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Working Student/How To Make It...

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  • Original Poster

    #21
    Originally posted by hrford View Post
    First, I'm 35, so as much as you don't want to hear it, I've been where you are. I did do a gap year. I worked for a year at a top Morgan farm (I was in saddle horses at the time) for $50 a week, room and board. I worked 6 days a week. Slept in the stalls at the horse shows, regularly worked 16+ hour days. The owner made sure I filled out my college applications and I did go to college and get a business degree (smartest thing EVER).

    I worked full-time training horses as an assistant trainer until I was 26, when I just burnt out. Joined the Army and saw the world. Now, I teach lessons at a low key barn and have joined the world of OTTB. I"m lucky because I don't need to make enough money to support myself (thanks to a wonderful husband). Had you asked me at 18 if this is where I'd be. NEVER would have been the answer. I love my life, wouldn't trade it for the world, and I loved the year I spent as a working student (still in contact with them to this day) but keep your options open, go to college, because you never know when your priorities will change (children manage to do that really quickly) and horses may not be everything they are to you now. A business degree will help you 100% in the horse world, or if you ever decide to get out so I recommend it. Pick a school with a good equestrian team so you keep it in your life, but go have fun in college!
    Thank you so much, it sounds like you are very successful and I admire you. Doing a gap year to be a working student is something that I am considering. I will most definitely get a business degree in college as well as a back up job as a plan B. I'm trying to be realistic, that way, in case I realize that this isn't for me, I will have a job to support myself. But I won't stop until I get the full experience because I want to find out for myself. Thank you for your input.

    Comment


    • #22
      You sound a lot better prepared, realistic, and grounded than many other kids with the same ambitions.

      But you don't need to "get your name out there in the competition world" right away. Pay your dues, learn your trade, it takes a long time!

      I'd recommend Denny Emerson's book "How Good Riders Get Great" and subscribe to his FB page. He has a lot of positive support for riders who are willing to subject themselves to the incredible grind and who have the dedication required. He is not so warm and fuzzy to slackers or pretenders who want to take short cuts. If you fit the former description, maybe he would even have some suggestions for WS programs. I'm not sure if he has them himself.
      Click here before you buy.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Thanks for everyone's comments. I am taking everything I read to heart.

        Comment


        • #24
          Originally posted by SaturdayNightLive View Post
          Even worse, I just moved even further South.
          I want the red thumbs back. THUMBS DOWN!!! Although it is currently 11 below zero, so I wouldn't mind escaping to the south.

          By the way, OP, in addition to being a goofball with SNL, I am a young (21) professional.. feel free to PM me if you want to chat.
          http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
          Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
            I want the red thumbs back. THUMBS DOWN!!! Although it is currently 11 below zero, so I wouldn't mind escaping to the south.

            By the way, OP, in addition to being a goofball with SNL, I am a young (21) professional.. feel free to PM me if you want to chat.
            I would just like to remind you that you are supposed to come south SOON, please.
            **********
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
            -PaulaEdwina

            Comment


            • #26
              Everyone has offered good advice so I'll just throw in my two cents... Get as much experience in as many areas of the industry as possible. I think what keeps most aspiring pros from being successful is that they are unable or unwilling to expand their job description beyond riding. You may need to teach a lot, manage the barn, organize a schooling show, etc. As a young pro with my own business I can say it is vitally important to be diversified, especially in this bad economy. There may be times where I don't have as many boarders or not as many horses in training but I always have lesson clients and people leasing horses. Plus doing things like getting my USEF judges license is a good way to attract more clients and build a reputation for your business.

              And feel free to PM me too!

              Comment


              • #27
                I'm just going to throw this out there, since no one has mentioned it.

                While it doesn't work for everyone, distance learning is a perfectly viable option these days as long as it is from an appropriately accredited, reputable university. Yes, juggling your education and horsey aspirations will be a ridiculous amount of work, but it wouldn't be the horse world if you weren't exhausted at the end of the day.

                I work full time, study part time online and take my riding very seriously. It's not impossible, and don't let anyone tell you that it is. For transparency's sake, I'll point out that I'm lucky enough to have a job with an extremely flexible schedule. I do work for my family business, and my boss/mom is a horse person who "gets it." While our main business isn't horse related at all, without the flexible schedule, I'm not sure how I'd do it. (Not saying it's impossible.)

                I'm a total believer in "dreams do come true" and as corny as it is, I know without a doubt that pretty much anything is possible. There are always ways to make it work if you're creative enough.

