Being an AOT is hard. Long hours are spent at the barn, usually without any assistance, while we groom, tack, work, and cool out our horses. This often happens after an 8+ hour work day. For AOTs with family, finding time to work a horse (or multiple horses!) can be difficult. Adding a show on top of it increases the workload and stress we already feel on a daily basis.
So why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through the wringer of working our own horses?
Recently, the AOT Clinic conducted a survey about AOTs. It was answered by 472 people from all over the US and Canada. The vast majority of the respondents (58%) are current AOTs, and the first question they were asked was “Why are you an AOT?” Here is what they said (Note – respondents could choose multiple answers):
Most of the AOTs who answered this question said it was because of the “personal interaction” with their horse(s). I know that’s the #1 reason for me, too. There is nothing more rewarding than figuring out a training challenge or achieving a goal I’ve set for myself. Nothing more special than hearing my horse nicker at me every day. Nothing more enjoyable than those quiet moments I spend picking his tail (or his stall) while he munches hay (or licks my face. My horse is speshul).
Yes, being an AOT is hard, on so many levels. But it is also a “job” we love. Just like a professional trainer loves their job, loves the time they spend with the horses, loves seeing each horse progress… so do we. Professionals have different challenges than we do, but both AOTs and professionals work hard every single day.
I for one love being an AOT. I’ve had horses in training in the past, and I’m sure I will again, but the time I spend with my horse every day is so rewarding to me. I hope you feel the same way!
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