5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Working Student
Becoming a working student was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Not only did I become a better rider, I also gained an amount of knowledge that is unparalleled. I learned so much about general horse care and the industry that I would never have learned otherwise. However, being a working student is not all rainbows and butterflies. It is by no means glamorous or easy. So here are 5 things I wish I knew before becoming a working student.
1. Caffeine is your new best friend
Not only are you doing manual labor, you will be working some pretty crazy hours. Horses get fed early. So it’s not unusual to be up at 4:45am to get to the show grounds and feed before your trainer comes out to start hacking horses and stay until after the Grand Prix under the lights is over. Coffee, Coca-Cola, and Monster will become your best friend. Caffeine and sugar will literally keep you going. And the barn Keurig that goes to horse shows? That is a prized possession.
2. Lunch breaks are for the weak
When I say lunch breaks are for the weak I really mean that the only way that you’re getting one is if you’re dying of starvation or by some miracle there is actually time. That caffeine I said was your new best friend? Yea, that’s your lunch. Seriously. You are constantly moving so if there is any time to eat, it’s generally while biking across the show grounds to check people in at the ring. The only real meal you can count on is dinner, and eating 3,000 calories in one sitting in an attempt to make up for the lack of food you’ve eaten that day is totally normal… right?
(“Multitasking at its finest” picture shows me scarfing down a doughnut while riding a bike to the ring PC: Sarah Black)
3. Monday is the best day of the week
While the rest of the world complains about how awful Monday is, “Monday Fun-day” is no joke for those of us in the horse world. Most barns operate Tuesday-Sunday making Monday the only day you get off. Mondays will become the one day you get to sleep in and not smell like horses. It is also the one day that you get to hangout with your non horsey friends… or your horsey friends because seeing them 6 days a week at the barn still isn’t enough. Mondays will quickly become something you look forward too.
4. You will probably want to quit
Some days your entire day goes right and some days… it just doesn’t. There will be days that you want to quit because you belly flop in the mud in your brand new white pants because you fell off in the schooling ring right before the classic, you haven’t eaten in 12 hours, and you’ve only gotten 5 hours of sleep in the past 2 days. You have to keep a positive attitude and shake it off. Your mood will affect everyone else in the barn and trust me, horse shows are much more fun when everyone is laughing and having a good time
(“Belly flop!” Picture shows me in a unicorn mask soaked in mud after falling off PC: Christa Jeffs)
5. Barn friends are the BEST friends
Caffeine may be your number one, but your barn friends are right there at number two. The friendships I made while I was a working student are truly irreplaceable. They are the people who have seen you so defeated that you just stand in the pouring rain wondering why you didn’t just give yourself a normal summer and go to the beach with your family. They are also the people who have seen the biggest smiles after an entire day runs smoothly and you get off early enough that you can (literally) run through the Gettysburg National Battle Park before you have to go back for night check. Some of my craziest stories come from being with these people. Seriously, they are the best, and without them you probably won’t make it through your time as a working student.