Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Horse training as a profession?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Hello,

I've enjoyed this forum fairly regularly over the last few months. I have read much of Ayn Rand's work (starting with Anthem, then on to The Fountainhead, We The Living, some essays and eventually Atlas Shrugged). I have enjoyed it immensely. I'm also glad that I have read it at this stage in my life, where there is little remedial work to be done in reaction the acknowledgement and articulation of value that I have found in her work.

I am sixteen. I have always been an intensely focused horseperson. I've worked with many trainers and at the age of seven I knew factually that I intended to become a professional trainer. There were always those who thought I wouldn't make it, and that it would prove too difficult for me - for a very long time they were wrong and I enjoyed proving such. Even now I am at a level where I could easily make a living training horses. I have built a solid reputation in the area (as well as having excellent out-of-state contacts) and work part-time as an assistant trainer at a nearby show barn.

However, about a year ago I came to a stark realization - for all the skill that it takes (which I have so painstakingly acquired), will I really be happy in sixty years as I look at what I've done with my life and see that I have essentially taught horses to go around -beautifully- in circles? I was eventually able to admit to myself that I would not. I still enjoy horses as a hobby. Riding proves to be just the right combination of relaxation and challenge to be an excellent aside.

Although I have settled for myself that I will not be happy as a trainer, I would like to hear what some of you think about the profession and the value that it does or does not hold.

I think at this point I think of it as a value, but a recreational one and no more. Certainly if someone wants to have a horse trained to a level that they will enjoy it, and I can provide that service, there's no risk of being parasitic in doing so for an appropriate fee. But when I look at training horses vs. inventing Rearden Steel, etc., there is no question in my mind as to which is more alluring. That said, I'm still having a hard time concretizing my thoughts and would enjoy hearing yours so that I might more firmly understand the philosophic implications of my decision.

It's 1:30 in the morning and having typed all this I'm beginning to question how wise it is to post in my current state of wooziness. I hope you will be able to overlook any sloppiness that comes with the hour, and if in the morning I am able to state my thoughts more clearly I will certainly do so.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and for your time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I think at this point I think of it as a value, but a recreational one and no more.

Welcome to the forum!

You know, lots of people really enjoy riding horses, racing horses, showing horses, etc. The problem is, they lack the knowledge and skill to train them so that they can use those beasts in that fashion. I've ridden horses in the past, and I was very thankful that someone else came along before me that could "break" the beast, and train it in whatever way was necessary for me to ride it.

As a horse trainer, I think you would be providing a valuable, productive service to folks who want or need to use horses but are unable to do what you can do with them.

Are you sure the only value would be recreational?

Link to post
Share on other sites
But when I look at training horses vs. inventing Rearden Steel, etc., there is no question in my mind as to which is more alluring.

So you think inventing new types of steel is more alluring (i.e., desireable)? Why? Is it because you think steel is a greater value to society?

You may be focusing too much on what other think: "There were always those who thought I wouldn't make it, and that it would prove too difficult for me - for a very long time they were wrong and I enjoyed proving such."

Think about why you like to prove "to others" that you are good.

This isn't about what value society gets from what you do. It is not about proving yourself to anyone. It's about doing what you enjoy and doing it well. It sounds like you really love your work --- pursue it! Become the best horse trainer you can become. I can see how this could make a very rewarding career. Maybe someday your services will be so highly demanded that you can name your price--and choose those few luck customers who get to own a Rational Mind horse.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My dog trainer started her life in the "real world", grew up showing horses (just upgraded hers), got a "real job", kept animal behavior as a hobby (showed dogs), and ultimately got so interested in animal behavior that she quit and became an animal trainer. She is now a noted behaviorist, is published and has built a good reputation in helping people deal with agressive dogs (it's her specialty).

Horses are her hobby now.

My advice is, parlay something you love into something productive. Also, don't look at the direct consequence of your work, and then say "that's all there is." How does what you do create value, in general?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Certainly if someone wants to have a horse trained to a level that they will enjoy it, and I can provide that service, there's no risk of being parasitic in doing so for an appropriate fee. But when I look at training horses vs. inventing Rearden Steel, etc., there is no question in my mind as to which is more alluring.

Value automatically implies, value to whom and for what. I think you may be trying to lay out different activities side by side, and judge their value, in general. Don't do that. There is not intrinsic value in something, vs something else. There is only the value you and others ascribe to it. You just described the value in what you do. Value is contextual. If you can make a living at what you do with the continued full use of your intellect and continued challenge, then do it! If you think you'll surpass your intelellect in 10 yrs and then just be training horses for people for a fee, then either consider how you can take it to "the next level" or find something else. If you feel you have a personal desire to invent the next Reardon metal, and that will challenge you more, then do that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Even though everthing everyone else has already said it correct and, if you're like me, encouraging, I'd like to point out one more reason to stick with it.

Every business that becomes successful necessarily has to start small. While certainly you can't invent horse-training since it's already been done (although there's probably quite a bit of innovation still left to do - you'd know much better than I would!), you can invent new and exciting ways to make horse training more efficient, more intelligable to more people, and cheaper to do.

