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View Full Version : Finding a working student job for the not-so-big-name rider...



spmoonie
Nov. 27, 2009, 09:20 PM
I am sort of playing with the idea of trying to find a working student job at a nice hunter barn this summer. To start off, I am 15 years old. I already work 7 days a week riding and feeding at a small quarter horse barn about a mile down the road from my house. I take regular lessons with a good trainer on my own personal pony and sometimes a few other horses and ponies from the barn. I have been very blessed and fortunate to have such an opportunity to board my pony cheap and get to ride several nice ponies on a regular basis (and even show some!) :) However, my ultimate goal is to be a professional some day, and I feel it is getting time to possible move to working at a bigger barn where I can begin to get my name "out there" so to say. I dont really get to show much (maybe 5 or 6 times a year), and when I do, it is on the local circuit. This is due to financial reasons. I dont have any lofty show ring accomplishments to my name either. I have shown 2'6"-2'9" and jump 2'6" regurally and have gone up to 3' at home. With a capable horse, I could easily move up much higher. Despite the lack of awards, I am a very capable rider. I have a lot of experience riding young (ages 2-3+) and very green horses. I have brought along a few horses from the ground to about 2'6". I enjoy riding challenging/tough mounts. Due to a lack of experience in the show ring, Im afraid a high end barn wouldnt really be interested in me as a working student prospect. So, I am looking for any advice you could offer me or any helpful hints you may have. Does this goal seem reasonable? How should I go about finding such a position?

Lieb Schon
Nov. 27, 2009, 09:46 PM
Wow. Well, I think it's great that you have a serious interest in your future. I think you are a little too focused on horses when you REALLY need to focus on college. Perhaps it could be a school with a focus on horses, equine management, husbandry, ect....

Don't be in a hurry to get everything done at once. Based on where you are in experience and age, you are looking at 15-20 years to develop a serious hunter jumper business, and to do that you should definitely have some business training at a college level if you want to be successful.

I can hear you now, "OMG no one answered my question!!?

There are so many kids all over the country who can ride, or "stick like a tick." That doesn't make a good rider. Not in any discipline. So it's great that you work with young horses, but remember that if you do something someone doesn't like it will follow you for a very long time. So if a young horse is over your head, politely move on.

You sound like a "backyard" rider who ventures out occasionally to a show. You would do better right now to go to A rated horse shows and watch how things work. Get there at 5am and watch the braiders. Make sure you leave time to watch the show. Pick a horse /rider and listen to what the trainer says. Try to figure out the problems yourself, and give yourself a pat if you are right. And then always remember....It's a HELL of a lot easier to tell a rider what to do than to actually get on the horse and do it! And if you can get on and do better, then you can hang out your shingle.

If you want to make money, learn how to braid. You will meet people that way.

And never make a promise you can't keep. Horse people are mercilous.

spmoonie
Nov. 27, 2009, 09:53 PM
Wow. Well, I think it's great that you have a serious interest in your future. I think you are a little too focused on horses when you REALLY need to focus on college. Perhaps it could be a school with a focus on horses, equine management, husbandry, ect....

Don't be in a hurry to get everything done at once. Based on where you are in experience and age, you are looking at 15-20 years to develop a serious hunter jumper business, and to do that you should definitely have some business training at a college level if you want to be successful.

I can hear you now, "OMG no one answered my question!!?

There are so many kids all over the country who can ride, or "stick like a tick." That doesn't make a good rider. Not in any discipline. So it's great that you work with young horses, but remember that if you do something someone doesn't like it will follow you for a very long time. So if a young horse is over your head, politely move on.

You sound like a "backyard" rider who ventures out occasionally to a show. You would do better right now to go to A rated horse shows and watch how things work. Get there at 5am and watch the braiders. Make sure you leave time to watch the show. Pick a horse /rider and listen to what the trainer says. Try to figure out the problems yourself, and give yourself a pat if you are right. And then always remember....It's a HELL of a lot easier to tell a rider what to do than to actually get on the horse and do it! And if you can get on and do better, then you can hang out your shingle.

If you want to make money, learn how to braid. You will meet people that way.

And never make a promise you can't keep. Horse people are mercilous.

Thanks for the reply! :) I hadnt thought about braiding, that sounds like a good idea.

Just to clarify a little:
Of course, I do plan on going to college and, right now, am planning on majoring in business. I have ridden with A/AA instructors before and have been to A/AA shows as spectator.Currently though, finances have limited my showing and ability to ride at that level. However I am very well aware of the quality of riding and training/ horses that are expected on the A circuit. I just dont want to give off the impression that I am naive of this. :winkgrin:

SaturdayNightLive
Nov. 27, 2009, 11:19 PM
Your biggest problem right now is going to be that you aren't old enough to drive. Not many are going to be willing to take you on as a working student when you don't have a driver's license. It's a matter of reliability - nobody can count on your showing up if you are counting on someone else to get you there.

poltroon
Nov. 27, 2009, 11:25 PM
Probably the best resource for your personal situation and your area is to ask your trainer.

You might also be able to set yourself up as a helper at a lesson barn or a summer camp, where you help the kids tack up, etc. Expect that you'll need to prove yourself first.

Braiding is also a very valuable way to meet people and make money with horses.

EquitationRider
Nov. 28, 2009, 08:26 AM
what i would do now is start helping around your barn. Water arenas, feed horses, help the beginners tack up, bring horses in, and show to your trainer that you are a hard worker. This is how i have earned many free rides and lessons. It also puts the idea in your trainers mind that you are serious about horses. Go to shows with your barn and work around there too, muck out stalls, be a groom, fill water buckets, braid! Other trainers might see that you are a hard worker.

Heres my story,

Ive been at ny barn for 3 years and i started as that once a week lesson kid and moved up to the "A/AA" show rider jumper. I work my ass off around the barn and gain free lessons and rides, and money off my show bill. My trainer has also talked about me being a working student for her next year. Since i get money off my bills i get to show more which puts my name out there. My trainer also tells the other trainers how hard i work and then afer they watch me ride, i earn there respect....and another working student job!

You have to show that you are willing to do whatever needs to be done, and do it well! Trainers arent going to invest time in someone who wont do what they are told or have an attitude about doing certain things. Also, they are more likely to give the job to someone who is out there every day, helping out, and taking regular lessons and attends shows, you have to be better than those people in your work ethic and attitude!


Good Luck, and im glad that you are this serious about working with horses!

Lucassb
Nov. 28, 2009, 09:01 AM
You've gotten some good advice so far.

One additional suggestion I'd make is to consider doing clinics with some BNTs if you can.

While expensive, clinics are generally less costly than doing rated shows, and they are a great way to get to know (and hopefully impress) the clinic pro with your skill and dedication.

Have your horse turned out to the nines, pay attention and demonstrate that you can follow instructions... and you have the perfect way to impress someone who might consider you as a working student or offer an introduction to another BNT for a similar spot.

toomanyponies
Nov. 28, 2009, 09:56 AM
right now I would try to get a job grooming at the best A show barn you can - on off days, you may get to hack some horses but you will learn a TON - more than you can ever imagine. The hitch is, you need to find one that can house you and has transportation, which will prob mean a barn that has a lot of girls working, which can be rare. . . taking a clinic is great idea - then, assuming you have impressed the clinician, they can recommend you and open some doors.

And dont be afraid to volunteer to work for a week for free to prove yourself - you are a huge unknown to them.