Working student positions/internships

Please note:

We have discontinued the working student/internship program for the foreseeable future. However, we are still offering mentorships.

Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship offers a limited number of working student positions/internships/apprenticeships every year.
We only accept female working students due to shared accommodation.

Please read the following thoroughly before applying

Applicants for working student positions/internships/apprenticeships must be at least 18 years old.

Required minimum length of stay is three consecutive months.
Shorter stays may be possible for a fee.
Please inquire for more information.

Applicants for longer-term (three months plus) working student positions/internships/apprenticeships are required to either complete at minimum a two-week mentorship, or participate in one of our intensive horsemanship courses, or complete a two-week-long boot-camp at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship.
Please inquire for cost of these programs.

An exception may be made if an applicant has a high level of horsemanship skills and/or has previous experience with the Irwin Insights methodology.

A working student position/internship/apprenticeship is, however, not guaranteed upon completion of the mentorship program, horsemanship course or boot-camp and depends on the availability of working student/internship/apprenticeship positions, as well as skill level and attitude/work ethic of the applicant.

Non-resident (non-Canadian) working students/interns/apprentices are required to have a valid working holiday visa or work permit in order to work at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship.

Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship also offers mentorship programs. These programs are different from our working student programs/internships/apprenticeships in that the mentees are not involved in the day-to-day running of the ranch and are therefore able to immerse themselves into improving their horsemanship full-time.

Now accepting applications for our 2020 mentorship programs.
Click here for more information.

Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship is a small training and lesson barn located in north-eastern British Columbia’s Robson Valley, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and Cariboo Mountains and endless wilderness. We currently own twelve horses, some of which are used as lesson horses while others are being started under saddle or are already in more advanced or specialized training. We also board several client horses. Our training methods are based on Irwin Insights(Chris Irwin) non-resistance training methodology, an evolutionary type of natural horsemanship (Birgit is an Irwin Insights Level 6 Master Certified Trainer, the first one to receive certification at this level in Canada).

Working students/interns/apprentices receive a comprehensive, practical education in all aspects of a horse business, including horse health care, grooming, feeding, stable management, tacking/untacking, tack care, as well as horse handling. Working students/interns/apprentices basically learn how to run a horse farm.

Working students/interns/apprentices may also help out with other aspects of the business, such as advertising and marketing, web design, and other computer and office related tasks.

Working students/interns/apprentices work full-time as volunteers, 6 days a week with one day off per week. This position, like any agricultural business, is not a 9-5 job. Days are long and hard. It is a lifestyle for those who don’t mind working long, hard days in any weather conditions.

Working students/interns/apprentices receive room and board and riding, horsemanship and groundwork lessons (time and weather permitting) based on Irwin Insightsnon-resistance training methodology in exchange for working on the farm, in both horse-related and non-horse related activities (including, but not limited to yard work, weeding, housework, cooking, general maintenance of buildings, gathering and stacking firewood, snow removal, and various other tasks). Horse-related activities include general farm chores such as feeding and watering horses, daily cleaning of pens and shelters, turning out/bringing in horses, stacking hay, fencing, painting fences, grooming horses, tacking up /untacking horses, cleaning tack, medicating horses, and assisting with the handling of horses, etc. Depending on their skill level and length of stay, working students/interns/apprentices may also assist with exercising and training of horses (lungeing, round penning and other groundwork, as well as riding).

Working students/interns/apprentices from non-English speaking countries get a chance to improve their English language skills as they will be fully immersed in the Canadian way of life. However, it is important that working students/interns/apprentices already have a good working knowledge of the English language. Working students/interns/apprentices also get to meet local residents as well as attend and participate in local events. In the past, working students/interns/apprentices have come from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Holland, France, England, Australia and Canada. Several of our working students/interns/apprentices have become certified Chris Irwin/Irwin Insights trainers and some of them have started up their own equine businesses.

I cannot even begin to explain how much I have loved my time at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship. During my stay at the Falling Star Ranch I was able to advance my skills in all areas of working with horses both in the saddle and on the ground. I have learnt so much about horses and the way that we can interact with them in a more intuitive way. I have been given so many amazing opportunities, from having lessons from a top class coach, helping to train and bring along training horses, and even been given the opportunity to start my very first colt under Birgit’s tutelage, something that I would have never believed myself capable of before coming to the ranch. Birgit really is the best coach I have ever had; she has taught me an entirely new way of riding which produces a soft and responsive horse. I will never forget my time there and the things I have learnt. Alice B., United Kingdom

