Carleigh Fedorka, a PHD Candidate at the University of Kentucky in Equine Reproductive Physiology recently shared he thoughts on women trying to break into the horse business. Here is her response “on the fly”. You can follow Carleigh at A Yankee in Paris: Stories of Horses in the Bluegrass.
1. Don't consider yourself above any job. Ever. I truly believe that this was how I moved up so quickly, and how I got to experience so much. Drive the truck and trailer? Sure. Wash foal butts? Yup. Go muck out and power wash the isolation barn? Ok. Do it all, and with a smile on your face and some music blasting.
2. Admit any insecurity - and then learn how to change that to a security. If you don't feel comfortable handling stallions-that's fine. I would rather you and the stallion stay safe versus having a bruised staff member, a lacerated stallion, and 2 mares that now need lutalyse. A good manager can teach much more rapidly than they can undo.
3. Be tough. Don't cry. Ever. And I mean that. So many women have paved the way for you to convince the farms and their staff that we are just as tough as the men. And I don't mean you won't be upset, or that you won't cry at home, but compose yourself when you're on the farm. Always.
4. Be a team player. These guys that you are working alongside have probably been on that farm for 5-10 years, if not more. And just because they speak with an accent, or don't speak English at all, doesn't mean that they are automatically beneath you. These guys can be your best friend or your worst enemy. But when you are considered an insider, you will receive the most support and the best source of knowledge and information.
And 5. Be professional. This might be a farm job, and you might simply be in charge of mucking 60 stalls a day, but that doesn't mean you are any less than the CFO of a company. So be on time. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Be cordial. Make connections with everyone around you. And realize that everyone is watching, at all times. You don't know who that person is who you just made wait for 20 min to see a yearling. So always be polite. Always.
I don't know if that helps any of you, but I think that this is what we need to be teaching our next generation. More so than how to find a vein, or how to apply a sweat. Those things can be taught later. But these things need to be there the moment you are hired.