Breaking habits, pursuing dreams, wasting time…

“Hello there. I am a 23 year old male living in England, currently trying to find my place in life. I squandered a few years of my life living on benefits and not aspiring to do anything. I got incredibly fat, I had no dreams, no goals and spent every last penny I had just for the sake of spending it.

In January of this year I started to try and improve my life and myself as a whole. I still struggle with confidence but I joined a gym, began walking and started trying to save my money with one end goal in mind…to work with horses in some capacity or another, quite likely as a riding instructor after training for it. I’ve never interacted with them but have always loved them from afar, I can’t afford my own and haven’t had any lessons yet as I’m still too heavy. I was 19 stone (266 lbs) in January and I’m now 14.11 (197 lbs) as of my last weigh in.

Things had been going tremendously well…but then a certain reality hit me, and that’s how hard it is to find vacancies in the industry even if you’re well qualified. I had it in my mind to do courses in the care of horses, riding etc in 2015 but now I’ve been hit with the realization of this. I can still get free tutiton for regular A Level courses at college until I’m over 25 (currently 24) so I would have other options should I pass them. My heart wants to train for a career with horses but my brain is telling me to get those A Levels I never got and if I still have the drive for it then persue the dream, without a student loan hanging over my head. (For the A Levels, not the equine courses)

I feel incredibly lost and I feel like the very aspiration that got me to start turning my life around is slipping away. What am I supposed to do? I want to have a stable future but I know I’ll regret not even trying to live my dream as I get older. What should I do? Persue my dream now or do it in my late 30′s aftet improving my education, having wasted so much time?

I fear going into a tailspin and this right back to where I started.”-Daniel A.

Daniel- The first paragraph shows someone who has thought hard about what they have chosen to do and were not scared to look directly at the issues. The second paragraph shows someone who is willing to work and make changes…and that is impressive. Not easy to do…but that’s why it is impressive. I will try to address some of the questions you had for me. Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait. Thomas Edison

I’m not sure how hard it is to find vacancies if you are well qualified. It is becoming ‘well qualified’ that is difficult and time consuming. You might dream of teaching but you will likely start by shoveling manure, paying for lessons and outworking everyone else around you. This phase could last for ten years or more while you work to become well qualified…the difficult part is remembering that every job you do is an opportunity. An opportunity to show someone how reliable, dedicated, driven, passionate, and hard working you are all while building your skill set. There are often opportunities all around us if we are able to see them.

My kids just showed me this quote by Thomas Edison, “Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait.” I think it applies to most areas of life. You are still young and have many opportunities ahead. Maybe you could begin to look at your prior choices as learning experiences, things you did that you will choose not to do again…which could mean that it wasn’t really wasted time. I’m sure you will encounter difficulties again, we all do, just keep learning and moving forward.

If it were me, I would try for both; aim for the A Level courses that have free tuition and find a way to begin getting experience with horses. If you can’t ride yet I bet someone would let you sit and watch lessons. But don’t stop there. Go watch horse shows, look up equine events you can travel to and take this time to see what areas inside the horse industry appeal to you. Shadow people in as many areas of the equine industry as you can. Spend a day with an Equine Massage Therapist or any other profession that interests you.

I recently wrote a blog listing many of the possible careers with horses, check it out, it may surprise you how much variety there is inside the industry. Who knows, maybe you can make those A Level classes AND the horses combine to become everything you are dreaming of.


  1. Kerrin on November 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I am a veterinarian and own a small animal hospital with an excellent reputation, two other veterinarians that work for me and a good income. BUT my passion is horses and horsemanship. I pursued my education and my career, rescued my first horse from euthanasia at a research place, and now am director of a non profit organization for children and horses. We have 16 equines, some purchased, most rescued. We are all volunteer and welcome people like yourself to come stay on the ranch and help us and learn. I’m sure the opportunities will arise as you seek them. Learning to be ‘a good hand’ is most important first, then riding, then training, then instructing. It may take you ten years but if you have the passion and drive you will be able to find your niche. Always obtain as much formal education as possible, it gives you options. Good luck on your journey.

  2. patnewmex on November 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    To the young man: follow your heart, NOT your head! If you follow what you are passionate about, the Universe opens amazing opportunities to you. Get to know horses and be around them any way you can. You will start by shoveling a lot of manure, or grooming, but even those are rewarding experiences, because you will get to know each and every horse you are around. Very rewarding.

  3. Nikki Schleppe on November 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Take the free courses, not much comes for free and they may end up being pre-requisites for some potential horse courses, but learning always puts you ahead no matter the subject. On the side learn about horses like Stacy said… get a library card, you won’t believe how much free info about horses there is at the library from breeds to anatomy to training. Find a horse club that lets people join who don’t own their own. My club does and they only charge $50 a year for membership – horse people LOVE to talk about their horses like parents LOVE to talk about their chiĺdren. Taking the free courses isn’t a step in the wrong direction – take all you can get and run with it! And yes you are still very young and have lots of time to fit this stuff in 🙂

  4. Joanne on November 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Your advice was great Stacey for that young fellow. All the advice given by others as well gave him all kind of options. Just jump in ask lots of questions. Be sure to ask how you should handle the horse for safety purposes. They are a big animal & you need to be safe as well. My husband knew little about horses & has done a neat job on getting to know them. I have pointed out on what not to do & what to do so he can have fun but say safe at the same time. Good luck my friend & I hope it all works out for you. If not with horses there will be something else out there & you can still enjoy horses on the side.Time spent in anything is never a waste. Think of it as you are always learning & experiencing new adventures in your life. All the best.