Since it's obvious that the idea of doing something relatively repetitive doesn't appeal to you, the best way to quench your thirst for new and exciting challenges is to create them yourself. They don't come out of thin air. You have to work hard to acquire the resources necessary. It's great that you already have so many of them under your belt!

If I were you I would nurture those contacts and those skills that you have (they don't stay skills for long unless you continuously practice them, btw) and, instead of still walking horses in circles, imagine yourself in 60 years watching 1,000 horses walking around in circles from the balcony of your office at the top of the huge boarding facility you started.

- Grant

Edited by ggdwill
Link to post
Share on other sites

My two cents:

Do not abandon a job you love because you think it is not "heroic" enough, by your relatively new Objectivist standards.

This was a mistake I made long ago, temporarily. Filled with enthusiasm by the worlds of Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, I aspired to do something great, something that would change the world, something that would advance Objectivism and help bring on a new era of rationality.... etc. ...

...I made the mistake of switching cause and effect. One cannot choose one's way in the world by saying "I should do something great", and then look to see what society needs.

Your career's purpose should acheive *your* happiness, not "contribute to the cause".

The world needs horse trainers -- this is true -- and there is nothing shameful about choosing it as a career. But more importantly than "the world needs such-and-such", is: *you* enjoy doing it.

If I could have been convinced of this before a spent several years doing things other than what I loved, I would have been most grateful.

(And, as hinted at above, realize that there are pletny of productive ventures which have as a root excellent horse training abilities. E.g., trainer; trainer teacher; breeder; etc.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some thoughts from an Objectivist rider:

Training horses is a perfectly respectable and legitimate profession by Objectivist stanards. A good horse trainer offers his clients a genuine and important value, namely that of being able to more fully (and more safely) enjoy their chosen hobby. Personally, my relationship with my mare was totally transformed by the natural horsemanship techniques I learned in a clinic a few years ago with Frank Bell. She went from being a good horse to one of the best horses I've owned. I only wish that I knew such techniques with the fabulous Paint I had in middle and high school, as I think some of his occasional behavior problems (mostly due to past abuse) could have been largely resolved with them. Those techniques make every ride I take with my mare far more enjoyable. That's huge! It makes me more productive in my work!

So don't diminish the value of a good horse trainer. Objectivists need to create genuine value in their work, always strive to do it better, and enjoy it immensely -- nothing more. They don't need to do "socially important" work or whatnot.

However, you might wonder whether 50 years of horse training would be engaging enough. Any work can be boring if you just do the same old, same old year after year. The enjoyment of any profession requires ambition: perfecting skills, expanding into new areas, working on long range plans, and so on. You'd need to think about how to do that in horse training in a way that interests you. (Personally, I think there's lots of interesting work to be done in the best methods of horse training.) You don't need to have your whole career mapped out, as your interests will surely develop and change over time. However, you do need to have some idea of long-range challenges that you'd like to tackle. Then you're not just riding around in cicles. :-)

Edited by dianahsieh
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your responses. I've enjoyed reading them and they've given me some things to think about.

I haven't figured out how to use the spiffy quote bubbles yet, so I've improvised below.

As a horse trainer, I think you would be providing a valuable, productive service to folks who want or need to use horses but are unable to do what you can do with them.

This is why I think it remains a legitimate business - I don't mean to say that it isn't. I can speak from much observation when I say that there is a definite need for talented trainers. There are still a lot of archaic methods being implemented which are not only inefficient but that also cause undue stress for the horses as well as their owners.

My doubt is not in thinking that there is no need or market for horse trainers, but rather in that when I consider what else I might do with my life there are things that might be preferable.

So you think inventing new types of steel is more alluring (i.e., desireable)? Why? Is it because you think steel is a greater value to society?

You may be focusing too much on what other think: "There were always those who thought I wouldn't make it, and that it would prove too difficult for me - for a very long time they were wrong and I enjoyed proving such."

Think about why you like to prove "to others" that you are good.

This isn't about what value society gets from what you do. It is not about proving yourself to anyone. It's about doing what you enjoy and doing it well. It sounds like you really love your work --- pursue it! Become the best horse trainer you can become. I can see how this could make a very rewarding career. Maybe someday your services will be so highly demanded that you can name your price--and choose those few luck customers who get to own a Rational Mind horse.

I don't mean that I want to design steel specifically - I used it as an example along the lines of the type of things that I find interesting. It also is not because I think that it would be of greater value to society - it is because, in the case of steel, it would lead to additional potential for things that I value to be created. In Hank Rearden's case, that meant train tracks, bridges, etc.

In any case, any appeal that creating such a thing holds is because the product - and the process by which it is attained - is something which I value for myself.

As far as focusing too much on what others think - you're right. Especially in the context of proving that I was capable of becoming a trainer. When it was said that I wouldn't, I took it as a challenge and I didn't consider why or how it ought to effect me. Certainly the primary cause of this was still my own drive to be a trainer (if I didn't want to be a trainer, I wouldn't have said that I did! and that is what I wanted to prove), but the fact that I allowed their opinions to motivate me in any way wasn't ideal. I wasn't as conscious of the way in which I lived then - as I said, I was about seven at the time.

