There are many career opportunities within the vibrant New Zealand thoroughbred racing and breeding industries. Below you can find more information on the diverse jobs on offer. If you would like further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Auctioneers conduct horse auctions by accepting bids and declaring horses sold. They are employed by sales companies and work at specific auctions on sale days, while both advising their employer's clients and inspecting horses throughout the year. No qualifications are required, but previous sales experience and the right kind of voice will stand you in good stead if you wish to become one.
Many organisations within our industry employ people in administrative roles. Accountants, sales and marketing professionals, human resource managers and secretaries are required for industry bodies, racing clubs, farms, racing stables, feed stores and manufacturers, auction houses and vet clinics etc. The level of qualifications required vary, however a tertiary qualification is always beneficial.
Barrier attendants load horses into the starting barriers on raceday. There is no qualification required to become a barrier attendant, however experience and confidence in handling horses is essential. Many barrier attendants also work in stables and are often on-hand for jump outs and trials.
Bloodstock agents find and facilitate the sale of horses on behalf of clients. A bloodstock agent is required to identify a suitable horse for buyers, communicate with the horse's existing owners, negotiate a purchase price and organise a veterinary inspection and shipping etc. There is no qualification required to become a bloodstock agent, but you will need to gain a thorough understanding of form, conformation, pedigree and the international bloodstock business. Most agents are self-employed and many will manage a client's bloodstock interests on an ongoing basis. For more information on bloodstock agents, click here
A broodmare manager is responsible for the health, safety and management of broodmares and foals on breeding farms. Their duties can include all aspects of stud work, including assisting veterinarians, maintaining records, managing staff members and clients and preparing horses for sale. Broodmare managers work full days and are often required to work at night during foaling season. There is no qualification required to become a broodmare manager, however experience is essential and a qualification in the field is always beneficial.
CLERK OF THE COURSE
The Clerk of the Course is based on horseback, with duties including leading troublesome horses to the start, catching loose horses and leading the winning horse into the winner's circle. Clerks of the Course are employed by the race club to work on raceday. No qualifications are required to become a clerk of the course but you must be a confident rider and in most cases provide your own horse.
CLERK OF THE SCALES
The clerk of the scales weighs the jockeys before and after the race to ensure that the horses carry the weight allocated to them by the handicapper. The clerk of the scales is employed by the racing club and works on race days. There is no qualification required to become a clerk of the scales.
An equine dentist takes care of a horse's oral health. They travel to stables and stud farms to treat horses as required. Equine dentists are expected to have a qualification in equine dentistry and almost all are self-employed.
A farrier works with the horse's hooves, they trim, balance, put on and take off shoes as well as providing advice and solutions for hoof health. To become a farrier, you are required to serve an apprenticeship.
A foal watcher works with mares nearing the end of their pregnancy, assisting the mares in delivering their foals and keeping an eye on foals as they get to their feet and feed. There is no qualification required to be a foal watcher but you will need experience with foaling mares and be able to identify if a mare or foal needs veterinary care. You must also be prepared to work overnight.
A handicap is a type of race in which the better horses will carry more weight, usually in the form of lead placed in the saddle. These weights theoretically give each runner an equal chance of winning the race, and the Handicapper is responsible for determining what weight each horse should carry. Handicappers are employed by NZTR. No specific qualifications are required, but you must have a good understanding of racing and the ability to assess ratings and racing form mathematically.
Horse breakers are responsible for educating young horses and preparing them so that they can be handled and ridden. Once a horse has been 'broken in' it is sent to a trainer to be prepared for racing. Most horse breakers are self-employed and they will often also look after horses undergoing rest or recuperation. There is no qualification required to become a horse breaker but you will require experience and confidence working with young horses.
Jockeys ride horses in races. They begin their careers as apprentices, under the guidance of a trainer, before going on to be self-employed. Apprentice jockeys begin their day early, usually between 4.30 and 5.30am, riding track work and helping with general stable duties. They are often required to do stable hand duties in the afternoons. As their skills progress, apprentices gain experience in trials before riding in races. To become an apprentice, you must be at least 15 years old and weigh 50Kg or less. Once a jockey has completed their apprenticeship they become a senior jockey, licensed by NZTR. Many senior jockeys continue to ride track work in the mornings to maintain fitness and connections with trainers. Professional jockeys receive a standard fee for each horse they ride in races and a percentage of any prizemoney won by their mounts.
A jockey manager communicates between jockeys and trainers to secure rides for race day. There is no qualification required to become a jockey manager but an understanding of racing and an ability to read race form are essential.
A racing journalist covers horse racing news for television, radio, print or digital media. Journalists are either employed by a publication/station or operate as freelances for several different organisations. No specific qualification is required to become a racing journalist, but a tertiary qualification in journalism is beneficial while excellent writing ability and a passion for the sport are essential.
A judge determines the official finish order of horses in races. A judge is employed by the racing club and works only on race days. No formal qualification is required to become a judge but an understanding of horse racing is beneficial, as is good eyesight!
JUMPS JOCKEY (seasonal)
A jumps jockey rides horses over fences in jumps races. Jumps racing takes place during the winter months so this is a seasonal job. However there are opportunities to ride in the northern hemisphere's season also. To become a jumps jockey you must complete your jumping ticket and be licensed by NZTR.
Equine nutritionists formulate feeds and design diets for horses, usually doing so while employed by a large feed manufacturing company. A degree in equine science is usually required, along with an interest in the issues affecting horses' health. Their work is usually complemented by each feed company's sales staff.
