Finals Week, the Equestrian Way

I’m alive!

When I go into recluse mode, it can only mean one thing: finals week. Or finals season, because all college students know that the hard work starts well before that final week of the semester.

Finals week is completed at last, and I am slowly prying my eyes back open to the world outside of school. Assignments, papers, and projects at the end of the semester require absolute focus, but all the hard work is worth it in the end.

Because of my Equine Journalism, many of my classes have been equine related in addition to the writing intensive and liberal arts requirements. In the past couple of years, I have taken classes like Intro to Horse Management, Intro to Training the Horse, Intro to Teaching Horsemanship, Equine Anatomy and Physiology, Equine Health Management, and Equitation.

Sounds like fun, right? It is a unique and challenging experience, and with unique classes come unique finals. This semester, my only Equine related class was Intermediate Equitation. This class took place only in the barn and arena, with two riding lessons per week. One day was the jumping lesson, and the following was the flat lesson. Just as our classes throughout the semester, our final for the equitation class was all on horseback.

Going into the final, we had no idea what we would be doing, which was both exciting and nerve racking. The day of the jumping final, we were informed that the final would be like a mock interview for a job at the college as an instructor. We were to pretend we had never ridden the horse we were on, and were given just ten minutes to warm up and ride over some fences.

To test us on what we had learned our instructor also had us explain everything we were doing in the warm up and over the jumps. This included things that we noticed about the horse, as well as what we were doing to improve the horse’s way of going and why.

The second day, which consisted of the final test on the flat, was similar. Instead of “selling ourselves” for a job like the day before, we were asked to “sell the horse.” We were given ten minutes like before, and rode on the flat, through walk, trot, and canter. We also performed movements like leg-yield and shoulder-in if our horse was capable. Just as before, we explained every bit of what we were doing, making observations about the horse and what discipline we thought he or she would perform well in.

I thought this method of taking a final was highly beneficial to my own learning. When asked to explain everything I was doing in my riding and why, it made me more aware of my own body and how I influence the horse. It also made me think more clearly and take the ride one step at a time and not anticipate anything, especially in the jumping portion.

Being a hands-on learner, there is really nothing better for my education than getting real-life experience. Even if it is still within the college environment, I am still actively practicing and improving my skills, and not just reading about how to ride in a textbook.

Although I wish all of my finals could have been like this, the others consisted of in-class exams and numerous papers. All of which are all still very important to my college career and learning, and I can’t complain because I happen to love writing.

I can hardly believe that the semester is already over, but I am definitely welcoming winter break with open arms. Mostly because I feel like I could go into a short hibernation. After catching up on some rest, I’ll be getting in as much riding as I can.

The first trail ride of break is already in the books. Because it has been so warm here at home, I had the chance to ride on the beach with my family and some great friends. For being so late in December, we were extremely fortunate to have such a beautiful day on the water and not turn into solid icicles.

 Now that the semester’s hard work is finished, I will talk to you again soon! I hope everyone continues to have a great holiday season with family, friends, and horses.

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