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am I doing the right thing?

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  • am I doing the right thing?

    I've got a bit of a story so kudos to those who read. Before i say anything, please know that I am not seeking sympathy or anything, just a logical opinion.

    Half my life, for the last 7 years, I've worked as a stable hand to be able to pay for both my horse and lessons. I've worked at various barns and last year I started working at a VERY fancy, internationally competing H/J barn that I LOVE. I started out mucking stalls 2x a week in exchange for lessons which was all good and dandy. As of late, I started community college classes AND bought my self a new horse which changed my schedule so I could not longer work those days to work off my lessons. I was super super bummed about no lessons because i'd come miles from where I was. Couple weeks later my trainers offer me a grooming job that has pretty flexible hours in exchange for lessons. This made me exstatic. I started working for them 3 weeks ago and it's been CRAZY. For one thing, they want me to work 3hr days 3-5 days a week (and I'm already working at another barn too!) or they want me to work REALLY long days twice a week. I'm still on Christmas break but college starts up again next week. To me it seems insane to work 5 days a week for 1 lesson a week. I feel bad cuz they really need me and because I asked for the job and I got what i wanted. And, I feel ungrateful for quitting but they seem to be asking too much.

    On top of all of that, if I work any extra hours, they can't afward to pay me cash, it has to be lessons. But their lesson horses are used so much that they can only fit me in once a week and not twice. I'm not asking for suggestions, I'm just asking if you would quit as well?

  • #2
    Basically you are giving them your labor for free. Stop doing it. I am not a fan of "work for lessons" situations. It is never an equal proposition. The barn gets free labor and the worker gets, essentially, nothing. The trainer is either "too busy" to teach the promised lesson, or the school horses "are being used by PAYING students."

    If you're working at a barn, you should be paid in dollars per hour, not in "lessons" which, as you've found out, don't happen. Cut your losses and quit, or tell them that you're changing the rules and will only work for cash. It sounds like you're really being taken advantage of.
    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

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    • #3
      Yup. No brainer. I'd quit like...yesterday. And tell them you want your prior work salary in cash, thank you very much.

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      • #4
        I would figure what the lessons cost then divide the number of hours, put it into money terms.

        Example, I have a student that works two hours for me and then rides for an hour in a group lesson. That comes out to $10 an hour. That is above average pay for a fifteen yearl old young man in my area so he is good and i am good as he is very reliable.

        I could not pay him that rate for what he does but in trade it is fine and he is happy as his family can not pay for lessons.

        After you figure it that way see if it is worth it. Also remember and this is the teacher/mama coming out in me, your real job is college. The horses will still be there after you finish and with a degree you will be much more able to afford them.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks for the responses! The pay is $10 an hour so 6 hours or one lesson. But like I said, even if I work 9-12 hours a week (as I've been doing) they can't fit me in for another lesson and won't pay me. They suggest to me to 'haul in' which I could but not every week. My mom is too busy to do that.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by gallopinggal View Post
            On top of all of that, if I work any extra hours, they can't afward to pay me cash, it has to be lessons. But their lesson horses are used so much that they can only fit me in once a week and not twice.
            You are getting hosed. If I were you I would give my two week notice on the next available working day.

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            • #7
              I'm not quite sure I understand what is going on. Why not take lessons on your new horse if school horses aren't available? Is that a possibility or are you keeping your horse at a different barn? Who said that the International "A" barn couldn't afford to pay you in cash? Did they tell you that specifically? Or was that your interpretation of something else they said? I imagine barns of that caliber could certainly afford to pay someone even minimum wage for basic jobs. However, they may prefer to pay in lessons instead for various reasons. Some of this stuff doesn't make complete sense, so I think some parts of the story are missing.

              you have to look at your priorities both in terms of finances and riding. What is your budget? How much money are you trying to save by taking on multiple jobs? If this situation didn't work out would you have acceptable alternatives?

              If I were in your situation I would find out what the going rate is in your area for barn help of the kind you are providing. Then figure out what you would normally be earning on a weekly basis. Compare that to the cost of lessons. After running the numbers determine if it is a fair trade or not. If the cost matches within 5-10% or so, then maybe it's worth it to continue. On the other hand, if are building up more lesson credits than you are actually receiving, then you are being overworked. This sort of thing is always a risk when bartering.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gallopinggal View Post
                I feel bad cuz they really need me and because I asked for the job and I got what i wanted. And, I feel ungrateful for quitting but they seem to be asking too much.
                If I understand your situation correctly, it seems like you are putting in more then you are getting back.

                Note that in my experience I have heard many stories from others about barn owners who use guilt (knowingly or unknowingly) to keep good kind hearted people locked into providing what essentially amounts to free labor. This may or may not be the case in your situation.

                When I was a working student many years ago I experienced a similar situation to yours, and I did quit because I realized it would have gone on indefinitely if I had stayed.

                Burning out from overwork is no fun!

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
                  I'm not quite sure I understand what is going on. Why not take lessons on your new horse if school horses aren't available? Is that a possibility or are you keeping your horse at a different barn? Who said that the International "A" barn couldn't afford to pay you in cash? Did they tell you that specifically? Or was that your interpretation of something else they said? I imagine barns of that caliber could certainly afford to pay someone even minimum wage for basic jobs. However, they may prefer to pay in lessons instead for various reasons. Some of this stuff doesn't make complete sense, so I think some parts of the story are missing.

