Riding in college?

How did you guys manage to continue riding and showing in college, if forced to do so without the backing of your parents? All tips appreciated. :smiley:

I’ve posted another thread about my wanting to become a working student in the coming months, but would appreciate your stories and insight on this thread as well.

Thanks. :yes:

I’m going to start doing this in the fall, but my number one tip would be to PLAN. Have a realistic plan of how much money you can spend on lessons and start saving.

You have a PM :slight_smile:

If you can work on campus as a secretary, grounds keeper, etc. you can work close to your home and earn a decent wage which can be used towards lessons. Campus jobs tend to be very easy and pretty fun, working with other students and campus staff. This is how I paid for lessons my first year of college. If you are going to a school that offers IHSA then try to join the team.

I know I hated not dedicating 6 days a week to riding at my first school, but in hindsight, it is 9 months that should be truly focused on your future so don’t feel disheartened if you feel you aren’t riding enough. If you want to become a pro while gaining a degree you can ride as a working student over the summers and holidays.

I have just finished my four-year under-grad and similarly funded my horsey habit throughout college. I would first be clear with yourself what your riding goals and what your priorities are. There is nothing wrong in wanting to focus more hours on school work, or want to get involved on campus first, but there are several ways to keep riding in school and still be involved IF you’re willing to work your butt off.

I’ll start by saying I was involved actively in my sorority, involved in organizations on campus, kept up my GPA, and rode 4-6 horses a day by the end of senior year.
First, financially I did stalls and barn work my first year. I’ve learned (usually) barns that try to avoid paying someone and have college students work off their board by doing barn work don’t always have the best care. But, I was also at my barn every day so was vocal if I saw things that needed to be done. This allowed me to keep my horse at Auburn. To earn money for competitions I rode other horses and taught lessons. This started very grass-roots. I taught tiny kids on my one horse, rode anything I could sit on.
I chose to do this at first, rather than take a part-time job , one because I was an aspiring instructor myself and the pay per hour was much more. I could teach two lessons and ride 2 horses, and make more than my peers working 10/$10 hours a week.

I loved it. I just found a system that worked. My truck always had so many changes of clothes. For instance freshman year, (I took morning barn shifts so I could have a social life in afternoon). 6/7 am feed. a Class at 9-11 ish. Go ride. Come back for my afternoon classes. Then, I’m done for the day and can soicalize/study, etc. Because I taught/rode client’s horses I could schedule to do this all on one afternoon, leaving my other days free. Or, I would do it all on a Saturday morning. As I kept teaching I was able to drop feeding shifts, and make more money teaching and riding. At that point I would sign up for the earliest classes possible, so I could teach in afternoon. I was usually done by 5, and could still make campus events and study.

Now. most of my peers liked sleeping in until 9/10. Sign up for mid-day classes. Well, of course then, at 2/3pm you would need to still ride, study, work, etc. That is hectic. Time management was critical.

For me it was worth it, I earned enough to take a 6-month break after freshman year to take a working student position. It was amazing.

Some fun tips: Dry shampoo was my best friend. Fortunately everyone in my classes wore no makeup, huge shirts, and nike shorts. So I could do a quick change at barn, dry shampoo on my drive back, and run to class. If you keep your grades up and go to classes, most professors if you go a week in advance to tell them, will accommodate you if you have to take a week to go to a horse show. I may miss a class to take a horse to the vet, or for whatever reason, my professors all knew me personally. I sat in the front row, was involved, they knew I was trying and therefore let me makeup a test or scale my grade up a point.

I am really impressed, Winsome 17. Sounds like you have excellent time management skills, loads of energy, an ability to focus, and figured out how to communicate with your professors, which is really important. You’re right, professors will accommodate students who are clearly trying hard, but have a lot less patience with students who just drift away and turn up at the end of term wanting to hand in a lot of late work.

Great advice so far. Also be sure to check your school’s policy on freshman’s having cars on campus. The time commitment will GREATLY increase if you have to take a bus or walk 20-30 minutes to your car. It will be extremely difficult without a car to successfully manage your time at the barn. I didn’t have a car, but was lucky that I had friends who did that rode at my barn.

