By MICHELLE SLATER
THOSE who always dreamed of working with horses but don’t have the background or hands-on experience are being encouraged to look at a free program to get them in the door and into a job.
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia was spruiking its Fast Track program at Equitana to lure newbies from non-horsy backgrounds into jobs on stud farms.
Project educator Maddie Tims said the program was launched in 2018 to provide pathways into a range of careers with thoroughbreds.
“This is helping to develop skills on farms and for people who don’t feel they know anything about the industry, we can help fill these vacancies,” Ms Tims said.
“We try to create a community, it’s not just equine studies, it’s creating a network for people to be fully-employed on stud farms.”
The 12-month program includes theoretical units, stud placements, mentorship and race day visits, with successful trainees earning a Certificate III in Horse Breeding.
Ms Tims said jobs could lead to managing stallions or yearlings, vet nursing, through pedigree analysts or bloodstock agents.
“We have so many job opportunities, if you are willing to put in the hard work and have the passion you can transform this into a career,” Ms Tims said.
“It’s not just a nine-to-five job, and it’s so rewarding to see a foal stand up for the first time. Thoroughbreds are so incredible, I think there is no athlete that can compare.”
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia chief executive, Tim Riley, said the sector was facing similar labour challenges to other agriculture industries, in which farm positions were not being filled.
Mr Riley said this was being exacerbated by COVID and fewer backpackers coming into the country, with these labour issues also being felt by studs in the UK and Ireland.
He said this was forcing some breeders to reassess their broodmare numbers due to not having the staff on the ground.
“We have issues around changing demographics, with fewer people growing up around horses and developing the skills to work with horses,” Mr Riley said.
“This flight from the country to the city has been significant in the last generation.”
But Mr Riley said Australia boasted the second-largest thoroughbred industry in the world behind the US, and employed 80,000 people.
“If you are someone who is thinking about a career with horses, the thoroughbred industry offers huge opportunities. We have this enormous industry and Australia is seen as world leader,” he said.