Life as a working student is anything but glamorous, but there are still countless hard-working individuals knocking at the door for the opportunity to work for one of their idols. We've often wondered what it's like to work for riders such as Phillip Dutton and Hawley Bennett, so we are introducing a new series called "Working Student Diaries." Do you or someone you know work for an upper-level rider? If so, tip me at [email protected].
Sarah Jeffrey is a converted hunter/jumper rider who caught the eventing bug after her first trip to Rolex in 2013. While at Rolex, Sarah was able to meet Daniel Clasing, who was competing in his first CCI4* that year with his gelding, Houston. Sarah is from Maryland, where Daniel has his training base, and inquired about taking a lesson with him. “I took a lesson and I loved his teaching style and his demeanor and the barn atmosphere,” Sarah said. “I asked if he took on working students, and in July (2013), I officially began working for him.” Now Sarah is in Aiken assisting Daniel as he prepares for the upcoming season, and she is loving every minute of her time.
Sarah dove right into life as an eventer and purchased her current horse, Watching, who had previously competed at the one-star level. Watching is a 16-year-old OTTB who came to Sarah fighting fit and full of learning opportunities. “I actually bought him the day I went to Daniel’s to start working,” Sarah said. “Once I started eventing, it was like a drug, and it was something new and exciting.”
Daniel has helped Sarah finesse her riding across all three phases. “I really didn’t fully appreciate all three phases until I started training with Dan, and he has really opened my eyes to dressage and the importance of it,” Sarah said. “Training under him is fascinating. He doesn’t see his horses as tools to reach his next goal; he sees them as partners.”
Daniel and his girlfriend, Liv, run a training operation that consists of both event horses and polo horses. Liv is a professional polo player, and Sarah has been able to assist both Daniel and Liv with their work. Aside from the normal working student duties of feeding, mucking and turnout, Sarah also travels with Daniel or Liv to their respective competitions to help them groom and prepare.
Sarah has also gotten the opportunity to hack Daniel’s four-star partner, Houston. “Riding Houston is the best part of my day when I get to!” Sarah said. “He is a master hacker; he will take anyone and everyone on a hack. If he were my horse, I would feel comfortable putting anyone on him, which is impressive for a horse of his level. He is everything you would imagine a four-star horse to be, and it’s so unique to see a partnership as strong as the one he and Daniel have.”
What about balancing school and working, especially when she is out of town in Aiken? A sophomore in high school, Sarah has learned how to effectively balance the workload on both ends. “My teachers have been very understanding and have been able to send me my work while I am out of town for the winter,” Sarah said. “I am able to complete it and either email it or scan it back to them, depending on the assignment.”
Sarah plans to stay on with Daniel for as long as she can. She currently competes her horse at Training level and hopes to make the step up to Prelim this year under Daniel’s watchful eye. To keep up with Sarah’s riding adventures, check out the blog she started with some friends, The Optimum Times. For more information about Daniel Clasing, head on over to his Facebook page.