... I have always wondered whether it would not be make sense for trainers and working students to have a frank discussion about value.... Ie the value for the barn work you do on a monthly basis is x(calculated by number of hours per day at market rate times number of days worked per month) and the value of what I am providing is y (board plus lessons Lu's housing depending on what is provided). This approach is straight forward, honest, and sets up reasonable expectations for each party to the agreement.
My first working student position was absolutely grueling. I've never worked so hard in my life but after completing that internship everything's been a breeze. I took two other working student positions. One was definitely worth it but didn't offer much formal training and the next one I had to eventually leave because I outgrew it, i.e. there weren't any horses to ride above 2'9" and in order to go higher she said I'd have to lease something and pay about $1200 in board, which I just didn't have. I'm thinking of going back to college because I want to instruct at the college level and a bachelor's is required. I would give anything to do an internship like Texan's. I am looking for something for the summer and will do anything to get a bit of saddle time. Unfortunately my last boss is sour about me moving on and told me I'm "unreliable" for leaving after dedicating a year to her, after giving due notice that I was looking for something else. I won't use her as a reference in fear of retribution.....
Also the $2000 per month board is based on the barn staff doing the blanketing, turn-out, stall cleaning, feeding for your horse. A WS is likely providing that labor for her our horse plus others. Yes the barn still has the expense of the grain, shavings and hay. However with a WS it is no longer full board it becomes a hybrid of self-care and full-care. Therefore they are not really working off the full value of the $2000 in full board. Also most working students are working much more than 40 hours per week.
If you read through the thread you will see most are expected to work 6 days per week. They would only need to work 6 3/4 hours per day to get to 40 hours. However it frequently is more like 10 hour days. If they are helping as shows the hours may be even higher.
See i dont agree with the 2000.00, not being the true value to the student, whether the student helps with turn out/in or not. The cost is what it is, many things go into making up the figure. In most cases if the student wasn't working they would not be at that type of barn anyway. Nor would they be boarding there if they worked at the local McDees. Some instances are because the student comes from such a remote location, they just don't have those types of facilities in their area. If the student does bring a horse, many people work together to look after that horse, by your way of thinking the student only touches their own horse. Trust me that does not work in a busy show barn with 50 horses, people pitch in together, to do all jobs.
I really try my hardest to have the program be top notch. I know when my kid was riding, he wasn't a working student but he worked all summer at the barn we boarded at. His hours were long and hard work, and trust me, he worked a lot of hours, and I still owed a board bill of 800.00 / month. Showing is not cheap and neither was the horse.
I kinda feel bad, because I was the one that went to the barn owners, and said the program had to be better, we needed to offer more, we needed to make sure these kids were getting their fair share. As kids came and went i was just plain embarassed for myself. Really, i just sat in front of them both the other day, not knowing what to say anymore. I am currently dealing with an abandoned horse from one. Left back in July, never came back for her horse. How great is that. I only have one option and it doesn't make me very happy. We have been desperately trying to find her, to please come and get the horse. Barn owners said she doesn't owe a thing, just pick the horse up.
However, i am not going to go on and on. There is good kids out there, its just finding the right fit. I will have 4 by February, so everyone wish me luck.
I really can't offer anymore in the way of compensation, and it sounds to me like you all think I am on the mark with that.
Perhaps another way to look at this: how much would it cost me to pay said professional to teach my kid all s/he will learn as a working student and the. There is the network the WS gets plugged in to. You can't put a value on that. As a parent writing checks to trainers for lessons and show fees, I feel like I got a good deal when I was a working student.
My working student experience was the most grueling and valuable thing I've ever done. It taught me so many life skills. I know there are sketchy positions and situations that are really limited but I wouldn't trade my experience - including the tears and stress -for anything.
I was a working student when I was 18-19 in the early eighties and it was the best thing I ever did. We students worked 6 days a week from 6:30 a.m to about 5:00 p.m. and also were on call for night checks, emergencies and foaling calls. If one of 'our' horses showed on a day off - we worked and went to the show with the owner. We received a riding lesson each day and had housing in a dorm-like situation.
