Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
• Horses: 0
Go find a lesson barn you're comfortable with and start lessons again. Gain a rapport with the owners and then approach them on volunteering to work there.
And yes, it'll almost certainly be volunteering at the start. Most schooling barns have at least some kids who are willing to much stalls and do all the chores in turn for free riding so few will hire adults as a result. I'm not saying this is true for *all* barns as there are certainly ones with adult staff who are actually collecting paycheques vs volunteering, but keep it in mind.
What's involved? Mucking stalls. Feed. Water. Turnouts. And everything in between. If you were involved in riding for a period of time as you suggest I'm sure you have a basic understanding of the work involved.
Just keep in mind it's a LOT of work. A lot of people that ride at schooling facilities but don't immerse themselves in the facility before or after lessons often have no idea how MUCH work goes on before (and long after) their lesson. They just show up, tack, ride, and then stall (or turn out) their horse...and go home. They missed chores starting early in the AM, mucking countless stalls, preparing feed, throwing hay, hauling manure, lugging water (and breaking ice covered buckets depending on the climate where you are), filling paddock troughs (again, where I am, often in the bitter cold), fixing fences, dealing with vets and farriers and customers, oh my. And it goes on and on.
It's hard work. Don't underestimate it. ;)