Academic Equestrian: Finding Balance

Our freshman blogger is learning the value of time management!


Photo by Ellie Woznica, an AU sophomore, crossover rider and owner of Cricket’s next-door neighbor Berkeley.

In my limited experience so far, being successful in college means finding balance. This semester, I am taking 18 credit hours, have seven hours of work-study per week, am in the Honors program, am on the western IHSA team and have my horse at college.

I knew coming in that my schedule would be busy and that time management would be crucial — in high school, I had study halls built into my schedule. Here, free time could mean a nap, or homework, or riding, or trying to find something mildly appealing to eat (easier said than done). When everything on this list is more fun than doing homework or studying, it is sometimes difficult to find motivation to sit down and really focus on work. I would consider myself a very academically-inclined person, but even so it’s tempting to procrastinate.

Matters aren’t helped by the fact that I now live in a building full of other college students surrounded by other buildings full of college students, most of whom appear to have a propensity for loud music, nocturnal furniture rearranging and loud phone conversations — the time I designate for studying does not always coincide with times when everyone else is quietly studying as well. Even now, as I write this (the night before it’s due, in true college fashion), the inhabitants of the apartments next to my residence hall are vibrating the floor of my building with their music and yelling for no apparent reason (it’s only Thursday, everyone).

Thus far, the library and barn have been my solace. The two libraries on campus are eternally peaceful and I’ve half-seriously considered asking if I could set up camp overnight in one of the study rooms when it’s been especially loud here in the residence hall. Likewise, the viewing room at the barn is the perfect place for getting some work done before or after practice, and if I need a break my pony is just steps away and available for snuggles.

Prioritizing has also been essential in accomplishing everything in a timely fashion — as much as I might want to ride every day and think that I can do my assigned reading in the half-hour break I have before class, I recognize that it’s entirely unfeasible. My education has to come first, and it’s a privilege to be able to have Cricket there.

Haley Ruffner is attending Alfred University, majoring in English and minoring in Business and Equestrian Studies. She has a green Quarter Horse, At Last an Invitation “Cricket,” and he is also “enrolled” at Alfred. She rides western and hunt seat and also loves to rein and trail ride.

haley bio

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