Late To The Game Working Student- Where to Look/Who to ask?
Hello all! I'm a little late to the game but I've finally decided that the equine industry is where I want to be. I was a working student here and there throughout college and I worked for a pretty respectable (but now retired) trainer soon after graduating and then later ended up at a desk job. But now almost 10 years later I'm rethinking my life choices and realizing in the barn is where I really want to be. As I've always owned a horse and always ridden, groomed and shown on the A circuit, my barn management/care skills are extensive. I can clip, wrap, medicate, lunge, fold laundry (j/k ), drive a horse trailer, adjust riding equipment, assess and make blanket changes. I have fairly basic knowledge of saddle fitting and an overly ambitious knowledge of equine nutrition. I'm also certified in equine massage Oh and I'm quite savvy with a broom. Neat and Tidy is my middle name. But what I really need to get back into shape in order to be considered a serious employment candidate are my riding and teaching skills. I rode a lot as a junior (with Michael Page as my trainer), competed at the open level in Intercollegiate but I haven't shown as an adult in 4 years, and even then it was only a few years in the adult hunters & some medals with my own horse. I still have my own hunter that I ride every day and I also began schooling horses for a local trainer a few months ago. She has put me on everything in the barn- from her GP horse to the SS ponies and everything in b/w. So I've got my riding "legs" back in place. But what I really need is instruction, training, direction. And my "eye" still needs work. I need to get back to seeing a distance out of the corner and not a few strides out. And that takes practice, practice, practice. Also, as with many industries- its who you know. So establishing myself with a reputable trainer (doesn't have to be a BNT), will most likely lead to a better job one day than sitting here scouring help wanted ads on the computer. I am looking for someone who will be a mentor I can thank for years to come. Someone who is respected in the community as well as one who has a little blank book that can send me on my way eventually. So, as my mentor has suggested, I have decided to take a "hiatus" and put myself out there as working student. I'm looking to commit for the summer, possibly longer if the situation were good or if my pocketbook will allow. I'm not afraid of long hours and hard work. And I'm not above any task or chore. But I do ask in return that my mentor hold up to his/her bargain as well and teach me everything there is to know. So here I turn to the COTH community for suggestions. Perhaps you know of someone who is seeking a working student. Perhaps you can recommend someone I get in contact with. Perhaps you can offer suggestions. Anything to point me in the right direction. (Besides telling me to run, run away in the other direction!!!). Thanks!! I look forward to all responses! ps. I'm 5'1 and 115lbs and not opposed to being the pony jockey!
How old are you? Where are you located? Do you have a horse to bring with you? What are your exact goals with this horse?
I would start calling and sending resumés to trainers that you would like to work for. Go to a show and see who is there that you might want to work for, wait until they look like they are having a not-so-busy moment and introduce yourself. Have some concrete goals in mind.
When you say "the equine industry is where I want to be," what does that mean? There are many different jobs. Not a lot of them make money! And most of them require a lot of manual labor and being outside in all sorts of weather.
I think most people when they say they want to work in the horses are thinking they want to ride. But being a paid rider requires that you are really good. There are not a lot of ways to get really good without spending some of your own money first and campaigning some good horses. Sometimes you can get lucky and someone will give you a horse to show, but you will still have to pay expenses, which can be a lot. For someone to give you a horse, all expenses paid to show, you have to be an exceptional rider.
I have had tons of working students in my life. Most of them don't last more than 2 months. I've had a good number last around 6 to 8 months and I have a really great one right now that is going on a year! I told her I would throw a party for her at the end of that year! The only other working student that lasted over a year ended up becoming my assistant and still is, many years later.
Horse training seems like a glamorous job, but it's not. It's a lot of hard work, long hours, and little money. I love it because I love horses first and foremost; I love their personalities, I love their characters, I love getting to know them and having relationships with them. I also love teaching. Some days I ride a lot, some days I stand in the middle of the ring and teach for hours. And of course some days I am cleaning out tack trunks, sweeping out the horse trailer, and scrubbing water troughs.
I love what I do, but it is not for everyone. I own my own farm, but I have put everything in it and I am leveraged to the max. Saying I am stuck here is putting it lightly! It helps that I love it, but being a trainer is not the kind of job that you can just walk away from. It is a huge commitment.
Be realistic. To really stand out and make an impression in this business you are going to have to work harder than anyone else out there. And there are a lot of dedicated, committed people. So, how hard do you want to work?
"A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."