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Working Student/How To Make It...

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  • Working Student/How To Make It...

    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

  • #2
    There are lots of threads on this. Run a search for working student, you should find some. I'm not very creative, so copying/pasting a post I made on another thread like this...

    I think you need to take a lot of lessons, as many as you can. Get as much saddle time as you possibly can manage. Watch other people's lessons; you can learn so much about riding and teaching by watching. Watch the top professionals in the schooling ring at horse shows. Learn from mistakes, both the ones that you make and the ones you see other people make. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, as that's how you learn.

    Be a working student. Right now, I think you have rose-colored glasses on about the industry (which a lot of aspiring people have). This is a rough, rough industry to make a living in, even if you're the best rider in the world. You need to get perspective on that by working as hard as you can. Talk to riders, ask them how they got to where they are. Talk to grooms. Talk to barn managers. You need to learn as much as you can about every aspect of horse care because being a professional does not just mean riding. It means understanding all the little details and being able to adjust your program to make them come together. I think I know what area you're in, so if you PM me, I might be able to send you suggestions about who to contact.

    Be realistic about your goals. Most of us are not Reed Kessler and will not be going to the Olympics at 18. For that matter, most of us will never go to the Olympics, period. You can have lofty long-term goals, but make smaller, more attainable ones in the meantime. If you're currently showing at 1.40m, for example, set a goal like aiming for a clear round at 1.45m, or being double clear in a really technical class. Learn the metric conversions so your life is a little easier. Realize that it's not just about the height you have jumped, but whether you did a course of it and whether you did it well or if you just got from one side to the other. Getting to the International level and being competitive in the 1.60m classes takes a long, long time and a ton of work, not to mention some incredibly gifted horses. Set that as your long-term goal. Know that in the meantime, you have a lot of learning to do and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that will go into it.

    Once you have more experience, do the Emerging Athletes Program. I'm thinking about Jacob Pope and the opportunities he's had as a result of the program, not to mention the opportunities he'll have going forward.

    You didn't mention anything about having a trainer, so if you don't, get one. You need insight from someone who is already in the industry (and you need to be taking lessons).

    Most importantly, go to college and get a degree. Regardless of who you are, it could take as little as one bad injury to have you out of the saddle for a long time or even forever. I would suggest a business degree so you can manage your accounts. Don't go to school for one of those "equine science" degrees.

    Sit on as many horses as you possibly can. Learn from all of them, whether it's a rank mustang who thinks that you belong in the dirt, a green pony who is concerned about the boogeymen hiding in the flowers at jumps, or the stereotypical schoolmaster who will teach you much of what you need to know. There is always a lesson you can take away from a horse, including learning when to say no to getting on something because it's dangerous.

    Say thank you. Be grateful. Appreciate the opportunities you get, the network connections you make, and the horses you get to work with.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

    Comment


    • #3
      Start searching on yard and groom for working student positions. I'm all for college, but a gap year to really experience what its like to be in the industry full time can't hurt.

      Maybe cross post to the eventing forum if you are serious about it as well? I'm sure there will be others on here with some good advice, but yard and groom is a great start.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you very much. This is helpful. I know that there are quite a few working student threads around here, I just decided to make on of my own. I have a trainer now. I have been with her since I was 11. She has taught me everything I know, and I take lessons at least 3 times a week. If she can't give a lesson, I am still out there riding. I will PM you probably tomorrow, I would love to hear any other info you may have. I REALLY appreciate this. I take all of this to heart.
        -Jess

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Working Student/ How To Make It

          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

          Comment


          • #6
            http//www.yardandgroom/ Has lots of wk. student jobs posted. Start looking now and make note of trainers that intrest you and do some research. They may not have adds up when you are ready, but it never hurts to say you remember their add and do they have a position open Can't make link work, sorry google it

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks, I will definatley look into yardandgroom.com. That sounds like a great place to start. I will even call other trainers that aren't on these websites. Calling a year early isn't bad, right? lol.

              Comment


              • #8
                I suggest winning the lottery....

                Comment


                • #9
                  Definitely go to college and get a degree in something non-horse related, I cant agree with that more! At least an associates of some sort.

                  I have been a working student for several years now and have been with the same trainer for two years as of this month. Find a trainer in your area to start out with, email them and see if they have a working student and send your resume and cover letter, and maybe a video of you riding and jumping, it helps a lot. At first I would not worry about finding the "best" or "biggest" barn to work for, start small an work your way up which is what I did. I started out just cleaning tack and taking lessons to now doing lots of training rides, and I am starting to teach lessons. You wont get that kind of experience in the bigger barns and having that on your resume will help you later on.

