From Books to Bridles: A Year 12 Equestrian’s Survival Guide with Alexandra Inglis

Mar 1, 2024 | Articles | 0 comments

As many dedicated riders would know, the balance between school and horses can sometimes feel almost impossible to juggle. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to go to schools that understand the commitments that horse riding takes and that have given me time off as needed. I am also incredibly lucky to have amazing parents who support me in any way they can, without them none of this would be possible. Aside from that, however, here are “7 tips for juggling riding and year 12….” 

Utilizing Morning Hours

In summer this is much easier as the mornings are not freezing cold and miserable. Waking up early sets me up each day to get through my tasks. In year 11, when I had two or more horses in work and homework piling up I would use mornings to ride my horses, and afternoons for study. I am in a super lucky position in which my mum is able to support me both on the ground and in the saddle, helping to make morning riding seamless.

Make sure to know your assessment timetable

This is important to map out at the beginning of each term. By doing this you will know what is possible and what is not. If you have an assessment on a Monday, but you know you will be away competing all weekend, you know you will have to be fully prepared for the assessment before you leave. This will mean prioritizing it during the week and potentially changing around your morning/ afternoon routines to ensure you are ready to perform your best at school and in the ring.

Sleep

While sleep is important for everyone, it is especially important for those juggling school commitments with horses. Sleep is vital for your mental health, physical health and overall well-being. Not getting enough sleep impacts you more than you think it does. You will be shocked by what implementing a solid sleep schedule will do to your performance both in the classroom and in the saddle. If you continuously find yourself (as I did) still working on school assignments in the early hours of the morning, this is a good sign that something needs to change.  For me, this meant I needed to change when I was riding and create a more solid routine. I also decided that I would drop to 10 units in the HSC instead of 12 to reduce my workload. However, this is definitely something that is up to the individual to figure out what works. 

What matters to you, matters, you can make it work

During the beginning of year 11 I decided to focus on what i found important. This meant being able to spend time with my friends, spend time with my horses and go as well as I could in school. Horses do take up a lot of time, so it’s important to me on weekends without shows I spend time with my friends. On weekends ‘off’ I make sure i fit in all the things I love and have fun, while keeping up to date with school work. I usually will wake up and feed, making sure all the ponies are well. Then I will spend 3 hours studying. In this time I am revising content from the last week and putting them into a format that will suit revision later on when I have exams. I then put my afternoon towards riding my mare Aries, washing her, changing her rugs and pretty much anything else I can do to prepare her for the week ahead. I also like to spend some time with my retired mare Bridget Jones, giving her treats, washing her, and fussing over her. Weekend nights, I spend with my friendship group. This provides me with a healthy time away from horses and books. 

Doing school work at horse shows

This is something I used to never be great at, if i’m at a show I’m usually on a horse, looking after my horses or watching. But I have found a really good way to make sure you are still progressing while at a show. Printing off past exam papers and taking them with you. I do these while travelling, while I’m eating dinner or having downtime at shows. I bring them to school the following week and give them to my teachers to be marked and to be given feedback. This is a really good way to improve exam results, it does not require wifi, and you can break up the exams into singular questions if need be making it time effective. I also use the voice recording app on my phone to record me reading notes out loud. This is usually quotes or devices for English essays, but could really be anything you need to remember. I listen to them while I am mucking out, during feed time, if I’m just going on a hack, cleaning gear, basically wherever I can. They do get annoying, but that’s kind of the point, try to follow along in your head while listening if you can, or just keep it as background noise. 

Diet and managing energy

It is important to prioritize fueling your body to be able to keep up with the demands riding and school have on your body. I tend to eat a very clean diet during the week, making sure to include lots of protein, fiber and iron into my diet. Having premade food in the fridge to eat after school quickly is a great way to maintain your energy during the afternoon. I also include smoothies when I need to with protein powder, fibre supplements, iron supplements, etc. 

Be Kind to yourself

Taking breaks, no matter how big or small is okay. While pushing yourself is necessary in any sport and in school, it is important to know when you have reached your limit and to be kind to yourself. If that means taking a mental health day from school, or giving your horse the day off to catch up on school work, or rest, that is okay! 

That’s it,  my 7 tips on how to juggle school and horses. This is what has worked for me over years of trial and error, figuring out what works for me. However, everyone is different so don’t stop tweaking your routine until you feel good about it, this means constantly changing and adjusting to the week ahead.