                Read "How Good Riders Get Good" by eventer Denny Emmerson. It talks about the different choices that top riders make on a daily basis that lead to their success. It's a great read.

                Good luck!
                www.readyforthebigeq.com
                dream it. achieve it. eff the odds.


                JustWorld International Ambassador!

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Horserider15 View Post
                  Hi, I'm Jessica, a 17 year old junior in high school. I ride/train horses at a local stable 4-6 days a week, and I love it to the maximum. I have been riding horses for the past 6 years. I compete at local hunter shows, mostly on green horses. I started off by leasing, and now I have people come up to me with their horse and ask me to ride for money. I own an Appaloosa cross, Cooper. I ride literally anybody I can. I also work at a different barn mucking stalls and doing chores 2 other days a week. I have really given it a lot of thought, and I am sure that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. My ultimate dream/goal is to compete at the highest levels of competition in the Jumper OR Eventing world (not sure which yet), and maybe even- dare I say- the Olympics. But, like thousands of girls, I am at the bottom of the bottom. Through lots of good reading, research, and advice from other trainers, I am beginning to look for working student positions to fill during the summer/fall of 2014, the year I graduate. I am craving to learn everything I can and advance in my riding and horsemanship skills. I need more show ring and riding experience, and I think that the best way for someone like me (with no money to buy her own upper-level horse, or to pay for lessons) is to become a working student.

                  Can any of you give me advice on my decisions so far, on how to succeed in this industry, or any other good ways to get my name out there in the competition world?

                  Also, PLEASE let me know of any good/top trainers anywhere in the U.S that I can contact about a working student position for next year.

                  Thank you! -Jessica
                  I personally don't believe in working students. I was in your same position, expect younger, and everyone told me I could be a working student in exchange for this and that. It gave me a very rose colored glasses view. I had big dreams, that, not matter what they say, could not be achieved without money. Having your deams crushed (or as I called it "My life goals") is one of the worst feelings, that's why I wish people would stop sugar coating it.

                  My advice to you is. First of all, having a horse is a must (My main problem back in the day), and riding every day! If your dreams really are big enough, you should be willing to give up your social life for the time being. No matter how old or ugly that horse is, be thankful. You are getting a better experience then those girls who already own all those jumpers.(They tend to not be made, but have a better sense of what they are doing) Learn everything you can about barn management. I've heard of a few riders who worked part time as the barn manager while in college.

                  Can you braid? If you can, time to get crackin'. Braiding is how some people afford to show. Start going to the shows you wish you could compete in. Instead of that summer vacation with your girlfriends, take a week off from riding and go to spruce meadows. Here's a tip that I used to do with my friends, and although it did not benefit my situation, it was helpful to them. Try to figure out which horses are greener at a big show. Watch that horse from the schooling ring to the in gate, observing it's every move. And them watch his rounds closely.

                  I believe that Heritage Farm. Takes working students who go on to win great things, but they are not the type you are thinking of. In other words, those working students are not ones who are an average income joe. They usually have enough funds to spend on a nice horse, but maybe not boarding.

                  Correct me if I'm wrong, but Missy Clark might take working students (Zazou Hoffman?) and you could contact her.

                  If working student were not such a toll, I would take you (This is of course oblivious of where you live)

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Have you considered taking a JOB with a show barn instead of an unpaid WS?

                    I have seen alot of these threads with the same disconnect between what the person thinks they are going to get and what is actually involved. Namely OP, like the others, wants to gain show ring experience they lack and learn to move up in division height on somebody else's horse at somebody else's expense. Thats not really the point of what a WS does, it's not a riding school for them.

                    It's not impossible at all and you have decent credentials but you need to concentrate on the actual things you can do for that trainer in the real world right now-that's going to be alot of non riding chores because most trainers have enough riders, they need HELP in the barn. It's what you can do for them that you do know how to do in return for being a part of the barn and some riding.

                    At 17, you might be better off getting a job as a groom to get your foot in the door at a BNB. Take that gap year, alot benefit from it in firming up future goals and maturing alot in a short time. Pay's laughable but at least you get some money and often living quarters. Or you might even be able to hire on full time to teach the up downers and maybe break colts/do attitude adjustments at a local barn-it's a start and, IMO, better then the WS route if you lack experience at 3' and up.

