Career Profiles

Industry Training and Development Profiles
Dana Carmont


Having her skills recognised is just one of the benefits experienced stablehand Dana Carmont has received from completing Equine Industry Training’s National Certificate in Equine (Stable Procedures) (Level 3).

Dana has been working with horses since she was eight and has been a full time stablehand for the last 12 Equine Industry Training’s National Certificate in Equine (Stable Procedures) (Level 3)

She is currently working for Copper Belt Lodge in Palmerston North. After also training as an apprentice jockey, Dana completed Stable Procedures last year. She decided to enrol out of a desire to have her skills and knowledge recognised.

“I thought it was a good idea to have it recognised. Our job is quite skilled – you need to know what you’re doing with horses,” she says.

This qualification is designed for people working in the equine industry who are involved with horses in supervised roles as stable assistants or stablehands.

Topics covered include care of saddlery and gear, horse handling, health and welfare, anatomy and conformation, preparing horses for travel, recognising emergency situations involving horses,

workplace health and safety and rules of racing. Trainees also choose from a range of ‘life skills’ subjects such as, banking and financial services, stress management and workplace communications.

Dana enjoyed the qualification and says the most interesting part for her was learning more about the rules of racing. She believes there are benefits of having a qualification.

“It looks good on the CV – having a qualification puts you in front of people who don’t. Your next employer knows you can knuckle down and study and get things done.”

She also believes qualification provides a useful benchmark for employers.

“They’ll know what level you’re at.” Horse trainer Karen Zimmerman agrees. Karen has had two staff members work through the National Certificate in Equine (Stable Procedures) (Level 3) in the last few years. She says upskilling through training encourages Stable Procedures training brings benefits for trainers and stablehands staff to work harder and challenges their thinking.

Karen currently has three full-time stablehands and four part-time track work riders working for her in Otaki, training 27 horses.

She is supportive of her ground staff members desire to enrol in the Stable Procedures qualification.

“I think it’s really good that ground staff get a chance to train,” she says.

“Training makes them want to work harder towards the certificate and better


Karen also adds that the qualification looks great on their CV. “It’s worth a lot if they want to change stables; it’s an advantage for them.”

She believes the benefits of having staff in training also extend to the business.

“They’re thinking more about what they’re doing because they’re studying it. If I was hiring new ground staff I would give them the opportunity to do the qualification too.”

Dana recommends others in the industry complete Stable Procedures and is now looking ahead to the future and achieving her goals, which include further training.

“Young kids leaving school should do it when they get a job – everyone should, it’s a feather in everyone’s cap. You acquire knowledge and become more aware of what you’re doing in your job.

“It’s also good interaction with your boss – you talk about what you’re doing and they like teaching you. It means they know you can be trusted around horses.

“I’d like to be a trainer one day. I want to learn as I go and get better at what I do,” she says. “I want to do the stable management qualification too. I’m looking forward to it as it will coversome things I don’t know.&rdquo

Natural aptitude with animals and people the key to success according to renowned horse trainer.

John Sargent

Raised on his parent’s farm around horses, John Sargent has loved these majestic creatures for as long as he can remember.  His successful career in horse training has spanned 30 years and has enabled him to live and travel all over the world.

John believes that the key to working in the horse racing industry is an innate love of animals and excellent people skills.

“If I wasn’t a horse trainer, I would be a vet” says John.

John is a big advocate for training and has a number of staff currently enrolled in Equine IT training.

“I think it’s important for my staff to take part in training because it means when they move on to another job within the industry, they have that qualification behind them. It’s a stamp of approval recognising that they are a highly trained, skilled employee. I believe all my staff should gain something from training, and I hope it increases their engagement and motivation levels.”

Equine IT qualifications are NZQA registered and are available for stablehands, stable managers, trackwork riders and apprentice jockeys who are currently employed in the industry. While people usually begin a career in the equine industry as a stable hand, you can progress into almost any area, given the skills, training and drive.

“I think to be successful in this industry you have to possess natural instincts around horses. You must have top-notch people skills as there will be times when you will be under a lot of pressure. It’s a fast-paced world so you need to be able to keep up, and get along with everyone.”

“You also need to be able to deal with people from all different walks of life, from doctors and lawyers to freezing workers.”

Some of John’s employees are currently working towards their National Certificate in Equine (Level 4) that you must complete in order to become a licensed jockey in New Zealand.  John believes that to be a winning jockey, you need to have a certain level of mental toughness and awareness. 

“To be a successful jockey you need to have more than just ability, but the X-Factor. It’s all about mental attitude, and a connection with the horse and how they ride.” 

 John Sargent & Family

Recently receiving the “Dunstan Trainer of the Year” award for the 2011-2012 season at the Horse of the Year Awards was a very proud moment for John, capping off a great season that saw him take home the premiership title and break the record for number of wins in a season with a total of 111. John says he thoroughly loves his job and the continual challenge it presents.

