Working at Sandridge Stables
Read a Day in the Life of a Working Student.
The Working Student Philosophy:
A working student position is not a job, but rather an opportunity to train under a professional to learn and polish skills at almost no cost to the student. As lessons and horses are expensive, it offers the dedicated student an opportunity to obtain their training in an affordable way. It is an intensive, equestrian immersion experience. Many former Sandridge working students have said that it was a formative experience in their lives and equestrian pursuits and stay in touch for years afterwards.
A working student position is not for everyone. Those who succeed however find that they have gained tremendously not only in their riding but also in life skills. While there is no doubt that it is certainly hard work, we try to take opportunities for fun too. In the past, students have taken trips to Florida and throughout the U.S., Spruce Meadows, the Calgary Stampede, the Rocky Mountains (both wilderness and skiing excursions) and of course a variety of shows and training excursions. In the summer time, a weiner roast and campfire often finishes the day.
Generally 6-12 months in duration, there are 2 working student positions available at any one time. Students work 6 days per week with one day off. Duties include all barn chores, turning out horses, cleaning, painting, gardening and light maintenance tasks as well as riding horses. Students work in a group environment in exchange for their training and keep. Lessons may be on their own horse or a school horse.
Benefits of the position include:
- Regular lessons with an Equine Canada Level 3 Coach
- Board for one horse or a school horse to ride
- Room and board for the student, along with laundry facilities.
- A team environment
- Opportunity to obtain rider certification levels
- Opportunities to train for and obtain coaching certification
- Competition and teaching opportunities are also possible for the right candidate.
- Great learning environment with like-minded individuals
To apply, please be prepared to submit a letter detailing your interest in a working student position along with a brief resume and at least 2 references, preferably one from within and one from outside the horse world. Applications may be emailed to Sandridge Stables.
A Day in the Life Of a Working Student
A day in the life of a working student at Sandridge Stables starts out at 7AM when we give the indoor horses their allotted grain. Next, the horses get blankets on and then are taken out to their pens. Time to grab a manure fork and a wheelbarrow; stalls need to be mucked. After that we put evening hay and grain into the stalls, sweep up and TADA! Morning chores are finished around 10:30. Horses need to be worked and knowledge and new riding skills are to be acquired so the rest of the day flies by. Horses are brought in around 4PM, barn swept, tack cleaned and the day is often finished at 5:30. Now we enjoy a delicious dinner meal. Sleep comes easy and we are refreshed and excited to do it all again the next day.
Today started with a glorious sunrise that I was privileged to see while taking out horses to their appropriate paddocks. In doing so, we notice a fence down. Out come the hammer and nails that are always kept handy. It is farrier day, so Angel and I work quickly and efficiently to get the job done correctly. Ken, the farrier, comes around 9 and we have already brought in the first horses that need trimming. Lunch comes quickly and we finish barn chores after Ken leaves. Gunner and Missy, the two youngins are in for their routine training. I lounge Gunner first. He is really quiet so I hop on and Angel gives me a “colt starting” lesson. I learned about being super clear with my aids and using lots of positive reinforcement. Next came Missy and she has more get up and go. With her, we are working on stopping and staying there a minute or two. They are both a little sweaty so we leave them in for a while- it’s off to bring in horses for the evening!
Because it is Saturday, I am working with Rebecca. It’s another astonishing warm day and jackets are barely needed. Horses are put out and stalls mucked. Kathy is teaching today and when the barn is almost clean, students start arriving. I’m riding my horse, Thunder in a lesson at 1PM. The arena is set with the famous circle exercise with four jumps. Thunder and I are working on rhythm and by the end of the lesson we are both exhausted. Kathy is an amazing teacher and I felt challenged when the jumps became verticals but also very successful. I am so proud of my horse!
Gunner and Missy got ridden today again. I trotted the first time on Gunner! He acted like a pro and is really smooth at the trot. I felt like he carried me well and responded quickly to downward transitions. I love how friendly Missy is when I go to catch her in the field. She was a little spooky but became relaxed by the end of the session. What awesome horses!
Sarah came to teach lessons and I rode a horse named Dually in a jump class. We practiced doing a grid with 3 jumps. It was more of a canter exercise. I am learning to collect his stride- especially at the canter. By the end of the lesson he was rocking back onto his hocks more, so that is encouraging. Flying over jumps tends to remind me of how much fun it is to ride and why I do it. *sigh* another exhilarating day has come and gone….
I have been greatly enjoying the temperatures being warmer then -20 lately. It seems like it is almost spring! Today is Saturday, and my family came to watch me ride. My dad hasn’t seen me ride in a couple years so it meant a lot to me to have him be there. He only remembers when Thunder bucked him off when she was a lot younger. Kathy got us doing a grid without stirrups and reins and it went smoothly except the time Thunder decided she would rather go around instead of over. I was surprisingly comfortable without stirrups/reins but I think if I were on a different horse that I don’t trust as much I wouldn’t be so nonchalant about it. Then we did a course with a couple bending lines which made me really focus on my track. This was Thunder’s first time jumping at angles so I tried to prepare her as much as possible. I tend to throw my upper body at the horse too much over jumps that I think might be higher but closing my eyes over the jump helps immensely with that. It is so encouraging seeing the progress of my horse!
Becoming a working student was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. I learned a lot about our fellow equine athletes as well as many important life skills. As a working student, you are given opportunities to ride a variety of different horses. This has made me a more confident rider. I learned that dressage is more then just making circles and that jumping requires a good sense of timing. Having determination and working hard are qualities Sandridge Stables taught me that are valuable in all aspects of life. Doing barn chores may not be ranked as enjoyable for some horse people, but with an enthusiastic attitude, anything can be fun! A huge thank you to Tricia for riding through me and helping me understand the mind of the horse.