I live in England, age 18 and am currently on a gap year (year off between school and university.) From April to August 2014 I'm planning to go abroad and am considering a working student position at a yard in America as I'd like to do something horsey. I have a place at medical school so I'm not planning a horsey career in the future (although I hope horses and riding will continue to be a big part of my life) but would really like the chance to do loads of riding and to really improve it before my time with horses is limited by med school! Do people think this is a good idea? I've heard that some working students are treated awfully but others have a great time. Are there any yards that people can recommend? I'm not bothered about where in the country it is. I've seen quite a few adverts on yardandgroom.co.uk and like the sound of one at Horseng Farm in Pennsylvania owned by Heather McCarty, does anyone know whether the programme is good?
Also the descriptions tend to ask for 'competent riders'- what does this mean? Obviously they train you but how good do you have to be to start with? I've been riding for 12 years, mostly at riding schools but I am now part-loaning a horse. I would love to have competed but never have due to lack of opportunity (living in a city without my own horse.) I have ridden a few fairly difficult horses and am quite confident (in that I'm up for trying most things on a horse), and sensible but not nervous. Would I be good enough? Obviously its difficult to tell from this description but any ideas..?! I was also thinking that because Horseng Farm is partly a riding school rather than like an olympians yard it may not require such a high standard of riding to begin with and may be more relaxed in general.
I was a working pupil at my local riding school for a couple of years, so I did yard work every saturday in return for joining one of the group lessons for free, so I'm happy with every day chores like mucking out, tacking up, grooming etc. and can do a decent tail plait, but don't know a lot about bandaging and have only lunged once. Would I need to know stuff like this or is that more for grooms?
I guess I'm just generally looking for more information about these positions so if anyone can help that would be great! Thank you!