Does anyone know of any legit 3 day event barns that have working student programs. I'm doing some research and although I've heard many fantastic stories about working student programs, I've also heard things about students being taken advantage of and such. I'm looking for a working student position and was thinking people on this forum may know of some reputable places. Thanks! :-)
I think the best thing to do is find a generally reputable stable that you like and respect and then ask them yourself. You haven't mentioned where you are from, but I would be reluctant to travel far in case it does not work out, and you have spent all this money in travel and have no were to go.
Although I think it is a rare circumstance where students aren't being taken advantage of to an extent. Its just one of those things where you have to decide if you feel you are getting enough out of it to justify the work put in. I think depending on the stable, the instructor, the rider and the individual attitude all affects how positive an experience it is - you won't know until you try, the best instructor might still turn out to be a bad experience, and a less qualified or experienced instructor may teach you a whole lot more. Also ask yourself, if you worked another job and used the profits to pay for lessons, would you be in an equal or better position? Be critical of what is happening, you are the one that lets people take advantage of you.
Put yourself in a position so that if it doesn't work out you still have enough money to get back home or find your own place or something. Also communicate, know what each party expects from the other.
I was a working student for YEARS and it was the best experience of my life. Without having done that, it would have been so mch harder going the distance I did in the show world. A reputable coach can open up huge doors and put great horses under you.
That being said, you need to shop for your best deals. Some farms use and abuse working students. They are given few advantages and feel you are just lucky associating your name with theirs.
Almost every big event farm uses working students. I would contact every barn that you are interested in and ask what they require of their WS. Make sure you determine approximately how many hours you will be spending in the saddle. The farm I worked with had us in the saddle at least five hours a day, six days a week. Once, Major Lynch of Potomac Horse Center (the old timers will know who he was) came to our farm to recruit our coach's WS away from him. The Maj was one of the biggest names at the time in eventing. I asked how many hours in the saddle and he said at least one hour a day. Uh, thanks, but no thanks.
There's a place near me called Bascule Farm and I've looked into it (you have to be 18+ and there's a few other requirements) It's a really nice place, though if you're really serious.
Bascule Farm - Horseback riding lessons, horse boarding, training, sales
If you're a first time working student without an upper level (or upper level-prospect) horse, then I'd steer clear of the super big names. You'll just get left in the shadows and shoved in the barn all the time. Go with some of the smaller farms first (a great place to find a good coach is to head over to USEA's website and find ICP level III/IV instructors and send emails to them) and don't be afraid to jsut send out emails left and right. Usually if someone doesn't have space available they'll know someone who is looking for a working student.
It also depends on your situation. For me, personally, I need a place where housing is provided as well as working off my lessons and training, since I have no financial support from my family. Even as I look for my next position that's one of my priorities. Another of my important things is riding time and lessons. Where I'm at now I get, easily, 3-4 lessons a week, generally more if my coach is in town, and I ride around 2-3 horses a day.
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