  5. Maureen Elrick on November 18, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Brilliant reply Stacy. Daniel I run a large yard in Scotland that specialises in training horses. My problem is employing people that know how to look after horses well. I have lots of applicants looking for jobs and I no longer look for A levels (although a benefit). Years ago as it would have proved to me someone that had worked hard and is motivated. Now I’d worry I’m away to employ someone that is going to tell me how many things I do wrong in a day! I also feel it leads to someone that followed a system and lacks the ability to think for themselves. You need something that makes you stand out from the crowd and it’s not A levels. Nowadays I am looking for the employee that has gone the extra mile and can prove their ability to do the job at hand. Our government and Health & Safety make sure everyone is entitled to an education in a safe environment but the morals and dedication, pride in a job well done has been lost. I am fed up of staff that have come out of university that can’t handle a horse or know how to work. We had a fully qualified vet here that couldn’t inject in a vein. Another time I had 2 young vets arrive to geld a horse. It was only by luck in conversation that I discovered both had only watched before non had actually done the procedure – or helped! I’d do exactly what Stacey and a few others have said. Learn the basics, non of which is rocket science. Get really good and efficient. Prove to be sensible, caring and reliable. We’ll be queuing up to employ you.

  6. Thea Lloyd on November 18, 2014 at 3:33 am

    As you are in the UK, and if you are particularly interested in western riding, you might like to take a look at This is the home of the Western Equestrian Society, we have various clinics and shows all over the country, maybe one or two not too far from you.
    You sound as if you have reached a crossroad of your life and are unsure which path you should take, getting out and involving yourself in the horse world would be a good first step in the right direction, it may even help you to decide which of the many aspects of life with horses is best for you, be it riding, training, nutrition or maybe farriary. This in turn will point you in the direction of the qualifications you may need to achieve your goal.
    Hard work and commitment will get you there … and I wish you the very best of luck in your venture.

  7. Elizabeth Cowling-Jones on November 18, 2014 at 3:09 am

    OK do no not despair, Where in england do He live ??? There is as you probably know a crisis in the uk, too many horses, dumped horses, fly grazing etc. There are charities out there that are over run with horses looking for new homes or waiting to be trained to be re-homed. Or even caught and brought in off the hills before they die of starvation cold or even drowning in the winter months. Plenty of charities are looking for help, people willing to give their time.. and not all need one who can ride but who can physically clean and groom en walk the horses. some too young to ride others so badly abused that riding them wouldnt do them any favors. Some charities have paid jobs Like the world horse welfare and there is one charity looking for help near glasgow and they pay expenses.. If you really wish to work with horses and make a difference then help fight the battle against over breeding and fly grazing. Dont approach the RSPCA they only monitor the horses and go in when it is time to euthanise. If you need addresses or people to contact to help ou get into this cirquit please contact me. @ Stacy I HOPE YOU DONT MIND POSTING THIS.. If you would be so kind to ask this young man to contact me I would be willing to help him find his place in the equine world.

  8. Liz on November 18, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Get a degree then buy a horse with your well earned money. Ride for the joy of riding, be with a horse for the companionship only a horse can give and earn a horse’s respect by being the best you can be and be a good partner for your horse. These are goals worth attaining.

  9. Kathy Doman on November 18, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Again to the young man enquiring, please take the time to listen to Tim Minchins university speech found on youtube. He talks about the glimmer in the corner of our eye that are often over looked by focusing to far ahead and not seeing the opportunities we have come our way. In saying that I am a passionate believer in setting small attainable goals to reach another larger goal. If it is your complete desire to work professionally with horses then start now volunteer to get your foot in the door, mucking stables and grooming is good exercise. you have not wasted two years of your life you have lived your life and learnt to live it better, don’t dwell on time lost for you will lose more time. and remember it is ok to try and change your mind as long as you try. I wish you the best in what ever you chose to do and all the happiness in the world enjoy the journey.

  10. A.Lindsay Burnett on November 18, 2014 at 12:47 am

    To the young man inquiring, I would like to add to Stacey’s advice. Find a riding, training, hacking or such establishment and spend your free time there helping out (volunteering) just to be around the horses. Groom, cool out, clean a stall, anything to be around the horses, to learn about them, their personalities, habits, likes, dislikes. Watch, listen, absorb what others do and say-that is a beginning education in the horse world all of it’s own. Be a sponge and soak up everything and as that happens you step into a whole new world–Welcome to horsedom.

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