Dear Jessica, I am thinking about spending next summer as a working student. I was wondering what kind of things you think a working student needs to know to get such a position. I am showing my horse over 3'3" jumps and I can ride First Level dressage tests. Do you think I would be more likely to get a working student job if I could show at 3'6" and do Second Level tests? I am willing to take extra lessons this year if that's what I'll need to know. Please tell me what you think.
Your fan, Sandie p.s. I am seventeen years old
Unless your position is going to involve schooling or even exercising horses, your riding skills are probably much less important than your barn skills and general organizational skills.
These are the kinds of things that you need to know if you're going to be a working student. Learn them this year - don't wait until you've applied for the position. There are other things that you'll be told the first day, or that you will learn as you go - every barn manager has a favourite tack-cleaning product, for example, or a preferred way to roll bandages and quilt. But at any barn, the items on this list - and many more - are the kinds of things that you'll be expected to know when you start.
The best advice I can give you is this: If you're in Pony Club, know your C Manual by heart - and make a good start on learning the material you'll need to know for your B. If you're not in Pony Club, get a copy of the C Manual (that's the United States Pony Club Manual, Volume I, C Level) and become very familiar with everything in it. Spend some time at the tack store and looking through your various catalogues, so that you'll recognize whatever anyone asks you to go to the tackroom and get. ;-)
Talk to your instructor - taking extra lessons is a great idea, and they shouldn't all be riding lessons, either. Find out whether you can get some lessons in wound care, poulticing, bandaging, etc.
Good luck, and remember that the more you do this year and the better you prepare, the more likely it is that you'll get the working student position you want, do well, and enjoy it. Feeling competent will make you more secure, and allow you to make the most of your learning time. And if you change your mind between now and next summer, and decide that you don't want to be a working student, you'll still have all of that useful new knowledge - as long as you're riding and doing anything with horses, it won't be wasted.
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