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WWYD: Varsity sports vs. riding

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  • WWYD: Varsity sports vs. riding

    I think this is something a lot of high school athletes/riders struggle with, so I wanted some opinions.

    Say you could ride 6 days a week but it would be logistically hard, expensive, and perhaps not the best quality instruction out there (but with a trainer who produces kids that do acceptably show result wise)
    -- or--

    you could be a two season varsity athlete and ride on the weekends only with a better quality but less competitive trainer. It is less expensive, but still a lot of money given that you would only be riding 2x a week (a fully board lease where you end up pretty much paying for other people to ride a nice horse 5x a week) no other options available in terms of lease.

    WWYD? Stick out the last two years of high school playing the two varsity sports or ride more intensively for those two years?
    "If we we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane, if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane." ~Jimmy Buffet
    "Pursuing the life of my high-riding heroes I burned up my childhood days..."-Willie Nelson

  • #2
    I guess that depends on what your goals are. If you're after an athletic scholarship, then you should focus on whichever sport gives you the best shot at that. If you're not, you should consider what your other personal goals are and take the route that will best fit those goals.

    I, personally, would choose the riding. But that's because my goals involve riding. Yours may not.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


    • Original Poster

      My eventual goals include riding and at a high level, but my dilemma is that I really do love the other sports and I feel like I should play them while I have the chance because riding is going to be the sport that I pursue past high school and college. I am not even sure if I will play volleyball in college and I am almost positive I will not swim in college. Riding is my passion, but volleyball follows as a secondary passion. Because of riding, I don't play club volleyball, which is pretty much a requirement if you want to play NCAA varsity volleyball. I feel like I'm stuck in between...I can't get as far as I want in either sport. If my riding option was a good one, I would definitely choose the riding, but because I'm not sure how good the riding will be and I know it will be expensive, perhaps prohibitively so, it further complicates the decision.
      "If we we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane, if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane." ~Jimmy Buffet
      "Pursuing the life of my high-riding heroes I burned up my childhood days..."-Willie Nelson


      • #4
        Good luck figuring this one out. I made a similar decision in high school. I stuck with basketball, not because I did not want to ride forever, but to save money. I went to college on a basketball scholarship. My goal was no student loans, and hopefully I would have more money for riding later. Of course I took 10+ years off from riding, due to kids and life.... But I still feel I made the right choice for me.
        What does your heart tell you?


        • #5
          Not sure whether this interests you, but the USEF is instituting a varsity riding program through them. The info is on their website


          • #6
            I was in a similar position about a year ago. Volleyball vs. Horses. I chose the horses because my goal was/is to ride professionally one day. That goal just didnt seem feasible if I was only going to be riding 1 or 2 times a week. Now, I sort of have the best of both worlds. Im taking a team sports class as one of my electives during school so I still get to play volleyball for an hour (sometimes more) everyday and go to the barn at night. I dont regret my decision at all; Thats just me though. Horses are such an important part of my life, I dont know that I could survive only riding once or twice a week. Also, new opportunities with the horses may open up in the next two years. Consider that too; Riding at the not so good barn may open up some connections with better barns, etc.
            "To do something that you feel in your heart that's great, you need to make a lot of mistakes. Anything that is successful is a series of mistakes." -B.J. Armstrong


            • #7
              This is something you have to figure out for yourself. In high school I chose to get more involved in music and less involved in riding. I was in some form of music activity (either drumline or flute) four days a week and rode once a week. I did move up from the assistant to the main trainer in high school so the instruction I was getting was better, but I could only ride once week in the lesson and even then had to work some of the money off of it.

              I'm ok with my choice. I kind of wish I had that time to increase my riding skills, but I had fun at the time and I learned how to work with people and be a leader. I haven't even touched an instrument since I graduated but did join the equestrian team in college. Socially it was probably a good choice to pick music because it made me some friends IN my high school, whereas if I was hanging around the barn all the time I would have made friends from different schools-not so useful when you have no one to sit with at lunch. What impacted me was that I couldn't afford my own horse, or even really to lease one, let alone show. I was never going to be competitive in riding, but I definitely had a shot in drumline championships and district bands.
              "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

              Phoenix Animal Rescue


              • #8
                This is a choice you'll have to make for yourself. If it were me, I would choose riding. And I don't really think that it makes sense to pay for a full lease when you can only ride the horse on weekends because of sports....kind of a waste of money if you're paying for a horse 7 days a week and you can't even ride that much....if you picked sports, I wouldn't pay for a full lease but try to find a place with decent schoolhorses to lesson on.


                • #9
                  I no longer have to make this choice So I get to ride 7 days a week and not have to deal with school or sports.
                  To be loved by a horse, or by any animal, should fill us with awe-
                  for we have not deserved it.
                  Marion Garretty


                  • #10
                    I'm gonna have to agree with the above posters. Find out what your future goals are. You only have two years left of a varsity high school sport and a million more of riding.


                    • #11
                      I dont know, if it were me i'd choose riding! because yeah, theres only 2 years left of varsity sports, BUT theres only 2 years left of your JUNIOR years. this is just me, but i'd much rather be having fun at horse shows on the weekends than be at a soccer game or track meet!

                      hope you can figure out what you want. because really its your choice

                      Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


                      • #12
                        We are there with both of our children. We don't have the financial means to get either child to the top levels in the horse world even if they are talented enough to be there. I'm not saying they are but that is a moot point as they will never sit on a big time eq horse or have a chance to show in the junior jumpers.

