Balancing Horse Shows and School
Balancing school, a social life, and horses throughout the year can be challenging on its own, but adding horse showing to the mix creates even more of a time crunch. Remote schooling allowed me the rare opportunity to travel to HITS Ocala this winter to spend a full month showing. A lot of horse shows occur during the summer when school is out, however at HITS, I really had to learn how to balance school and make sure I turn in all my assignments on-time, while also horse showing and prepping JT throughout the week. Today, I am going to share my top tips on how I balanced school and horse shows (specifically long period horse shows).
Develop a Weekly Plan – It was so important for me to have a plan for both school and riding. Each week, my trainer and I would figure out the best classes and divisions to pursue that week and I would cross check them my school schedule and any major tests and quizzes I had. You all know how much I love my planner, so I wrote down everything I had for school to make sure I was on-top of all my homework and assignments, and scheduled in my planned training, lessons and showing times accordingly.
Prioritize – Though I love riding, school is the priority. It is my responsibility to be sure all my work is done before I go to the barn or before I go to bed. Utilizing my mornings and study periods were crucial for getting everything done in a day. Though I would prefer to watch a show or movie in my free time, I used my 80-minute study period to get as much done as possible; at the end of the day, if everything was done, I could then give myself a break to do whatever I wanted. I also made sure, before going to the barn every afternoon, that I had a handle on all the work I had for the day and that everything was almost, if not completely, finished. A big tip I have is to get your least favorite or more time-consuming work done early on when you are fresh and full of energy, leaving your favorite subjects to do later at night when you are tired.
A Designated Space – In Florida, I didn’t have a desk, so I had to find a space that suited my needs. I ended up using our kitchen island, which had a big table and was fairly quiet during the day (my siblings were also in school). I had my backpack to keep all my HW and work organized, along with a printer nearby to print any papers for class (we brought our printer from home-it is a necessity for remote schooling!). Though I loved my space, I highly recommend changing up your seating arrangement every so often. Switching to a different table, a quiet outdoor space, or a comfier chair (but never a bed!) can give you a nice change of scenery to keep you energized and motivated.
Your Best Study Style – Honestly, I sometimes struggle with having the motivation to study for tests and quizzes. Especially in Florida, where I would rather be with my horse or in a pool, I had to find the most effective and efficient ways to retain information for tests/quizzes. My favorite tools have been writing out flashcards (helps me retain the most information and is portable) or using Quizlet if I have a lot of vocabulary terms. While studying, I have been loving listening to “Piano Chill” on Apple Music. This has been a calming music playlist that keeps me focused and relaxed while studying complex topics. As soon as I put it on it almost signals my brain that it’s time to buckle down and focus. It can get really distracting at my house, so I plug in my AirPods, make sure I have a full stomach, and a glass of water nearby to limit my excuses for getting out of my chair. I like to “power through” my study sessions because I find that I tend to lose focus and motivation when taking breaks. If you haven’t quite figured out your most effective study style, there are tons of quizzes online to determine how you learn best.
Find “Pockets” of Time – I love when I have a small chunk of my night free to relax, but it doesn’t happen naturally. I try to get as much done throughout the day by using my time in between classes to do work rather than talking with friends/family. For instance during my studies in Florida, I would either work on schoolwork, or go to the barn to lunge or walk JT (if needed). During my lunch break, I would set aside about 10 minutes to eat my lunch and chill out, but the other 30 minutes was dedicated to my homework. The little pockets of time between or at the end of classes can be incredibly useful. You can get a surprising amount done in those 5-15 minutes! If I had an essay or project due in a week, I tried to do it all in one day and edit the next, leaving me (hopefully) 1-2 classes free because I was way ahead. By the time I was done with school, almost all of my homework was complete. When I got back from the barn, I may have had 30 minutes or so of work to do, but when that was all done, I had a night to relax. Those little moments that you waste during the day end up adding a lot of stress later. By sacrificing a bit during the day you can give yourself an hour+ in the evening to relax and do whatever you want! With my day jam-packed with school and riding, having this free time in the evening helped my stress level and overall mental health.
There you have it! My top tips on how to balance horse shows and school. It can be difficult, and you may have some long and stressful days, but it’s all worth it. The experience of being able to immerse myself in showing for a full month in the winter was invaluable. The key is to plan ahead so you know how you’re going to use your time, stay on top of your work, and get down to business while you’re motivated and immersed in your work so you can have a good chunk of time later to decompress and relax. Good luck!!