By Jordan Kelly

There are dozens of opportunities to learn from professionals in this industry, and it’s important to find a pro that you click with when you’re looking for a working student position.

You’re not going to click with everyone. Some will have beliefs that you don’t agree with, or ride in a discipline you’re just unable to get into, or maybe you just plain don’t get along. But have no fear! There is something out there for you if you’re really meant to be a working student. Here are tips for your search.

Know What You’re Looking For

Making a list of things you want in a job/trainer can be a great place to begin. Start out with what you must have and what you want to avoid; that will help narrow down your selections as you search. For example, having housing provided could be non-negotiable for you, but you’re flexible on whether you are allowed to bring your own horse.

Make Your Resume

You will want to list any horse-y work experience you have, but make sure to also include any work experience you have – all professional experience will bolster your resume.

If you’ve worked in the service industry, it shows you’re able to work with people. Worked in retail? Another indicator of good people skills, plus sales experience. Equestrian employers are not only looking at what you can do on a horse, they also want to know how your people skills are and what your work ethic is like.

Always include two to four references that can provide honest feedback, not just someone who will say, “Oh she’s great!” Everyone has flaws, but a good past employer will not only highlight what you’re good at, they’ll also describe how you improved during your time with them.

Know Where To Look

There are quite a few sites where you can look for positions. Look at www.yardandgroom.com, www.equistaff.com, www.horsejobs.ca, www.facebook.com/findmyhorsejob, www.sporthorsenation.com and www.eventingnation.com, as well as Facebook groups you can search for. Feel free to also post that you’re looking! It’s possible someone hasn’t posted an ad yet, but will stumble across your post and contact you first.

Be Realistic

Chances are you will be mucking stalls, so don’t put that on your list as a deal-breaker. Your first few years in the horse industry will be the grunt work. Horses don’t stop eating or pooping, and you don’t suddenly become a 4* trainer overnight. Know your place in the industry, but keep in mind that there is room to grow and develop!

Ask for a Trial Period

Asking for a trial period is ideal, as you’re not always sure right off the bat if you’re going to hate your employer and daily routine. Typical trial periods can last anywhere from a week to a month. Being somewhere that you can be happy in the long haul is important, especially in the horse industry where you’ll be spending most of your days with the same people and horses day in and day out.

Working student positions are not for the faint of heart. They require dedication, hard work, and a love for what you’re doing. Some days you won’t want to get out of bed, while others you’re jumping for joy at the thought of starting the day. You won’t be at the bottom of the food chain forever if you bust your tail!

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