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  1. #1

    Default Advice, Leaving School for Horse Shows...

    I'm a high school student in a public school. I'd really love some input from any parents or students on the topic of missing school for a period of time. I understand many top juniors and young riders have this dilemma when they are so dedicated to competing and handling school work.
    My situation is that I'm 2 hours away from Wellington where I keep my horse. I attend public school, unlike many riders who are homeschooled or do online fulltime. This means I spend my day in school, then get on the interstate for 2 hours, get to the barn and tack up, have an hour long lesson, hose and care for my horse, then get back in the car for the 2 hour trip home. Then I have to eat and find time for studying. I do this 5-6 days a week.
    I'm not complaining, but I'm wondering if anyone could share their experiences with leaving school for a few weeks to show. Reason being, the 4 hours a day in the car really wears me down especially this time of the year when I have to ride out in the cold in the late evening. I'm normally very healthy but last year I missed 20 days of school because I became deathly ill and couldn't seem to get over it. I struggled to keep up and missed out on our FL show season when I was supposed to be competing in the only championship qualifiers in this region.
    Obviously I'm very dedicated, have super time management skills, and my parents are extremely supportive. I'm just extremely worried that I'll be sick and miserable again all season. That means I miss out on showing and miss school.
    So... How do you leave school for a couple weeks to show? Is there anyone out there that has left to come to WEF or HITS for a couple weeks? How do you approach leaving public school for that period of time?
    I believe my teachers would work with me. One of my five classes is online, and three are electives, so core curriculum is mostly out of the way. If I could just take even two weeks off, this would allow me to get a couple qualifying shows in without being totally worn down and risking getting sick for who knows how long.



  2. #2
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    Nov. 28, 2012
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    hey, I'm a senior in high school and I'm about to leave school (in NYC) to ride in Ocala for a few months. I've never left school (for horses) for more than a few days before, and I talked to my school about the possibility of leaving in August and then again throughout the year. I've talked with each of my teachers about how I can make up the class work/ how they want me to proceed. Then I talked to my Principal about how to make it work so that I could still graduate. I created a document for each of my teachers and my parents to sign and now I'm leaving!
    my classes are: AP calc, Essay writing, Creative writing, Advanced Photography/ portfolio making, History of the Mid East and Anatomy and Physiology
    My Horse Show Photography/ Blog



  3. #3
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    Dec. 17, 2013
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    Some schools are easier to work with than others, same with teachers. Sit down with your principal and ask what your options are. At my school we could take one two-week "educational trip" per year if you got forms approved (never heard of forms not being approved). I took that my sophomore year to go to WEF. I got all of my work ahead of time, was ahead in a few classes when I got back, and it was actually fairly easy. My junior and senior years, I used my educational trip gradually, which wasn't supposed to be allowed. Also check into the laws in Florida, in my state we didn't HAVE to be in school after 17. They could punish me within the school system if they wanted, but couldn't do anything outside of it.

    As for teachers, presumably your going to be missing quite a few Thursdays and Fridays on top of a full week or two. Turn in work BEFORE you leave the first few times if it all possible, set a good first impression that you are going to make this work. If you want these teachers to deal with you through June (and write you letters of rec), you have to be responsible about it. You can get a feel for who will be more lenient and who won't. You can also decide who you want to tell about "the horse thing" and who you don't.

    I kept my horse 15 minutes away the majority of the time, but I was often riding 3 after school with no grooms and commuting long distances to shows (plane flight to WEF on weekends kind of commute). I really liked school, so I didn't want to miss much, but if I were only two hours from Wellington I would have never taken two full weeks to show. The only reason I did it as a sophomore was because I only had a horse there for two weeks and wanted to take advantage of it. I would never have been able to do it as a junior or a senior. Depending on your work load, missing school can add more stress than it relieves, plus it's going to make your school days longer when you need to make up tests.


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  4. #4
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    Depending on your district, can you get a shortened schedule? I know when I was a senior in high school, I was out at noon so I could ride more. It worked because had all of my needed credits, took a class at the university in our city and was an honor student. Of course, that was when we rode horses to school, too.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  5. #5
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    Sep. 7, 2012
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    You might get out your school rulebook and read the attendance policy before talking with the principal. If you can't get the straight two weeks off I would think you could add up the days allowed and use those to get a shorter week for a few weeks. At my daughter's school it was x amount of days without a parent note, x amount of days with a parent's note, and then x amount of days with a doctor's note. We counted carefully when she was in high school so that she could get some long weekends to show. We also had to be right on top of the excuse notes. The most important consideration is keeping up your grades before taking the time off. Good luck!



