I’m in desperate need of advice. I’ve had this plan to take a gap year and find a job as a working student for years. I’m a senior now and I’ve deferred a year from school to follow through with this plan. But now it seems like everybody is trying to talk me out of it and a career with horses in general. I get it, it’s not easy.
On to the gritty stuff: what’s reasonable to expect with a working student position? Is it stupid to expect riding time on my horse or others? I understand fully that the majority of my time would probably be chores—I’m willing to put in the work. I want to find somebody that will allow me to bring my horse and take lessons with them; extra rides would be a perk. But of course, I’m not one of those riders with real natural talent. I’ve put in work for years and years and I’m driven, but I will never be the best. I want to work with horses either riding or managing/grooming, and I want to find a job where I can learn a ton about it.
I’ve had so many people tell me different things. My trainer told me that her first job out of college was really only doing stalls, even though she was working for somebody she’d known for her whole life. I don’t want that. I’m willing to do stalls, but I also want time to learn. I want to watch lessons and learn from observing, but I’d love to find somebody that can also teach me.
I’ve also learned so much about how many trainers will really just use their working students as workers and not students. How can I ensure that I find somebody that will be good for me and my horse? I’ve been so lucky to be with a great barn since I started riding; I’ve ridden with them for over ten years and worked for them for almost five years. I’m used to the best of care and people in a relatively good mental state. However, I understand that this isn’t the case in many many barns.
I’ve been warned about a lot of drug use and just bad mental health in trainers and employees in general at so many of the top barns; I don’t want that. But how do I avoid it??
I’m really just having some anxiety about the fact that even knowing all of this, I still want to be in this industry. So I guess what I’m wondering is, have any of you been through this? What did you do or who did you work for? Bonus if anybody has any ideas of people looking for working students who will give me some opportunities (no, I don’t expect to be showing random horses or riding a billion a day [not that I’d be opposed], but I want somebody to give me a chance).
Thank you for reading all of this, and I hope that somebody can give me some peace of mind on this.