These top 4 might not be what you expected.
Sure, most will agree that taking on a working student arrangement will develop better riding skills, and more exposure to horse handling of all kinds – it just comes with the territory.
But surprisingly I’ve found it’s not what I got the most out of the experiences from various training barns.
Spending some time working with a trainer, if only for a little while, is worth it, even if it means you’ll have to put some other goals on the shelf for a while.
No matter where we are in our riding, we are (hopefully) always wishing we could do it better.
Heading out for months, or a year, to a top-notch training barn somewhere in the world and learning the ropes might not be possible for everyone, or anyone above age 25. Hey, we’ve all got this other thing called Real Life to take care of too on top of our riding plans.
But even by arranging a short term situation to work closely with professionals in your chosen discipline, in my case dressage, a lot can be learned and almost nothing lost.
Except a bit of your time, effort, sweat, and ego. And oh, yeah, also the baggage of always dreaming of riding nice expensive horses again… Details.
My top 4 reasons. Yours may be different!
1 Time management
Dawdling around with one horse might be OK, but to get through the day with several of them needing to be trained, one has to quickly learn how to work efficiently. I started at Sandy’s, and she’d have 13 horses to work with on any given day, a low number at the time.
I’m a notorious time waster with grooming before a ride. It took a few months to get out of the habit, you’ll probably pick up on it faster than that. Let’s hope you pick it up faster than that…
Watching how to cut down time in everything, from grooming, to cooling off, tacking off, bathing, and turning out is extremely helpful.
2 Horse Care and Training Management
With every new training barn, well in any barn really, a whole new slew of rules and care practices await. The trick is to learn to adapt, stay open-minded, and to keep all the good stuff you’d like to carry on to your own barn.
With every new experience, comes the opportunity to learn something new, and to also ask some important questions to your self.
- What do you agree with?
- What would you (and will you) do differently?
- Why and how are things done in this particular way?
Also, experiencing a different barn and its inhabitants is a great way to learn not to listen to all “The Experts.” Oh you know they are there!
After coming back to riding as an adult after years of being away from horses, I was shocked at the amount of self-righteous people demanding full and complete acceptance of their “expertise” whether that came from Craigslist, their cousins backyard horses, or some outdated horse management skills they picked up 20 years ago which now reign as the sole correct way. Called “The Experts”, they’re alive and kicking in every barn, and best ignored.
The more I’ve been out there; observing, listening, getting advice from real professionals, and research on my own when in doubt, the easier it has been to stay the right course.
Still not very adept at dealing with “The Experts.” (Really, how are you supposed to respond to some of it?) But at least better at staying quiet.
3 Goal Setting (!)
It can be a defining time, not just for setting show goals, if you have the opportunity to plan for that, not all of us do. But as a measurement of the attitude and relationship toward your own horsemanship.
This is an expensive, physically wearing, and time-consuming sport, with opportunities not equally open to everyone. Spending some time seeing how it’s done other than as just a hobby is eye-opening.
- What do you want to get out of working with your horse?
- What will a good day at the barn mean for you?
- What will keep you going when you’re back on your own? (Training alone with not much advice or encouragement.)
- Which attitude do you wish to keep toward your horse?
4 Most important reason: Seeing the training process and the struggles even professionals have to deal with.
Especially how they come up with a solution. Not that it’s enjoyable to see, but that it does happen. It creates confidence when sort of stuck at home with something similar. They go through incredible hardship and have to be creative and open-minded in the approaches to each horse.
It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve learned how to deal with all the problems my self, but just seeing how incredibly difficult stuff can be sometimes is in itself very motivating.
Strange training issues with horses, injuries, training setbacks, illnesses, accidents, crazy weather, long periods of periods of no real progress with some horses. It helps to see this, and remember that when training on my own.
Also, knowing that it’s much easier to keep the training going, and in the right direction, when there’s help around. I keep that in the back of my mind as I’m training on my own a lot. Things will take longer, and the stumbling blocks will be bigger, and we most definitely won’t get as far!
Just knowing that in advance is encouraging somehow!
Hoping to be back in a training barn some time again to learn some more!
I’ve been involved with Alexis at her barn – here’s her website if you’d like to take a peek: www.mvtraining.net