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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2011
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    Connecticut
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    Question Balancing school and riding?

    Does anyone have tips on how to manage schoolwork and riding at the same time?

    I've always had a hard time balancing the two, generally ignoring schoolwork in favor of riding and showing, but college is approaching and I need to change my habits.

    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!

    So please, if any other juniors or parents of juniors have tips or advice, do share!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 21, 2009
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    Rootown!
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    It's very important to create a schedule and stick to it! Schedule every minute of your day if you need to but remember to add in some down time as you don't want to burn out. That's the thing that's helped the most. Make sure you're honest in how long things take. Yes, I could be in and out of the barn in about an hour and a half but that just never seems to happen if other people are there
    No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
    For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
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  3. #3
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    Feb. 5, 2007
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    Huntington Beach, CA
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    I am surprised your parents let you get so far behind in school work. If you were my daughter, I would of had you stop riding until your school work is caught up. You have to be extremely dedicated to do both well. Homeschooling will never work unless you are dedicated and disiplined. That mean making your school work come first.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2011
    Location
    Connecticut
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    13

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    Thank dghunter, I'm making a more detailed schedule right now!

    And PonyPenny, it's not really that they don't keep on top of whether or not I'm doing my work. I've been in and out of the hospital throughout the last couple of years and that makes it very hard to keep up with the workload a prep school gives. They don't take away riding when I haven't done all of my work because it is a very big part of what keeps me sane!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2010
    Location
    Virginia
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    462

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    Some background:
    I go to a very rigorous private day school and have a 4.1 GPA. I ride about six days a week when I'm not showing and usually show 2-3 weekends a month (A shows; planned around my exams/tests/other school events). I'm taking four AP classes and narrowing down my college search in addition to band rehearsal (I play the tuba), SAT/ACT testing, volunteer work, etc. I also have a job and help take care of my 18-month-old brother. Needless to say, I'm very busy!

    I often work through lunch at school and eat while I'm driving to the barn after school. I spend about two hours at the barn, go home, eat dinner, do chores, and then stay up as late as I have to in order to finish my homework. If that means only getting four hours of sleep, that's fine. I make a list of the order in which I'm going to do my work each night and go by that. on nights I don't have much homework, I'll do as much work as I can for the next week. Planning ahead is key. I have a calendar that is synced to both my phone and computer and I keep all my assignments there. Maybe if you got one of those dry erase calendars for the wall it would help keep track of things? Maybe I'm rambling but I hope it helped!

    Read the other posts and ETA: If my grades drop so I have more than one B or anything lower than a B (this has only happened maybe once?) my riding time is severely cut back until I bring the grade up.
    "Many are riders; many are craftsmen; but few are artists on horseback."
    ~George Morris



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2009
    Location
    Washington
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    572

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    Quote Originally Posted by PonyPenny View Post
    I am surprised your parents let you get so far behind in school work. If you were my daughter, I would of had you stop riding until your school work is caught up. You have to be extremely dedicated to do both well. Homeschooling will never work unless you are dedicated and disiplined. That mean making your school work come first.
    Ditto!

    As a freshman I had a bad attitude towards school. I was lazy didn't want to do my homework and had I had the option I probably would have not step foot in a classroom. That attitude lead to bad grades and my parents taking my riding privileges away. Boy was that a wake up call! What really helped for me was planning. I carried a day planner with me everywhere. I would write down EVERYTHING I had to do that day from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. Be studious and work hard, challenge yourself to be better in every aspect of your life.
    Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.



  7. #7
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    Feb. 5, 2007
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    Huntington Beach, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucyeq View Post
    Some background:
    I go to a very rigorous private day school and have a 4.1 GPA. I ride about six days a week when I'm not showing and usually show 2-3 weekends a month (A shows; planned around my exams/tests/other school events). I'm taking four AP classes and narrowing down my college search in addition to band rehearsal (I play the tuba), SAT/ACT testing, volunteer work, etc. I also have a job and help take care of my 18-month-old brother. Needless to say, I'm very busy!

