It’s a wrap — Five lessons from barn finals

Posted on May 1st, by Julia Bastian in Taking the Reins. No Comments

It seems like only yesterday when my parents dropped me off at my dorm with only my two full suitcases, and now I’m a few days away from finishing my first year of college. I never would’ve imagined that the year would have gone by as fast as it has. I’ve had so many different ideas of what my final blog post for this year would look like, so choosing one to go with wasn’t an easy task. But with that, I decided that I’d tell you five things that my barn finals (in particular) taught me.


Be prepared.

Just like any one of your regular classes, you need to be prepared for barn finals. Unlike other classes, this doesn’t mean sitting at your desk, or in the library study rooms pouring over class material. Preparation for finals comes in the form of all the riding time before the test. Be ready to be spending more hours at the barn – whether that means some more riding, taking the time to bathe your horse, getting help with clipping, or making sure all your bands are neat, tidy and looking good.


Hard work pays off.

If you’ve taken the time to properly prepare yourself and your horse, finals won’t be any different from any of the other riding tests you will have taken throughout the semester. Show the instructors (and guest judge!) what you’ve learned, and that you’ve taken the time to be ready for the test. I know that I spent a lot of time preparing both me and Pauly for all of our finals, and we finished with reserve highpoint freshman! Don’t expect to have good rides when you haven’t taken the time to “study” (or in this case, practice.)

Have a strategy and stick with it.

This goes along with being prepared and making sure you’ve invested the necessary time into being ready for finals. By the point finals actually start, you’ll have gotten to know your horse(s) pretty well. Figure out what works for them, and what doesn’t. Make a plan for every one of your finals (this applies to campus finals too). For example, I knew that it doesn’t take much to get Pauly warmed up and ready to show, so I wouldn’t get him out of his stall until about 30 minutes before I wanted to go on pattern. As for each one of my finals, I had individual plans for how I was going to maneuver through each of those.

Finals don’t have to take over every aspect of your life.

The nice part about barn finals is that they finish before your campus finals start. This gives you time to balance everything and not feel too overwhelmed by it all. Though, I have to admit it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the evenings at the barn doing all the little “extra” things there are to do to get ready. Just make sure that you still enjoy other activities too. One of my favorite ways of de-stressing and taking my mind off finals was to go play sand volleyball with my friends on the courts that are located behind the Quad.

And, most importantly — enjoy it!

It’s too easy to get caught up in the stress of it all, but take a second to breathe, relax and enjoy it. Show the instructors that you’ve understood everything they’ve taught in the past semester, and that you’re putting the knowledge to use. Go into the arena and enjoy the ride.

My freshman year as a western equestrian has been a blast, and I’m so excited to be back in the fall to break out colts! If I could, I’d do it all over again. I certainly don’t regret making the 4,124 mile move from Luxembourg to Findlay.

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