“The thing I enjoy most about my job is the setting a goal for a horse a year before a race then seeing it all come to fruition. Achieving the goals you have set for yourself is very rewarding. It’s great seeing the excitement of the owners when their horse crosses the line in first place.”  

The thrill of the race key for young stable hand

Tess Viner

Tess Viner-Benge has been around horses since she was little. Dabbling in showjumping and always owning horses herself, working for Palmerston North-based horse trainer Roydon Bergerson was a natural step for Tess.

“I didn’t enjoy school, it wasn’t my favourite way to spend my time! I much preferred to be with my horses so I decided it made sense to leave school at the end of 5th form and follow my passion. I went straight into working at the stables, and I’ve worked at a few now over the past seven years.”

Tess is currently enrolled in Equine Industry Training’s Level 3 National Certificate in Equine (Stable Procedures). This qualification is targeted at people involved with horses in supervised roles as thoroughbred racing stable assistants and thoroughbred racing track riders. You’ll study the skills needed for the care of the horse and saddlery, preparing the horse for travel, exercise, handling and feeding as well as learning about horse health issues.

“I think it takes a really long time to learn the basic skills you need around horses. Even just learning horse racing lingo can take years to pick up! I think that perhaps in the past it was assumed that you knew what to do, but nowadays time is spent learning how to do things the right way.”

“I believe to be successful in the horse racing industry you need to be tough. You’re often working long hours in harsh weather conditions. I get up at 4am and am at the stables by 4:30am every morning! You also need to be brave because sometimes you’re thrown in the deep end and you just have to deal with it. An excellent work ethic and integrity is also key.

“You must also possess strong people skills because you’re working very closely with the owners of the horses and are constantly interacting with people.”

Tess loves her job and the thrill of watching one of the horses she has worked with win an important race.

“The best part of my job is watching our horses go out there and win. We put a lot of work into them and to see them come home with the result is wicked. I also enjoy the social side of horse racing, it’s a very close, tight-knit community which I really like.”

Equine training opens eyes to the possibilities

Established in 1955 by Geoff and Peg Chitty, Haunui Farm is one of Australasia’s leading thoroughbred nurseries. In 1975, Ron Chitty took up the reins and today, it’s Ron’s son Mark who is head of the helm at the renowned stud farm situated in Karaka on the outskirts of Auckland.  

Having being born into the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry, Mark has always had an affinity with animals.   
Mark Chitty

“I studied veterinary science at Massey University and worked as a general practice vet for 13 years at the Auckland Veterinary Centre in Takinini. Although a predominantly equine practice we offered services in all veterinary fields and I was fortunate enough to work with leading veterinarians Dr Charles Roberts and Dr Andrew Grierson, the current NZ Chief Veterinarian of Racing for both Harness Racing NZ and NZ Thoroughbred Racing.”

“Then in 2001 I decided to head the family owned stud farm full time and not focus solely on veterinary science.”

With over 30 years’ experience Mark is a huge believer in the power of training. Currently two of Mark’s ten permanent staff members are working towards their National Certificate in Equine (Breeding) (Level 3) through Equine Industry Training.

At the end of the qualification Mark’s staff will have gained a multitude of skills from foaling mares, preparing horses for sale, caring for paddocked horses and keeping a clean and healthy stable environment.

“I believe the future and health of our industry is reliant on young people. There is a lot of opportunity within the entire field but I think there is a perception that a job in the industry just involves mucking out stables and patting horses. This simply isn’t true, and training really opens their eyes to the diverse range of roles you can get involved in.”

“Following completion of training I have noticed a willingness from staff to want to learn new things. I think sometimes they get caught up in the routine of day to day tasks. My two staff who signed up with Equine IT are actively challenging themselves to become more proficient in roles from foaling mares, to studying pedigrees and understating the role nutrition and management plays in developing thoroughbred. The training gives them the momentum to move forward in the industry.”

Mark also believes that training increases staff motivation because it means their boss is supporting them and their career.

“To be a successful and well regarded employee on a stud farm you must have a good honest work ethic and show excellent integrity. Despite qualifications you must be prepared to start at the bottom, and like they say there is no ‘i’ in team so you must be able to work well in a team environment as well.”

Currently it’s the middle of the breeding season, and Mark and his team are very busy. It is a time when Mark savours the one of the most Mark Chitty1satisfying aspects of his job, which is when mares haven’t had a foal for 2 to 3 years for various reasons produce a live healthy foal.

“The foal then has the opportunity go on and develop into a winning racehorse,” he says.

With a 100 to 120 day window for foaling and breeding Mark believes ongoing Industry Training will ensure his staff are focused, motivated and have the expertise they need to guarantee Haunui will continue to produce some of the most successful racehorses in Australasia for many years to come.

To enrol or for more information about Equine Industry Training’s qualifications, contact your local training adviser on 0800 841 111 or visit

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