                    The AA trainers I know do use WS but they need to come with good show experience around at least a 3' course on their own, commit to a full year and understand they are not going to be showing client horses-that is what the owner/clients, assistant trainer and Pro riders do.

                    IMO the WS environment has changed alot these past few years, it's less available then it used to be. Costs have skyrocketed and that "free" labor does not help the trainer pay the hay guy or put gas/deisel in the tank of the rig. Plus you may be competitng with older adults that actually PAY to be WS in some top barns.

                    Get the job to get started.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                      You sound a lot better prepared, realistic, and grounded than many other kids with the same ambitions.

                      But you don't need to "get your name out there in the competition world" right away. Pay your dues, learn your trade, it takes a long time!

                      I'd recommend Denny Emerson's book "How Good Riders Get Great" and subscribe to his FB page. He has a lot of positive support for riders who are willing to subject themselves to the incredible grind and who have the dedication required. He is not so warm and fuzzy to slackers or pretenders who want to take short cuts. If you fit the former description, maybe he would even have some suggestions for WS programs. I'm not sure if he has them himself.
                      Thanks for your input. I actually own and read Denny's book. I loved it so much, I read it twice. It was so informative and made me think realistically. He actually does have one. I wrote him a letter a while ago, and he emailed me back saying that he is happy to answer any questions I may have about working in the horse world. Thank you.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Horserider15 View Post
                        Hi, I'm Jessica, a 17 year old junior in high school. I ride/train horses at a local stable 4-6 days a week, and I love it to the maximum. I have been riding horses for the past 6 years. I compete at local hunter shows, mostly on green horses. I started off by leasing, and now I have people come up to me with their horse and ask me to ride for money. I own an Appaloosa cross, Cooper. I ride literally anybody I can. I also work at a different barn mucking stalls and doing chores 2 other days a week. I have really given it a lot of thought, and I am sure that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. My ultimate dream/goal is to compete at the highest levels of competition in the Jumper OR Eventing world (not sure which yet), and maybe even- dare I say- the Olympics. But, like thousands of girls, I am at the bottom of the bottom. Through lots of good reading, research, and advice from other trainers, I am beginning to look for working student positions to fill during the summer/fall of 2014, the year I graduate. I am craving to learn everything I can and advance in my riding and horsemanship skills. I need more show ring and riding experience, and I think that the best way for someone like me (with no money to buy her own upper-level horse, or to pay for lessons) is to become a working student.

                        Can any of you give me advice on my decisions so far, on how to succeed in this industry, or any other good ways to get my name out there in the competition world?

                        Also, PLEASE let me know of any good/top trainers anywhere in the U.S that I can contact about a working student position for next year.

                        Thank you! -Jessica
                        You have had a lot of good advice so far, particularly with respect to finishing your education and getting a college degree and a "fall back" career option to have in your back pocket.

                        The stark reality is that very few people manage to become good enough to ride at the international level; most who do - particularly here in the US - support themselves by teaching, training and sales. A great many more show at the levels below this rung of the ladder, and they also support themselves mainly by teaching, training and sales.

                        If what you are looking for is primarily riding and showing experience, I think you need to know that although riding is generally included in a working student's "tuition," it is generally not the main activity. More often, the WS is helping to run the barn - grooming, doing turn out, feeding, handling the tacking up, etc. At the right place, it is a great way to learn about how to run a barn well, keep the horses in good condition, what sorts of programs suit different horses, and so forth. Certainly there may also be lessons - more likely on green horses, sales horses etc, not anyone's upper level horse - and you can learn a lot about riding simply from being in the ring when the professional schools their rides, and/or teaches the clients. But getting to show is somewhat rare, and usually requires that you can come up with entry $$.

                        If you are really focused on improving your riding, I would not necessarily be looking to "top trainers," or BNTs for WS positions. Generally the riders in those programs are far more experienced than you are at this time, and the clientele in that type of barn is not paying $$$$$$$$ a month to have their show horse hacked by someone without a great deal of knowledge. That said, they are often very good places to work if you want to learn about the care and feeding of top horses and gain an understanding of what it takes to be successful at the AA level, and possibly to make some connections to people who may help you land jobs later. If you're willing to do that, you can certainly consider taking a grooming job, where you'll be paid more for your efforts while you learn than you would via a WS position. A reliable, hardworking person with good communications skills and attention to detail can expect to move into a more senior role (barn manager, road manager, etc) which may be of interest as well. I know several people who took that path and wound up in very nice situations running private barns, where they eventually did quite a bit of riding and showing.

