takes a special kind of person to do what we do. We don’t train for the fame – My dog has more fans than I do. We do it because we love what we do. There is no better feeling than taking a horse who was a blank slate, and molding them into a solid, dependable horse for someone. The satisfaction of turning nothing into something is far beyond the satisfaction of my meager paycheck.
The next time you think about utilizing a trainers services and you scoff at their price, think twice about everything that goes into your horse while they’re away at “school.” Think about the sacrifices someone else is making to ensure that you get your money’s worth. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about our paychecks (as pitiful as they may be). Its about the horses we get to train and the owners we get to please, and the success they can make together. That’s the real reward.
*Edited to add: Please understand that this is all based on the assumed average. Prices could very well vary, depending on the discipline, location, experience, credentials. etc. This is not a breakdown of MY monthly income.*
*Edited. Some normal expenses were brought to my attention and have been added. I have also adjusted the fact that $650/30 days does not include feed, only hay. Most trainers do include feed (I do not), so that’s figured into the breakdown and noted accordingly.”