                  I worked for our areas top Hunter Jumper barn and it was a great experience, but did not get as much riding experience as I would have liked till the very end. I ended up leaving last month just because I was so busy with my other w/s position and my new horse.

                  I also suggest maybe taking some lessons from other trainers in addition to the one you have been with for a while, haul-in to some clinics or ride at other barns to get different views on things.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Definitely go to college and get a degree in something non-horse related, I cant agree with that more! At least an associates of some sort.

                    I have been a working student for several years now and have been with the same trainer for two years as of this month. Find a trainer in your area to start out with, email them and see if they have a working student and send your resume and cover letter, and maybe a video of you riding and jumping, it helps a lot. At first I would not worry about finding the "best" or "biggest" barn to work for, start small an work your way up which is what I did. I started out just cleaning tack and taking lessons to now doing lots of training rides, and I am starting to teach lessons. You wont get that kind of experience in the bigger barns and having that on your resume will help you later on.

                    I worked for our areas top Hunter Jumper barn and it was a great experience, but did not get as much riding experience as I would have liked till the very end. I ended up leaving last month just because I was so busy with my other w/s position and my new horse.

                    I also suggest maybe taking some lessons from other trainers in addition to the one you have been with for a while, haul-in to some clinics or ride at other barns to get different views on things.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      SUGGESTION

                      Check out Phyllis Dawson's working student program: www.teamwindchase.com. The girls work hard, but learn an incredible amount.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        This sounds great, thank you

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Also, has anyone heard of Castle French Farm in NC? They asked to see a video of me riding.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I second the above suggestion. One of my good friends got her career started with Phyllis and is now a successful Advanced event rider!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As always, I agree with supershorty.

                              Speaking as someone who has done the working student thing, I think you have a very optimistic picture of what the industry is like. And I don't actually buy that working student positions (most of them anyway) lend anything more valuable than something to put on your resume'. Most of those positions chew up and spit out multiple ambitious youngsters like yourself a year.

                              Go to college. Major in something like business or marketing or psychology - something that will help you build a business or deal with people. I think college is an extremely valuable social experience, if nothing else. And you can always ride through college. Heck, I have the coolest job ever and I would never have gotten it if I hadn't ridden for my school's team.

                              You also need to realize that working in the horse industry will, most likely, never pay you what most would consider a living wage. You may be able to afford to eat and even keep a roof over your head, but forget about being able to afford health insurance or vacations or new vehicles. Being poor isn't fun, no matter how many ponies are involved. So don't get yourself so locked into the industry (by not going to college and not opening other non-horsey doors) that you can't get out.
                              "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
                              -George Morris

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                One thing that stood out from your post to me is that you have been with the same instructor and that you learned everything you know from that instructor. It's always good to get other opinions and learn from more than one horse AND more than one instructor. Take some clinics. No one instructor knows everything and often there is much to learn from another instructor.

                                I will also strongly recommend getting a college education. At 18, I was offered a full time teaching position at a barn I was working at. However, I had recently had a clinic with an older dressage instructor who mentioned that at 75, she still couldn't retire because she had been an instructor all her life and had no pension or 401k.
                                THAT one little anecdote inspired me to go to college. I did turn professional and teach for many years. But always as an aside to my regular job.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  One thing that stood out from your post to me is that you have been with the same instructor and that you learned everything you know from that instructor. It's always good to get other opinions and learn from more than one horse AND more than one instructor. Take some clinics. No one instructor knows everything and often there is much to learn from another instructor.

                                  I will also strongly recommend getting a college education. At 18, I was offered a full time teaching position at a barn I was working at. However, I had recently had a clinic with an older dressage instructor who mentioned that at 75, she still couldn't retire because she had been an instructor all her life and had no pension or 401k.
                                  THAT one little anecdote inspired me to go to college. I did turn professional and teach for many years. But always as an aside to my regular job.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    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!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by SaturdayNightLive View Post
                                      As always, I agree with supershorty.
                                      Why can't you live closer to me?
                                      http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
                                      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
                                        Why can't you live closer to me?
                                        Even worse, I just moved even further South.
                                        "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
                                        -George Morris

                                        Comment

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