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Balancing School Work and Riding

Riding in the Fall - Balancing School Work Riding
Photo by Shelley Paulson

As a horse-crazy kid, there’s a lot to look forward to when fall arrives. The flies have finally given up and summer heat is fading away. It’s the perfect time to enjoy trail rides through colorful leaves with friends, a shopping spree for a new riding jacket at your local tack shop sale, and year-end fall shows to wrap up the season. However, there’s one other thing looming on the horizon: school. And knowing how to balance school work and riding.

After a long summer where days were filled spending quality time with your pony, it’s time to change gears from lessons in the arena to studying in the classroom. Your days and evenings will be devoted to a different type of learning: studying and homework. As a kid trying to balance school and riding, look to these five tips to help you go from desk to saddle as smoothly as possible.

1. Keep an organized school planner.

You just had a perfect Thursday afternoon lesson. You finally nailed that tricky rollback, and you can’t wait to text all your pony pals about your latest achievement. Flash forward to the next day and you realize that you forgot about that Friday math quiz in all your excitement.

School Desks - Balancing School, Work, and Riding
Photo by hxdbzxy/Shutterstock

If you use an organized planner that comes with you everywhere, you can avoid this particular pickle. At the end of every class period write down exactly what is expected of you that evening and the next day.

After school, bring your planner with you to the barn, whether it’s on paper or an app on your phone. That way, when you’re taking off your half chaps after a ride, you can check it and refocus yourself on homework time.

2. When the barn is closed, focus on school.

Ponies and trainers need days off. In the summer when your trainer was off on Mondays, you could still sneak over for a pony kiss and a peppermint. But now you can use this off day to your advantage and catch up on some studying. Take this time to work on that project due next week—after all, next Sunday’s horse show could run late!

Riding - Rider petting horse
With some careful time management, you can still balance your horsey habit with the back-to-school routine. Photo by Cavan Images/

3. Saturdays are for ponies. Saturday is your mini-summer.

Take Saturdays to turn off that school brain and tune in on pony time. Give your pony a fun bubble bath and use some whitening shampoo on those socks.

Ask your trainer if the extra lesson pony needs to stretch his legs with a more advanced rider, or stay late to watch your best friend’s lesson. You’ve been a hard-working student all week, and now it’s time to really enjoy the barn.

Rider in Show Clothes on Computer
Getting your homework done right before or after riding time will help keep you from putting it off and staying up too late! Photo by Susanne Kronhol/

4. School is school, and the barn is the barn.

Don’t let a bad grade come between you and your pony during a lesson. And refuse to allow that missed change at the horse show over the weekend distract you when you’re supposed to be working on that history essay. The most important part of balancing it all is separation: Focus on what’s right in front of you, whether it’s the next jump or the next test question.

5. Remember, you’re doing great!

It’s not easy being a kid and doing it all. Take some time every night before bed to remind yourself that you are doing your best. You’re balancing school and riding, and that definitely deserves a pat on the back.

Going back to school is an exciting time of year. However, it can be hard for an aspiring young rider who is also hoping to make the honor roll. With these tips, you’ll be bringing home the blues—and the A’s!

This article on balance school work and riding originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Vivian DiSesa

Vivian DiSesa is the stable manager of Stonegate Equestrian Stables & Annex, LLC located in Adams County, Penn. The farm breeds Welsh, Welsh cross, and North American Sport Ponies. DiSesa graduated from Centenary College, where she majored in Equine Studies and competed on their Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team. When not working with young ponies or developing young riders, she enjoys spending time at home with her fiancé and two pugs, Piper and Pixi.

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