Also, make sure you find a barn you can trust. You want to be able to not check on your horse for a few days (during finals, a volunteer event you want to do, organic chem tests, etc.) and be confident he is well cared for. This is also important when you go home for holidays. It also helps for the barn to be within a 20 minute or less drive…but that isn’t always a possibility. I certainly was lucky that my barn was very close to my college. If you have to choose between one or the other, opt for the barn 30-40 minutes away but with better care. Your horse and you will benefit more from 3-4X a week riding in a consistent and safe environment than 7X a week at a barn you would worry about at night or when you are gone.

I also echo to make sure your professors know you. That is something that I did not do well in my undergraduate and wish I had. Not only will they work with you and be on your side, they are smart people that you should take the opportunity to learn as much from as possible. This is probably the one thing I wish I had done better in my undergraduate.

Many people have successfully continued riding and showing while also doing well in college. It is possible. You just have to make it a priority (albeit a second priority behind your school…which I was guilty of not always doing). I took 16-18 hours a semester majoring in Biology and Genetics, two part time jobs, a volunteer position, and for the first two years was on the IHSA team in addition to my personal horse/showing. I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

I will be a senior this year and I’ve ridden all through college (just my own horse). I pay for my board, and pitch in for horse shows and the occasional lesson (I’m very fortunate that my parents help me with farrier, vet, lessons, part of horse shows, car, and gas). Honestly it’s been stressful, but I manage. My schedule last semester was wake up around 6 or so, workout for an hour, go to class until noon, work until 5, come home and eat dinner, go to the barn, get home around 8:30 or so, and then do homework and then go to sleep. I rushed and pledged my first semester and met some great girls that are still my best friends, but dropped after my first year b/c of lack of time (and with every mandatory party and meeting that I missed, there were warnings that would eventually turn into fines.) Am I that involved on campus? No, but my grades are good, I get to ride 5 days a week, and I don’t feel like I’m constantly stressing. (: My biggest tips, like others have said, are time management and flexibility. I can’t tell you how much more time I have when I don’t watch TV or look on FB, Instagram, etc (; And as much as I want to ride 5-6x a week, sometimes it doesn’t happen. Tests/projects take longer to work on/study for than I expected, and I have to be ok with that. I had to learn not to beat myself up about it and move on. And also, I think it helps “regular” job that pays better so you can afford your horse habit (: I work retail, but I’m still scraping by at the end of the month. I’ve also found it helpful to save up during the summer, b/c your schedule may make it tough to work certain days during the school year. During the summer I’m able to work more, and I babysit/pet sit whenever I can to make a little extra too.

Sorry for the novel, but these are just the things I’ve learned along the way! And please feel free to pm me if you have any questions at all! I hope this helps! (: I didn’t believe it when everyone said it, but college is way, way different than high school, but horses did help me to keep my sanity (most of the time (; )

It’s hard but it can be done! It’s all in what you prioritize. The first year of college, I lived on campus as a full time student, rode on the IHSA team. I did evening feed/stalls 2x a week with a teammate for our team lesson. I became close with our trainer and rode her sales horses a few times a week as well. My parents gave me money for food, necessities, etc.

Sophomore year I added in riding horses at a private farm about 15 minutes from campus as well. We ended up purchasing a horse from her, I decided I would rather show him than continue with IHSA, I had my fill at that point and our excellent trainer was moving 4 hours away, it was all good timing. I got a nanny job when I went home and made great money, took over all expenses for the summer plus saved some.

Junior year I moved my horse to a barn about 10 minutes from campus and would take babysitting jobs here and there for extra money. I had early classes on purpose so I could have a free afternoon. I also only had one lab T/Th, so those were my errand days and extra studying as well as barn time. My parents supported us during the school year and when I went home for the summer I nanny-ed again for the same family.

Senior year I took an early morning nanny gig for a local family by my campus. I would get up at 5 AM, and be back to campus by 9, at the barn by 10 and back for classes starting at noon/1pm-3/4pm and then have the rest of the day to hangout with friends, do school work, study. I was able to pay for my food, gas, and Bear’s farrier/vet, supplements. My parents still covered board because they are extremely generous. Especially considering I was supposed to make it through college “horse-free” I could ride on the team, take lessons, etc. but no owning anything. I last almost 2 years! :smiley: haha

So basically, I had pretty decent schedules each year of college that adjusted accordingly for my horse habit. Sure, you’re going to have stressful times, but I would have gone crazy without them! It was a big relief to get to the barn and just have quiet time away from roommates and homework. I also had a barn with an indoor. So if I had a random, crazy day or just needed extra sleep I could ride in the evenings. I will say I am not a “joiner” when it comes to activities. :o so if you are joining in everything, then yeah it’s going to be harder to manage having barn time too.

