Animals & Wildlife Magazine

You Can Steer Yourself in Any Direction You Choose...

By Kc2610 @kc2610
As my life is now finally back on track and things are starting to work out exactly how I planned, I think I'd better recap you all on what is going on right now. Even I find it hard to keep up with the twists and turns that my life takes!
So as you all have recently read, I am now based with Sandy Phillips at Aston Farm, Gloucestershire. In an area I have always loved and wanted to live in, I now have an amazing trainer with amazing facilities for the horses too. So that side of things is finally worked out and this year is looking promising.
It's always been a preference of mine to have my horses on DIY livery because I find it really important to be 'hands-on' with your horses - to not only ride them, but care for them and know exactly their behaviour/traits and notice any slight problems that arise. However since leaving Talland back in 2010, I havn't been able to have the horses on DIY because of college and I have lived too far away from the yard (it takes me anywhere from 30 mins on clear roads to 50 mins in traffic to get to and from the horses every day). Now that I am no longer at college (I do distance-learning) and I have found a yard I want to stay at permanently, now is the time to move from town-life in Cheltenham to country-style living out near Tetbury, as close to the yard as possible. That way I can travel to and from the horses whenever I like in no time at all. I am looking for a room to rent at the moment until we can find a more permanent dwelling... I cannot wait to have my horses literally down the road!
So that is two of the biggest things sorted. Now for my education... First of all, a bit of history. I passed all my GCSE's in Australia with straight As. Then I came to England and have almost a year off until I started my A-levels at Hartpury College. I completed my first year whilst having the horses at AM Dressage, which was extremely convenient as I was able to ride until 9pm if I needed to because of the indoor school. When I moved out of AM in September to a yard where the horses could get turnout over the winter and cross-train, there was no indoor school. Because of daily lectures I still had to ride at night, which does not mix with being outdoors in the middle of winter! I also wasn't getting the riding time and enough availability to go away for competitions and squad training, which ultimately could harm my Young Rider campaign this year, so I decided to leave Hartpury and complete my A-levels via distance learning.
I started with Biology, and did a course that condensed AS and A2 into one year. However, I started the course two months late, and the confusion of what exactly I had to do and settling in to the course also took some time to figure out. This put a huge time pressure on me to get my work submitted in time, especially as the recommended study hours is about six hours a day - something that will not happen when I am with the horses all day anyway. I also found it pointless to study a subject that is pretty much irrelevant to what I want to do, especially when I have no interest in going to university any time soon.
So now my next turn of events is to study an Equine BTEC, which in hindsight is the very first thing I should have chosen to do. Everyone familiar with the English education system could say that there is a stigma attached to doing BTECs - that they are a 'soft option' and that you may as well just do A-levels. Well having been through A-levels and finding it really does not suit me, I completely disagree. I find it extremely difficult to sit in a classroom for 4-5 hours a day studying something that I know will not help me achieve my dreams and goals, and I can't help that I feel like I am wasting my time. I think for people who know exactly what path they want to go down, BTECs are perfect as they are relevant, give you UCAS points to get you into Uni in a relevant course, and provide you with a lot more knowledge in your field of work (ie horses).
A lot of people ask my why I don't want to go to Uni; they say I'm missing out on loads of fun and a good "growing up" experience, let alone missing the chance to get qualified to have a good job. Well, I've already been through a "growing up" experience when I moved to another country by myself at 16, and I have experienced the "real world" without having to head off to Uni and live without my parents for the first time. I know that I will have a good job because it is a job that involves my passion - in fact, it is hardly a job, it is a lifestyle. How many people go to Uni with no idea of what career they want, jump from degree to degree, come out with qualifications and still not know what they want to do or can't get a job? At least I can say I'm 18, have various riding qualifications (BHS Stage 3, Little Bronze and Big Bronze German Medals), an international Young Rider representing Great Britain, and now self-employed. I also consider myself extremely lucky to have complete support from my family who is behind me in everything I do.
What about if you end up not being able to ride for whatever reason? That is a question commonly asked by many in the equine industry. Well, just think of how HUGE the industry is and all the fields of work an equine enthusiast can go into - breeding, farm/stud management, FEI, BEF, event management, BHS, teaching, physio, nutrition... the possibilities are endless. Just riding horses is not the be-all end-all of the industry. Anyone with a passion for horses will find a way to work with them whether they can ride them or not, and I for one can't imagine my life without a horse in it. So whether I'm an international rider or not, a BTEC will always come in handy.
And just because I'm not going to university now with all the rest of my friends doesn't mean I won't ever go in the future. Currently as a Young Rider that is on the TASS programme, the Excel Talent Programme, the Young Rider Squad, and therefore required to compete in Europe and attend all squad training sessions as well as support workshops for TASS and Excel Talent, I know from previous experience that it is extremely difficult to keep up to date in lectures when I am away so often.
So that is my current situation, I am still yet to choose my BTEC course (any suggestion very much appreciated!) and move into my new area closer to the yard, but everything is going perfectly and I am so happy with the direction my career is taking. I may have even scored myself a casual job at the yard, so finally get to put my skills to good use and earn something out of it :)
At the end of the day, I moved to England to achieve one dream - to be a successful international rider (Young Rider at the moment) and make dressage my life and career. Anything that gets in the way of that needs to be sorted out. So in this situation of mine, it makes sense to follow this mantra:
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose...

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