                  .
                  They told me specifcally they could not pay me cash. I keep my horse at home and would have to haul in which is possible from time to time but not every week. $10 a hour is the going rate for barn work around here which they are paying me.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gallopinggal View Post
                    They told me specifcally they could not pay me cash.
                    I'd be gone.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Luseride, that's a good formula, but her point is that they are refusing to give her lessons at all. So however much the lessons are "worth," she's not receiving them nor is she being paid for her work.

                      They are getting several hours of hard labor out of her for no cost to them. She should either get paid in cash, or tell them hasta la vista.
                      I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Guin View Post
                        Luseride, that's a good formula, but her point is that they are refusing to give her lessons at all. So however much the lessons are "worth," she's not receiving them nor is she being paid for her work.

                        They are getting several hours of hard labor out of her for no cost to them. She should either get paid in cash, or tell them hasta la vista.
                        Which I believe is but i"m going to do! I'm only getting paid for about 1/2 what I'm working.

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                        • #13
                          If the going rate is $10/hour and you are working up to 12 hours, it's crazy then that they won't fit you in. This definitely sounds like they are taking advantage of you. HOWEVER, I would not advise you to quit abruptly. Even if you are being taken advantage of, I would still have a professional conversation with them before leaving. Consider saying something like this: "I have really enjoyed the lessons with Trainer X and feel that I've made tremendous progress with him/her over the last Y months. I would love to continue in the flexible grooming job to help pay for lessons. However, I wouldn't be able to continue unless I was able to receive 2 lessons per week in exchange for 9-12 hours of work. Again, I would love to continue, but if this arrangement is possible, I will need to give my two weeks notice".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would quit.
                            You are being taken for a ride. Sorry for the pun but that is the plain truth.
                            I was a "Working Student " whe I was young.
                            Seemed like all I did was work. The learning came on the end of a shovel. I learned quickly I was being taken.
                            Oh on paper it made perfect cents to the person I was woking for.
                            There are better ways to make money. Go to school and get an education so you can get a Paying job. Then you can get real lessons from a reputable teacher.
                            Most of the "working students" I have known were used and short changed.
                            You are being taken advantage of.
                            JMHO
                            sadlmakr

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                            • #15
                              Either quit or talk to them about accruing the $$ owed over time, maybe at some point you could haul your horse in for a week and do a bunch of lessons, or they would coach you at away shows using the "bank" you have earned. If they are unwilling to do this, let them find another sucker. You could get a job waiting tables, make much more $$ per hour, and afford lessons with whoever you like.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My 2cents - this.............

                                Originally posted by Guin View Post
                                Luseride, that's a good formula, but her point is that they are refusing to give her lessons at all. So however much the lessons are "worth," she's not receiving them nor is she being paid for her work.

                                They are getting several hours of hard labor out of her for no cost to them. She should either get paid in cash, or tell them hasta la vista.
                                The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
                                H. Cate

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I too think you are getting a raw deal. I was never a working student but I was a groom for my old trainer. I worked 2 six hour days tacking, untacking, bathing, and lunging in exchange for a lesson each a week for me and dd on our own horses. I also got to ride her school master and some of the other horses and dd got to ride quite a lot of the horses that were young and not up for sale yet. It was hard work but I feel the trade off was wonderful for both me and dd. It would be better for you to move on unless they are going to step up and make your lessons more of a priority.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    This happened to me and I sat there and took it for 2 years before I finally decided I had had enough. In the end when I worked out how many hours I was working in exchange for my board and lessons (that I never got. I rode *maybe* 10 times in the 2 years I was there), it worked out to be about $1.25/hr.

                                    If you aren't happy with how the hours for lessons thing is working, I see two options:
                                    1) Get out now and find somewhere else who is willing to pay you monetarily
                                    or
                                    2) Tell them you will only work the 6 hours a week that is required to pay off the lesson, and anything over that needs to be paid in cash. If they again tell you that they can't pay you in cash, then restate that you will then only work 6 hours or they can find someone else to rip off.
                                    "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      No matter how much you may love the job, you should not continue unless you are properly compensated. You're being used.

                                      I was in the same sort of boat last year. I was putting in a lot of hours cleaning stalls, clipping, etc in exchange for lessons, but ultimately I only got 1 lesson due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that the barn really didn't have any horses I wanted to ride. One was a dirty bucker and the others were old schoolies that could not match my abilities. Ultimately I had to give it up, no matter how much I loved it, because my time and gas was worth more to me than what I was getting out of the "job".
                                      "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Only in the horse world will someone try and convince they are doing you a favor while expecting you to work for nothing. And they will be demanding on top of that. And in my experience (when I was younger and willing to do nearly anything) they will keep increasing their expectations.

                                        It sounds like they got you in a position where you felt like they were accommodating you and in return they are extracting more that the accommodation is worth on the hopes you will continue be grateful for the opportunity.

                                        Be courteous as you tell them that this isn't working out for you but definitely make a change to this arrangement as you are definitely getting the short end of this stick.

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