Often times young riders get so caught up in wanting to be a professional, they forget they are still just kids. In order to get to the top, you see young riders dedicating their whole life to this sport we all love; they will either miss large amounts of school, or just become home schooled to pursue their dream. As much as I would love to be able to commit myself to eventing one hundred percent, it was made very clear to me by my parents as a middle school student that I would have a “normal” high school experience, including playing sports for my school. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to want to do anything but riding; for example, I was bribed with an air vest to run cross-country sophomore year for my school. It seems like every other young rider around me who wants to make it to the top of the sport is allowed to go down south all winter, or gets to miss more school than I do, but I figured I should make the best of having to do other activities, so I did. I decided to play lacrosse the spring of freshman year, and eventually loved it!
This article is for all the young riders out there who watch other kids get involved in school sports and wish they had time to do that. I am here to tell you, IT CAN BE DONE; you can ride at a competitive level and play another sport, but it takes a lot of dedication and discipline. You also need to have the time to do both. I am lucky enough that I don’t need to work at the barn to work off my horse’s board, so I have time for other activities, but I understand that is not the case for some other aspiring young riders. I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to be able to play lacrosse and ride at the level I do. My parents are big supporters and try to make it work so that I can excel at both sports.
Days are tight while playing another sport…it is not for the weak. At the end of the week, I am exhausted to the point where I just want to sleep for 3 days straight. I recently was thrown off McFly and sustained a concussion, leaving me unable to ride, play lacrosse, or do any school work. My mom and I joke around by saying how this is a blessing in disguise, so my body and brain could finally have a rest. Days are long during lacrosse season, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A typical day last year would look like this:
5 am-Wake up
5:30 am-7:15 am-Ride one horse(then get ready for school in my car)
7:45 am-2:45 pm- School
4:00 pm-6:30 pm- Lacrosse game
6:30 pm-8 pm- Ride other horse (scarf down chipotle on the way to the barn)
8:30 pm-too late -Homework
It was hard waking up at 5 am sometimes 3 days a week and riding a horse before school, but if you want to be successful, it means working hard right? I made it happen because I wanted to succeed even though I had 5698796476 things on my plate. It makes me insane when I hear people say, “Oh, she must not be that committed to riding if she has the time to do another sport.” Like HELLO PEOPLE I am one of the most horse obsessed, hard-working girls you will ever meet, I may make time to do other things but I am just as committed as those who only ride. I am so tough on myself about riding that for a while it made me very insecure when people would say I didn’t care about riding enough if I did another sport, but overtime I became confident in my decision because I knew I was doing what I wanted to do. The way I look at it is, there are 24 hours in a day and if I need to use 21 of those 24 hours to get everything done, I will. I might have to go to school smelling like the barn, or get 3 hours of sleep a night, but it is all worth it to me.
Beneficial reasons to playing another sport:
- You will be taught discipline like no other; making yourself get up at 5 am, working on homework until early hours of the morning. Despite the fact that you have been up since 5 am, you won’t let yourself cut corners on your riding, school, or your sport. There’s no time for looking at Facebook and Twitter for hours, you must keep on schedule to ensure everything gets done.
- You will be in great shape for those long cross-country courses (especially at Training and above). If you play lacrosse like I do, we run for most of the two-hour practice.
- If you get good enough at the sport, you may be recruited to play in college and get lots of scholarships for it! I was recruited by schools, but chose a Division 3 school so that I could continue to ride as well, and I will get scholarships for playing lacrosse there!! We are saving money on tuition, which helped my case on wanting to bring McFly and continue to event while there.
It would be a dream to become a professional in the horse world and go to the Olympics one day, but if that doesn’t happen I need to have other plans. Attending the University of Mary Washington and playing lacrosse for them will ultimately open up doors for my future. I truly suggest playing a sport outside of riding if you are able to; being more active can only help you in the long run. Some high school coaches will not like the idea of you being so engulfed by the riding, but my coach and I have come to an understanding on it. She supports my riding fully (and has even come to meet Iggy and McFly), but I have come to understand that committing to a team means not letting them down. I go to events when I don’t have a game that weekend and its no problem! Don’t let time pass you by while you’re young, we are young riders not professionals and you wouldn’t want to regret something you didn’t do while you were still a kid.
Until next time,