About the Series
A little about the dirty truth series is that it is the dirty dish of things. The dirty little truths about things in the horse industry. Not everything we see or go through in this industry is what it looks like. From the outside the industry is luxurious, expensive, elegant, country, rowdy, hardworking, ect. I have on multiple different instances assumed that things in this industry and this world were exactly how I assumed they would be and it turned out to be dead wrong. This serious is going to give you a little dirty dishing about things that I view as important to know. So to start our series we are looking at the most common misconception out there.
The Working Student
“Working student.” It’s a phrase that is often thrown around in the horse world, but what does it really involve? If you’re questioning whether being a working student is right for you, or even whether you should take a working student on yourself, this information about the world of the working student may help you decide because I’m not going to sugar coat the work that it involves.
The Basics of Being a Working Student
The exact duties of a working student are a bit hard to describe, since every working student position is different. Typically, a working student is a young adult who aspires to become a professional rider or trainer. An established rider or trainer often takes on a working student for help with their barn and horses. In exchange, working students usually receive riding lessons from the trainer or rider.
Many working student positions include lodging, though there is rarely any payment involved. Instead, working students receive knowledge and training in specific things that would not be taught in formal lessons. The job of a working student is a hard one, usually requiring long hours and offering few days off. If a rider is traveling, working students may travel a circuit with the rider, or they may stay back at the barn to take care of the horses who are staying behind. Staying behind can be one of the most trusted moments in a young student career.
Why Be a Working Student
Being a working student requires a lot of physical work with very little financial reward. So why do it? The rewards of being a working student are based more in the instruction and experience that you receive while working the position. Working students often have the opportunity to ride talented upper-level horses that they might not otherwise be able to ride. Additionally, if you are working under a quality rider or trainer, you can’t beat the instruction that you will receive. The experiences and knowledge received are not those that can be taught in a lesson. Most experiences come from seeing injuries and moments and learning first hand how a trainer, owner, and manager handles the situation.
Evaluating a Working Student Position
If you are considering becoming a working student, take a look at the different positions available. I can not stress enough to do your research not only about the position and expectations, but about the facility and who you will be working for. If you have a rider or trainer that you admire, find out if they are or will be accepting working students. In the meantime, brush up on your horse care, grooming, and riding skills, and ask your current trainer if you can use them as a reference.
When considering a particular working student position, it is important to thoroughly understand just what your responsibilities and time commitment will be. You should also specifically ask about what you receive in return – is your housing paid for? How many lessons will you receive, and how regularly? If there is no monetary stipend, then consider how you will cover your own expenses, such as food.
The Bottom Line
Working student opportunities can be a great way to get a leg up in the horse world as you learn from some of the best in the industry. Often times you can receive a great recommendation later from these facilities and trainers. But remember this isn’t an easy job. The bottom line is you get what you put in. So having a great working hard and learning attitude is key to success.