    I often work through lunch at school and eat while I'm driving to the barn after school. I spend about two hours at the barn, go home, eat dinner, do chores, and then stay up as late as I have to in order to finish my homework. If that means only getting four hours of sleep, that's fine. I make a list of the order in which I'm going to do my work each night and go by that. on nights I don't have much homework, I'll do as much work as I can for the next week. Planning ahead is key. I have a calendar that is synced to both my phone and computer and I keep all my assignments there. Maybe if you got one of those dry erase calendars for the wall it would help keep track of things? Maybe I'm rambling but I hope it helped!

    Read the other posts and ETA: If my grades drop so I have more than one B or anything lower than a B (this has only happened maybe once?) my riding time is severely cut back until I bring the grade up.
    This sounds very similar to what my daughter does except she goes to public school and her job is being a working student. She works at two different barns, one in California and one in Missouri. She can only do three weeks at a time in Independent Study when she travels out of state, so she has to do all her school work, while on the road along with riding up to five horses per day. Her teachers email her work, but even then she has a ton of make up tests to do. She is returning tomorrow from showing three weeks in Gulfport MS. She is a senior in high school and has a 4.5 GPA. Her current class load is four AP classes and two regular classes. I don't know how she does it, but sleep is a commodity that is usually lacking. She does this all on her own. I do not pressure her. She wanted to show at a higher level then I could afford and was lucky to find a trainer who fully sponsors her in Missouri. The point is that you have to want it bad enough to sacrifice. Sometimes my daughter does not ride for a week at a time when she returns to California, just to catch up with school work. An education is extremely important and colleges to take notice of your high school academic career.



  8. #8

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    Not to toot my own horn, but I hope you'll read my blog (link is in my signature)! I am about to graduate from the University of MD in May and it sounds like you might be interested in my topic--experiences riding in college and doing things cheaply. Your dilemma is a great idea for a future post since time management is something all college equestrians (and college students in general) struggle with.

    I agree with the above posters that schoolwork needs to come first, and that you do have to sacrifice riding time. That just comes with the territory.In HS I usually only rode 3x a week because I took very challenging classes and worked or interned on top of school clubs. However, things like to-do lists, planners, reminders on your phone, etc. will all help you to get schoolwork done with enough leeway to squeeze in time at the barn. You really have to get obsessive about checking those reminders to yourself in order for them to work--even if it means only a few hours of sleep.

    The great thing about college is that you can make your own schedule--you can get all of your classes out of the way before noon if you like, or you can schedule a lunch break of several hours so you can get to the barn and back before your next class. But then you do have to put in the hours of studying. I find that keeping evenings as study time works for me because I can stay up as late as I need to get everything done and to work ahead if possible.

    I like to set particular goals for myself each day--for example, this weekend, I told myself I'd write an essay and put the final touches on a cover letter on Saturday so I could work off a ride on Sunday. The key is that riding is the reward--not the priority. "Your job is school," as my mom always says, and to be a good student, it definitely takes up more time than many full-time jobs. So even if you end up not being able to ride very much as you finish up your high school credits, you have to keep your eyes on the prize--a great job after college that will allow you the means to ride.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2010
    Location
    Kansas
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    I'm in Nursing school at the moment and have to admit that fitting school work and riding/showing in is quite difficult. Most of my shows are during the summer so that isn't too big of a problem. But the prep work for shows means I have to work my horses 5-6 days a week. I generally work 2 horses a day, and clean 5 stalls/feed/water, etc(they live on our property) so as you can imagine this gets pretty time consuming.

    My advice is to be realistic in how long certain things take you. If you're going to the barn, do you really need to be there for 2 hours instead of 1? If you can safely and comfortably fit your riding into a shorter period of time, do so. Also, if you're going to do a homework assignment realize that it's easier to just do it and get it over with so that there is more free time at other points in your day. I have a really bad habit of surfing the web or watching TV at the same time as doing my homework. Doing this probably doubles the amount of time it takes for me to finish an assignment. But if I would just sit down and get it done without distractions or facebook breaks I could probably have more time to spend with my horses.

