View Full Version : Riding and Professional School?

Jun. 6, 2011, 07:35 PM
I’m starting medical school in 2 months and I’m still very torn about what to do with my horse. I have a 14yr old novice packer that I absolutely adore and will never sell. I decided I would retire him when I started school, but I don't want to quit! I did my last horse trial on my guy this past weekend. He was absolutely perfect (me not so much!). It really hit me today that it will probably 4+ years before I get to go XC and then it would probably be with a different horse.

So I figure my options are to
a) retire him and let him live the life of luxury at my parents’ farm
b) lease him and live vicariously through someone else
c) take horse with me and feel guilty that I rarely ride?
d) keep horse at current barn and ride on the occasional weekend (2.5 hrs away)

Thoughts? Advice? Has anyone continued to ride/compete while in med/vet/law school?

Jun. 6, 2011, 07:38 PM
I didn't go to med school, but I rode 6 days a week throughout law school (and recently posted about it on the H/J board). Obviously, there were times I rode less (finals, etc.), but for the most part, I did ride very regularly. The one thing I would suggest is making sure it's not a financial burden to keep the horse near you... i.e., don't take out bigger student loans to fund your horse habit. Grad school is expensive enough.

I don't know enough about medical school, though, to give you any insight on that. I believe tarheelMD07 rode throughout med school, though - perhaps send her a PM? :) IIRC, she is also an eventer!

Best of luck to you!

Carol Ames
Jun. 6, 2011, 08:17 PM
Badminton on HRTV tonight at 10:30 tonight is listed on the onscreen guide

Jun. 6, 2011, 08:20 PM
Could he go with you and find a part-time lease?

He sounds like a fabulous horse. Why not let someone else do a partial lease and keep a day or two every week for your own riding?

I tried to retire my "packer" when I went off to college and he was lost without a job. He missed having the attention when he was just hanging out in the field.

Jun. 6, 2011, 08:26 PM
Riding kept me sane in medical school so my vote is to bring him with you. The only rotations that i found truly incompatible with riding were medicine and surgery - and even then it's possible to squeeze in 2-3 rides/week (one post call usually so don't plan to be awesome!!). You probably have 2 years before you even start clerkship so I would definitely keep him close for now!!
All the best to you and congrats!! :)

Raison d'etre
Jun. 6, 2011, 11:04 PM
I agree with clivers; take him with you. I only got to ride a couple of times a week while in law school (no idea how Phaxxton pulled off riding more), but I would have been miserable without my horses. I actually got a new one in law school. I did half lease my younger horse, which ended up working out financially and kept my horse going.

Jun. 6, 2011, 11:27 PM
I have turned my forever mare out for the duration of law school and here were my reasons:
- She's older than your horse and is enjoying a little early retirement.
- I go to an urban law school and I can neither afford the time nor the money to ride. The only place I can afford to keep her is home so I ride her when I go home and that's it. She's fine with it. To keep her anywhere closer (home is 2 hrs. away) is not something I can afford to do in school.
- I have my dog with me at school so he keeps me sane.

Here's my 5-year riding plan: Graduate from law school next spring. Get job (did you hear me, God????). Have money but no time so ride on the weekends only. When time starts loosening up in my career (a number of years in) then my mare will be ready for permanent retirement and I will get myself a PACKER!!!! :winkgrin: Of course, I have to fit a wedding and some babies in there as well... :lol:

Just remember: You have to be flexible and feel things out. This is your life. I have no idea how those who rode 6 days a week in law school do it. I couldn't handle it. But that's me. I'm also the person who knows that at some point I will make the choice to have a family even if it means limiting my career to some degree. Some people think that's silly but this is my life. So do what feels right.

Painted Wings
Jun. 6, 2011, 11:43 PM
I gave up riding during Engineering school. Started again almost as soon as I graduated. I think it was good for me to go though school without the distraction of a horse.

At the time though I didn't have a horse as we had to move when I was a Junior in High School and could not bring the horse. So horse was sold during High School.

If I'd have had a horse it would have been a tough decision but in hind sight I'm glad that I didn't have a horse to deal with during college.

Jun. 6, 2011, 11:45 PM
If you are a lifelong rider and have a sound horse that you really like- think twice before parting.

I have manged to keep full time riding and some competing despite being in school for my RN (graduate in Dec!) and unexpectedly having my mom pass away right after I got accepted to my program.

I have made lots of sacrifices to keep my horse, truck, and trailer as someone in their mid-twenties striving to start a career. But it CAN be done. It's who I am- and without it I go crazy.