                        As for nuts and bolts advice on being a WS (or groom):
                        1. Treat every single horse that is entrusted to your care like he was the best horse on the planet. Do your best to make sure "your" horses are always the best groomed, happiest and best prepared horses in the barn.
                        2. Make a point of being a bit early for everything, and the first one to volunteer to help out when the opportunity arises. If you have "nothing to do," pick up a broom or polish the bits or tidy the tack room, before someone asks you to.
                        3. If your role includes interacting with clients, be unfailingly cheerful and pleasant with them at all times. You love their horse and enjoy looking after him; as far as you are concerned he never has a bad day and you hope they have a great ride. Ask how the ride went when they return; have a big smile when things go well, and a kind word when things aren't so great.
                        4. REFUSE to gossip. In a grooming or WS position, you will hear things about horses - sales issues, soundness issues, ability issues - and about clients. Let it go in one ear and out the other. If someone makes a comment to you that falls into the "not my business" category, smile pleasantly and change the subject. I cannot stress that enough. The people who get ahead in this (and every other service business) are those who develop the discipline to be routinely discreet, polite and tactful. Be the person everyone trusts.

                        Good luck.
                        **********
                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                        -PaulaEdwina

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          How to make it? Keep doing what you are doing and be patient. We are lucky enough to be part of sport that you can do well into your 50s. Your 17 and you have plenty of time. Find good people to work for and do everything you can.

                          A big piece of advice is try to take a year or two and go overseas to be a groom. Not a working student, an actual groom. You might not get as much riding in but the experience with horse care and running a barn is invaluable to your future. And if you don't like international travel, be a groom here in the states. If your willing to put your own riding goals on hiatus for a year or two, you will be much better off in the long run.
                          Hanlon's Razor

                          Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Read.

                            Especially read the classics. Here's a great list of books to get you started:
                            http://www.equisearch.com/horses_rid...g_list_122107/

                            I'd start at the top with "Riding Logic" and just work your way down!

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Can someone tell me anything about Castle French Farm in NC? Ever heard of it?

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Many upper level riders offer WS Positions. I agree it can be an incredible opportunity. My suggestion would be to pick riders you admire-not just for their competitive achievements, but try to find people who you respect as horseman bc you will learn as much about horsemanship and and barn management as you will riding. Best of luck! (And I sent emails to a number of people whoi may not have been advertising a current position just to see what they offered, and many of them did have some type of working student opportunity. )

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I would recommend trying to find work with an up-and-comer. I am fortunately enough to be working with one and not only am I getting lessons from her, but I get to go and watch lessons with Bonnie Mosser on a regular basis. Her barn is small but it means that when she is away teaching clinics or things I manage it, I get to ride all of her horses (yes, I've even been doing conditioning sets on her 3* horse). Before working there I did a stint riding in argentina. Got to sit on a ton of horses (on average 6 per day), got lots of lessons, groomed at shows, watched grand prix's, and did a little bit of barn work (cleaning tack, throwing hay or doing water occasionally). I learned a lot that I can now use in eventing. PM me if you want more details on my boss or where I worked in argentina.
                                  "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #37
                                    Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                                    You have had a lot of good advice so far, particularly with respect to finishing your education and getting a college degree and a "fall back" career option to have in your back pocket.

                                    The stark reality is that very few people manage to become good enough to ride at the international level; most who do - particularly here in the US - support themselves by teaching, training and sales. A great many more show at the levels below this rung of the ladder, and they also support themselves mainly by teaching, training and sales.

                                    If what you are looking for is primarily riding and showing experience, I think you need to know that although riding is generally included in a working student's "tuition," it is generally not the main activity. More often, the WS is helping to run the barn - grooming, doing turn out, feeding, handling the tacking up, etc. At the right place, it is a great way to learn about how to run a barn well, keep the horses in good condition, what sorts of programs suit different horses, and so forth. Certainly there may also be lessons - more likely on green horses, sales horses etc, not anyone's upper level horse - and you can learn a lot about riding simply from being in the ring when the professional schools their rides, and/or teaches the clients. But getting to show is somewhat rare, and usually requires that you can come up with entry $$.