    Another thing that you probably don't want to hear is that you may have to take a break from riding for a while until you get caught up. Last semester was a really tough one for me and I had tests to study for pretty much every single week. So my riding/training kind of took a back seat to my school work. Yeah, it sucked at the time--but the positive is that I got all A's and B's in my classes and I didn't fail a class so I'm still on schedule to graduate this December. Which means no more homework or studying, more money for shows/horse stuff, and more barn time without having to worry about school the next day! It will be worth it in the end.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 16, 2009
    Location
    NH
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    669

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    I currently am attending a private school (thankfully I am a day student). Classes can be anytime between 8am and 6pm, 3-5 classes a day, 6 days a week (yes you heard me right, SIX days a week). I am maintaining a B+ average and have my own horse.

    Before I started HS, I rode every day after school. Since starting at PEA I had to set my priorities straight and I have backed off riding. My horses are project horses, I do my best to see them 5-6 days a week but sometimes I need to get school work done.

    School is more important than riding, sadly. Do I have a social life? nope, but do I get my work done? yes. Riding is a big part of my life as well, when I am not riding regularly my grades actually drop somewhat but at the same time, I know that if I do well in school and do well in college, i'll have a higher chance of being able to ride after college.

    I grew up with the rule of "no riding till your homework is done" and while I don't do exactly that these days, it is still similar. Work first, manage your time well, stop browsing CoTH ( ) and work hard. During the school year I can only really ride after dinner and it works because then I get my HW done before dinner and then go and ride.



  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by NBChoice View Post

    My advice is to be realistic in how long certain things take you. If you're going to the barn, do you really need to be there for 2 hours instead of 1? If you can safely and comfortably fit your riding into a shorter period of time, do so. Also, if you're going to do a homework assignment realize that it's easier to just do it and get it over with so that there is more free time at other points in your day. I have a really bad habit of surfing the web or watching TV at the same time as doing my homework. Doing this probably doubles the amount of time it takes for me to finish an assignment. But if I would just sit down and get it done without distractions or facebook breaks I could probably have more time to spend with my horses.
    Definitely agree. I am guilty of that as well...somehow my two hours of barn work in exchange for one hour of riding always turns into four hours plus driving time (what with little time-consuming mishaps that always happen). So now what I try to do is either work OR ride so it doesn't take as much time.

    Judging how long hw takes is more difficult since your assignments are all different. Sometimes you might misjudge it and end up with an all-nighter, but you need to judge your own abilities--can you write a 2-page essay in a few hours? Or do you need a day or two to revise and edit?



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 9, 2007
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    Zone IV/Area III
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    School: m-f 8-3,
    Monday off
    Tuesday and wed barn 4-7 Dinner 8-9/10 Study 10-12
    Thurs off-piano
    Friday barn 4-6
    Sat and Sunday 12-5 and study after.

    In high school I rode 4-5x week and did 14-18 shows/yr. I went to one of the top private schools in the country. Graduated with a 4.1, which was probably the bottom half of my class, but I went to school with freaks.

    I am now in college on full scholarship with a 3.6 pre-vet. Brought my spare horse to school and ride him 4x week and I drive 6 hrs round trip every weekend home to ride my show horse. I actually started eventing on top of doing hunters.

    You shouldn't need to spend more than 2 hrs at the barn to hack. 3 hrs with a 1 hr long lesson tops. Time management.



  13. #13
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    Feb. 5, 2011
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    220

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    For me, the most important thing was having my priorities in order. While my friends were out partying or doing other activities I would have liked to do as well, I was spending time keeping track of assignment, work schedule and riding anywhere from 1 - 4 horses a day. I gave up a lot of social time to get everything done and I don't regret it, but a lot of my riding friends didn't have the same priorities as me and didn't continue to ride as much as I have over our university careers. So as other people have said, you need to schedule things and the school work has to come first. University or college is very expensive and to waste it failing classes is just ridiculous. There is time to ride, you just have to find it and if that mean figuring out which activities are most important to you since I see you are also in band and do painting classes, and those are things that might have to be given up to find time to ride, or at least done less.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
    Posts
    139

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    The short answer is- its very hard.

