Equestrian jobs in the army

Written by siobhan russell
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Equestrian jobs in the army
Special Forces troops use horses to navigate Afghanistan's rugged terrain. (mountain of the Afghanistan 2 image by VALENTINO80 from Fotolia.com)

The United States Army no longer has an active horse cavalry unit; that stopped in 1951. However, horses have been an important part of the army since the Revolutionary War. The Army still uses horses today, but in a less combative roles. Horse lovers joining the Army will find a variety of jobs that allow them to follow their passion.

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Animal Care Specialist

According to the Army's web site, GoArmy.com, the only specific job in which you can work with horses without previous training is as an animal care specialist. The position is an enlisted rank, open to active-duty and Reserve soldiers ranked below corporal or specialist. Soldiers complete nine weeks of basic training before starting 11 weeks of advanced individual training. Job duties include the care, treatment and management of animals under the care of the Army, including horses. Animal care specialists work with veterinarians to treat wounds, carry out examinations and collect specimens for evaluation. After leaving the Army, animal care specialists can gain employment as veterinary aides.

Veterinary Corps

The Veterinary Corps accepts recruits who are starting their veterinary degrees or who have already completed it. However, to begin actual work in the Veterinary Corps you must have completed your degree. This means recruits starting a veterinary degree course will have to finish it before working.

Recruits wishing to train as a vet receive substantial financial help to repay education loans or tuition. Soldiers entering the Veterinary Corps enter with the rank of captain. Army veterinarians work with all kinds of animals, including horses. They have the responsibility of looking after animals owned by the Army and the pets of their comrades.

Therapy

Horse lovers in the Army can work with horses and dogs to treat soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Horses are thought to help relieve anxiety in soldiers suffering from PTSD. One example of equine therapy uses a simple obstacle course around which soldiers must guide a horse. The obstacles symbolise a soldier's real-life anxieties, which he can project onto the horse and better learn to deal with his fears. Horse handlers care for the horses and work with therapists to assist soldiers in their healing process. After leaving the Army, you can carry your equine therapy skills into the civilian world by working with people suffering from autism or mental disabilities.

Special Forces

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Special Forces unit has trained soldiers to ride and care for horses. The rugged terrain of some deployments made it necessary for soldiers to learn how to ride. Special Forces personnel go to bases, such as Fort Bragg, North Carolina to learn to ride. In training, they also learn basic veterinary skills to help them look after horses, donkeys and other animals out in the field. According to the equestrian site HorseChannel.com, soldiers trained to work with horses help local people in theatre treat sick animals, spreading goodwill.

Horse Handler

The Army trains horse handlers to look after horses used for therapy, transportation, parades and training. Handlers take responsibility for the horse's general care, such as grooming and basic medical treatment. They can also present the horse at events, including parades, and accompany them during travel. Soldiers begin training for this position through the Animal Care Specialist program.

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