Terrific, Tenacious, Tremendous Jobs

T is for… Teacher!

You’ve surely had many teachers throughout your life. Some of them are officially labeled as such – like your teachers in school. Others are unofficial teachers, like mentors and people you look up to, offering words of wisdom or advice, sometimes when you least expect it. Parents can be teachers, too, showing you a good example – or telling you to “do what I say, not as I do”!

Trainers and coaches can also be teachers. These kinds of teachers are usually people who are also students in a particular activity or sport, who have advanced enough that they are now able to teach beginners the ropes. Trainers and coaches may work with professional or amateur athletes, offering advice on how to set and achieve goals as well as teaching the rules of a game and the right form when performing physical activities.

My sister, Melissa McKenzie, is a trainer. She’s the Barn Manager and Head Trainer at Runaway Farms, in Kingston, Tennessee. Here’s an interview with her about her cool job!

An Interview with a Teacher

Riding instructor and horse trainer Melissa McKenzie (photo credit: Runaway Farms)

What’s your job, and what do you do all day?

I do all the day-to-day management of a medium sized boarding and training facility that focuses primarily on dressage horses and ponies.

What made you choose this career?

I’ve always loved riding and working with horses, so this is definitely my dream job!

How long have you been working in this field?

I’ve had my current job, and my own business, for almost 15 years. I’ve been working in the industry in various part/full-time capacities for an additional 7-8 years.

Did you need a degree to get this job? And if not, what did you have to do to get some experience in this field?

Although it’s not the industry standard to get a degree, I did. I have a BA in Equine Facility Management from Otterbein University. I have also apprenticed for several other professionals. The working student apprenticeship method is the typical route in the horse industry.

How would you describe a typical work day?

The day starts around 6:30 or 7 AM with morning chores: feeding and turning horses out for the day, checking on facilities and equipment, and fixing anything that’s gone awry. Then stalls get cleaned, and horses start getting groomed and worked. Sometimes we have vets, farriers, chiropractors, and other supporting professional appointments to attend throughout the day, also there may be lessons on or off property, or people trailering in for lessons. We do another round of feeding at lunchtime, continue working horses, teaching lessons, etc. through the afternoon. Then it’s evening chores: feeding dinner and bringing horses in from turnout around 5 PM. If we have horses turned out overnight, there are stalls to clean and feed to set up for the next day, but mostly the barn is quiet in the evening for boarders to come ride and spend time with their horses. We do night check around 9:30 PM and do the final feeding and check of the horses and facility before closing up shop!

What do you like most about your job?

Training the horses. Taking them from either green and untrained or horses with problems and turning them into happy, healthy athletes that are fun to ride. Also helping people find success with their horses through classical dressage training.

What do you like least about your job?

Dealing with people who really don’t understand the sport, horses, or how much time and effort it requires to get where they want to go.

What personal qualities are most important for this kind of work?

Really, it takes a weird love of horses to want to put in the hard work and long hours to do the job well. You have to pay attention to details and follow instructions to the letter. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to constantly be learning and be willing to find out the answers to the questions that come up. Open-mindedness is also helpful, as people are as emotional about their animals as they are their children!

What advice do you have for students who are interested in this job?

If you want to become a trainer, find an awesome trainer who you admire and apprentice with them for as long as possible (4-6 years is a good start). A college degree is super helpful if you want to do more of the management side of the business. Learn to do everything, without complaint. Everyone mucks stalls. EVERYONE.

More Terrific Jobs That Start With T

  • Tailor
  • Tattoo Artist
  • Taxi Driver
  • Teamster
  • Technician
  • Teller
  • Tester
  • Timekeeper
  • Toxicologist
  • Tracer
  • Travel Agent
  • Tree Surgeon
  • Truck Driver
  • Tutor

Want to learn about even more cool jobs?

Pre-order the book, World’s Coolest Jobs, a collection of all the coolest jobs you never knew existed. On sale September 1, 2017.