    As someone who went to a great public high school, took AP/honors classes, worked part-time, rode 2-4 horses a day 3-5 times a week, got a concussion 1st semester senior year and FAILED a class as a result and still managed to get into a great college, my advice is that you have to prioritize. I had to make a decision- do I ride, or do I hang out with friends, talk on the phone, go on the internet? I always chose riding. And at the same time I made a rule that I would NEVER EVER miss an assignment because I was at the barn. I did sometimes have to skip riding, or ride 1 instead of 5 at night after work so I could go home and study for a big test or write a paper. My parents were never on top of me, I was expected to do my work without them ever asking, and if I wasn't keeping up, riding was the first thing to go.
    And yes, sleep was admittedly very, very low on the priority list (bad idea in hindsight). And I probably didn't watch TV for 3 or 4 months straight.

    But I am now a well-adjusted college student who is faring much better than many of my peers at a very challenging school.

    A wise trainer once told me that as a whole, riders are great students because of the level of self-discipline required to balance their lives. Unlike a high school soccer player who has practice from 3-5 four days a week at school for 3 months of the year, some girls I know commuted 3-4 hours to the barn 6-7 days a week (sometimes 6am lessons), and would fly down to florida in the winter on friday after school to show and be back in class, all assignments completed on monday at 7:30am. If that isn't discipline, I don't know what is...

    So the key to success is to make a schedule and STICK TO IT!

    As a side note, though, do take the very occasional mental break to avoid overstressing yourself to the point of a breakdown (I saw it happen a few times junior year).
    -JustWorld International-



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 26, 2008
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
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    I hate to tell you, but HS is a piece of cake compared to college. And college is a piece of cake compared to graduate school.
    If you can't figure out a schedule for yourself that works, you may need to put riding on the back burner for a while. School is important.

    I rode and competed heavily through HS. I did much less in college. Now, in grad school... I ride maybe once or twice a week. No shows. Sad but true. I kept my horse, but only because I'm insane. Hopefully, sometime sooner rather than later I'll be riding more and competing some.
    Yes, I ride a pony. No, he's not a re-sale project...
    http://fancyponypants.blogspot.com



  16. #16
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    Jan. 25, 2009
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    Rock Chalk!
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    I can speak from several vantage points - as someone who did juggle everything in my youth, as an educator and as a parent.

    From all three, your first, most important obligation is your education. Horses are fun, and do keep some of us sane, but your education will be there no matter what. If you're 16 and have only enough credits to be a freshman (which is <9 in our district) you are behind. Sorry, but you are. I cannot speak for what you do at home, but it doesn't sound like homeschooling is working out too well. Our district offers an alternative school for kids who have missed a lot, need credit recovery or generally a different learning setting than a traditional high school. Having a physical school to attend is a big motivator for many kids. You need to find what works for you - even if that means a bricks & mortar school. However, if YOU don't make the commtitment, it isn't going to work for YOU. It is YOUR education, and it's up to YOU to make the best of it.

    As a junior, I showed in the ASB and Arab world. A lot. Yes, I missed school for shows regularly. I also swam on my high school team, was in band, and debated. And I took honor's classes, and a college class or two my senior year (I grew up in a town with a University). And I worked part time. And I had a GPA that put me in the top 5% of my class of over 500. How? I prioritized. I used every minute of each day to get done what I needed to. I studied at shows. I remember doing calculus sitting on hay blaes at shows more than once. I did homework during my lunch break at work. Dinner was usually eaten in hte car between places. I also had parents who wouldn't have put up with me slacking on my real obligation - school - for one second if my grades had dropped. My social life was the barn. My trainer also put edcuation first.

    Now, I'm the mom who does it all. I think that the balancing act I elarned in HS prepared me well. I am a wife & mom, have a FT+ job, own a side business (which is doing well!), my daughter and I both ride/show, I'm a girl scout leader, sit on a board or two and a few other obligations. You can do it all. But you must, MUST put your priorities in line and really owrk to keep them there. Now, my prioriy is my family. When I felt that I wasn't giving them as much of me as they deserved, I gave something up.

    Figure out what your real priorities are in life. If you want to do horses, do horses. But realize that sacrificing your education at an early age may severely limit what you're eventually able to do with them - especially financially if you limit your education.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2011
    Location
    PNW
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    228

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    As all the others have said, school has to be your number one priority. Horses are a privilage that has to be earned.

    I am a junior in my University, and choose high level classes and often overload on credits. Although this often means less riding time upfront, it means that I can graduate with a minor in another field I am interested in and still graduate ahead of schedule.

