Whoever designed GCSEs, AS and A-Levels to collide with the majority of Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) and, very soon, HOYS working hunter pony (WHP) qualifiers, clearly isn’t a pony person. As someone who is keen to do her best in both, you can probably imagine that I have quite a full plate at the moment.

While I was doing GCSEs I couldn’t wait for A-Levels because surely fewer subjects means less work? Wrong. I realised soon enough that GCSEs had been a mere warm-up for what lower sixth had in store and that our plan to do Devon County Show as a day trip followed by two days of exams was not going to work no matter many subjects I was doing. And this is just to name one of many, many examples.

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For all of you who are also in this situation, which I can imagine must be most 16–18-year-olds reading Horse & Hound, you will know that it’s a fine art juggling a weekend in a horsebox with revision, coursework and the mound of homework which quite literally never ends.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have a very strong support team at home to keep the ponies going while I’m at boarding school (led by my mother Polly who rides them herself most of the time), as well as going to a school which has not only been very lenient in the number of weekends I can go home to ride but has also been very good in advising me how to keep up with my work while taking time out to go to shows. Because no matter how much work I take with me to do in the horsebox in my ‘spare time’, it’s never very satisfactory and so I’ve almost given up with that approach altogether.

Although this has meant having to boycott shows occasionally. When we do decide to go ahead (for example we had a very busy couple of days at Royal Windsor Show recently), I have to work more efficiently on the weekdays to make up for it.

As I have been advised, every Monday morning I make a ‘life timetable’ for the whole week which I fill in with everything going on that week, then fill the gaps with work. Although I wasn’t convinced it would make much difference, I do actually think that it has been transformational and since I hate to disrupt the schedule, the amount of work I do is maximised and my procrastination, two hour long ‘breaks’ and half hour long decisions on what I should do next have been pretty much cut out.

Discussing a course with my trainer Rachel Turner

Discussing a course with my trainer Rachel Turner

Having said that, no study leave has been a killer and I have still managed to run out of time to revise. Half term, and with it a week of uninterrupted riding, couldn’t come sooner.

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Among our plans are the HOYS qualifiers at Suffolk Show for both the ponies and our trainer, Rachel Turner, is coming to stay for a couple of days for some riding lessons. Since she lives so far away these stays happen every now and then just so we can keep on top of things.

Good luck with exams. Personally I can’t wait for the retakes next year…

Lucy