Recently I posted a question onto my social media platforms which sparked quite a debate around working in the equestrian industry and it really has got me thinking what a complex conversation it is.
I want to start with my personal experience of coming into the industry.
At aged 16 I started working on a big yard to gain experience. I was paid very little but I did have my accommodation for free, one horse's livery and regular lessons. I also got the experience of riding horses that I would have never gotten the opportunity to and was taught how to run a yard, look after horses, turn them out for shows and much much more. I used the years from aged 16 - 18 to not earn money but to gain experience which I know would help me further my knowledge and in the long run earn a living within horses. I was in further education for my dream of being a top rider.
Being totally honest when I started I definitely didn't have the work ethic I do now but when my boss told me what I had to do to make it and what they expected from me I dug deep, took it on the chin and learned to graft. I was never late, I worked within a team and felt a sense of responsibility. I respected my bosses and teammates and wanted to do them proud and help the yard run to the best of my ability. Yes, I made mistakes as everyone does but the point is I grew from them. This gave me such a purpose in life and even though it was hard I feel it gave me some invaluable life lessons and developed my character to be much harder working.
At aged 18 I left the yard I had been working on to start working alongside my mum in her yard. I realise I am/was extremely lucky to have the backing of my parents and some times felt guilty and ashamed of this but this year I have worked through this and now look at my mum as an owner and I am her rider. This helps me to not take it for granted, to not feel entitled and also to not feel shame around this amazing opportunity.
Anyway, I started working at home which was a very different atmosphere for me. It was time for me to start making a living from all I had learned. Even though my parents were backing me I had a strong sense of wanting to become more self-sufficient, something I will always thank my dad for installing in me. I went down the traditional path of coaching. I think in my naivety I thought I would build a healthy client basis up quickly but the saying 'Build it and they will come' just isn't reality. In the next few years, I continued working full time in the yard and teaching in the evenings as I wasn't earning enough to justify taking the time off the yard for it. Again in my naivety, I did feel frustrated at just working on the yard and not progressing to being a full-time rider and coach. I think I thought it would be easier! ( I now see that nothing is easy when you're putting your all into it!) and also I knew I would not be able to financially support myself the way I was going.
Skip a few years on and we arrived at the biggest transformation of my life. in 2017 after hitting rock bottom with my self-belief and self-worth (this is the story I am more commonly known for!) I started to look into the mindset and developing a more constructive one. I won't go into full details about this but in becoming a social media influencer who wanted to spread a message to the equestrian world I stumbled across my new business plan. With social media, I have managed to make a healthy business which is going to support my dream of being the best horsewoman and rider I can be. The skills I learned at aged 16 I have used in digging deep to build this business even though it's very different now. My character is resilient from digging deep.
Which brings me to our topic today. Is work ethic disappearing in the equestrian industry? I can not comment about the past as I myself am only 10 years into the industry but can merely write about what I have seen over those years.
There have been many comments recently about the younger generation being more work smart and having a right to earn a decent wage. They have more challenges with social media and expectations from the world. I am not disagreeing with any of these. But from personal experience, I feel hard work develops a determined, resilient character and so much more.
I also want to make the point that I do not agree with treating working pupils and employees like disposable tools. They deserve to be treated and spoken to with respect even when they have made a mistake. You can have an adult conversation with someone if you'd like it done in a different way. They are entitled to breakfast and lunch and they should be paid in accordance with their experience and hours. Days off and holiday shouldn't be a foreign word.
We really do try our best to run a happy friendly yard for all who work with us. Both mum and I work alongside everyone and we all muck out and do the everyday mundane jobs equally. We sit down and have breakfast and lunch together which we provide and there is no hierarchy.
The challenges we have faced as a yard at home is when we do ask the younger work experience, for example, to not be on their phones, they take no notice and don't even try to hide the fact. We find people have become flakey on keeping their word. For example, if someone agrees to come in for an interview they often just don't turn up without even contacting us. We have had people due to work and just not turn up. We often find people are late and don't even seem bothered by this. We also see a little drive to want to speed up or improve. Again this is not for every person but the majority.
I also see the passion to learn real horsemanship is not as desired as I first thought. Often they seem uninterested in truly learning from the horses themselves. I have learned so much about how horses way of thinking from just being with them every day on the ground.
I totally understand the equestrian industry is not for everyone but I feel people are losing the skill of communication to just say 'Hey, thanks for the opportunity but I just don't think this is for me.'. Instead, they just don't turn up!
I am not having a go at the younger generation, I've been there. I am just curious if things are getting worse or have they always been this way?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this by either sharing this with your view or writing a comment on this blog.