Yes- med school is going to be a challenge but you'll still need time to wind down and exercise a little. Being a Doctor will always challenge your individuality. You're going to be busy- all the time. But you'll have to find time for yourself or you'll burn out.

One of my best friends is in Med-School. She has managed to keep her horse. She doesn't ride as much as she'd like- but she rides plenty enough to keep both the horse and herself happy. She graduates in less than a year. So she's going to make it through without losing her horse. You can do it too as long as you are dedicated.

Jun. 7, 2011, 12:00 AM
I think I will start looking at barns in the area and crunch the numbers. If I can find the right situation for him, I will probably bring him. I'm fortunate that he's the type of horse that can go weeks without being ridden and still be sane. A partial lease is definitely a possibility. I will most likely wait a month or two after school starts to move him.

My parents will not be thrilled, but then again they were looking forwarded to him being their new trail horse. I think they have an ulterior motive when they tell me I shouldn't take him!

Jun. 7, 2011, 12:06 AM
You, of course, ultimately have to decide what is right for you...but I rode regularly through all of vet school. There were weeks that I didn't get out there more than once or twice (midterms and finals, mostly) but overall, I did have time to ride. I didn't show much, mainly due to finances, the fact that my horse requires a lot of schooling to go XC comfortably (which ties back in to finances ;)) and he also sustained a tendon injury which kept him sidelined for close to a year. If your horse truly is a packer, some of the issues I had probably won't be a problem for you :) I agree with those who have said you need a diversion, some way to unwind when you're in professional school. I would have gone crazy without my horses too!

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:30 PM
There are others. Offhand I can think of TarHeelMD07, GotSpots, BFNE, Deltawave, annikak, Eventer58. Maybe search for their posts. There have been otehr discussions parallel to this one.

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:42 PM
Take him with you and find a half leaser to help with time and costs! He sounds like the type of horse that could make someone just starting out very, very happy and you'd get to ride him and stay sane as well!

Jun. 7, 2011, 05:49 PM
If your parents want him as a trail horse, you could lease him to your parents for part of the year, then bring him to school for the other part. :)

It's all do-able as long as you keep your priorities straight. Horses are important but a luxury. There will be times, depending on what specialty you choose, when the rest of your life needs to go on hold. It doesn't last forever, but it is nice to be able to be utterly single-minded when you have to.

Keep your options open, see how it goes, readjust your horsey goals for a while and make sure you keep your horse time in the "mental health" category, not the "must do this or else" one. Good luck!

Jun. 7, 2011, 06:40 PM
I took my eventer to law school, but I didn't have the money to take lessons let alone event. I really enjoyed riding though and the mental benefits of being able to go to the barn were worth the financial strain.
That being said, I also got a dog and did a lot of running in law school too.

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:00 PM
Agreed with Merle. I too kept my horse all through undergrad and vet school, at Cornell too, and maybe I worked harder than most of the other students so my loans wouldn't be as huge... I taught lessons which paid really well at the time, I worked at research labs, worked as a house mother of a sorority, and finally worked as a radiology tech until I graduated.

I still managed to ride, pass all my courses, and ace boards. Now I am a vet who finds riding and my family more important than work. Go figure. I still work but not full time. I worked my a** off to pay my loans off quickly for the 1st several years of my career so that once I had kids I could raise them mainly myself. I continued to ride though, even when I was working 6-7 days a week and on call frequently. I just had the pager in my pocket!

I have to admit though, during school I didn't party as much as the other folks, and I also didn't get all A's. Also I didn't sleep a whole heck of a lot - and I always had the horse at a place with an indoor with lights so I could ride at night. It's a trade-off.

;) You can do it.

I do think though that it depends on expense- and that depends on location for where you are going to medical school! If it is in a reasonable area for boarding or not... But like others have suggested, find a half leaser to help out!

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:01 PM
there is no way I could make it through without them

Of course you could, if you had to. Nobody has ever perished from lack of owning a horse. :) We should all hope and pray we never REALLY find out just how much we can actually do without. :)

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:19 PM
I was just learning to ride in vet school but I did ride all through vet school, H/J, and bought my first horse my junior year. Keeping him half-leased helped me not stress about how much riding I got to do. Depending on the rotation I was in, sometimes I could ride 7 days a week, sometimes 1. I do agree with DW though- a horse is a luxury, don't sacrifice your future when you need to focus on school or rotations. That said, I really enjoyed being able to ride when I was very stressed. Another vote for a barn with an indoor.