                        Their shows are few and far between. Both girls love horses so we make time to do it and they are still getting good instruction and maybe they'll have an opportunity to ride in college. It might be as a walk on or maybe it will be at an IHSA school.

                        They will both play sports in high school. Social benefits are the primary reason. They need to feel a part of their school and have friends there. You only get one chance at high school. I want them to experience it and go to the dances, have friends and be a part of things.

                        Given our limited resources (which in the general scheme of things isn't limited except relative to the horse industry) it make more sense to have them in something which they can succeed. It doesn't matter how well they ride if we can't afford to show or buy/lease a good horse they can't show it off.

                        They can pick up the horses later in life but time is running out to play team sports.

                        We can afford for them to play club sports and pay for the best instruction in the team sports. If they have the talent and desire to go to college on a scholarship, we have the means to get them there. With horses, not so much.


                        • #13
                          I agree, you should prioritize. What would you benefit from doing one or the other, or both?

                          I'm in my last year of high school now, and I've made horses work for me along with my 2 varsity sports over the past three years. When I was a day student I would simply go to the barn after my practice at night and get home around 8, but now that I live at school it's a little more complicated. Luckily I'm able to drive over in the mornings, but I have to wake up at 5am to go out and see my horse before 8am classes which I'll admit, is kind of hard some days and definitely not for everyone. I only plan on pursuing one of my sports in college, and luckily it's played in the winter so I don't mind only getting out to the barn 2 or 3 times during the school week. I also plan on riding horses for the rest of my life, and if I were really forced to make a choice, I'd pick riding.

                          I would only attempt both riding and your sports if you have understanding coaches. I love my squash coach, but I've been given the "all or nothing" speech several times, like, for example, when I asked him if I could leave practice 5 minutes early to meet the farrier. On the other hand, my tennis coach let me leave practice 30 minutes early to meet the vet for an emergency call once. It really just depends. I would never imagine asking the squash coach to miss a match for a show, but I might consider asking the tennis coach. If I knew he was in a good mood that day.

                          The other thing that's really helped me make my riding/sports work is my amazing trainer. She's willing to teach me at the crack of dawn, or at 9pm if needed.

                          If you really want to find a way to make it all work out, you can do it.


                          • #14
                            The Interscholastic Equestrian Association is for students in grades 6-12.


                            Some high schools sanction varsity equestrian events. Search the internet for "interscholastic equestrian" +"your state" to see if you can get a letter for riding.
                            The journey is the destination.


                            • #15
                              My eventual goals include riding and at a high level
                              I can't tell if you mean you'd like to be a pro or you just want to be a successful ammy, so I think your decision will depend on which of those two is your goal.

                              If you want to ride/train as a pro, I think you should be looking for more saddle time. You don't improve your riding, learn how to ride different types of horses, learn how to think through training issues, etc, etc, etc by playing volleyball. You do that by spending invaluable time in the saddle and the more you can do it NOW as a kid (when you are young, athletic, impressionable, and probably more or less fearless) the better you will be when it is time to offer your skills to the public (whether that's as someone's working student, an assistant trainer, opening your own place, whatever). You can have the best quality instruction in the world and you can see improvements, but if you are only getting your butt in the saddle once or twice a week, you are not learning the invaluable stuff that comes from just riding A LOT.

                              HOWEVER, if you just want riding to always be a hobby, I think you can safely spend the next few years enjoying other aspects of life and give your riding a little bit of a back seat. Even if you want to ride at the higher levels of your chosen sport as an ammy, you can afford to take your time and not worry about it so much.

                              It basically boils down to how you want to put food in your mouth and a roof over your head after high school/college. If you want riding to do it, you need to be riding as much as possible. If you plan on something else doing it, then you can safely do whatever you want. Good luck!

                              PS- This is all rather weighty stuff for a high school kid to be thinking about....I don't envy you!


                              • #16
                                I, personally, would ride on the weekends. That way, you can still do multiple sports. My life has been very enriched by sports outside of riding. On top of that, during the summers I could choose to ride much more but still have the other experiences. However, I never intend to ride as anything but a hobby.


                                • #17
                                  This depends on your goals. If you want to make it to Varsity level in your sport then go with the second option. If you want to make riding your main goal go with the first.

                                  I play varsity tennis in the fall and I make sure that I tell my coaches riding is my main thing. They know if I have to ride I will not be there. It's hard balancing the two but I manage by one lesson a week and am a decent enough rider to work on my own atleast four/five other days a week.


                                  • #18
                                    don't let anyone tell you you can't do both!! If you love both, you shouldn't have to choose yet. I love riding and have ridden forever, but lacrosse is also very important to me. I showed pretty competitively for the past 3 years while playing varsity lax and club lax all year round...
                                    if you don't feel like you should have to choose, you're right! There is always a way to make it work.

                                    I would say to think about your future in each sport...I wanted to get recruited to play in college, and am not really riding while at school, and i knew that was what i wanted, but i wanted to make the most out of riding while i was a junior. If you aren't really serious about your varsity sports, then maybe you have more of a choice to make.