Looking for working student program suggestions

Does anyone have recommendations or warnings about Eventing working student programs/trainers? Would love to hear about any experiences!

If you are serious about getting on in the sport, consider going to the UK, the epicentre of eventing. There are plenty of opportunities regularly advertised, or just contact some riders directly.

The UK has strict employment laws and the role, knowledge and skill of grooms is increasingly being recognised. As a groom you usually get paid, have a contract, work reasonable hours, have paid holidays - and generally plenty of riding and even training. Don’t know about work visa requirements.

Look at the Professional Grooms Association webpage (www.britishgrooms.org.uk) as that lists jobs.

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It depends on what your goals are, what level you currently ride at, if you have a horse to bring along, if location matters, etc.

I have seen Slezak Eventing recently looking for a working student, they are located in Florida.

Hi, I have had a program for over 20 years and I am currently looking for a new working student. Please check out my website and contact me if you are interested in talking further.

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Liz Halliday-Sharp also posted an opening for a working student recently.

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and I have it on very good authority that Meyerhoff Show Horses in NC is looking for someone and is a FANTASTIC program to work in/for. HOME | meyerhoffshowhorses

I would vet your programs very carefully. Many of them are essentially free-labor positions with very little reward in return for the WS – expect 50-80hr weeks, with not much time for riding or showing. Look for one that provides lodging and horse - if a small stipend is included, great. If your parent[s] have to pay for your lodging while you work 50-80 hrs… I’d advise shopping elsewhere.

If your goals are to pursue your riding on your own horse, make sure you ask about whether you can show while you work. Make these expectations clear with the BNT ahead of time . Look for jobs where it is clearly stated that your horse is welcome and that time will be made for you at the beginning (or the end) of the day for lessons and/or training rides on clients.

Ask past workers what it was like working for the BNT - but keep in mind you may not always get an accurate picture of the scope of work and the personality of those involved… The horse world is small and many WS might not speak poorly simply because of that.

As much as I hate to say it, I agree the real opportunities to improve your riding (and networking) are across the pond. Much better lodging, training, and rates over there. In the US the expectations of their WS are unreal. While it can be a good way to get your foot in the door in this industry, there is significant working student burnout and beware any BNT that seems to constantly cycle through their working students…

Signed,
A past WS rat.

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Agree with Beowulf to vet the program carefully. If you’re working 6 days a week as a WS and working nights to pay for your groceries, you are going to get burnt out. If there’s no return- like if your goal is being more competitive, and you don’t have time for lessons or money to compete- you’re going to get burnt out. Look for programs where the WS are actively competing and moving up, and where the majority of “graduates” are successful in their endeavors.

Decide ahead of time what you need, and make sure you get it from the start. If there’s no stipend provided, consider whether that will work for you long term. Are your parents willing and able to subsidize your meals, insurance, phone, and other necessities (farrier, vet bills, competition costs)? Take promises of increased pay down the road with a grain of salt- I would recommend asking for a solid timeline (raises after 6mo/a year, etc) and getting that in writing. Consider how long their employees seem to stick around- high turnover can be a red flag, but people sticking around for a very long time in a low level program can be a red flag, too.

This isn’t to discourage you from going the WS route- there are lots of great opportunities out there. But there are also lots of mid-level programs out there that rely on WS labor to run their barns, don’t pay you enough to live on, and won’t get you much closer to your goals. Figure out what you want, and look for programs that have a consistent record of getting people there. I have been around the block a bit so would be willing to provide some additional specifics via PM, if you like.

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