Jun. 8, 2011, 01:18 AM
Thanks everyone! I'm glad to know that it is possible to keep riding while in school. I hope to look at some barns this weekend. Sadly, no eventing barns seem to be in the area, but there are several h/j places. Maybe I can find a short stirrup kid that can ride him some. He used to do the hunters and I don't think it would be hard for him to go back to it. I would be happy to just be able to hack him around twice a week or so.

I haven't quite figured out the financial side of things yet. I will NOT being taking out additional loans to finance the horse hobby. Especially since I have awesome parents who will give him a great (and free!) home.

Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the support!

Jun. 8, 2011, 09:14 AM
I'm replying to this thread from the call room - 3 calls away from the end of my residency -I'm post call, and heading out of the hospital, straight to the barn :lol:

In short...it can be done. I rode all through med school - once-a-week lessons 1st year (as I didn't have a horse of my own at the time), started leasing a horse 2nd year, started eventing and went to my first HT in the fall of my 3rd year, and bought a horse in my 4th year of med school. I knew I wanted to bring my horse when I moved for residency, so proximity to horsey areas was something I considered when looking at programs. Fastforward 4 years - I've ridden all 4 years of residency, kept competing, and feel like riding has helped me feel more like a normal human being during the tough past couple of years. I wasn't the only rider (or eventer for that matter) in my med school - there were several of us who were balancing school and a horse (or multiple horses)

It takes time management skills, the flexability to skip a day or two or more at the barn when school and rotations get tough - but it was a great stress-reliever during med school and residency. For example, when studying for Step 1, I'd go to the library from 9-4, but at 4pm, I packed up my books and headed to the barn - and knowing I had a break at the end of the day made studying for that monster test a little easier.

feel free to PM me with any specific questions - and good luck starting med school!

Jun. 8, 2011, 11:50 AM
I can't speak to riding and med school, but I rode and competed through the 2star level while in law school. I rode and conditioned at 5:30 a.m. so that the rest of the day was spent on classes, interning, working at a firm etc. I also made money on the side by teaching lessons and doing pony club testings.

I didn't find it terribly difficult time-wise, but again law school is different from med school. The one thing I did do was give up competing for the very first semester. I just rode for fun and trained for a marathon instead. It gave me something to "train" for but was less time consuming.

Good luck and congratulations on getting into medical school.

Jun. 8, 2011, 02:41 PM
I'm replying to this thread from the call room - 3 calls away from the end of my residency -I'm post call, and heading out of the hospital, straight to the barn :lol:

Hey Congrats!!! So close to the finish line!!! :) :)

Jun. 13, 2011, 09:24 AM
Add one more to the list for "keep him"!

After riding throughout my childhood, I really didn't keep up with it in college, but my second semester of vet school (also at Cornell), I found a horse to lease and started taking lessons again. At the beginning of my second year I started leasing a different horse, and last month, I bought him. I think we are lucky in Ithaca that there are a lot of options for where to keep your horse, including some incredibly affordable ones. The cost of living (whether you are a horse or a human) is just not as expensive up here as it is in other areas. that being said, I take 2 lessons/month max, and my horse lives at absolutely the cheapest place around. It works for us. The way I see it, I can either pay board, or pay a psychiatrist. Probably comes out even!

Jun. 13, 2011, 10:19 AM
I got my first OTTB in law school...brought him up through training level and sold him....got my second one, also brought her up through training and schooling prelim and sold her (she was entered prelim when I sold her)...got my third OTTB and competed him through Prelim and did a CCI* long format.

I had no trouble finding an hour or hour and half to ride daily (often very early or very late in the day)....I lived near the horses and commuted into school--more than an hour each way. I did this because I was seeing the horses 7 days a week and only needed to be in school 5 days a week. I didn't socialize at school but studied in all my free time. I also would work part time to pay the bills.

It was EASIEST to do all this while in school...working gets harder. I knew others in school who had families and a job....if they can manage that, I can manage riding a horse.

But I was a pretty focused person...and school came easily for me. The number one thing is to do well. For me...that meant riding to keep me sane and away from school for a short period of time. Other people thrive on social hour....if that is the case, then I doubt they can fit a horse into the picture. You have to decide what sort of person you are and what you need to do to be happy and successful.

Jun. 13, 2011, 12:58 PM
I'd second all those who say take her with you-if you can afford to do so. I handed my horse off to my younger sister when I went off to law school, and now that it is all said and done, I really regret doing that. I could have used a nice stress reliever, and I think the time away from the school/other law students would have done wonders for my sanity.