  6. #6
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    Dec. 12, 2009
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    Lots of good advice already, but I'll add too. Hopefully you can work something out with your school.

    I'm currently a junior in high school (private though, which tends to be easier to work with for riding than public) and have worked out an agreement with my school to leave for 2 months for WEF, in addition to other absences for other shows. I'd start with emailing or having your parents email whoever is the respective contacts for stuff like this. For me it was the dean of students and my advisor. Schedule a meeting with your parents and the school, have a full plan in place, and see if they'd be willing for you to leave for a bit. I'd recommend picking a good tutoring place before that meeting. Private Tutoring Services is very good and does both HITS and WEF; they and tutors for respective subjects contacted my teachers before Christmas break to introduce themselves, the program, and talk about how schoolwork will be taken care of while I am showing. Therefore, I'd try to get on this quickly - WEF started today and even if you're not showing for a while, I'm sure your school would like a bit of notice. Your smaller number of core classes will definitely help your case.


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  7. #7
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    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
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    As a teacher, I would ask these questions first: Are you a good student? Good grades and study habits? On top of projects and daily work? Homework always in? If you answered yes to all those questions, then you should be able to restructure your schedule or even work independently.

    You should head to the counselor's office and get an appointment for you and your parents to discuss this issue. Kids are out for weeks for other sports and activities, so there should be a path you can follow. I would recommend attending school as much as you can, to stay in touch with teachers and programs. Unless showing, be there. Perhaps you could do what another poster did--have a half day schedule?

    If you are not a strong student or are in danger of not graduating (missing credits), then I'd not suggest you make a drastic change. But, you don't sound like that! Good luck. Go in with an open mind and be flexible and as accommodating as you can.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


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  8. #8
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    Apr. 18, 2006
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    Okanagan Valley, British Columbia Canada
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    Yes I think the first start is approaching your principal and seeing if your current school has a study/sports type of program. If not see if there is a school nearby that will cater to your needs.
    Many of the kids I board and train with (even though I'm their parents age) miss a bit of school each year for shows. But their school has a program for those students that have a full athletic program. This program would be the same as what the local junior hockey players follow.



  9. #9
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    Nov. 15, 1999
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    Good advice here about managing the school side of things.

    Sounds like logistics are what have you fouled up.

    2 hours each way is a long commute for anyone. Taking off from school will give you more time in a day to commute, but the commute itself is what's robbing you of valuable time that could be put to better use if you could cut down on the necessity for it.

    Do you have a place to stay overnight in Wellington? You could cut your commuting time significantly if you stayed in Wellington two or three nights a week. If you diligently put a portion of the saved time into your studies, you would have no trouble keeping up with schoolwork.

    Example: Go to school till lunch time, leave for Wellington, ride at 3…study…sleep…wake up…ride at 8am…leave by 10, back to school by noon, do your afternoon classes, go home…study….repeat...

    Spreading out the driving so that you are only doing 2 hours a day instead of 4 will cut down on exhaustion for sure, and allow you to manage the rest of your day more productively. Being in school for half days will keep you in the loop in all your classes, and socially, too, whether at school, at the barn, or at home (don't forget to be social at home--that's important!).

    There are tutoring services available in Wellington, both on the show grounds and off if you need guidance in applying yourself to more difficult subjects. There is also a huge public library nearby if you need to find quiet space to work.

    If you are strategic in managing which days you stay over, you should be able to arrange being in school for important presentations and testing, or at the show/barn for more intense schooling sessions, bigger competitions. You probably will have time to ride extra horses, if they're available. And you'll have MUCH more time to study.

    Good luck!



