Siobham Records has been a working pupil for Peter Storr for a year and has her sights set on riding for South Africa at London 2012.

“I have two lessons a week in my contract, but whenever he has time Peter does more,” says Siobhan, who now competes a horse belonging to one of Peter’s clients.

“You have to prove yourself to have those sorts of opportunities,” she warns. “You have to earn the rider’s trust in your ability.”

Over time, Siobhan has been entrusted with riding more horses and has benefited from the experience.

“Some are challenging horses that are in for fixing, so you don’t always get to ride something perfect,” she says. “If your goals are to further your riding and you have big plans, this is a good thing to do.”

Siobhan believes a good work ethic will set you up, though she has days of self-doubt when she wonders: “Why am I putting myself through this?”

She advises people to discuss the job with the staff already on the yard.

“Ask, am I ever going to get to ride and is it a fair deal? Otherwise, you’ll end up getting very little money to shovel shit for a year,” she says. “Know what you’re getting yourself into.

“Find a group of people you can work with, too. Four people living and working together every day isn’t a good idea otherwise.”

Read more about life as a working pupil in today’s Horse & Hound (22 February ’07), which also includes features on the Whitaker family tree, the future of Irish show jumping, an interview with Jos Lansink, H&H’s racing editor’s ride round Cheltenham and a look at horses on TV