Let’s face it, most of us who work in equine jobs are animal lovers. If we weren’t, we would probably be working in some other industry. Many horse industry workers have pets including dogs, horses, and other animals. On-site housing for employees is very common in the equine industry, so sooner or later most job seekers end up negotiating space for their pets. Employers have widely differing attitudes about pets. Pet policies can be very strict or quite lenient. However, a good pet policy should take some important business considerations into account as well as an employee’s needs. Keep in mind that all accommodations for pets are negotiable. There is no established policy that is subscribed to by all employers.
It is quite common for employers to provide some type of accommodation for one employee horse. This is particularly true when the employee is a Trainer or Riding Instructor and will be doing demonstrations for clients or students. It may make sense for the employee to do the demonstrations on their own horse. If this is the situation, providing stabling for the horse is quite common. On the other hand, if the employee horse has no role in the business, the situation may be quite different. Your pets may be accommodated or they may not. Business savvy employers will want to avoid taking up income producing space with employee horses. They may only be able to provide an unused pasture with a run-in shed. You should not expect a free stall, if that stall can be used to produce income for the farm. Feeding of equine employee horses is also negotiable. Feeding employee horses along with the other horses on the farm may be the easy way out. But, some employers keep track of the feed consumed by an employee horse and bill the employee, or they require that the employee purchase their own separate feed.
Sometimes employers will accommodate two horses for an employee. However, accommodating a herd is very rare. If you intend to breed or sell horses, and your employer is also breeding or selling, you are competitors. This will lead to misunderstandings and probably lead to you losing your job eventually. If your horse is a stallion, many employers will refuse to accommodate him. Stallions take up more income producing space than mares or geldings, and can lead to all sorts of other problems.
Aside from horses, the most common employee pet is a dog. Some equine employees have more than one. There is rarely any business purpose for an employee dog. The presence of dogs on the farm raises issues of safety and liability for the customers, employees and horses. Some people are afraid of dogs. Expect your dog(s) to be restricted to the area around your residence. Do not expect any employer to allow your dog to roam free, come to the barn, or be around customers.
Be ready to negotiate accommodations for your pets, but don’t let your pets control your career. If employer provided accommodations for your pets is a non-negotiable part of your goals, you are letting your pets control your career. Both of you are likely to end up worse off. Always try to have a plan “B” for your pets. Be prepared to find temporary accommodations elsewhere. Sometimes when an employer says “no” to pets at the beginning, they will change their mind when they decide they like you and want to keep you. Even if your potential employer says they will accommodate your pets, be sure the situation you are being offered is practical. Is there a fenced yard to keep your dog in? Are the accommodations for your horse safe? If you have concerns, address them before you accept the job. If you don’t, by accepting a job you are essentially saying that you accept the accommodations for your pets, and change after the fact will be much harder. Don’t complain about employers who don’t allow pets. Be prepared with alternate plans, and don’t let your pets control your career.