  10. #10
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    Apr. 15, 2012
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    Wow thanks to everyone who already replied, some good points I hadn't thought of. If anyone else has more suggestions please keep them coming!
    I do have a place I could stay overnight in Wellington. Small hotel 10 mins. from the barn. This eliminates part of the commute, but then we deal with packing and staying there... It's not the most comfortable and I've stayed a few sleepless nights there for shows due to very noisy guests.
    The half day idea is good, but I already have a "sort of" half day. I would normally have 6 classes, but senior privilege allows me to only have five. So I go to school from 8am-1pm.
    I am an excellent student, always turn in assignments, and have never given a teacher a moment of trouble. This is why I believe my teachers would work with me. However, I would definitely have to meet with my counselor and principal to explain the predicament to them. I have seen a generic letter form that many families say they have used with success. Maybe this would do?
    http://www.equinechronicle.com/excus...r-horse-shows/
    I need to figure something out because I am home sick today and midterms are next week! Second semester will be better though, as I mentioned my classes will be virtual, English, photography, drawing, and office aid (ha!). I just feel like leaving for a few weeks could really work, because I chose to have my easy electives second semester for this purpose. Sadly, I accomplish far more when I miss a day and do work at home than I ever do in class, and I do still do good work in class! One thing I've learned from all this is that traditional public school is really quite inefficient. So if I left maybe the school would consider giving me credit for PE instead of those electives. I'd be willing to work with them, but a little afraid they will totally decline to entertain the whole idea. If that happened, I think I could get my doctor to write me some kind of note stating how ill and run down I was from this kind of lifestyle last year. It is hard to get the non horsey people to understand, but the challenge will be the principal/counselor, not the teachers.


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  11. #11
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    Jun. 8, 2009
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    I know exactly what you're talking about. I am a senior but I decided to graduate mid term so that I could ride, therefore I am done with school now. I went to a public school and I did find myself in some attendance issues with the dean of students, nothing serious though. I am a working student so I spent a lot of time on the road with my trainer, about 2 weeks a month. I, like you, also has superb time management skills and was a great student. I was enrolled in a bunch of honors and ap classes and worked my butt off having all my assignments done before they were due.
    My adivce is when you go to talk to your school, be honest and explain that this is something that you may want to make a future in and yes schoolis important but it is also important to pursue your goals and dreams. Also I did the High School Athlete Program through the Usef which helped because I could say that I was lettering in the sport. My school was not exceptionally supportive of my decision to put my riding ahead of school but I was such a good student that they really couldn't complain. Also, do you have a study hall? Can you rearrange your schedule so that your study hall is last so you could cut it when you have nothing to donin it and go to the barn? if this is important to you then you will make it happen! Feel free to ask me anything else, I would love to help you!


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  12. #12
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    Jun. 22, 2012
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    I never got to take time off of school to show (you lucky duck!) but when I was in high school I had an illness that kept me out for weeks at a time junior and senior year. The situations are dissimilar in that one is a medical issue and one is ostensibly a recreational activity but we still had to fight with my public school and throughout the course of it I more or less figured out what works and what doesn't work.

    The biggest thing is to take care of all the details yourself so that you're not creating any extra work for anyone at your school. This means you need a comprehensive plan before you even set foot in an advisor's office.

    So, time to assemble all of your information. Find a tutor and have a solid plan laid out before even approaching your teachers. X amount of hours of tutoring a day, success rates, the tutor's credentials, whatever. Put your commitment to maintain X grade (A or B probably, assuming you are a good student) or above in writing with the caveat that if you fall below that then the plan will have to be reevaluated/possibly discontinued.

    Make up an info sheet as to what you'll be doing in Wellington - where you are showing, what the level of competition is (i.e. elite), how this is going to make you a stronger applicant for the colleges of your choice, etc. You need to show them that you are a high level athlete, not someone taking an extended vacation. Bring this info to your teachers to enlist their support before going to your school advisers. Make sure to find out exactly how they each want you to submit assignments/take tests/etc. Then get letters of support from your teachers before formally talking to the school - the form letters you used would be handy for that.

    Put everything in a packet. When it comes to talking to your school have your parents initiate but be as involved in the process as you are able to be - sit in on the meeting, etc.

    To recap, you basically need:

    - A proven tutor
    - A teacher-approved way to submit work/take tests remotely
    - A commitment to maintaining a certain grade/GPA in your coursework
    - Letters of support from your teachers
    - An explanation of the level of competition and the opportunities it provides you
    - It can't hurt to throw in some of your riding credentials (past successes, etc.)

    Once you have all this you have done all the work for your school - they don't have any potential logistical issues to figure out. (This is the most common reason why requests like these get turned down - no one wants to come up with a creative solution to a logistical issue created by a student.) Then you're ready to call a meeting with the adviser/counselor to request an exemption from the absence policy since you will not be absent, you will be working remotely.

    I personally would not use the getting rundown/sick thing in your apeal. That sounds like an opening for the school to say, "Well, school should come before extracurriculars. If you want to cut back on something, cut back on riding." It's always better to be proactive and positive than to focus on the negative. I would perhaps mention that you've been doing the school/2 hour commute/ride/2 hour commute thing with academic success in the past so you have already proven to have excellent time management skills but that you are now stepping up to show at a more intense/higher level and it will not be logistically possible for you to continue commuting as you have in the past.


