How to go about this... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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How to go about this...

Ok so in a year or two I know that I'm going to be searching for a live in working student type situation, where I work in exchange for lessons on how to train horses (I know it's not common, but I've seen a few people offer it here and there when I was younger). Now... I don't want to just call up trainers I'm interested in learning from and just outright asking them "hey, my name is ____ and I was wondering if you might be interested in taking on a working live in student?" because it just... seems rude to me. On the other hand, It's so rare for me to see ads or offers for such a thing, I don't feel I'd see them in time to actually qualify. So... any tips on how I should go about this type of thing? I'm so broke I have a tumbleweed as a pet, so I don't have much money to pay for lessons from somebody. Should I just save up like 10k and then go searching for someone to teach me?
FreedomCalls is offline  
post #2 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 01:31 PM
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Not rude at all. Pick trainers whose horses you like. Call, or drop out. Trainers are busy, though, so you may have to ask what time is best to call or visit on your first contact.

Once you do make contact, write a thank you for their time.

Show up dressed neatly.
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 01:44 PM
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I have no intentions of becoming a trainer, but here's my story: I contacted a local Arabian farm, telling them I'd be interested in taking some lessons on somewhat greener horses (shortly after saddle broke). They have a small lesson program, so it wasn't a crazy request. They put me on their lesson horse for two lessons, and after that on their broke-to-ride, for-sale horse (Everest). Shortly after, I took him on his first trail ride ever, and I've been riding him weekly since. In the beginning of June, trainer asked me, "Do you want to help me break a horse?", referring to a horse that needs a lot more time than he can afford with all the other obligations on his plate. So I started doing groundwork with that horse, independent from the "lesson" arrangement. And you know you're doing it well if the trainer watches you for 15 mins and then leaves you to it, tending to something else.

So, a breeding farm will have many horses that need to be trained, most of which are straightforward and without special issues, so you can get your feet wet with a "standard" course for a horse. If you volunteer your labor, I can't imagine them turning you down, especially if you are promising enough to turn into a time saver for them after a short while...say you work with a horse in one end of the arena, the trainer with another one on the other, keeping an eye on you.

Worked for me - so for what it's worth. I enjoy it a lot. :)
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreedomCalls View Post
Ok so in a year or two I know that I'm going to be searching for a live in working student type situation, where I work in exchange for lessons on how to train horses (I know it's not common, but I've seen a few people offer it here and there when I was younger). Now... I don't want to just call up trainers I'm interested in learning from and just outright asking them "hey, my name is ____ and I was wondering if you might be interested in taking on a working live in student?" because it just... seems rude to me. On the other hand, It's so rare for me to see ads or offers for such a thing, I don't feel I'd see them in time to actually qualify. So... any tips on how I should go about this type of thing? I'm so broke I have a tumbleweed as a pet, so I don't have much money to pay for lessons from somebody. Should I just save up like 10k and then go searching for someone to teach me?
I would approach the issue like a job search/interview. A professional approach IME is preferred to a random, unsolicited call or text.

Write a letter, then you can follow up with a phone call in a week or two.

The letter should state why you want to learn under this person: "I have been observing your methods of training horses, and seen those horses go on to be successful at X (reining, cutting, trails, endurance, etc). I have come to greatly respect your abilities, and I would like to learn more from you."


It should also state your reason for contact: "Unfortunately I do not have the funds to attend one of your clinics, however I am highly motivated and hardworking. I am writing to ask you if you have any positions available for working students."

Lastly proof of your character and abilities: "I have enclosed references from people who are familiar with me and my work habits."
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 02:03 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2011
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Facebook is terrible for the world for a lot of reasons, but in the specific case of what you're looking to do, I actually think it can work pretty well. If you use Facebook, sign up for regional and national groups that represent the breed(s) and/or discipline(s) you'd like to target. I see ads offering what you want every month or so. I read some of them and think how neat it would be to turn back the clock 20 years and go in a completely different direction with my life. It's amazing to me how many comments on those posts talk about how difficult it is to find young people who take advantage of the live-in working student offers.

One farm near where I live, Tamarack Hill (you can look them up online or Facebook) hosts working students in Vermont and Southern Pines, NC every year, and focus on eventing and distance riding with Morgans, TBs, and Warmbloods. They have instructions on how to apply for the working student program right on their website. Another local organization, Green Mountain Horse Association, offers paid summer internships with housing if you are interested in learning more about running an equestrian facility/show venues (I know it's not horse training, but an example of how to break into the horse industry). Just a couple of examples I know of, I'm sure there are plenty of others. So I'd advise you to do some online research, build a list, and then follow some of the other good suggestions you got as far as contacting farms.
egrogan is offline  
post #6 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 02:04 PM
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My riding center is a breeding farm, training center and lesson barn for both dressage and show jumping. There are usually 3 to 5 student riders training/working there at any given time. The roll-over is quick, as people tend to stay on only a year or two before moving on to something else, so they are always looking for help.

If you dream of working with a well-known trainer at a premiere facility, then I would start by approaching them in writing and then by following up, as @AnitaAnne recommends. But, if the barn is not top-notch, chances are that the barn manager is only a part-time position and the office organization is less than optimum, so you might have to drop by several times until you get to speak to someone who is actually doing the hiring. Your best bet would be weekday mornings, when there are likely lesson riders around and the trainer/BO would have time to speak to you. Have your resume in hand to give them personally.
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
So, a breeding farm will have many horses that need to be trained, most of which are straightforward and without special issues, so you can get your feet wet with a "standard" course for a horse.
My experience training/retraining horses for the breeding farm is that you can break one horse, then the next year or two, breaks it's younger sibling, and so on... After the first one you know what buttons the horse comes installed with and can get through to them quicker or more efficiently.

I don't know if I can get behind the horses being without special issues... We had a lot of special horses, and a lot with issues. I guess it depends what the breeders intentions are, and the type of animals you are dealing with, etc.
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-03-2019, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Filou View Post
I don't know if I can get behind the horses being without special issues... We had a lot of special horses, and a lot with issues. I guess it depends what the breeders intentions are, and the type of animals you are dealing with, etc.
I see what you are saying. I meant to allude to the difference between "blank slates" and "problem horses" ruined by people already.
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-05-2019, 01:03 PM
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Check out local equestrian FB pages....the one I belong to in Nashville always has “working student positions available” ad’s!! Good Luck!
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I don't break horses, I FIX them!
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-05-2019, 06:11 PM
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If you come to a trainer offering nothing more than your enthusiasum, you are asking a lot of him/her. Basically, you are asking him/her to give away her time, for free. You have to really have something to offer in return. If you don't have any experience in training, and limited horse handling skills, then you must think what you DO offer them?


A strong back to do grunt work?

Do you have references? Otherwise you are asking them to basically agree to train YOU for free, with no idea if you come with the kind of attitude and committment they need.


Really, as in ALL job hunting, you must think from THEIR side of the equation;


What do they NEED? How can you HELP THEM? (not how can they help you)
Your gain will come secondary, but first you must consider your mentor's needs and concerns.
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