The Working Student: Two Junior Riders Share their Experiences and Offer Advice

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

BY Emma Marlowe & Gabriela Pattinson

Emma Marlowe & Gabriela Pattinson are both working students for trainers in Southern California. Here they share their experiences and offer some advice to other young riders interested in following down the same path.

Emma Marlowe describes working for Leslie Steele at Acres West

I started my working student position at Acres West the December before Thermal this year. That was the best decision of my life. Working for Leslie has furthered my riding career immensely. Leslie moved me into the Big Eq at Thermal where I really stepped up my riding. Riding as many different horses as possible is a great way to improve your skills and I was riding a different horse every week. I qualified for the R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship Week 8 of HITS Thermal, and got the opportunity to ride “Netflix,” an amazing equitation horse, on whom I ended up placing 4th overall. Leslie is a very hands on trainer, and I have learned so much, not only about riding but also how to be a true horsewoman. From setting jumps to organizing entries/schedules, I continue to learn more and more about what it takes to be a successful trainer. I would not be where I am today without the guidance and help from Leslie. I feel very blessed to be a part of the team at Acres West.

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Gabriela Pattinson describes being a working student at the Pacifica Riding Club

I started riding with Jenny, George, and Gail at the Pacifica Riding Club when I was 6 years old. From the first moment I sat on a horse, I was completely hooked. Although my parents could never buy me a horse, Jenny always made sure I had great horses to learn on. When I was finally old enough to be left at the barn, I would spend all there in the summers doing anything and everything I could to help. I cleaned tack, fed the horses, and did a whole lot of sweeping. I have had the opportunity to show in the Equitation, the Junior Hunters, and the jumpers and been successful in all three rings. As someone who has always wanted to become a trainer, I feel so privileged to have been a part of a team that has allowed me to see what being a trainer really means. As a working student, I have learned to look past the glamour of the sport and truly be a horsewoman.

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Emma & Gabriela: Our Advice to Aspiring Riders

Neither of us come from families with the funds to support our showing careers. The only way we are able to compete at this level is because of the help from our trainers. It is a lot of hard work and long hours, but worth every second. As a working student, our jobs range from setting up early Monday mornings at the horse show to closing out late Sunday afternoons.

If this is something you want to do, you need to be willing to do whatever, whenever it needs to be done. Being surrounded by so many top professional riders is very beneficial to our riding. We learn so much from watching the professional divisions during the weekdays, which is something most junior riders miss out on.

Don’t be afraid to contact trainers in search of a working student position. There are many professionals out there that are willing to help an aspiring equestrian. Keep in mind that a lot of them were once in your position. If you work hard and stay dedicated, trainers will notice and success will follow.