"I'm homeschooled, which is both a blessing and a curse in this matter. I only began homeschooling very recently, a couple of months ago. I'd gone to three different high schools, had to repeat my freshman year and still none of them were working. I'm way behind the schedule for graduating - I'm sixteen and only have my freshman credits! My hope is to graduate when I'm 19 and to work through the summers to achieve that. The only courses I'm taking at the moment are AP World History and Nutrition and Wellness, but the AP is terribly time consuming and I'm not sure how to fit more riding into my schedule because of that.
I'm going to take a break from my weekly art lessons for a while, so that should free up some time.
This all just seems kind of impossible! I have no idea how other juniors manage to ride and show while maintaining a full course schedule and get good grades" -baudelist
I was somewhat shocked that her parents didn't punish her for choosing to ride over going to school and I wonder if homeschool is really the best option for her. I think that is what allows other young riders to balance it all--school isn't optional. However, I'm not privy to whatever her life circumstances are so even though my first instinct is to blame, it's certainly possible that she has had some challenges out of her control, what with switching between 3 high schools.
Balancing riding and school, or riding and work, or riding and school and part-time work (That's me! So glad I quit my second job.) is not easy, and riding is usually the weak link in the chain. There have been some semesters where I rode once a month or less--school was just too time consuming, and I didn't have a car on campus until this year so I'd have to go home on the weekends to ride. And I think that's OK. I've never wanted a career with horses because I don't want the thing I do for fun to become work, so my top priority has always been school. Well, okay, my parents had some influence on that priority too, especially when I couldn't drive myself to the barn. Horses have always been the reward, not the end goal.
Of course I'm not saying that I am the queen of the horse-job-work balancing act. I don't have my own horse, so I don't have the responsibility to keep him exercised. When I did have my own horse in high school via a free lease, I was lucky that he was old and quiet--I got the same ride out of him every time, whether he had worked five days or zero that week. Also (to further list my disqualifications) I often end up not juggling everything so well, and I spend a lot more time at the barn than I mean to...my boyfriend knows that if I say I'll be back by six, it means seven, and that I'll be prattling on about horsey stuff for another hour. Thankfully he just scolds me with a "Bad baby!," keeps on being loving, and then we make fish tacos with pink pickled onions. Yum!! I smell a food post coming up because there are definitely some dishes that really hit the spot after I ride.
Regardless of tangents... here are some tips to balance life responsibilities and riding:
- Sacrifice riding time: That's right, #1 on the list. School (or work) is what will give you the cash to continue riding in the long run, so that has to be the priority. It might feel like it, but you won't die from not riding every day or even every week. Personally, not being able to ride as much as I want just makes me value the time I have at the barn even more.
- Time management: Know how long you'll be at the barn and how long your homework will take you. This, of course, is easier said than done. There have been so many times when I intended to finish my ride by a certain time and then my horse decided to act up...or times when I thought it would take me ten minutes to read for my Spanish lit class and it ended up taking forty...These things happen, but they shouldn't happen every day.
- Plan, plan, plan: I am completely obsessive about my to-do lists, reminders on my phone, and Google Calendar so that there are not so many balls in the air--they're all on paper. I like to put homework assignments from my syllabus on my calendar right at the beginning of the semester, and then I plan out when I need to start working on big projects. I print out my Google Calendar each week and write extra notes on it as I'm working on stuff.
- Choosing a horse: Do you really have time for a youngster who needs consistent training every day? Even if you have the funds and the riding ability for a horse that requires a lot, it might not be a good idea if you already have the full-time responsibility of school or a job. If you already have such a horse, half-leasing him so he has some consistency is a a good idea.
- IHSA: I have zero experience with IHSA. The idea of showing a horse I don't know just goes against what I like most about showing--it's a test of how far you and your horse have come in your training together. However, IHSA does seem like a good way to keep riding
without a time commitment every dayif you can handle the significant time commitment (thanks commenters). If anyone has ever done IHSA I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
- Combine horses and school: I have an internship at a horse publication, and this blog was actually started for a blogging class. That means my time at the barn is research, right? If you can find some way to combine your interest in horses with school assignments, you might be able to sneak in some extra barn time as part of your project. If not, it's still fun to write essays about things like the steeplechase scene in Anna Karenina... well, if not fun, at least not horrible.
- Look ahead: One day I will have my own horse and no homework. One day I will have my own horse and no homework. That's what gets me through the readings in Spanish that take a zillion years to read and the essays on differences in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the quartos and folio of Hamlet...ugh, who cares??? Not me! Why did I ever pick that topic?