    In my specific case, school absolutely has to come first because I am on full scholarship. If I take too much time riding and slack off on school, I risk losing my scholarship. Without the scholarship there would definately be no extra money for horses. Although I am able to ride/take lessons about 3-4 days a week, I only show during summer and spring break. That way I can focus on my schoolwork and let down a little bit in the summer.

    My recommendation to you is to focus on school for now, as the horses will always be there and in order for you to afford horses later in life, you definately need a quality education.



  18. #18
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    Jan. 21, 2010
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    My parents NEVER let me miss school for anything horse-related when I was in high school or younger. My show schedule revolved around the school year schedule.

    My parents did not let me bring my horses to college with me freshman year. They insisted I needed to adjust to college before bringing them with me (I went to college 1,000 miles away from home). They were right and I am grateful for that decision.

    During the rest of college, I gave up everything else (meaning any sort of social life) to have the horses. I went to school, completed schoolwork, and worked during the day, and rode in the evenings. I didn't go out on the weekend so I could complete the rest of my schoolwork. During the summer, I didn't go out on the weekends because I showed. My parents also made the rule that if I were to have the horses with me, I had to pay for them myself. That seriously cut down on a lot of showing, and therefore improved my grades as well.

    I also became a "master tacker". Going through college with two horses, and now being a working amateur with three, I learned not to dilly dally at the barn. I go, tack up, ride, repeat twice, and go home. I don't go to screw around, except on special occasions when I have more time.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2005
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    1,696

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    Can we all just take a second and remember that the OP said she has been in and out of the hospital for a few years, hence the being behind?

    Just like bringing a greenie along, if you have a month of good work and then 6 months of no work, you can't expect them to pick up right were they left off.

    OP, I would suggest you evaluate if riding really is the thing interfering with getting school work done. Before you started the hospital visits, what kind of student were you? What kind of classes are easiest for you? What kinds of assignments do you do best on? You may just not have the right structure, kind of teaching, kind of assignments, or right study habits down. I do fairly poorly when people want me to learn via videos or pictures. Give me a list or let me listen to it and I will retain it forever. I do really well writing papers or giving speeches. I am not so great at art projects or visual representations of my learning. When they tried to teach me math in elementary school using tangible little pieces of colored plastic figurines, I couldn't follow for the life of me, but when they laid it out old school style on pencil and paper for long division, it clicked instantly.

    Where are you doing school? Home school doesn't have to be at home. You might do better to go to the library where there are far fewer distractions (no fridge, no tv, no pets), better work spaces, librarians as resources if you need to look something up (or get a different take on Ancient Rome because your text book just isn't clicking), and that psychological bonus of "this is my work time". You do things a certain way to tell your horse when it is work time and when it is play time, no? Tack = work; library and "civilian" clothes = school time.

    Also, what are you doing at the barn (and is it a boarding barn)? Riding one horse? Riding several horses? Doing chores? If you are riding more than one horse, and you are doing chores, are the other rides *necessary* and are the chores *necessary*? Yes, grooming is important, but what kind of grooming are you doing? A full show groom is not necessary for a hack. Yes, chores are important but if you pay board, in theory you shouldn't have to do any chores. If you have to do chores to work off board, been there done that, and we can discuss strategy

    If you are only taking 2 classes right now, what is your school schedule? Are you "in school" (at the kitchen table, or wherever) for a set time every day? How long are you expecting to be taking these classes- the whole semester, half a semester? If I were in your shoes, I would do this (making some serious assumptions about my questions above):

    M-F:
    7-8 am: wake up, breakfast, drive to barn
    8-10 am: Barn time
    10-11 am: drive home, shower, lunch
    12-5 pm: school work
    5-6 pm: dinner
    7-10 pm: unfinished school, social life, other hobbies (depending on the day)
    10pm-7am: 10 hours of sleep. Very generous

    Sat/Sun: Barn time with no pressure when you can do all the futzing you want, such as organizing your tack box, doing a full show ring grooming, bathing, hand grazing, etc.



  20. #20

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    Just finished a blog post on my thoughts about balancing school and riding. Check it out.



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