I Want Your Job: Stable hand

It's hard work but I love it


Harriet Williams, 17, works as a stable hand at Caldecote Farm near Watford

What do you have to do in a typical day?

I look after about 40 horses in the livery yard where I work. I wake up at 6am, and I'm in the yard by 7.15am - luckily, getting up early doesn't bother me. With the other two stable hands, I feed the horses with hay, rake the gravel in the yard, take horses out to the fields and then muck out the stables. Mucking out is a big job - it can take up to two hours. One person wears a special machine on their back, which blows all the muck into piles. Then the others clear it up. We exercise the horses, groom them, and tack them up with their bridles and saddles, in case their owners want to ride them. When we finish work at six, I muck out, feed and ride my own horse, Fabio, until 8.30pm. Fabio is really sweet. If he were a man, I'd marry him.

Why do you love your job?

There aren't many people who can say when they get up in the morning that they really love their job. Working in a stables is like getting paid to enjoy yourself. I've heard other people complain about commuting and stress with their careers - but the only time I'd complain about my job would be if a horse accidentally trod on my foot.

What's tough about being a stable hand?

When I first started I found it very hard work, because it's such a physical job. Now my fitness level is brilliant. You do appreciate your bed at the end of the day, though! The weather is one of the biggest challenges. When it's snowy, windy or wet, it makes the job more difficult. And the horses can be stubborn, too.

Is there any advice you'd give to someone who wanted your job?

If you really have a passion for horses, I'd say go for it. The best way to learn is to start volunteering at a local stables. Many colleges also run courses in equine studies. But you've got to be prepared to come out to the yard on Christmas morning when everyone else is opening their presents, and get to work.

What's the salary and career progression like?

You definitely do this job more for the love than the money, but on top of my salary I get free accommodation on the farm, and I can keep my horse there for free too. Salaries start around £10,000, moving up to £20,000 for a top stud hand in a racing yard.

Harriet appears in 'A Stable Life' on the Animal Planet channel, part of 'The Mane Event' premiering on Sunday at 6pm

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