10 Questions with Working Student Joe Carruthers

Joe Carruthers is a working student for Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson at the 2021 Desert Circuit

By Irene Elise Powlick

During the off week during the Desert International Horse Park winter circuit, TPH had the opportunity to catch up with working student Joseph “Joe” Carruthers, 15, from Alberta, Canada. Joe is currently a working student for Olympic gold medal winning rider Will Simpson. Joe answers some questions about life as a young, hard-working equestrian. 

TPH: What are some of the biggest things you have learned from being a working student?

JC: The horses’ success when they go to the ring all starts back at the barn. If a horse isn’t taken care of properly, then it doesn’t do as well as it could. A lot of the horse management is really important for all horses.

TPH: What made you want to be a working student?

JC: It’s just a great experience to learn from someone like Will [Simpson]—he’s an Olympian—and to be in and around the horses, to understand how he takes care of the horses and what he does in his preparation.

TPH: What are some of the good parts about being a working student? And what are some of the bad parts?

JC: The good part is, I’m with the horses, and I get to see everything and learn so much from everybody here. I don’t really think there are any bad parts to it!

TPH: What are your hours like? How do you manage school?

JC: Will has been very flexible with me. I do online school, so I will usually come in the mornings and ride some horses, help out, bring horses to the ring, help with the aftercare, that sort of thing. And then he will usually let me leave early to do school, or sometimes I will do it in the morning. 

Joe Carruthers

TPH: Is this your first time here at the Desert International Horse Park?

JC: Yes! The show here is great! It’s a very nice, successful, open show. The rings are well-taken care of, and it’s a nice show.

TPH: Tell me a bit about your own horse.

JC: He’s 7 years old, a grey gelding. His name is Prince. We bought him from Germany quite recently. We’ve had some challenges to start, but it’s going in the right direction now. Our plan with him is to keep on working with him to try to figure out all the different things about him, as he is still quite young.

TPH: What your hopes for Prince?

JC: We want to be competing in the 1.30m. We’re hoping if Spruce [Meadows] opens up that we can do the 1.30m classes there.

TPH: What are your future goals? What do you see yourself doing in the industry?

JC: In my future, I would love to be an international rider and do the Grand Prixs. I can see myself working for somebody like Will, helping with the horses, and then eventually being able to build my own business from that.

Joe navigates a daily routine that includes, riding, horse care, and school.

TPH: Tell me a bit about your riding background.

JC: I’ve been riding ever since I can remember. Before I could walk, I was put on a horse! My dad is a farrier, and my mom has ridden almost all of her life. So, we are a very horse orientated family. I started in Pony Club and 4H, different clubs like that, and then that moved into me wanting to pursue show jumping. 

Recently, I was at Spruce Meadows where I had a sponsorship, but that sadly ended because of COVID. That was a really great opportunity and experience, because I got to ride so many different horses, be around so many different people, and learn from so many great coaches and trainers. 

TPH: I heard that your mom here in California with you. What is that like?

JC: She’s great! She drives me everywhere. She supports me in all of my aspirations and dreams. She is very supportive, she’s always there.