Horse Trainer Kaiwhakapakari Hōiho
Horse trainers train horses for racing, and are responsible for their care at a stable or race track.
If you wish to train horses to compete at race meetings, you need to be licensed by the relevant organisation:
- New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing licenses people to train gallopers
- Harness Racing New Zealand licenses people to train trotters.
You need to meet standards set by the recognised racing authorities, which include being:
- over 18 or 20, depending on the type of licence
- financially sound and of good character
- able to provide suitable accommodation for horses
- considered competent to train horses.
- New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing website - apply for licensing
- Harness Racing New Zealand website - information on training
Horse trainers may do some or all of the following:
- train horses to get used to riders, equipment and the racing environment
- organise training plans for horses and train them for racing
- ride horses on training tracks
- ensure horses are groomed and fed
- monitor horses' health
- communicate with horse owners
- train apprentice jockeys and stablehands
- market and sell horses at races and independently
- run their own business and manage staff.
Horse trainers need to have a good level of fitness and health as the work can be physical and involve standing for long hours.
Useful experience for horse trainers includes working:
- as a jockey
- as a pre-trainer or horse breaker
- as a stablehand, stable foreperson or assistant trainer
- with horses in other ways.
Horse trainers need to be:
- passionate about horses
- confident around horses
- patient and firm
- good communicators
- good at training and motivating staff
- dedicated and hard working.
Horse trainers need to have:
- knowledge of horses' anatomy and their behaviour
- an understanding of horses' nutritional requirements, especially to improve performance
- good horse-handling skills
- knowledge of horse training methods
- an understanding of horse racing rules and procedures.
Horse trainers who employ staff must also have small business skills.
- usually start work early in the morning and finish late in the afternoon
- work weekends and longer hours on race days
- work at stables and racetracks
- work outdoors in most weather conditions
- travel to race meetings and trials throughout New Zealand, and sometimes overseas.
A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended.
Gateway opportunities for school students
For Year 11 to 13 learners, the Gateway programme is a good way to work towards national certificates through Harness Racing New Zealand and gain industry knowledge. This may include off-site learning and some on-the-job training.
Horse trainers may specialise in:
- harness racing
- thoroughbred racing
- pre-training – working only with young race horses.
Years Of Training
There are no specific requirements to become a horse trainer, but you usually need at least six years' experience working with horses. This can include work as a:
- trackwork rider
- stable foreperson
- pre-trainer/horse breaker
- jockey or apprentice jockey
- harness driver.
Completing an apprenticeship and gaining a National Certificate in Equine Studies (Level 3 and Level 4) may be useful.