We joked about being 'trolls' but honestly we all loved it...but we worked HARD. It was the best.
I have a student who wanted to do a WS position. Found one through a forum/board online that was for working students. She was so excited to find one who was at the time in Aiken. Yay warm weather and in the spring a chance to go watch Rolex! I kept asking her for details on what she would be doing and what if any compensation she would get. Kept getting an I dont know I have to talk to "her" her being the trainer. At least twice a week I asked if she had talked to "her" yet and what her situation would be like. She did talk to the trainer briefly and found out that there were 2 other girls and they would be sharing a house with the trainer. They would have intrnet and she would have to buy her own food. Ok, so what about the work part. All I got was taht student was assuming that she would get to ride daily as well as do regular barn work for 8-9 horses.
Anyway, student gets down there and is there for a month. Working her butt off! She did learn to braid so that she could braid trainer's horses for events, and she learned how to properly apply polos. She got to sit on a horse once only because she kept bugging the trainer, so she got a mounted tour of the farm. Through more bugging she got a 30 minute dressage lesson one day. This is all the riding she got and all of the instruction she got. This was definitely a life lesson for her. Travelling from MD to Aiken and being a slave with no rewards other than learning to braid and one little dressage lesson. I guess the trainer forgot the "student" part of WS. BUT then again my rider should have thoroughly checked things out before leaping into this situation!
Lesson learned the hard way. Now she is at a local barn where she is paid per hour, housing is taken out of pay. I also let her lease one of my horses who wasnt gerring ridden so board will be taken out of her pay as well as any lessons. She is much happier, thought the work is hard, she is getting to ride, and lessons!
As far as I am concerned a working student position is all about what you want to get out of it. If a certain situation doesnt sound good to you pass it up.
I did a working student position one summer when I was...14? Around 14 anyway.
It was four or five days a week of cleaning stalls, refilling troughs, scrubbing buckets and helping with horse camp students.
My boss (who was also my instructor) explained to me that I would work in exchange for learning, (my lessons once a week I would still have to pay for) she said eventually many years down the road I would be able to help her train a horse and teach beginner lessons.
It ended up being me working in exchange for untacking horses and walking them after she rode them, that was fine but I felt it should have been in the 'work' part and not the learning.
I quit after that summer, I learned nothing except that my trainer made a horse REALLY sweaty when she rode.
I do think that many positions end up way too much on the side of working, and not enough on the side of student. But then I also think that many older teens/young adults don't want to work very hard, either.
In the dark ages, I spent a year managing a farm essentially myself. 30 horses that I did everything for other than morning feed (I did not live onsite, though they were always willing to let me stay over if I chose) and I still managed to find time to ride at least three horses a day. I was paid, and included board and farrier costs for my personal horse. They did not have a trainer onsite, so I did not get lessons, but was able to ride as many of their horses a day that I wanted to ride.
I find the FLSA issue interesting, and probably pretty accurate. I also wonder if there could end up being a overtime compensation issue. An employer cannot require overtime hours without compensation and most working student/apprentice/intern postions would never qualify as exempt from overtime hour compensation. My intrepretation of the act (and it is as an HR exec rather than a lawyer) would be that it does not matter if you go into the position knowing that you will be working 60 hours a week - if the compensation is less than minimum wage including the OT time and a half - your employer is in violation. If you are told that your compensation is equal to $10/hr - any hours over 40 per week would be worth $15/hr.
Yes, there are some slave labor WS positions, which is why I was always reccomended to go through my trainers. They could find me stuff where I actually got to ride some horse flesh and learn, in exchange for the un-fun stuff. There are some WS positions that provide no riding and all barn help, and they wanted me to avoid those because really what good was that.
One of your girls is a WS currently for an Olympian. Her days consist of hacking horses (both his and clients), grooming (though they had grooms, so she doesn't have to do that often), and she does some stalls (because she was taught to work her butt off for her keep). She also gets a lesson on her horse everyday (unless they want her to have a day off), and she also sets fences, rotates horses on the walker, and she does a lot of show entries and fixing of show entry mistakes (love the guy she works for, he is just a little unorganized).