I networked my tail off and got some working student positions. My work really just paid for saddle time–it was not and income-producing situation, but except for gas I didn’t really have any expenses either. I wasn’t able to show much, but I got to ride a bunch of different horses (from schoolies to greenies), and that experience taught me a lot. I also made connections that still help me now over 10 years later. I was just the keep your head down and work hard type. I kept up the w/s work through the summers too. I did not have my own horse boarded at school. I tried the IHSA thing, but I wasn’t really into it. I did continue to help the team by serving as an officer and I was an officer in my sorority. I spent a lot of early mornings at the barn.

I want to echo something that may/may not have been touched on that I wish I could’ve gone back and told myself. You do not have to do everything that you can possibly fit into your schedule. I know that might sound taboo in the horse industry and many people easily do it. I wore myself out and didn’t spend time just decompressing and, well, the inevitable happened. College can be a great time to learn how to handle what you need to do for your mental health in order to have a happy life.

My brain is on a constant hyper drive and I really need to take time during the day, just 30 minutes, to relax and literally do nothing. It’s made a world of difference.

I didn’t…

My parents could afford horse + college, and horse + college + showing was out of the question.

Being as I was a very dedicated rider, from the age of 8 on - including my teen summers spent as a working student - in all the break was welcomed. I enjoyed having enough time for my school work, and to expand my horizons / explore other interests in life.

I still rode some on the side - free rides on greenies etc, but I am glad I took a break from horses, and especially showing for college.

Firstly, prioritize school. Secondly, highly recommend PLANNING your time and money. It’s dooable but pinching pennies is a must, at least for me anyways.

It’s definitely possible, but be aware that college is not like high school in terms of the social scene. In high school, you could have your friends you made in class, talk at lunch, etc. In college you have to try to make friends and most of the time it just happens because you live in the dorms. This gets very very hard if you’re at the barn 24/7. You will very quickly realize that you missed out on something. Seriously consider taking a semester to get assimilated to college before you jump into a working student position. I showed a lot in high school and I loved every minute of it, but now the max I do during the semester is 1 ride a day (if I have a horse with me) and IHSA shows. Personally, that’s plenty for me.

Anyway, here are my tips for time management.

  • Keep yourself moving. Come home from class, change, go to the barn, come home, eat, shower, grab your backpack and go to the library. Do not touch the bed.
  • Freshman dorms are not designed for sleeping. Your roommate won’t love 10PM nights out every single night, talk out a compromise. I have a white noise machine. It’s a little fan that blocks out noise and is a life saver.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a day and be a stupid college student.
  • Take naps. Come back from a horse show, sleep for two hours, get up and do whatever your friends are doing that evening. Rallying is easier than you think.
  • Here’s a tough one, which may or may not be relevant depending on your situation. You may have to say no to rides. “Hi Trainer. I only have time to ride 2 tomorrow, who should I prioritize?”
  • Dry shampoo.
  • Be home for dinner whenever possible. Your social life will thank you. The people you go to dinner with become your best friends.
  • Consider riding before class.
  • Get a under the bed zip-up clothes storage thing for dirty horse things that you don’t wash everyday, like your winter barn coat. Your roommate will thank you.

OnDeck: love the under-bed dirty storage idea! Wish I’d thought of that ^-^

I did this all four years while at Sweet Briar College. I actually was able to bring my horse 3.5 years (had to miss first semester of freshman year but had him boarded locally).

I loved it. For me, athletics was always after school. So since 8th grade I went to school, then did my sport of the season, then home to study to repeat. Luckily I really think the school I was in was able to prepare me for balancing academics and sports for college.

I was also working at the barn on campus 5 days a week in the evenings for extra money. It lucked out that the stable I was closing for the evening was also my horses so I had to clean 8 stalls, feed, water, turnout.

Its definitely a balance but one for me that was easy to make since it was such a part of my academic career. One bad day could be washed away by a good ride on my horse or evening of practicing field hockey. I never lacked for a social life and was really able to participate in the various social offerings you’ll find in college. I graduated with excellent grade and an “educated” horse (though that now 28 year old horse wouldn’t know the difference :cool: )

It is completely doable just manage your classes and work load to the “hours” you need to continue to ride. Good luck!