When you’re a full-time student-rider, you’re working on a full schedule, whether gearing up for the weekend’s hunter classic, or finishing that four-page term paper for next Friday. And, as any student at Upper Echelon Academy—a private tutoring center based in Wellington, Florida—will tell you: multitasking is mandatory. So with all the potential for stress, what do you do?

Here are 10 tips for learning to balance your school life with your riding life.

1. Learn to focus like a Jedi.


Your school schedule and your riding schedule won’t always coexist peacefully. You might find yourself reviewing Spanish while hand-grazing your mare, for instance, or studying for your AP Bio test ringside. The key to success? Learning how to tune out the horse show announcer and focus on your studies, no matter where you happen to be.

2. Become a wizard at tracking down Wi-Fi.

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Be it the polo grounds tack room or the horse show café, tracking down where to go (and who to talk to) to get the World Wide Web at your fingertips is a definite skillset.

3. Always have a pad, pencil, and cell phone handy.


Pictured: Jordyn Freedman (©Upper Echelon Academy)

You may find yourself journaling for English between lessons, accessing your homework assignments online from the ring, or snapping a quick pic of your jumper course before your afternoon class. Whatever the case, student riders everywhere know better than to leave home without them.

4. Incorporate schoolwork into your ring work.


Pictured: Molly Paris. (Courtesy of Upper Echelon Academy.)

Practicing your 10- and 20-meter circles? Why not review some geometry while you’re at it? Diameter, circumference, radius… you can ride them all! And one thing’s for certain: math is way more fun on horseback.

5. Be the MacGyver of school desk manufacturing.


Pictured: Mckayla Langmeier (©Upper Echelon Academy)

If you’ve ever converted your tack trunk into a workstation (complete with a step ladder desk chair), or reviewed physics in your helmet while propped up on the rail of the hunter ring, then you know what we’re talking about.

6. Take advantage of the experts.


When things get too taxing, you have to know whom to turn to. Upper Echelon’s dedicated support team includes a licensed sports psychologist and tutors who grew up riding on the circuit, themselves—professionals who can talk you through the tough stuff, both in and out of the ring.

7. Find gear that can multitask as well as you can.


Because on any given morning, you’re just as likely to need your textbooks as your riding crop, and you need your book bag/ring bag to keep up!

8. Become a well-rounded test taker.


©Ryan Polli

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the lineup waiting for the equitation test to be announced, or sitting down to take the SATs; being a good test-taker is about doing the prep work and arriving with a strong mental game. After that, it’s as simple as formulating and executing your plan—piece of cake!

9. See the world as your classroom.


Owning the jump-off is a math problem: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Calculating your horse’s daily supplements? Well, that’s just chemistry. And you don’t always need sneakers and a running track for gym class—sometimes all you need is your boot socks and a practice jump. The things you learn at the barn may not be in most textbooks, but they’re important lessons just the same.

10. Learn from your falls and your failures.  


Pictured: (Left) Lucy Deslauriers; (Top Right) UEA Tutor Nathan Rolfe and Natalie Jayne.

Every rider has off days, and so does every student. The key? Learning from your mistakes, keeping your chin up, and—whether it’s a tutor or your trainer—never being afraid to ask for a little extra help when you need it.

For more tips on balancing horse shows and high school, connect with Upper Echelon Academy!