If you are willing to learn and improve yourself, you will definitely benefit from your time at Falling Star Ranch.
After my first lessons with Birgit I realised that I had to start from the beginning. I had to unlearn a lot and almost start from zero in regards to my riding skills. From head to toe, from heart to eyes – I had to change pretty much everything. And day by day I did. Birgit is a passionate teacher. When she has a keen student, she puts a lot of heart, time and energy into coaching him/her. She will teach you step by step and only gives you tasks that you can handle. This way you can feel challenged but safe at any moment. Birgit will give you instant feedback with very clear instructions, she will explain everything and demonstrate things if necessary. She encourages you to think for yourself but will answer all of your questions. She will always have an eye on you – in the saddle and on the ground – and give you detailed advice. So if you let her, she will squeeze the best out of you. Also, her horses are willing and sensitive at the same time and make very good teachers themselves. I remember trying to catch Buck (one of Birgit´s more sensitive horses in regards to body language) on one of my first days at the ranch. I walked up to him and he just walked away from me. After a few minutes of him elegantly showing me his butt, I remembered Birgit´s instructions, pushed his hips away, bent my own hip, then even took a step back. And he walked right up to me. Voilà. – Mona F., Germany

From June until November 2015, I had the great chance to spend five month at Falling Star Ranch as a working student. Almost every day I got either a riding and/or a groundwork lesson. Birgit is an amazing coach as she gives clear instructions and answers all the question. Due to her long experience in the horse world, she has a very good way of explaining the techniques of Chris Irwin. Not a very good rider at the beginning, she pushed me quite hard and it was definitely worth it as after five-month I left the ranch as a far better rider than when I came to Canada. My stay gave me the motivation to keep my feet in the horse world and I am now building up a centre for equine assisted therapy in Switzerland. – Andrea N., Switzerland

Last summer (2019) I had the amazing chance to be a working student at Falling Star Ranch. I have already been working with the Irwin Insights methodology for several years and I loved the opportunity to go abroad on an adventure and work with horses in a way that they enjoy the training. I wanted to improve my skills and become a better horse trainer. And that happened! Birgit is a great teacher, has a lot of knowledge and a good eye for the little things that make a huge difference. Not only about the Irwin Insights methodology, but also about Centered Riding. That was exactly what I needed. On the ranch are a lot of horses with all different personalities and every horse I rode taught me something else. Riding with more seat, legs and breath for example. Birgit knows her horses from the inside out and saw exactly what I had to change in my riding to make the horse feel better. In the indoor arena there are words written on the wall to remind students about all the things we need to work on or pay attention to. Relaxation, alignment, balance, focus, bending, contact, centering, boundaries, and so on… All the words describe what I learned and what is the most important to keep in mind while training horses.
Unfortunately my time at the ranch was too short. There is so much more to learn and so many more horses to work with. One day I’ll be back! Unfortunately it’s on the other side of the world. – Rianne E., Belgium


All working students/interns/apprentices, regardless of prior experience (unless they are returning working students), start out at the same level. Working students/interns/apprentices earn authority, privileges and responsibilities based upon their performance, work ethic, problem solving skills, riding and horsemanship skills, etc. Each working student/intern/apprentice gets out of the program what she puts into it. As working students/interns/apprentices develop in their own horsemanship, both on the ground and in the saddle, they gradually get to take part in the teaching of lessons and training of horses and may eventually develop into “assistant coaches and trainers” (depending on length of stay and skill level).

Many opportunities exist within the working student/internship/apprenticeship programs at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship (depending on the working student’s/intern’s/apprentice’s skill level and length of stay), including:

  • Overseeing new working students/interns/apprentices
  • Helping with the training of young, green and “problem” horses
  • Riding advanced horses in training and schooling sessions
  • Assisting with lessons, clinics, horsemanship courses, workshops and demos
  • Participation in a Chris Irwin clinic or a private/semi-private lesson with Chris Irwin (at their cost) and, depending on their skill level, may ask for an evaluation to become certified by Irwin Insights.

Each working student gets out of the program what she puts into it.

