I’ve graduated!! The feeling of relief to know that I’ve passed all of my final year exams and modules to finish with a 2:1 BSc Equine Sports Science! However, this feeling of elation was not how I felt entering 2019.
I knew that finishing a degree alongside running our yard and riding approx. 8 horses a day (5 of which are competition horses) would not be a walk in the park but whoa… I’ve been busy. Typically, exam time and revision begin just after the event season has started (how inconsiderate...?!) so fitting in time to actually go inside and get some work done, and not just play ponies, can prove tricky at times. I know that I have a bad habit for putting ‘academic work’ on the side line and find other obscure things to do with the horses as a form of procrastination. Therefore, this year decided to draw up a plan of action. I knew that if I planned to do 6 hours of revision per day it was never going to happen, so I was realistic, 3 hours each morning…. EVERY MORNING (other than competition days). I’d get up, feed round the yard and check on everyone, which seemed to take longer and longer every day, as I tried to avoid the inevitable, then back inside and head down to work with a cup of coffee. I found that this routine became quite easy to fall into and I got the work done alongside keeping the horses all fit and the yard running (with the help of my awesome boyfriend James and our morning staff member Sarah!).
I am in my final year of Young Riders (under 21) and so had my heart set and mind focussed on qualifying for the National u21 Championships held at Houghton. I’ve never had the horsepower to be able to compete in any of the Pony/ Junior/ Young Rider classes until this year and so I was determined that me and Hattie (my superstar) would get there. We jumped round some good intermediates early on in the 2019 season and got our entry in for our first CCI-LYR3* at Houghton, but a couple of days later the University board released our exam dates and my final exam was on the first day of the competition (1st Horse Inspection). I could feel the stress levels begin to rise but kept a cool head…we will make this work.
Luckily after some phone calls and exchange of text messages we’d sorted it, the organisers were happy for my friend Lizzie to present Hattie at the first trot-up and I would drive over to Norfolk after my exam that evening.
My exam was at 2:15pm on the Thursday and Hattie had to be at Houghton (3 and a half hours away) for 5pm ready to trot-up so that morning I woke up early furiously scrubbed Hattie until she sparkled, plaited her up and loaded the lorry with everything we needed for 3 nights away. Mum arrived at the yard ready to set off, so I load Hattie onto the lorry, put up the ramp and BANG… the ramp falls off the lorry…
By this time, it is about 11am and so many thoughts go through my head:
- How are we going to get to Houghton and sleep overnight?
- How are we going to get Hattie off the lorry?
- How am I going to get to my exam in time?
No time for panic, straight to action stations, I find a big board to bridge the gap between the lorry and the now hanging ramp and tentatively unload Hattie, praying that her leg isn’t about to disappear through a gap. Quickly grab the 3.5 lorry and shove everything into it and send mum on her way, I could bring anything forgotten later if needed. By this time, it’s about 12pm, and I have done no revision for this looming 3hour exam and it’s an hour’s drive to university! Jump in the car and I get there with and hour to sit down and focus.
Safe to say the nervous energy must have paid off as I got a 1st in that exam and made it to Houghton where we completed with a great double clear inside the time to place 14th. Everything is possible!
Image by Adam Fanthorpe