                                    If you are really focused on improving your riding, I would not necessarily be looking to "top trainers," or BNTs for WS positions. Generally the riders in those programs are far more experienced than you are at this time, and the clientele in that type of barn is not paying $$$$$$$$ a month to have their show horse hacked by someone without a great deal of knowledge. That said, they are often very good places to work if you want to learn about the care and feeding of top horses and gain an understanding of what it takes to be successful at the AA level, and possibly to make some connections to people who may help you land jobs later. If you're willing to do that, you can certainly consider taking a grooming job, where you'll be paid more for your efforts while you learn than you would via a WS position. A reliable, hardworking person with good communications skills and attention to detail can expect to move into a more senior role (barn manager, road manager, etc) which may be of interest as well. I know several people who took that path and wound up in very nice situations running private barns, where they eventually did quite a bit of riding and showing.

                                    As for nuts and bolts advice on being a WS (or groom):
                                    1. Treat every single horse that is entrusted to your care like he was the best horse on the planet. Do your best to make sure "your" horses are always the best groomed, happiest and best prepared horses in the barn.
                                    2. Make a point of being a bit early for everything, and the first one to volunteer to help out when the opportunity arises. If you have "nothing to do," pick up a broom or polish the bits or tidy the tack room, before someone asks you to.
                                    3. If your role includes interacting with clients, be unfailingly cheerful and pleasant with them at all times. You love their horse and enjoy looking after him; as far as you are concerned he never has a bad day and you hope they have a great ride. Ask how the ride went when they return; have a big smile when things go well, and a kind word when things aren't so great.
                                    4. REFUSE to gossip. In a grooming or WS position, you will hear things about horses - sales issues, soundness issues, ability issues - and about clients. Let it go in one ear and out the other. If someone makes a comment to you that falls into the "not my business" category, smile pleasantly and change the subject. I cannot stress that enough. The people who get ahead in this (and every other service business) are those who develop the discipline to be routinely discreet, polite and tactful. Be the person everyone trusts.

                                    Good luck.
                                    Thank you, really. I am absorbing all of this info like a sponge right now. Working for a barn as a job instead of (or in addition to) a working student sounds appealing. I like that I will be paid along with my chance to learn. I agree with you that I am honestly not experienced enough for a top BNT WS position. I am realizing that I think I should look for more of a local or other good trainer or barn to work for. This summer, I plan to travel to some A rated shows near my city and watch, offer to braid or help, anything. And I love the 4 pieces of advice you gave, especially the last one about gossiping. That is a habit I need to rid myself of.
                                    Thanks so much for the advice.
                                    -Jessica

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO IS POSTING, GIVING ME ADVICE. I AM ABSORBING EVERYTHING YOU SAY.

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                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                                        3. If your role includes interacting with clients, be unfailingly cheerful and pleasant with them at all times. You love their horse and enjoy looking after him; as far as you are concerned he never has a bad day and you hope they have a great ride. Ask how the ride went when they return; have a big smile when things go well, and a kind word when things aren't so great.
                                        That right there got me many a tip from owners when I did my gap year. It's in my nature, but boy did it help augment the $50 a week I was getting!

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                                        • #40
                                          I believe best time to be a working student is while you are a junior. The reason is that you are not constrained by the amateur rules. My daughter was a working student/catch rider for two trainers; one in So. Cal where we live and one in St. Louis, MO. She would travel back and forth depending on her school schedule. Being a junior she could ride the trainers horses and sale horses in everything from pony hunters, junior hunters, junior jumpers, and equitation. She got to travel and show all over the country. She got the opportunity for one trainer due to the recommendation of another working student. The other opportunity came when we changed trainers and the trainer asked her to work for her. In order to be able to travel, we sold her horse, so she would not be tied down and that money could be used to pay for airfare. After working and traveling so much for three years, she decided she did not want to become a professional and instead go to college to have a career where she could afford to have nice horses. The nice thing is that all that catch riding made her attractive to college equestrian coaches and she received a nice scholarship to ride on a college team.

                                          I was very supportive of her endeavors because she was an exemplary student who still graduated high school near the top of her class. The key was getting the principal and teachers on board and taking advantage of independent study when she would be gone for three weeks at a time. I could not afford the level of showing she wanted to do, and these opportunities were a godsend.

                                          I would suggest seeing if your current trainer has connections to other professionals where you could get more experience. Hang out at the larger shows and ask the trainers if they need any help in the jog with their ponies or junior hunters. This may lead to an opportunity to hack a horse or pony in the under saddle. Always dress the part and be ready with your saddle in hand. You may get many nos before you get a yes, but persistence can pay off.

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