Class of 2012 BSc (Hons) Equine Science graduate Emily Cooke has been catching up with Reaseheath’s new Alumni Officer Katie Burt; filling her in on what she has been up to since leaving Reaseheath.
Here’s how they got on:
Hi Emily, great to hear from you – can you describe your current job role and responsibilities?
Since May 2013 I have been working as a rider at Paul Schockemöhle Pferdehaltung GmbH based in Neustadt-Glewe, north-east Germany (just over an hour from Hamburg and couple of hours from Berlin). I work alongside over 25 riders at Schockemöhle’s and we’re all allocated our own specific list of horses to work with on a day-to-day basis. We work with and ride all of our allocated horses each day, which is approximately eighteen green horses (mares, geldings, and stallions) per rider. This process ensures all the horses are sufficiently exercised, ‘broken in’ and trained up to a professional showing standard.
Your job sounds great Emily, can you tell me a little bit more about life as a rider?
It is crucial for each rider to take sole responsibility for our own allocated horses, ensuring they get the highest quality of care. It is our responsibility to consult vets, dentists and blacksmiths when necessary. Furthermore, it is our duty to ensure all treatments allocated to the horses are completed (injections, medication etc.).
We have an important role to play as riders; at least once a week one of the senior representatives from Schockemöhle comes to our yard to check our progress and determine our horses’ proceeding careers; show jumping, breeding, sales etc.
Wow, that’s impressive – so you have to do all this on your own?
Well, generally speaking yes, but we do have some support; every rider has around one or two grooms working for them, which is a great help. Along with this, we have two trainers who are always in the arenas to help us.
As you mentioned, you’ve been a rider since May 2013, what were you doing before this?
After graduating from Reaseheath, I went to work on a farm in Canada for four months (June 2009-October 2009) to ‘break in’ Welsh hunter ponies. This was fantastic work experience. However, after the first couple of months, I realised that this role was a little too isolating for me. I worked a lot on my own and the farm location was somewhat in the ‘middle of nowhere’. As result, I headed back to the UK in search of my next venture.
I proceeded to spend some time back in the UK working as Sales Representative and did some office temping, whilst continuing to search for my ideal role within the equestrian industry…
How did you find job searching?
It is a bit of a lengthy process and can be rather disheartening at times. Regardless of the challenges faced, I continued to persevere and after some serious dedication to the job search I came across an advert online for a job as a rider at Paul Schockemöhle’s Gestüt Lewitz. I applied immediately and never looked back!
Do you find your job challenging?
I love my job as a rider, however sometimes it can be a very challenging environment to work in. The equestrian industry is generally a very competitive, on our yard alone we have thirteen riders and all are very talented. Everyone wants to train and produce the best horses. The trainers on site are very honest and can be quite brutal, if your work is below standard, they tell you. Many people come and go in a matter of months. The day starts at 7am; we feed the horses, muck out, lay clean straw and sweep before 8am. With roughly 130 stables on our yard, it’s quite a tough job with only around twenty-five people working – and that’s all before breakfast!
What’s next for you?
I’m always looking for continuing professional development and new riding opportunities. There is nothing more important to me than growing professionally and personally. Initially moving forward, I would like to return to the UK for some time and complete my British Horse Society exams. Then, I’m off to Australia to work with Andrew McLean for three months at the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre (AEBC). I applied and was accepted on AEBC’s Working Pupil Program, a prestigious dedicated step-by-step training scheme, designed to support specific training goals for riders.
After Australia, I am considering an MSc in Equine Behaviour, otherwise I will continue working with horses around the world.
What advice would you give to our current students looking to move into your industry?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Have faith in yourself and your ability. Going abroad was the scariest and most rewarding decision I’ve ever made. I fully recommend it! I didn’t even know how to say ‘Hello’ in German, when I got on that plane…
Remember – if it doesn’t work out, you can always go home!