At shows, she does have to groom more, cool down horses, warm up horses, clean tack, help feed, and do stalls. A little more work than at home but she also gets to listen to him and gets valuable coaching.
In return? She gets to go to shows, learn under an Olympian, and gets her horse schooled and trained by an Olympian, free room in his house, and she gets to catch-ride nice horses! Yes, her mother pays for board for the horse and all the show fees, farrier, vet... but really what she gets out of this is priceless! And the guy she works for will hand her money somtimes if she goes above and beyond helping out at a horse show.
She is more than thrilled with her position, but our trainer also made sure she didn't get crapped on by finding her someone reputable.
Curious, this describes my daughter as a junior perfectly. But wouldn't this job make the "working student" a "pro"?? Causing issues in the show ring?
At the risk of "dating" myself age wise, I raise an eyebrow at some "kids" sense of entitlement, in this case the WS.
The OP deal cited seems average, person is unknown, to the OP. I don't think that's really the point. You get board for your horses, lesson and experience you are looking for. If you "feel like a slave", don't do it. But for giggles, go price board at a farm that would offer a WS position, put in a private lesson - maybe add in an extra because if you're not a WS, you have to PAY to get the exposure and training. (Did they include housing? Doesn't matter..)
I was a working student without the designation for a BNT- wait- no I was a paying customer who also mucked, groomed, went to shows , worked my ass off, and still paid my own way, for the most part. Sounds like I was taken advantage of? Eh, what I got back was ten-fold. A trainer who has "done me a solid" through my adult life: screening horses, giving me free evals ( that he charges $150 for clients), hooked up with other trainers if he could not go to a show I was at, the list goes on and on.
Some of his true WS (you know, the ones who weren't boarders and wanted to do it as a career), went in to work for Beezy and get to travel internationally with her, hook up with the Chapots and go on to a career as a trainer and one who runs a lesson/ show barn. 3 kids who worked their asses off and it paid out for them. ( I chose a different path than going pro).
Work ethic gets you farther in this business than a sense of entitlement.
"Work ethic gets you farther in this business than a sense of entitlement. "
I want to replace "this business" with life and steal this quote from you.
I didn't read the whole thread, so I can really comment on the it. I do think WS get taken advantage of a lot, but this position is being advertised up front, so I think it is up to you to decide if it is worth it.
I was a working student for a little over three months. Hours were typically 7:30 to 5 Monday to Saturday, Sundays off, with some longer days for shows etc. typically rode 5 or 6 horses a day, usually under trainers supervision and with structured lessons on two or three of them. Most ridden in a day was 12. Lunged and prepped young horses on rotation (so about every three days). Had all living expenses paid for and a place to stay. Some stores within walking distance and a bus stop as well. It was hard work and early to bed!! Haha but an incredible learning opportunity. I learned a ton. It's a short term thing, because obviously without income you can't save or plan for a change in the future, but if you can swing it, living breathing an sleeping horses is an amazing opportunity. Find the right position!! They'll all have challenges but you should not end up mucking stalls 24/7 and getting a lesson a week. Your real benefit here is the education, so that should be first and foremost
"Disapproval of the way other people run their businesses and treat their horses is the meat and drink of the hunter-jumper industry." Working Student Blog Current Blog
I had two working student experiences on both ends of the spectrum.
The first advertised as free housing and "regular lessons and riding" with a national show jumper/eventer, in exchange for sole care of about 40 head. 12 ish were in stalls, the rest in pasture full time. What it turned out to be was a tiny trailer with the biggest cockroaches I have ever seen and holes in the floor. Trainers were gone ALL.THE.TIME and no riding when they were not there was aloud, as no one else was on the property (no boarders). About 40 miles from everything and no use of the car unless they were there. This was in a foreign country so didn't have my own. In the first five weeks, I rode one time, worked 7 days a week, feeding, mixing feed, cleaning stalls, turn outs, pasture rotations, lunging/long lining/bitting up many horses a day. It was regularly 10+ hour days. After 8 weeks and sitting on a horse twice, I left. It was so lonely being out there completely isolated from anyone else, and that definitely increased the toll of the work on me.