A pre-trainer is responsible for getting the horses fitness to a moderate level before they go into the racing stable. Many horses are sent to the pre-trainer after spelling. There is no qualification required to be a pre-trainer but you will require experience and confidence riding thoroughbreds.
Equine Physiotherapists provide horses with 'hands-on' treatment or preventative care. Their duties include rehabilitative exercises, massage, muscle stimulation, electrical nerve stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound and most work on a self-employed basis. To become an equine physiotherapist, a tertiary qualification in equine physiotherapy is recommended.
A race caller is responsible for the commentating on races and trials and is employed by either the New Zealand Racing Board or by a television station or other media platform. No qualifications are required to become a race caller but you will need to have a good understanding of racing in addition to excellent verbal skills. Most race callers have a background in a media environment.
A stable foreperson works alongside the trainer and is essentially a manager of the stable. A foreperson will communicate between the trainer and the staff and take responsibility in the trainer's absence. No qualification is required to become a foreperson: most begin as stable hands and progress to the role of foreperson with experience.
A stable hand looks after racehorses, with the role including mucking out boxes, washing, grooming, feeding, walking and travelling horses. Stable hands begin their day early, usually starting between 4.30 and 5.30am and working until all the horses have been exercised and returned to their stables or turned out. Stable hands will usually have a couple of hours off in the middle of the day before returning to the stables in the afternoon to tend to the horses. No formal training is required. Stable hands must obtain a licence from NZTR, a process with which a trainer will be able to assist. A National Certificate in Equine Stable Procedures is recommended for stable hands.
A stallion handler takes care of stallions on breeding farms. A stallion handler's duties include grooming, walking, feeding and parading of stallions. During the breeding season stallion handlers are required to work long hours presenting the stallions to mares and assisting with the breeding process. No qualification is required to become a stallion handler, however experience handling horses is essential.
A starter determines the entry sequence of horses into the starting gates, directs the barrier attendants, reports delays to the racing officials, communicates with the jockeys and pushes the button to open the gates. No qualification is required to become a starter, but racing knowledge and experience are essential, as is the ability to assess any situation quickly for safety reasons. Many starters formerly worked as barrier attendants.
Stewards are responsible for conducting race meetings and enforcing the Rules of Racing. They are employed by the Racing Integrity Unit. No qualifications are required to be a steward, but experience within the racing industry is needed and an understanding of the rules is essential.
A stud groom works on a breeding farm. Duties are varied and include the grooming, feeding, handling and walking of mares, foals, yearlings and/or stallions. A stud groom's role changes depending on the season, with key events including breeding and foaling in spring and the yearling sales in summer. No formal training or licensing is required to become a stud groom, with on-the-job training common. A National Certificate in Equine Breeding is recommended for stud grooms.
A syndicator runs a business by buying horses and then finding owners to group together to race them. Syndicators also usually manage the horse's career, look after syndicate finances and communicate with the different owners. There is no qualification required to become a syndicator and most are self-employed. A good understanding of the racing industry and sound commercial skills are essential. To run racing syndicates, you must be registered as an authorised syndicator by NZTR.
A trainer has the overall responsibility for all aspects of his stable, including managing both horses and staff, preparing horses to race, choosing their races, engaging jockeys and communication with owners and media. Most trainers are self-employed. There is no formal qualification required to become a trainer, but industry experience is essential. A trainer must obtain a licence from NZTR.
A track manager is responsible for the maintenance of the race track, to ensure that on race day the track provides a safe and fair racing surface. Racecourse managers are employed by race clubs and generally have experience or qualifications in horticulture.
A track rider rides horses in their daily exercise and gallops in preparation for racing. They are usually employed by a trainer, but some more experienced riders work as a freelance for several trainers. Track riders begin their day early, usually between 4.30 and 5.30am, and can expect to be finished between 10 and 11am. As a rule of thumb, they are not involved with feeding or mucking out the horses. No formal training is required to become a track rider but previous riding experience and confidence riding young horses are needed. Track riders must obtain a licence from NZTR, a process with which a trainer will be able to assist.
Horse truck drivers are responsible for the transportation of horses, whether that be racing or breeding stock. Their work involves moving thoroughbreds to and from race tracks, racing stables and farms, so confidence in handling horses is essential. Truck drivers must hold at least a Class 2 truck licence. They work long hours and must be prepared for early morning starts and overnight trips.
Equine Veterinarians take care of a horse's health and wellbeing. Their roles can be varied or specialised, with many focusing on either racing or stud work. Their duties include assisting with fertility, administering drugs and vaccinations and performing a wide range of surgeries and routine treatments. Equine Veterinarians must complete a degree in veterinary science and be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand.
Equine veterinary nurses' typical roles include administrating drugs, treating horses, running reports and general duties in assisting Veterinarians. They are required to obtain a certificate or diploma in veterinary nursing and confidence in dealing with both horses and their owners is essential, too.
YEARLING GROOMS (seasonal)
Yearling grooms prepare and present young horses for sale. A yearling groom's duties include mucking out, feeding, handling, walking and grooming horses. This is seasonal work which generally takes place from November through to February in New Zealand. Yearling grooms work long hours, usually beginning their day around 6am and finishing around 5pm six days a week. There are also opportunities to present the horses at bloodstock auction in New Zealand and abroad. No qualifications are required but experience handling horses is necessary.