Excerpt from the March issue of Heels Down Magazine.
The working student arrangement is a fixture in busy competition and training barns across the country in eventing, hunters, dressage and show jumping alike. It’s considered a stepping stone for students that want to get in the weeds of the sport to develop their skills, often with the goal of becoming more competitive or a professional in the industry.
The relationship is a symbiotic one. A professional rider and a student agree on an exchange of services — the student provides a professional rider or trainer with barn labor and grooming, and in return the student gets training from the professional.
“It gives someone an understanding of the business behind the competition ring,” said Eiren Crawford, who spent years as a working student for various top riders including Ingrid Klimke and Lars Petersen, and is now the head trainer at All Points Dressage in Baltimore, Md. “In dressage, the goal is the six minutes in a little white rectangle, but that’s six minutes of a 24-hour day. The rest of the time, you’ve got to know how hard it’s going to be, what it’s like when things go badly, and how to manage horses, clients, a property and a business.”