Dr. David Denniston is a lifelong equestrian who grew up showing horses and pursued a career that combined his love of teaching with his appreciation for horses. Dr. Denniston is an associate professor in the equine sciences program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado where he teaches equine science classes, coaches the CSU Horse Judging team and conducts research studies in equine reproduction. As well, he is a carded judge with AQHA, APHA and NSBA and has judged for 19 years.
We recently sat down with Dr. Denniston to chat about what type of jobs are available to horse folks looking to turn their passion into a profession. We also asked him what advice he offers to incoming freshman that are looking to start and education in equine sciences.
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MyHorse Daily (MHD): What kinds of jobs are available to horse lovers?
Dr. Denniston (DD): The horse industry is a diverse and large industry with endless possibilities. I always encourage individuals to take time and identify their specific skill sets and find a job in the industry that matches their own talents. If that job doesn’t exist, maybe it should and that’s an entrepreneurial opportunity. Like any industry, I think it’s important to identify a need in the market and it might just turn out to be your niche.
MHD: Is there a high demand for equine professionals?
DD: I see much need in many different industries for professional individuals with horse experience. So, develop your skill set to the best of your abilities and never limit yourself.
MHD: I don’t want to get stuck in an office pushing paperwork, do trainers/veterinarians/breeding barns ever accept people into their barns or practices?
DD: Yes, absolutely. In this day and age, I see more and more employers that seek employees who have more than one skill. For example, a veterinarian might need a vet technician to work in the practice but they also want that individual to be able to answer the phone once in awhile, write a letter, communicate with a client etc. The more skills you can develop, the more marketable you become. But, there is still certainly a need for people to work in the “hands on” positions of the industry.
MHD: What kinds of careers are available if I have an interest in breeding/nutrition/everyday care of horses?
DD: There are always positions available as assistant breeding managers, technicians, barn managers, etc. My advice for someone interested in such jobs would be to get some experience by working for someone successful in that area. Do an internship, externship, volunteer or and apprenticeship whenever possible.
MHD: If I can’t find a job that directly works with horses, how can I stay involved with horses?
DD: There are many different aspects to the horse industry. If you can’t work directly with horses everyday, consider one of the “support” areas of the horse industry to keep you involved. One such growing area of the horse industry is in the incorporation of technology and the internet in the horse industry. Several successful websites have recently been developed that are helping to connect the horse industry and maybe that’s an area or an opportunity that matches your skill set. Again, identify your skills / talents as an individual and determine how to best put those to work for you.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Colorado State University Equine Sciences Program, check out their website www.equinescience.colostate.edu.