I’ve recently become unemployed, which is a bit scary on its own. What’s scarier, though, is that I’ve decided to also take this period of down time to reflect on my career choices, as if an unemployed person doesn’t have enough practical things to worry about. I’ve been thinking a lot about how one chooses a career trajectory (especially when that career is working with horses), why I chose a trajectory away from working with horses, and whether it’s too late to change my mind now.
I didn’t ride horses while I was in college, so when I graduated, horses weren’t at the forefront of my mind. I had my heart set on moving to a city and a lot of jobs that new college graduates seem suited for are in offices, with regular hours and some kind of commute. So, I followed that trajectory. But then I moved back to the country and started riding again and wondered why I never thought to take the horse trajectory. Why didn’t I take some time after school, be a working student, work for little to no pay doing something fun, getting dirty and hanging out at a barn? Sometimes I wonder if I missed out.
Even though I’ve always known I wanted horses to be a part of my life, I never really had any aspirations to be a top-level rider or a professional trainer. But there are a lot of other ways to make your living around horses. So how do some people decide to make horses their living, and how some decide they love it but want to do it as a hobby only? Do professionals find that they can’t bear the idea of spending their time doing anything else? Is it that if you have Olympic aspirations, you’re not going to get there by riding only one horse after work, in the dark, so you have to make it your career? I know all amateurs don’t bitterly think, “If I could have only been a professional…” So amateurs must to some degree consciously choose the amateur life. Is it because people have competing passions, and one passion pays more than the other? Does anyone just fall into a career with horses the way I feel I just fell into an office job? And if your answer is yes, how did you do it and what’s your secret??