By Jordan Kelly
If you have a working student in your life, please turn and give them a massive pat on the back. Starting in the industry from the bottom is tough, and when you can’t pay for the things to make you successful, you work. You work hard and you work often.
If you want to give a working student position a shot, go for it. Does everyone have the mentality to survive doing such jobs long term? Nope. Everyone needs some tools in their tool belt, I like to keep these handy.
Plenty of Sleep/Hydration/Food
This may seem like a “duh” no brainer type of thing, but I probably lack all three things at this current moment in time. It’s easy to get on a roll while you’re working and not take a gap to eat or drink. Easy snacks are important!
Keep a water bottle handy stall to stall. Granola bars, bananas, apples, yogurt, anything of that quick variety that’s not too “sugary” will be helpful to actually keep your energy level at bay.
Getting enough sleep is super important too, which is easier said than done if you get any extra activities done at night. If you’re feeling a little stressed out, throwing together a soothing playlist (Ed Sheehan is one of my favorites for this kind of thing) and rather than “counting sheep”, sing yourself to sleep!
There are days you will want to kill someone. Please, avoid such occurrence. Learn to deal with interruptions, throw a smile on your face and get chatty with clients (without becoming too off task) Keeping the clients happy keeps your boss happy, it comes hand in hand. Deal with it. Use cleaning stalls as a time to throw your headphones in and go over what you need to get done during the day, and bust through them. This is your “down” time. It’s easy, mindless and relaxing. Don’t allow it to be another stress.
Irritation Release Method
Now you may be thinking, “what?” But let me tell you, sometimes your patience just blows. Let it blow in controlled circumstances. Throw a bucket in the feed room when no one is around, scream into your hands, stomp your feet. Whatever it is that makes you feel better, do it, breathe, and push through. Trust me when I say a two second meltdown lets a lot of tension loose! Just be sure not to take that out on the horses, they don’t deserve it.
Have you ever walked into a barn and looked at the immaculately clean working students and trainers and just thought to yourself, “HOW????”… Good, me too. Most circumstances, you will be getting dirty. Scooping poop, scrubbing buckets and horses, whatever it may be there will be times you will not finish clean. If you do work somewhere that requires you to be presentable at some point of the day, have extra breeches or polos handy. You never know what’s going to happen!
If you are incapable of taking constructive criticism, you are in the wrong field. Well, you’re just not prepared for life period. When your boss says “I don’t like how you do xyz,” your reaction needs to be “okay! How can I adjust this so it is at your standards?” Not, “Ugh! NO ONE APPRECIATES ME!” Suck it up, adjust and carry on a better you than you were before.
If you’ve gotten a working student position without this, I am surprised. Having all of the above, it takes determination to get through most days. If you don’t have the ability to say “yeah, I’d rather be in bed, but I CAN finish these 12 stalls and tack up 6 horses then do miscellaneous cleaning activities I would rather not do!” Without this ability, you won’t finish your first six months.
Related to the previous point, but without passion there is nothing. We have the ability to feel things so strongly, and if you are so passionate about something you love you’re willing to throw down 16 hour days and riding as many horses as you can under arena lights after finishing said days, you’re not just here because you feel like it. Without passion you lack the ability to love and appreciate this sport the way you should. Everyone starts from somewhere, don’t be afraid of the bottom. You can only go up from here.