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  13. #13
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    Apr. 28, 2006
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    We had this issue my daughters senior year. We went to the school in October and talked with the administration. Found out the school system had something called "the elite athlete program" used mostly by skiers, figure skaters and snow boarders". She qualified and we used it. I would fly her from CT Wednesday after school and she would fly home Sunday nights. It worked. For you being a two hour car ride it could be pretty easy depending on your situation. Is your horse on "full service" if so you shouldn't have to be there daily. Talk to the school. Just be there Monday-Wednesdsy and then stay in Wellington Thursday-Sunday. While not very cost effective, definitely made it easier. Find a barn mate or even groom that has a place and see if you can rent a room, or even a couch so you can keep your stuff there. It's worth a shot



  14. #14
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    If your parents are open to it, total independent study/online school is really a good route. That's what I did when I was traveling the racetracks when I was younger and I learned more I'm my two years online than all of my previous years in public school put together. Unlike public school, you HAVE to learn. In EVERY subject. You aren't hindered by poor teachers in certain areas. The school provides resources and teacher connects to help you along if you need it. You can learn at your own pace. It is a totally different experience and if you are going to go to college, you will be 10x more prepared after taking online courses vs public school.

    I went through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Independent Study program.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


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  15. #15
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    I also lived 2 hours from Welly World in high school!

    During my senior year I was allowed to miss school for horse shows, and I went over on Wednesdays around 1, came home Sunday. My school was NOT athlete friendly, but thankfully my teachers (save for 1) liked me, and were 'ok' with the Dean's request that my grade not be dinged for missing so many classes.

    I did have my physics teacher who was kind enough to give pop quizzes every day I missed that consisted of "write your name down and turn it in", so I would receive a '0'. To her dismay, I still managed a B in that class (my only B that semester).

    It's possible to do at a school that's not athlete-friendly, if you talk with your teachers, and offer to turn in homework BEFORE you leave, take tests before your classmates, do extra credit etc.
    This may require you teaching yourself some topics, but in my opinion it was worth it!


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgonzola View Post

    I did have my physics teacher who was kind enough to give pop quizzes every day I missed that consisted of "write your name down and turn it in", so I would receive a '0'. To her dismay, I still managed a B in that class (my only B that semester).
    How could the school let her get away with that? How could she give you a zero for something that you could not possibly do? Glad you were successful in spite of her.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgonzola View Post

    I did have my physics teacher who was kind enough to give pop quizzes every day I missed that consisted of "write your name down and turn it in", so I would receive a '0'. To her dismay, I still managed a B in that class (my only B that semester).
    That's just plain mean.

    I give all you that have gone this route a lot of credit for doing what you love PLUS doing well in school. Kudos to you all. OP, good luck. Keep us posted.
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde



  18. #18
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    Jan. 6, 2014
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    Central Florida
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    Just food for thought: in the state of Florida the law requires so many hours of "seat time" in your classes for the school to be able to grant you the credits. To earn seat time you must be present in the class, or at least counted present. This means that if you need those credits for graduation you're going to have more difficulty creating a plan and getting the school to agree with it. (You can earn a full credit with community service, so you may be able to drop an elective that way.)

    Good luck and happy riding!!



  19. #19
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    Oct. 13, 2011
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    I think you should talk about getting credit for PE. I got all my credits for PE thought riding by just filling out a form through the school. I don't remember exactly what it was called but it does exist! Maybe you could switch office aid for PE. I only say that because 2/3 of being an office aid is actually being at school.

    Next question is do you actually need those electives to graduate? If not, could you possibly talk to your school about early graduation?

    Also, for a tutor I suggest Gina Marie. She will be in Welly world during WEF the whole time. www.horseshowtutor.com is her website!



  20. #20
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    Jul. 3, 2013
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    Could you try and arrange your schedule, with your teachers while you are away for the circuit. I did all weeks of a winter circuit growing up, and flew back and forth, but the public school I was with was able to make an agreement that I'd be in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And missed Thursday, and Friday.

    My public school also had a lot of student athletes (winter sports, lax, traditional sports) that missed a lot of time.

    All coursework was faxed/emailed in the day it was due
    Any missed exams were taken on Tuesday/Wednesday afternoon after school, or off periods. If the exam was on Monday I would have to be there, there was no rescheduling exams I was present for.

    Senior year I had half days because I only took morning classes and Didn't take a lunch period and I was done around noon.


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