My Day: A Day in the Life of a Horse Trainer in Northern Illinois

I am the caretaker and trainer at a small, private stable in northern Illinois. There are only six horses on the property, two in active training, two in maintenance work, one pregnant mare, and then my horse.

My day starts at 6:30 when I wake up, pull on a ridiculous amount of winter gear, and head outside to feed, turnout horses, and clean stalls. It only takes 30 minutes if I set up feed the night before, so I head inside to warm back up, feed myself, and peruse the internet.

I allow a few hours for the horses to finish their breakfast before I start putting them to work. When it's really cold (below 0º), the horses don't get a true workout; they'll get groomed and perhaps some basic ground-manner training before I turn them back out. I'll then hobble back inside and wait for the painful return of feeling to my toes as they begin to thaw.

When temps are above zero, I ride! I usually ride Carl* first. He is in dressage training and is getting more and more fun as he progresses. Bob* is next. Bob is a huge, 4 year old who has only a few rides so far. He has "baby brain" syndrome and most days has very little attention span. He's only bucked me off once.

Lucy* and Pedro* are fully trained (dressage) and are easy rides - just groom, hop on, put them through their paces, pat them, and throw them back outside. I save my own horse, Mosely, for last; she's obviously my favorite. She's not great at anything, but she gets the job done. After I groom and carry on a one-sided conversation with her ("I wish your tail would grow faster. Don't you poop in the aisle; I just swept! I should let your bridle path grow out over the winter and then pull your whole mane this summer, don't you think?"), I head into the indoor arena (wish it was heated...) and do a bit of training with her - anything from jumping, dressage, western - whatever floats my boat that day.

I end the day with feeding again, bringing in horses from the paddocks, and checking waters once more. Other tasks that happen on any given day are: dragging the arena, repairing fences, repairing winter blankets, trimming hooves, and hitching up the truck and trailer and going out on a trail ride. All women should learn to haul a trailer! It's a liberating experience.

After I'm done in the barn, I head in to finally be thoroughly warm again. Most nights are spent reading articles about horse care and training, talking to horse friends, or watching TV.

*Horses with an asterisk have had their names changed to protect their identities. Not all horses want to be associated with the person who talks to them all day.