Diary of a Working Student: Plantation or prom?

Amelia Bayer is taking a gap year before college to be a working student for top event rider Sinead Halpin–and she’s agreed to tell us all about it! Today, she talks priorities.

From Amelia:

Life is full of choices. As eventers, we are forced to make even more choices. As a high school eventer, there are even more choices. Most kids make the choice to become home schooled or go to private school when they decide they want to become serious about the sport. For me, it was early graduation.

I remember when I was going into middle school and my mom sat me down one day and told me I had to choose. At this point, I was doing everything from the horses to girl scouts to swim team to Reading Olympics. My mom told me to make a list of things I wanted to continue to do and things I was willing to give up. That was my first time choosing the horses.

Throughout high school, I opted to miss sport games, nights with my friends, Mr. West competitions, etc. to train and/or compete. It made complete sense to me, and after time my friends began to understand and support me. When I told them I couldn’t hang out one night because I had a competition the next day, they would become excited and wish me luck. The biggest choice I made was graduating a semester early. I began planning it sophomore year; I had to take online classes during the summer but I knew it was worth it. The Scholar’s Diploma is the highest diploma at my school so being the Type A personality I am, I took extra online classes to achieve it.

In December 2012, I met Sinead for the first time at a young rider clinic. One of the first things she said to us in our opening lecture was “What are your goals, realistic or not?” Of course, most of us answered the Olympics or Rolex. She then followed this with “Now what are you willing to give up to get there?” Meg had distributed notebooks to us before the lecture so we could take notes throughout the clinic. This was the first thing I wrote in my note book. “What are you willing to give up?”

February 2013 rolled around and I was finally free from high school! I was going down to Florida with Team SHE, but not as a working student yet. It was one of the best experiences–I made so many friends and took advantage of so many opportunities. I was caught up in the horse world and I was willing to give up anything.

Originally, I told my friends I would be back for prom, but when I found out Plantation Horse Trials was the same day, I chose Plantation.

No hair and make up appointments, trying on dresses, or hours of pictures for me this year! No, I would rather give all that up for a five-minute dressage test, six-minute cross country ride, and two-minute stadium course.

A lot of my friends and family thought I was going to regret it. I knew I wasn’t going to.

The day came, and I scrolled through Facebook reading the statuses and seeing the pre-prom pictures, smiling and laughing at my friends. Even though I wasn’t going to be with them tonight, I could still admire from afar.

Plantation was the first show my mom was able to come to in a long time. She had been busy with my three younger sisters, so this was the first time she would see me and Oni go since the end of last season.

Dressage came and I was pumped. Oni had been going pretty well so I was ready to go into the ring with at least an ounce of confidence. During our test, we had a little fan club: my mom, my grandma, Sinead, and Kasey and Brian (clients of Sinead and now friends of mine!) I was happy with the test–he was the most rideable he had been in a long time. I was content with our score which was in the low 40s.

Onto stadium! I warmed myself up since Sinead was out on cross-country with On Cue, but I had Sinead in my head the whole time: “Move your legs, move your legs, keep him going forward.” Somehow Sinead made it back to watch my round and met me on the other side of the ring to catch me before I went cross-country. We had one rail down, but it was a good round.

Cross-country! The moment I’d been waiting for! All I wanted to do was jump the ruins. To me, the ruins were iconic of Plantation cross-country. Out of the start box, fence 1, fence 2, fence 3, RUINS! This cross country round was one of our best to date. I was smiling the whole time and Oni felt fantastic. Cross country is his favorite, too. We came across the finish line a couple seconds over but I felt so happy that I got around the course. Listening earlier that day to the loudspeaker, there seemed to be a lot of problems on course.

We went home with a white ribbon that day, finishing 4th in our division and 3rd as a junior. And I didn’t even care that I missed Prom.

I walked with my class on June 19. It was great to see everyone again, teachers and friends. I was surprised at how many people knew what I was doing. Almost everyone who came up to me asked how I liked my new job and how Florida was. The one person that stood out to me was my AP U.S. History teacher from junior year, Mrs. O’Hara. I found her after the ceremony and after catching up she told me that when I go to the Olympics, she wants a t-shirt because she knows that one day I will go. I was completely taken aback and flattered. And all of the sudden I felt extremely confident. I felt confident that I had made the right choice.

It would be awesome if you could jump on your horse two times a week and head into the show to bring home the blue. But the reality is is that’s dangerous and just not realistic. Life is full of choosing and giving up something things to make your goals. I chose to work for Team SHE, and I definitely don’t regret it.


Oni wanted to wear the cap!



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