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Gillian 10-04-2009 01:29 PM

Internship/Working Student Program?
I plan to ask my trainer about this but do you know of any dressage barns (or other) that offer an internship or working student program? I'd love to find one in Florida, as that's where I am, but that might not be possible. I've been thinking about getting a degree in Equine Science and it's still on my to do list but I also hear that it doesn't really benefit you when looking for a job in the horse world? I'm not sure what my ultimate goals are but I know that I would love to work with horses and have a (new) love for dressage.

So far all I've really found is an internship at a rescue but it's not really what I was looking for. It would provide a pretty good amount of basic all around knowledge. But still. I'm more looking for something that could open some doors for me and that I could really learn a lot from.

Any ideas?

~*~anebel~*~ 10-04-2009 01:46 PM

Most dressage barns that are looking for a "working student" (at least ones in the states that are worth going to) are looking for someone who has experience riding PSG and higher. Even then, it is not a "free ride" and a lot of times you are still expected to pay board, but your training fees are comped.
You're also treated like crap and expected to be riding 10-20 horses a day. You often are last on the lesson list (often don't get a lesson on your own horse) and the head trainer will just yell stuff at you across the arena when you're on random horses. On days off, a lot of times you are still expected to be on the property, and many times still riding.
Yes, you can learn a lot. But you are working your ass off (one girl I know dropped 20 pounds in 4 months, and she was skinny to begin with). It is not for the faint of heart, or those that can't handle the young horses, unruly stallions, horses with rearing/bucking/bolting issues, etc..

I looked into a position a few year ago and I've ridden up to 3rd/4th, worked with young horses, developing horses, etc.. They would hardly consider me and said that they'd still be charging $1500/mo even though I would be working every day. Then I looked into getting a position in Germany and that was a laugh! You're up at 5-6 doing chores, you eat breakfast for 5-10 minutes and then you're riding young horses all day (each person had 5-15 horses assigned to them) on top of tacking up horses for your supervisor, then you do evening chores, and then you eat supper and get to go to sleep. It's a 10 on 1 off rotation? I think? But you need your own vehicle to leave the property.

If you really want to learn dressage, then you have to fork out a lot of money. Being a working student is not the best way to go. You do a lot of work riding other people's horses basically, and you don't get paid and you rarely get lessons. Keep going how you are going, you have a good horse and it seems like a good coach. Keep moving up that way and instead of riding for these big name trainers, train with them.

Good luck!

Gillian 10-04-2009 01:53 PM

Thanks for the insight. I've known people who have been a working student and have heard similar stories. Hmm. Maybe getting a degree in Equine Science isn't such a bad idea after all, ha ha. I'm still considering a place called Meredith Manor (Meredith Manor: Equestrian Career College / Vocational School) and am planning to visit and take a tour of it this year. I did talk with my trainer about it and she thinks it's a great place but you're paying a buttload of money and in her words it may be a little "elementary" for me. I guess we'll see. A lot depends on what I think of it after visiting. I'm definitely interested in the farrier school they have there.


HVH 10-07-2009 04:35 PM

Gillian -
The vast majority of dressage professionals completed a few years as working students / apprentice roles. It can be a very rewarding experience, but you need to explore the relationship thoroughly to make sure you know what you are getting into.

If you are interested, we are ready to post a new role for a paid working student at our Hanoverian breeding farm. The student would be provided an apartment, utilities and salary and would work directly with our Young Horse Trainer and her working students. Our commitment includes formal lessons under the Young Horse Trainer (who is a USDF certified trainer through 4th level) and showing young horses at local schooling shows and recognized USDF competitions. This is a great way to develop a niche within the 'Developing Young Horse' dressage category. Send me a private reply if you are interested.

dantexeventer 10-07-2009 05:42 PM

I just finished up eight months as a working student for an Olympic eventer; and can assure you that not all places are bad! Sure, some people will treat their WS's like crap, charge them money, etc. I got housing, a stall for my horse, DAILY lessons (which were the trainer's priority), rode two or three other horse per day and of course, did all the barn chores with the four other working students. I can't give you any ideas for barns to look into - as I said, I event, and the one I did was in Virginia, but I've only competed at Novice and the barn I was at was one of the most well-known WS programs. You don't have to be a top rider to be a working student - you have to be willing to work hard, be a team player, and WANT to learn. That's all.
Equine degrees are a bad idea - you're paying exorbitant tuition fees for less of an education than you'd get by being a ws. Also, many equine professionals will not hire someone who went to school for equine science/studies, because the schools teach you "their way" and will get you very dependent on it. You'll be far more likely to get a job in the horse world by being a working student, and going to college for something marketable that could be used in the "real world". You always want to have backups - you may very well find that you don't want to be a professional equestrian after being a working student. It's certainly not for everyone - or even most people. Set yourself up to be successful in EVERY walk of life you may pursue!
Good luck in your search! :)

Gillian 10-07-2009 08:02 PM

Thanks you guys! And HVH i'll send you a PM.

Gillian 10-10-2009 06:20 PM

Bumping. I would like to add that I wouldn't be able to start until after I graduate in June (June 10th to be specific). Also adding that I have only been taking dressage lessons for two months but have already made amazing progress with my horse and will be continuing the lessons all throughout the rest of this school year (and beyond if I don't move). However I have had many years (at least 10) of riding hunt/jump, have ridden western pleasure, and done barrel racing for about two years. So I'm pretty much up for anything, and have no problem working hard. I have worked at a training/boarding facility before so I am very comfortable with chores around the barn. Let me know if you know of anywhere or if you have a spot open yourself.


EDIT: Here's a photo of one of my first dressage lessons with my instructor.

MIEventer 10-10-2009 06:30 PM

I've been a working student for a few years and I have to say that it is a wonderful and educational experience - but do your research first. There are quite a few Upper Level riders who take advantage of their working students.

I wish you all the best in your endeavor. Just make sure you take your time and investigate the barns and really take your time to ensure you are making the right choice for YOU.

Gillian 10-10-2009 06:34 PM

Thanks! Will do. I've heard of amazing experiences and of horror stories. I wouldn't make any kind of commitment until I was sure it was the kind of situation I was looking for. There's one I'd LOVE to go to now but I have to finish school first. And by that time they would have already found someone I'm sure, so there's still a chance but I'd have to wait a year. If I don't find one I'd go to school for a year and wait for an opening most likely. But still. I wish I could go now, ha ha. I'm rambling...

o0hawaiigirl0o 10-14-2009 05:37 AM

Here's the one I was telling you about, Gillian:
Bascule Farm - Home
I found them when I did some online internship searching a while back. They're definitely my second choice if my first doesn't go through.

Hopefully by next June/July I should be going to Pittsburgh, PA for an internship at a place called Hartwood Equestrian Center. Sylvia was an apprentice when the barn was run by a father/daughter team. Now the daughter runs her own barn. Sylvia highly reccomended her as they focus on classical dressage and have many good schoolmasters. They don't have a current website, but I should be getting more info at the start of 2010. (omg, it'd be sweet if we did it together) Here's their old website if you want a look:
But yeah, I'm just going on and on... Sorry. =P

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