Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
• Horses: 0
I am a full-time, professional horse trainer/riding coach/clinician and farm owner. But, when I was a horse crazy teenager, I couldn't afford lessons. So, I started working week-ends at a small barn. In exchange, I received riding lessons and a lot of hands on experience in stall mucking and horse care. That all came in handy a few years later, when I finally had my own horse and I was able to work off part of his board and my riding lessons at the farm where he was boarded. Without the years of 'unpaid' experience as a teenager, the boarding barn would not have hired me. It takes time to train someone to properly muck a stall, feed and care for horses, etc.
I encourage you to find a way to pursue your interest. As a busy horse professional, I also encourage you to make a phone call and send an email. You may get voice mail when you call, but leave a message and let them know you will send them an email and give them another call back in a couple of days. (I also used to teach job search skills to college students before I started my own business.) Some people prefer a quick phone call while others prefer email. I know, it often takes me days to reply to emails and much more time to type out a reply. A phone call can be faster.
Over the years, I have had several young people work in exchange for lessons at my farm. I'm always looked for signs that they were very keen, eager to do the dirty work and happy to just be around the horses ... and most importantly, willing to learn.
Don't be discouraged if you don't get a 'yes' to start with. It might take a few 'no's' before you get there. Let other people know what you are looking for as well. You never know what contacts people have.
When you do find someone willing to have you work in exchange for lessons, make sure the arrangement is very clear for both of you. You want to get a fair exchange for the amount of work you will be doing. For example, be clear on how many hours you have to work in exchange for one lesson and also ask how often you will get lessons.
Enjoy the journey.