Jobs on the Road: Horse Groomer
Kat Casey is a freelance horse groomer in the UK and travels extensively with her flexible schedule. During her travels, she finds work in the locations that she wishes to stays in and applies for jobs ahead of time before her trip. When things go wrong, she will network until she finds another job! Her perseverance is definitely inspiring!
What is your name and where are you originally from?
My name is Kat Casey and I am from Cheshire in the Northwest of England.
Where do you currently live?
I am back home for the rest of 2017. I’m planning a big trip including Nepal, India, Thailand and Japan, which will hopefully allow me to be on the road for most of the year in 2018 and into 2019.
What is your current / past jobs that you have done that allowed you to travel? Where are these located?
In the UK, I work as a freelance horse groomer. Being freelance gives me the freedom of being in charge of my own diary, meaning I can take as many holidays as I like, which is great! When I go on longer trips, I have found it quite easy to pick work up when I return.
In 2013, I took a job at an animal clinic on a small island in Thailand. I was lucky enough to get the job after a Skype interview. I hadn’t planned for it and didn’t have any savings, but I took a chance and booked a one way flight to Bangkok. As it happens, the job didn’t work out and it wasn’t at all what it promised to be (welcome to Thailand)! So after four months, I ended up leaving that position.
When I left the animal clinic, I got a job waiting tables in a Mexican restaurant. This was so much fun and I loved going to work. My boss and the other staff were a mixture of Thai and Burmese, and they were the best. If you’ve ever visited Thailand, I’m sure you can imagine the chaos of 6 Thai and Burmese women and 1 little English chic trying to serve Mexican food!
A few months later, I was offered a job at a ‘Healing Centre.’ Basically, it is a yoga retreat where you can give yourself colonic irrigations on a daily basis! This was another hilarious adventure as I had no experience in the field of detox and had never taken a yoga class in my life. I got the job because my soon-to-be-boss ‘liked my vibe’ (welcome to Thailand!) It turned out to be a great job and I met some wonderful, total bonkers people.
After one year, I decided to leave Thailand and headed to Australia. I had no money whatsoever and had to borrow money for my airfare from my ex-boyfriend. I was lucky again, as my experience working with horses in the UK meant I was able to secure a job in New South Wales before I left Thailand. When I landed in Sydney, I had $50 to my name. Luckily the job was for real! After a few months working on a farm in the middle of nowhere, I moved to Sydney city centre and somehow talked myself into a job with the top horse racing trainer in Australia. Again, this turned out to be an amazing experience. I guess there is a lot to be said for trusting your gut and going with the flow!
Why did you choose these locations? Did you need a visa to stay?
I chose Thailand after spending two months backpacking there. I fell in love with a particular island and just knew I had to go back. When I saw the job advertised at the animal clinic, I decided to go for it. I chose Australia because, well, to be honest, after a year in Thailand, I was worn out, and just needed to be in a first world country for a while!
As for visas, yes, I needed a visa for both Thailand and Australia. The Australian work visa was easy to arrange online, although I had to have a chest X-ray at a specific hospital in Bangkok due to having spent so long in Thailand (to rule out TB, which is rife in Thailand). It took about a week to come through. The visa for Thailand is complicated. Work permits are expensive and hard to get. Work permits apply to specific jobs unlike in Australia, where you get your permit and can then apply for any job you like. Basically the whole Thai visa/ work permit area is a very corrupted minefield. Most people arrive on tourist visas and work without work permits. If you work online and can prove you have the funds to support yourself, technically you shouldn’t need a work permit, but who knows! Thai immigration officials tend to make up the rules as they go along.
Why did you choose this career / nomad lifestyle? Was there a turning point that led to the decision?
The oldest story in the book is that I got dumped! That was a huge turning point for me! Everything I had planned or thought was going to happen in my future no longer applied. I was devastated so I did what I would now recommend anyone in that position to do. I just packed a bag and ran away! It turned into something amazing!
What is your favourite thing about the jobs you have had?
Definitely the people I have met. All of the people I now get to call ‘my best friends’ are people I met in the jobs I had in Thailand.
What is the least favourable thing about the job?
In Thailand, money was a constant worry. Living on a paradise island sounds idyllic but believe me, it has its downfall. Earning a Thai wage but paying ‘farang’ (foreigner) prices means that money is a constant struggle. Also, working 9 hour days in 40 degrees plus humidity was pretty exhausting!
My job with the racehorses in Australia started at 4am (so the horses get worked before it got too hot), so my alarm was set for 3.15am, 6 days a week, which I was not a huge fan of!
What does a typical day in your job looks like? A sample schedule?
All of my jobs have been so different and I’m sure the ones I’ll have in the future will be different again. I’m not the typical ‘working nomad’, since I don’t work online. My lifestyle is not for everyone because it can be stressful and I’m not sure I’d recommend it. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to work remotely from my laptop with set hours and income. For now though, I just put my faith in the universe and trust that I will find jobs as and when I need them.
What is your advice for someone who wants to do something similar?
Just go. Don’t worry about money or what your family may think. Be selfish, put yourself first and just go! It’s scary but there is nothing scarier than regret. Honestly, it’s the best thing I ever did. My family weren’t happy when I told them of my plans but as I made it work and they saw that I was okay, they soon came around. One thing I would definitely recommend is insurance! Be open to the world of possibilities while keep your head and don’t be reckless. If you need to find work, like I did, I would recommend joining all the Facebook groups for the area you are heading for.
Kat is the creator behind I Heart You World, a platform for travellers who are passionate to explore the world without harming the environment. She wants to inspire people to make the world a better place as they travel and to help communities as they pass through them. By highlighting situations that need help, Kat shows people they can still save the environment while having fun! You can follow her on her Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram.
The Jobs on the Road is an original series that focuses on how real people make money on the road while traveling. This series is meant to inspire and to show you how real people can maintain the best of both worlds: traveling and building a career. If you are interested in participating or to learn more about the project, please view here.