I went to law school in D.C., so the cost of boarding a horse in the area was just out of the question for me (and traffic/transportation was an issue, I didn't have a car for most of school). I got back into lessons etc about a year after graduation, and purchased my current horse about 6 months after that. It has been really humbling to see how much skill I've lost.

Looking back, I totally had the time to ride, and if I could do it all over again, I'd probably choose a law school that was enough cheaper that I could afford to bring a horse with me.

Congrats on getting into med school and good luck!

Jun. 13, 2011, 01:11 PM
I went to law school in D.C., so the cost of boarding a horse in the area was just out of the question for me (and traffic/transportation was an issue, I didn't have a car for most of school). I got back into lessons etc about a year after graduation, and purchased my current horse about 6 months after that. It has been really humbling to see how much skill I've lost.

I went to law school in DC as well....but lived out in VA (near Leesburg). The commute did really suck--there were times I was sitting stopped traffic and broke out my notes to study;)...but I had a roomate who worked in DC as well and we sometimes drove in together. I also kept my horse on self care (so did my roomate and we would split the work)...but at a good facility (i.e. indoor with lights).

Without a car....it would have been impossible.

It was really nice to be away from school and around people NOT in school. Keeps you more in touch with reality:D

Jun. 13, 2011, 11:56 PM
there were times I was sitting stopped traffic and broke out my notes to study;)...

And I thought I was the only one! :D Nothing like a 30 min commute taking 2+ hours to ruin your study plans...

I'm heading into year 3 of vet school and I can give you both sides- I left my horse behind with Trainer in another state to be sold when I went to vet school. Between crappy market and Trainer not having a lot of time to spend on him (which is fine, since she was riding him for free as a friend), Horse didn't go anywhere. I decided to move him to a barn outside of Philly this spring (hey, if I'm paying board, it might as well be somewhere where I can see him once in a while, right?) and it was a GREAT decision. I still don't get to ride often enough to be competition fit (and I don't know where I'd come up with the extra money/time to compete anyways), but even on days when I don't have time to ride, it's so nice to go out and see a friendly face (and remember why the heck I'm putting myself through all of this!). If you can afford it without taking out extra loans, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend it!

Jun. 14, 2011, 12:58 AM
Well…..I’ve been apartment shopping and looking at barns and I don’t think I can afford board AND an apartment in a safe neighborhood. Bummer :( I’m leaning more and more towards leasing him out for the next year or so. Though I don’t even know where to begin finding a leasee. For some reason it feels wasteful for the horse to retire this young. I know that’s silly, my horse would love to be a pasture ornament/trail horse extraordinaire!!

I don’t have my fall schedule yet, but I’m thinking there may be a slight chance I could swing going to the AECs. That would be a great last outing for us. Thanks for all the encouragement! Maybe after I move I’ll stumble upon the perfect boarding situation for us :)

Jun. 14, 2011, 08:20 AM
Hope it all falls into place for you :)
(maybe you can part lease him close to school?)
Good luck!

Jun. 14, 2011, 08:33 AM
Well…..I’ve been apartment shopping and looking at barns and I don’t think I can afford board AND an apartment in a safe neighborhood. Bummer :(

This is exactly where I ended up. As I posted before, I'm in law school and an avid rider but not as passionate about competition as some. I had to just make the decision to prioritize school (financially and otherwise).

I do have a dog and he keeps me sane. Perhaps you can find a way to take a lesson every now and then? Maybe after the 1st year you can reevaluate? I really feel that sometimes you cannot do it all and that is ok. It's better to know your limits. As Delta said: horses are a luxury and, while wonderful, I have taken a break and I wish I could ride every day but I just can't afford it so I'm focusing on investing on a career that allows me to afford them in the future (time and money-wise). You'll sort it out. Just remember that you can reevaluate every semester if need be.

Re: Leases. See if your trainer will help put the word out. I have found that the best situations for my horses were those where they stayed under the care of a trainer that I trusted. There are a lot of threads on here about leasing.

Jun. 14, 2011, 09:27 AM
When I was in college and flat broke, had never owned a horse at that point, I found lots of ways to ride and be around them. I worked for a carriage driving company, worked at the racetrack walking hots and grooming, even rented horses once in a while, back in the days when you could just rent one and RIDE by yourself. They even let me rent one and ride bareback, since at that point in my somewhat unschooled (horse wise) life that's mostly what I had done. :lol:

Having never been a horse owner at that point, I was a lot less picky about horse-time. Whatever I could get was fantastic. :)