When I moved to this farm, I thought of beginning a 'working student' program. I wasn't making enough money to support anything and well, just didn't act on it. Being brand new to this area, I had way to many other things to worry about.
Later on, after things (and us) got settled in, I thought of it again. It never got acted on... One year, I placed an ad on the local Craig's List and see what it brings.
I got many responses from folks wanting to learn to ride, learn how to handle horses and many other things. There were kids around 10 who wanted to come to learn, and older folks wanting to get back into riding.
One by one, the Working Students got weeded out. Some arrived in skin tight jeans, face full of makeup (well- we All know how long makeup lasts in a horse barn) and skinny little tops. Some didn't want to do the 'grunt' work that we all need to know and understand. Some thought washing water buckets was gross.... and so it went. One by one, and two by two came and subsequently left. They just were not serious enough for me to bother teaching and explaining.
Of course, by now, I'm getting older and a lot more achy- and yes, grumpier. There was much less patience for what I called the "stand around" students. They arrived, got tired of actually having to work hard- and then not coddled when riding. Very quickly I would assess whether they were really into horses or not. Those who stuck in there learned a LOT of things they'd never learn merely taking lessons some where. Those people learned to speak to a horse who didn't know English, how to be patient and kind no matter if one's horse was in the process of being so nasty. They learned how to deal with fractious animals, horses in pain, and the heartbreak of losing a dear friend.
So I began limiting ages... one had to be 16 and have a car. One had to have horses galloping around inside their hearts to remain here as a Working Student. Lots of fun and laughter went into learning about horses and working around them. The older people were much more dedicated, having gotten that nonsense out when younger. Some younger people were "old souls"- and they stayed. Being flexible with people going to school or to work helped.
Those who have made it thru are becoming educated horse people- not "just" horse lovers. It makes me smile at how supportive these few people are! The barn isn't just somewhere one's favorite horse is- but a family also. Today, there are paying students here, a wonderful bunch of gals who come to help out, and yes, to learn as working students. By the time some of them actually are lucky enough to own their own equine, they'll be prepared for most anything.
We are laid back and enjoy joking around- but when it comes to someone dealing with a tragedy, we are all there for them. We have a few clinics a year, and I try to make them interesting. There are some days that it'd be so wonderful to be able to 'sleep in' past 7:30 and lately ? I can- thanks to these wonderful women who come to help and learn.
In closing, I love them all dearly, and appreciate ever so much their help, happiness, and being dedicated enough to put up with me
So, here's to our crew! Julia, Kristen, Jessica, Pat, Amanda and those students who come weekly, to those who board here, and lease horses.....