The second was awesome. I started out as a "working student" and then became working student/assistant trainer. I rode usually 5-8 horses a day, had at least one lesson per day on "my" horse (not actually mine but I rode him all the time) as well as ocasional supervision on others if trainer was riding with me. Kept my two horses at another barn about 30 minutes away (much cheaper) and she would occasionally come out and help me with them when needed. She helped me start my baby, and helped me sell my project horse. Owner of "my" horse (her client) paid for me to participate in a Linda Allen clinic with him which was awesome. Some but not a lot of grooming, as we had a groom. If he was busy with hers or doing his other work, I would groom my own but about 50% of the time or more he'd have the horses ready to go. I had never had a groom before and got so spoiled! It was great. I did chores like help with turnouts, help with suppies (pre mixed, just feeding them) and cleaned tack/swept/tidied tack rooms, etc.
When trainer was out of town I would teach lessons, and I got paid per lesson for teaching lessons while she was away. Otherwise, no money exchanged hands, no housing or board provided. It was an excellent learning experience, I learned a ton, got in great shape, and got to ride some really nice horses. And I got along with the trainer well. I did this while in college and for a while after until I moved. I also bartended to support myself during this period of time. Nothing like getting off work at 2:30 am and looking forward to being at the barn at 8!
It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.
The working pupil as a slave thing really annoys me. My company does apprenticeships, and if we offered our apprentices the wages that some working pupils are on, we would get slammed. I don't know how anyone can expect people to work for them if they don't have a living wage.
Expecting an employee to work 40 or more hours in the stables then have to go out and do another job to pay for the 'privilege' astounds me. I'm not surprised that I see people moaning about bad/unreliable grooms/students when they're treated like they are.
And just because you're offering somewhere to stay doesn't let you off the hook. I've seen ads offering damp caravans or a one room bedsit as accommodation No-one should be made to live like that.
It's time the horse industry as a whole dragged itself into modern times. Pay people decent wages. Give them somewhere decent to live. Don't expect them to work stupidly long hours. (And I work 65 or more hours a week. I'm not lazy... but I've heard of people working 18 hour days, seven days a week. That's just not right.)
It's about time that people started to say no. I think we'd see a change if paying a pittance, bad living conditions, stupidly long hours and so on wasn't the norm in the horse industry.
Kooki, not all positions are as you describe. Look at it from this point. Say
young person 18 wants to ride with semi BNT. Take lessons,go to shows. So
this person goes out and gets a job working 40 hours per week at 10.00 per hour. They are uneducated and that is this kind of job they are going to get.
So now they have approximately 1600.00 per month, to spend on trying to have a horse, take lessons and go to shows. Even if they only took 1 lesson per week, and rode a school horse, that is not going to get them everywhere.
Not everyone can afford to do the horse thing and some kids have to do it through a working student position. There is nothing wrong with that. If its a bad position they leave and move on. No one is making them stay.
I do agree some positions are better than others, just like some working students are better than others.
Its pretty short sighted to think that there are not good positions out there with kids more than happy to be part of the horse world.
Everyone reads the doom and gloom story. That is only one side of the equation... trust me there are really good positions out there.
As a working student, I actually got to ride a lot (6+ horses a day, usually a lesson or two, and insight on everyone else I rode). I surprisingly didn't do much barn work- would clean tack and pull manes but I don't think I ever cleaned a stall except on the weekends at shows. I was expected to set jumps, be at the show early to feed and late to do night check and blanket, be ready to jump on a naughty pony at a moments notice, and have a good attitude about it all. But please don't think that I didn't work- I have never worked harder in my life but I loved it! Pretty good deal! However, my working student experience is a lot different from those that I hear from others. I really learned how to be a trainer, and run a large farm. I will never be able to truly understand how much knowledge I gained. I was very lucky to find such a good position!