The struggle is real.
Most equestrians, whether students or adults in the workforce, will use any excuse to shirk responsibilities to spend more time at the barn. We’ve all lied to our parents and ourselves about homework being done, skipped house cleaning or meals, and cancelled plans to be with our horses. This inclination to avoid the dullness of everyday life by escaping to the barn is intensified by a condition found in high school and college students called senioritis.
Faced with a final semester of school in which I have already fulfilled all of my graduation requirements, I have already started to question my long-held priorities that my grades have to come before my barn time. Would it really be the end of the world if I skipped class to trail ride on the day an essay was due? Have I been in school long enough to be able to bluff my way through in-class discussion of a reading assignment I skimmed while untacking my horse?
Below are seven signs that you may be suffering from equestrian senioritis.
1. When you meet with an advisor to update your resume, it’s filled with horsey terms that they make you over-explain in case you want to apply for a non-horsey job.
2. You’ve used up all the possible excuses of why you’re late for class (my horse was getting his feet done, I got lost on a trail ride, I got kicked at the barn and can’t walk very fast, my coach made me stay late) and, true though most of them were, your professors don’t ask anymore when you trudge into class five minutes late with mud up to your knees and hay down your shirt.
3. You’ve stopped being embarrassed when you have to go to class with mud up to your knees and hay down your shirt.
4. Freshman you would have been mortified to be known as “the horse girl” in class, but senior you has recognized this as an inevitability and understands that there are worse things to be called.
5. You procrastinate on any and all assignments, but you are always early to riding practice and memorize show schedules and patterns as soon as you get them.
6. You get creative about double-dipping horses and school assignments. Can I hand in the judge’s scorecard of my reining run as a flash fiction? Do ice boots and poultice constitute a bio lab? Making the first tracks in a freshly-dragged arena counts as performance art, right?
7. Monday morning horse show hangovers are a given fact of life. You no longer know what it’s like to arrive to your Monday classes attentive and at full learning capacity. Likewise, you spend most of your Friday classes mentally preparing for the weekend’s show, trying and failing to focus on the day’s lecture.
If you or any loved ones suffer from equestrian senioritis, try to reconcile yourself to the reality that there is no cure. Symptoms may be temporarily alleviated by offering to do your loved one’s homework for them or sending them photos of their horse from the barn when they can’t be there.
Haley will continue to share more adventures from the perspective of a collegiate equestrian! Keep an eye out for The Academic Equestrian weekly.
Haley Ruffner is attending Alfred University, majoring in English with a minor in Equine Business Management. She owns two Quarter Horse geldings, Cricket (“At Last an Invitation”) and Slide (“HH Slick N Slide”). Haley is a captain of the AU western equestrian team, competing in horsemanship, reining and hunt seat. She also loves trail riding.