Dream Jobs for hard-working horse lovers

For two summers during college, I had my dream job. An avid birder, I landed field positions in Michigan and North Carolina, studying Indigo Buntings. Hot, long days were spent observing, netting, and banding the small, beautiful songbirds. By the end of the summer, I could walk through the study area and identify each male bird by his distinctive song, without looking at them. I knew the location of every nest, where the parents liked to perch, and how they wiped their beaks on branches. Best of all, it was outside and combined mental and physical skills. All day. Every day.

  • Imagine a similar job with wild horse and burro populations. Imagine no more!

That dream job has been posted recently on college job boards: “Field technicians needed for work on wild horses and burros: Utah and Arizona”

Wild_horse_and_burro1Drs. Sarah King and Kate Schoenecker are heading up the project from their base at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. When I spoke with King last month, 30 students already had applied for six available positions. Read about the upcoming project here.

“I think it’s going to be a really great opportunity to get out there and study, to get to know each horse individually, be in a beautiful area, and answer scientific questions along the way,” said King.

The work is not for the weak of body or heart. Here’s part of the job description:

“Field work will be rigorous, and conducted under all weather conditions from summer heat to monsoon rains to winter snow, at elevations above 6,000 feet, frequently on high slopes. Field technicians must be able to hike in the backcountry covering 4-5 miles each day while carrying a 35-pound pack. Independence and a tenacious work ethic are required…” Check it out.

Field techs will be monitoring and mapping the horse and burro demographics, noting births, deaths, and social behaviors, among other observational tasks, said King, who has studied the Przewalski’s horses in Mongolia and who was mentioned in Wendy Williams’ book, The Horse.

  • For those of you with more horsemanship skills, here’s a job that might appeal:

Ranch intern: must be able to catch, saddle, ride at all gaits with ease. Live off grid.

photo by Sam Ryerson

photo by Sam Ryerson

Laura Jean Schneider and her husband, Sam Ryerson are looking for a ranch intern to help out with several hundred mother cows and yearlings on their ranch in south central New Mexico.

The young couple from back East (Schneider graduated from Smith College, Ryerson from Yale.) manage the stock with seven geldings and four working dogs on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, explained Schneider by phone last month. They emphasize low-stress handling. The intern will likely live in a cowboy tipi or camper. Check out the job opportunities here.

While Schneider rides, ropes, and doctors, she’s also busy writing and reading. She contributes to Ranch Diaries for High Country News and blogs here.

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