I like your last paragraph particularly. Thanks for your encouragement. I do love working with horses. I think that I will continue to work with horses throughout my life, but I think it will be for my own personal recreation - the process of refining a horse's movements and responses is one that I deeply enjoy - but in owning a horse or two of my own I will be able to satisfy my need for that in addition to persuing the other goals that I choose.

My advice is, parlay something you love into something productive. Also, don't look at the direct consequence of your work, and then say "that's all there is." How does what you do create value, in general?

That is an excellent question which I will take care over the next few days to think about specifically and in some detail. In so far as I have already considered it , I would say that the only value you can create must be by your own judgement. This means defining one's own goals and achieving them.

As far as the process of determining these goals, that is what I'd like to consider in more depth. I'll post back once I've given it a satisfactory amount of thought.

Value automatically implies, value to whom and for what. I think you may be trying to lay out different activities side by side, and judge their value, in general. Don't do that. There is not intrinsic value in something, vs something else. There is only the value you and others ascribe to it. You just described the value in what you do. Value is contextual. If you can make a living at what you do with the continued full use of your intellect and continued challenge, then do it! If you think you'll surpass your intelellect in 10 yrs and then just be training horses for people for a fee, then either consider how you can take it to "the next level" or find something else. If you feel you have a personal desire to invent the next Reardon metal, and that will challenge you more, then do that.

This is in agreement with what I just said in response to your earlier post. Thank you also for the caution to comparing the value of activities side by side and for your supportive words. They have been of value to me.

Every business that becomes successful necessarily has to start small. While certainly you can't invent horse-training since it's already been done (although there's probably quite a bit of innovation still left to do - you'd know much better than I would!), you can invent new and exciting ways to make horse training more efficient, more intelligable to more people, and cheaper to do.

Since it's obvious that the idea of doing something relatively repetitive doesn't appeal to you, the best way to quench your thirst for new and exciting challenges is to create them yourself. They don't come out of thin air. You have to work hard to acquire the resources necessary. It's great that you already have so many of them under your belt!

If I were you I would nurture those contacts and those skills that you have (they don't stay skills for long unless you continuously practice them, btw) and, instead of still walking horses in circles, imagine yourself in 60 years watching 1,000 horses walking around in circles from the balcony of your office at the top of the huge boarding facility you started.

Thank you also for your encouragement, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. As I said, I'm still the assistant trainer at a local barn which will mean that I have many opportunities to maintain contacts and I still practice daily.

If I wind up deciding that my true desire is to dedicate my life to work with horses, I will have the resources to make it happen. And if not, I will enjoy life regardless.

There are two more responses that I have read and plan to respond to, but unfortunately I have run out of time this evening. Thank you all again and I will finish tomorrow.

(Edited to add quotation-blocks. -softwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I figured out how to use the quote bubbles (a very handy design, by the way). Thank you to SoftwareNerd for spiffying up my previous post and for the compliment.

Do not abandon a job you love because you think it is not "heroic" enough, by your relatively new Objectivist standards...

...I made the mistake of switching cause and effect. One cannot choose one's way in the world by saying "I should do something great", and then look to see what society needs.

Your career's purpose should acheive *your* happiness, not "contribute to the cause".

The world needs horse trainers -- this is true -- and there is nothing shameful about choosing it as a career. But more importantly than "the world needs such-and-such", is: *you* enjoy doing it.

If I could have been convinced of this before a spent several years doing things other than what I loved, I would have been most grateful...

As far as heroism... I guess I do want a heroic job. I wouldn't normally define it as such, but when I think about it I would like to view myself as a hero. The difference is that I am seeking my own approval and admiration, not that of the public en masse. I understand that this is not what you are meaning, though, and your words are well taken.

I also appreciate the comment on cause and effect. That is a mistake that I could see myself making if I were not careful, so the cautionary tale is helpful.

Some thoughts from an Objectivist rider:

...Objectivists need to create genuine value in their work, always strive to do it better, and enjoy it immensely -- nothing more. They don't need to do "socially important" work or whatnot.

However, you might wonder whether 50 years of horse training would be engaging enough. Any work can be boring if you just do the same old, same old year after year. The enjoyment of any profession requires ambition: perfecting skills, expanding into new areas, working on long range plans, and so on. You'd need to think about how to do that in horse training in a way that interests you. (Personally, I think there's lots of interesting work to be done in the best methods of horse training.) You don't need to have your whole career mapped out, as your interests will surely develop and change over time. However, you do need to have some idea of long-range challenges that you'd like to tackle. Then you're not just riding around in cicles. :-)

Agreed that the qualifiers for a good job are to find value, constant improvement and enjoyment in the work - that will be a necessity in any profession that I choose.

Interesting thoughts regarding long-range challenges and avoiding boredom - once again I find myself in agreement.

Thank you again for your replies. As I said, for the time being I have made up my mind that I will probably not continue to pursue training professionally, and as I hope I have expressed clearly in some of my above comments, it is not out of a disdain for the profession.

Reading your responses and articulating my own has been very helpful in achieving a clearer understanding of my motivations and intents, so I appreciate having this venue for doing that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...