A horse trainer works to supervise horses for thoroughbred racing . Along with working with the horses directly, they advise and consult with owners and talk with staff at the stables to ensure the best health for each horse under their direction. Understanding how horse trainers influence horse racing is important if you are an avid fan of horses and all they do. Horse trainers need to have a keen interest in horses, but they also need to be patient and calm, able to cope with the physicality of the job and they need to possess excellent communication skills.

Most horse trainers work without formal qualifications, but their personal skills need to be on point to be able to be on par with some of the best horse trainers around. The equine industry has a huge impact on the economy, especially where horse racing and entertainment are concerned. The industry was worth $122 billion as of 2017, employing almost 2 million people and offering around $80 million in wages and salaries. The horse population in the U.S alone is around 7.2 million horses, so as you can see, the best horse trainers are a necessary addition to the industry to keep it thriving.

Those who are interested in careers in the equine industry need to have a passion for horses. They need to be able to pursue the correct training and they need to enhance their job prospects where possible. Training horses for the big leagues isn't always simple, especially when there are so many people involved in the development and well being of horses. Trainers have to go above and beyond in their job to ensure that the horses are happy, healthy and able to race, but they also need to be able to interact better with grooms, vets, farm managers and the jockeys themselves.

Along with all of this, there is a huge number of key skills that horse trainers must have in order to be considered as experts in their field. Some of the most critical skills that horse trainers have above and beyond in their role include the following:

Basic Handling

Horse trainers generally love the horses that they care for, and having basic handling skills comes down to personality as much as it does actual ability. A person who is not interested in horses will not be able to handle them well, and equine professionals have to be extremely comfortable being around horses and working with them in a hands-on way. You should be able to halter and lead a horse, but more than that you should be skilled in bathing, picking out hooves, wrapping legs, cooling horses after a race and more. The entire foundation of interaction with horses comes from the basic skills and it takes time for all of these things to be well developed.


It’s so much more than just brushing horses, and the best horse trainers know this. Grooming is care, maintenance and love for each horse. From understanding the differences between all of the combs that are needed for grooming, horse trainers also need to know how to use clippers to trim excess hair and observe the horses and their health. Trainers who are working in the racing industry or the showing industry must be able to understand that proper grooming keeps the horse healthy and at their physical best. Often, this means going above and beyond to work in all weather types and in all locations. It’s a taxing job, and horse trainers must be physically fit enough to handle the rigors of their role.

Horse Health

Horse trainers need to be educated in the health of horses and what to look for to tell whether a horse is healthy or not. This doesn't mean being a vet and performing procedures, but it does mean that health issues must be recognized and communicated with others in the team. If you notice abrasions and leg injuries, cuts and even colic, you can communicate this to their veterinary team and ensure that the horses get the treatment that they need. Horse trainers will be paying very close attention to horses while they are being put through their paces, and colic especially requires intervention. Horse trainers need to be able to judge an injury by its severity and decide whether a vet should be called. Horse trainers also have the skills to notice if behavior and appetite changes are occurring, so that they can let owners and the rest of the team know that there is an issue.

Horse trainers are also sometimes required to treat small wounds and give medications, and this should be done without assistance. 

Behavioral Signs

As a horse trainer, it will be within your skillset to notice the behavior of the horses in your care and what it all means. Trainers should note their horses ears, as positioning can convey mood and any emotional damage, and there are other areas of the body, too, that with changes show behavioural interruptions. Horse trainers notice these things as they cannot train horses that are unwilling to move, are fearful or are displaying signs of distraction.

Horse trainers must watch the lower jaw of the horse, as if it is loose, it indicates that the horse is happy and ready to be trained. The way that a horse’s body stands can also indicate happiness and willingness to train. Trying to push a horse to do more than they want to can only end in discomfort, and horse trainers who go above and beyond to learn about horse behavior will quickly learn what to look for and what it all means. 

Basic Training

Everyone in the equine industry should have knowledge of riding and training techniques, and horse trainers especially need to have excellent riding skills to ensure that horses are moving well and going where they need to go. As a horse trainer, you’ll need to have knowledge of positive conditioning techniques and equine behavior and all of this has to be to industry performance standards.