How to Apply

– Please email us to request an application form.
The application for a working student/internship/apprenticeship position consists of a questionnaire as well as a video (no more than 10 minutes please!) of the applicant riding a horse at all three gaits (English or Western) as well as bareback at all three gaits, catching a horse in a corral/pen/pasture (haltering), picking out feet, as well as tacking (saddling and bridling) a horse.
– Please also include a resume as well as three references (one personal reference as well as two from riders/trainers/coaches) when sending us your application.
– A good working knowledge of everyday English language is very important. Otherwise, a stay in an English language school is highly recommended before your visit to Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship in order to make the most out of your stay.
Local applicants (those within a 3-hour drive from Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship) will be expected to come for an interview in person. If you are not local, but willing and able to come for an interview, please indicate this on your resume/letter. All other applicants are required to do an interview by phone or via Skype.
– If you are accepted as a working student/intern/apprentice, your acceptance is on a “probationary” status. After two weeks, your performance will be reviewed and a decision will be made whether you are to remain in the working student/internship/apprenticeship program. However, please be aware that at any time we can terminate your working student/internship/apprenticeship position based upon sub-performance (in your work or your riding/horse handling skills), inability to follow orders, inability to work well with others, dishonesty, mistreatment of the horses, etc.

Requirements and Qualifications

– Must be at least 18 years old.
– Required minimum length of stay is three (3) consecutive months
. Longer stays are encouraged to make the most out of your stay. Experience has shown us that it takes the average working student two to four weeks to get into the swing of things. Shorter stays may be possible for a fee. Please inquire for more information.
– Applicants for longer-term (three months plus) working student positions/internships/apprenticeships are required to either complete at minimum a two-week mentorship, or participate in one of our intensive horsemanship courses, or complete a two-week-long boot-camp at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship. Please inquire for cost for these programs. An exception may be made if an applicant has a high level of horsemanship skills and/or has previous experience with the Irwin Insights methodology (clinics, lessons with Chris Irwin or an Irwin Insights trainer).
– Applicants need to be comfortable around young horses, problem horses, and stallions, have experience handling and riding young horses and difficult horses, have a good, solid seat, soft hands, and know how to ride a horse from back to front with effective seat and leg aids. Our main clientele are young, competitive sport horses (Warmbloods) bred for high level jumping and dressage, so an interest in working with these types of horses as well as confidence and experience handling them on the ground is a requirement.
– A keen interest in learning Irwin Insights (Chris Irwin)’ non-resistance training methods is required. Working students/interns/apprentices are expected to study in their spare-time our extensive DVD collection of Chris Irwin’s training videos to accelerate their horsemanship skills.
Horse training is a physically demanding occupation. You MUST be physically and mentally fit and able to carry out the demands of the job, which includes, but is not limited to, handling horses, cleaning shelters/pens/stalls, hauling water buckets, unloading feed bags, stacking hay, lifting heavy saddles, etc.
A good working knowledge of the English language is important.
– Working students/interns/apprentices need to be able to work independently as well as with others, and with consistent reliability, and willingly take instructions.
– Working students/interns/apprentices need to be able to think ahead and solve problems.
– Working students/interns/apprentices must be honest, trustworthy, polite, reliable, responsible, self-motivated, keen, hardworking and able to stay on task even when the going gets tough.
A strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a desire to succeed are essential.
– A love of nature and a willingness to live in a remote area (the closest small town is 25 km away) is also required.
– Attention to cleanliness and detail is important as well.
– Overall, working students/interns/apprentices are expected to be positive team players who are willing to help out wherever needed.
– Working students/interns/apprentices must have a commitment to improving oneself through physical development (general physical fitness, strengthening, flexibility development), as well as intellectual and emotional development.
– Working students/interns/apprentices must have a commitment to the further development of their education, and must take responsibility for their own learning.
– It is advantageous for a working student/intern/apprentice to have a clear idea of where they are heading with their horsemanship/equestrian career. Preference will be given to applicants who have professional aspirations in the horse industry and/or previous work experience in the horse industry.
Every working student/intern/apprentice is required to carry personal liability insurance that covers horse-related activities. Insurance can be purchased through Horse Council BC for $60 a year if you don’t have your own insurance.

Individual or Family Membership

Some additional information for aspiring working students

Advice on being a top working student

So You Want To Be A Working Student 

What is a Working Student in the Horse Industry

Recreational opportunities

Recreational activities in the summer time

  • Trail riding
  • Hiking
  • Nature walks
  • Interpretive trails
  • Biking
  • Mountain biking
  • Golfing
  • Campfires
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Farmers markets
  • Trips to Jasper National Park
  • River rafting
  • Float tours
  • Climbing
  • Helicopter tours
  • Parades
  • Rodeos
  • Dunster Ice Cream Social
  • Dances
  • Music festival

Recreational activities in the winter time

  • Cross-country skiing
  • Downhill skiing in Jasper or Purden
  • Snowboarding in Jasper or Purden
  • Snowshoeing
  • Sledding/Tobogganing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog-sledding
  • Ice-skating
  • Ice fishing
  • Heli-skiing
  • Hockey
  • Curling
  • Dances
  • Volleyball
  • Badminton