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Trainers, Students working off lessons?

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  • Trainers, Students working off lessons?

    I was wondering what you trainers out there think about (teenage) students working off lessons?

    Do you like seeing someone work for some of their lessons rather than having their parents fork over the cash? Is it worth your time?

    Just curious to see it from a trainer's point of view.

  • #2
    I have done this before. It works for students I know, and have already been teaching, in particular if they are just working off extra lessons (for example parents pay one lesson a week, and then get a second lesson in exchange for cleaning lesson tack).

    I think this is win-win. Gives the student work experience, an idea of working for what they want, and gets some of the little stuff done at the barn for little cost to me. Even students who have parents who are happy to pay seem to enjoy working off some lessons. Pride of work and happy to hang out at the barn I think!
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


    • #3
      I used to do it! My mom would pay for one lesson and then I would work at the barn for the second. It was great :] I did have to spend all day at the barn it wasn't just a couple hours. I think I worked from about 8am to 5-6pm I did this for about a year.


      • #4
        I agree with CHT's comments, philosophically, but for me, I need the money to pay bills more than I need extra labor around the farm, so having students work off lessons just doesn't make sense. I don't have any paid employees, so I don't save money on payroll by using barn rats. Love the philosophy, happy to have them volunteer to work just to be at the barn and to learn.

        I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


        • #5
          A couple years ago I offered to let one girl work off practice rides. Basically, I knew she needed saddle time and one of my older horses needed exercise, so it should have been win-win. My only stipulation was that the work had to be done before the practice ride could be scheduled, and I had to be there while she was working or riding. I think she worked off one ride then got "too busy" and "couldn't get a ride to the barn." Kids. My offer was two hours worth of work, meaning a job list that I estimated to take two hours, to one practice ride. I was hoping to get water buckets scrubbed and bleached, tack cleaned, trailer cleaned, that sort of thing.


          • #6
            If a kid is vested, so am I. I was very fortunate to have someone give me horses to ride & be a good mentor when I was a kid, but she did expect me to be responsible for the things we'd agreed to and live up to expectation. I've been happy to pay that forward with the same stipulations.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you for the replies.

              My parents give me a certain $ amount each month, and I pay the difference to get a total of 6 lessons a month. However to ride twice a week, I need to work off 2 lessons a month. When I started with my new (4 months) barn, my mom, trainers, and I discussed this. I worked off one lesson (cleaning and de-spiderwebbing the arena) walls, washing and disinfecting boots, cleaning tack, and tidying the grooming stalls. My trainer said 5 hrs work per lesson (and I have my own transportation), and I packed it in. I am not a particularly fast worker-just average, but I am very thorough, hard worker and never stop! It was not brought up again, so I have been feeling awkward about asking (and because I messed my lesson time up two weeks ago!)

              They do know that I am a hard worker who appreciates and puts the horses first, as well as am not handed horses and lessons on a silver platter.

              Thank you again!


              • #8
                5 hours in exchange for a lesson sounds pretty reasonable to me, depending on how much the lessons cost. If I did that it would equal about $8/hour. I did work for my trainer for a while and the trade I got was worth $10/hour toward lessons, but it was the more physical stuff - stalls, turn in/out, feeding, water, sweep up whole barn. As a teen, I worked in a different barn and basically did all labor and managed everything all day on the weekends. In exchange I could ride any of the horses as much as I wanted (not lessons or instruction) - with getting everything else done, that never amounted to more than an hour or two per day after 8 hours of work.

                The deal has to be good for both parties in order for it to work. And obviously, most trainers cannot afford to offer working off lessons to a large number of students - there's only so much work to be done, and trainer has to be bringing in enough actual cash to stay operational.


                • #9
                  What does the trainer charge for a lesson and use of a school horse?

                  5 hours work per lesson is fair and about what most barns offer IF they allow any working off of lessons. They credit around $10 an hour (more then they would pay an entry level barn worker) and most lessons on their horse are going to run 50ish+ depending on area.

                  The issue is getting to be the cost of hay and feed skyrocketing and your credit towards lessons does not provide cash for the hay guy...barns can't afford to be so free with that option any more.

                  Hate to say it but because you started and then backed out plus "messed up" your lesson time? Going to need to work at reproving yourself before they are going to offer again.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    Hate to say it but because you started and then backed out plus "messed up" your lesson time? Going to need to work at reproving yourself before they are going to offer again.
                    This. IME, the best way to prove yourself is to be punctual, organized, do what you're asked, and do it well. It's always nice to do the work just for extra rides, but if you can show your trainer that you're really interested in caring for the horses or keeping the place in good shape, or what-have-you it'll help you a lot because your trainer will see that you're dedicated.
                    If i smell like peppermint, I gave my horse treats.
                    If I smell like shampoo, I gave my horse a bath.
                    If I smell like manure, I tripped.


                    • #11
                      I let some of my lower-income students work off extra lessons - they still have to pay for a certain number of lessons per month, but they can work off extra if they want to. Main things I need help with is cleaning manure out of paddocks, cleaning stalls and refilling water buckets, and help with leading young beginner children in lessons. I wish I had more to do so I could help more people out, but the farm isn't that big and my husband does most of the work. (he's awesome like that)
                      Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                      Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!