As a horse trainer, understanding equine nutrition is a must. You have to know which feed is required for the breed of the horse, how to mix it and whether your horses have to have a special age-related diet or not. You should be able to recognize and appreciate any changes in appetite and keep industry professionals up to date on these things, too. The way a horse eats will indicate to you whether you have to refer them for treatment, too, and this is vital for their continued health.

Communication Skills

As well as communicating with the horses under your care, you must also be able to communicate with other experts in the team. You have to know that other trainers should be on the same level of understanding as you and you all work together in an efficient manner. Equine care has to be a priority for all industry workers, and with the right communication, horses will be happier and healthier for longer.

The Right Trainers Breed The Right Horses

Horse trainers are vital in the care and health of the horses in the racing or show industry. They use different methods to learn the behavior of horses and get them to respond to you. Treats work for some horses where positive reinforcement works for others. To get your horses used to human contact, you use your voice and physical contact. Horses must trust their trainer and it does take some time for that to happen. If you are training horses for racing, they will require more targeted health care than horses who are being trained to be a part of a show. Trainers will slowly bring in others to get horses used to responding to them.

Trainers work hard to analyze the dispositions of the horses in their care. They use the information that they gather to correct behavioral issues which can include bolding, head tossing, kicking and biting. Some horses also have a dominance assertion, and trainers can work to correct this, too. The personalities of the horses will also provide trainers with some insight into their capabilities in training. Horse trainers have skills that go above and beyond others working in the equine team, as they are there to understand how a horse thinks. Horses are easily frightened animals and gaining their trust is important for horse trainers to be effective. 

It’s not unusual for trainers to sustain injuries in their training periods, as horses will stomp and kick and can even bite if they are anxious or worried. It’s part of the job for trainers, however, and trainers must persevere if they want to gain trust for the horses that they are looking after. Horse trainers will prepare for horse shows or racing and in doing so, will teach horses different commands for tasks or tricks to be performed. Horse trainers will use different training styles to coach depending on whether they are coaching for events or for races.

Horses that are being trained solely for racing do so much more than horses being trained for shows and dressage, and the best horse trainers around will know how trainers influence horse racing. They help horses to perform early morning exercises, will groom and inspect them for injury and they can advise who will be in the best possible race condition - helpful for websites like BetAlchemist who save time for their punters in who is the healthiest horse to bet on. Horse trainers need to take horses through their paces and ensure that they are interacting with their jockey properly, too. Horse trainers aren't just there to teach the horses, but to teach the jockeys how to handle them, which behavior to look out for and how to generally look after these majestic creatures.

As you may already know, a superior teacher is a demonstrator where a mediocre teacher just tells others how to do things. To be a superior horse trainer, sometimes it means getting up close and personal with the horses and in their grooming and stable cleaning. Horse trainers will also supervise these chores if they are delegated elsewhere to ensure that the horses are given the best possible care. Horses have to be acclimated to location as much as they do people, and being a good trainer includes training others how to do the job properly. This isn't a job for those who don't enjoy the company of horses!

What Makes A Good Trainer?

There are those out there who think that being a horse trainer is easy - it’s not the case. Being a horse trainer requires excellent communication skills but the biggest skill it requires is patience. Being effective as a trainer means continuously practicing and working on personal development. It means exercising the qualities necessary to deliver accurate training with the right level of engagement. It means creating an active, healthy learning and working atmosphere and being aware of current equine industry trends. The list goes on, and it's’ the best horse trainers that will keep themselves up to date with this list! 

Being a patient listener is important as a horse trainer, as you are listening to the horses and their teams to understand what is needed and what your next tasks have to be. Talented trainers are able to work closely with their horses and the team to ensure that they have the right knowledge in negotiating with equine jockeys and farm management. Communication skills have to be on point as does the ability to be assertive. Horse trainers are handling large and unpredictable animals and that takes a level of courage that most people wouldn't have. This is a physical job, and understanding the industry demands can help you and your horses to thrive in the right environment. If you are training horses for racing, knowing what is needed for healthy, happy and race-ready horses is a must to help them win their race.