Blog Demographic Survey

As we expand, we want to make sure we cater to our readers! We created a blog demographic survey with some short questions to help us give you the content you want and that is relevant to you. If you have the time, please take our short survey. It is completely anonymous and will take about 5 or 10 minutes.

Thank you in advance.

Q&A: Paying for law school and your riding passion

I received a question from an anonymous follower stating they wanted to go to law school but were concerned about the cost and being able to afford riding while paying off debt.

This is a very real and valid concern. I am not going to lie and pretend that I am in debt or that I had to take out student loans because I didn’t. Thankfully, my parents were in a position to fund my education from high school to law school. However, not everyone is so lucky. I have many friends that had to pay for law school themselves and graduated with some serious debt.

Law school isn’t cheap. Tuition for my law school was over $50k per semester. Most law schools are on par with this cost, so at most, you’ll be taking out $150k just on tuition. This number doesn’t include books, other fees, or the cost of living if you go to a school where you are unable to commute from home. Obviously, if you have money saved up, or if you get a scholarship, that total number could be less, but in the interest of being realistic, I am giving the real numbers. Tuition will vary by school as well. I attended a private law school, which is a bit more money than a public law school. If you attend a public law school in your state, you will most likely get reduced tuition for being an in-state resident. Even if you are not an in-state resident, your tuition will still be less simply because it’s not a private institution.

Of course, riding isn’t cheap either. Whether you have your own horse, lease, or take lessons – you’re most likely spending a good chunk of change on your passion every single year. Taking on another commitment that will require a lot of money can put big strain on your finances.

The good news is that most student loans do not have to be paid back immediately. You typically will have a six-month grace period before you start making payments. That means, if you have a job, you will have some income to use in paying back your student loans. Additionally, if you take a job that qualifies as “public service,” and work in that job for 10 years, your student loan burden may be forgiven.

If you haven’t started law school yet, and have some time before you do, there are some things you can do to minimize the potential financial burden:

  • Get a part-time job while in high school or college, if possible. This will allow you to save up some extra money that can be used to pay for law school tuition, textbooks, or other living expenses. On the flip-side, you can also use this money for your riding expenses. Either way, more money is always a good thing especially when you will be taking on another costly commitment.
  • Study hard for the LSATs. You must take the LSATs before you can apply for law school. The higher your score, the more likely you will be awarded a scholarship which will take the financial burden off of you. Take a prep class or buy a prep book so that you can begin studying the types of questions that will be on the test. The LSATs are pretty much a “game,” and you just need to crack the code in order to do well.
  • Get good grades in school. This is especially important in college. Good grades + a good LSAT score will definitely improve your chances of securing a scholarship.
  • Good grades and a good LSAT score will also help your chances of getting into a higher ranked law school which in turn will increase your chances of securing a well-paying job after your graduate. The legal market isn’t exactly in the best shape, so doing everything you can to ensure your have a good chance of getting a job out of law school is imperative.
  • Tap other potential financial helpers. Will your parents pay for some of the cost? What about your grandparents? It’s not always possible, but sometimes parents/grandparents are willing to help foot some – or all – of the graduate school bill for their child/grandchild.

Once you are in law school, there are things you can do to minimize your current and financial burden:

  • Study hard, especially your first year. The grading curve is hardest the first year, and once your ranking in law school is determined that June, it’s hard to drastically move up or down. Getting good grades will help you with getting an internship your first summer and with on-campus interviewing that happens right before your second year starts. Typically, to get the competitive paying internships at firms for your second year, you’ll need to have some stellar grades and be in some activities such as law journal and/or moot court. Keep this in mind. This will take up some of your riding time, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made so we set ourselves up for success in the future.
  • Go for internships that pay. Not every internship will pay. If you want to do public service work, then you will have to be prepared not to get paid during your internship or to trade the hours you work for academic credit. However, if you would like to work for a firm, then you are more likely to receive some type of salary (and it’s usually a lucrative one).
  • Get a part-time job, if possible. Obviously this is not always feasible, but getting a part-time paying job will help ease your financial burden. You can put that money towards riding, paying tuition or for textbooks, or other living expenses.
  • Consider a half-lease on your horse. Unfortunately, especially during your first year of law school, you might not have much time to ride as often as you’d like. If you can bear it, maybe consider half-leasing your horse to someone. This will cut down on expenses, ensure that your horse is being worked consistently, and take some of the burden off of you. Of course, this isn’t always a good option for everyone, especially if you don’t own a horse, but it is something to think about.
  • Talk to your trainer/barn manager about doing barn chores in exchange for working of board, lease, or lesson costs. Most barns are amenable to an arrangement like this, but be sure you can hold up your end of the bargain!
  • Network, network, network! When you reach your third year, you will want to start applying for jobs. If you did a summer associate position as a second year at a firm, you probably received a job offer once the summer was over. If so, you’re golden! If you do not have a job lined up, apply early. Apply for anything that you may have an interest in – or as I like to say, throw sh*t at the wall and see what sticks. I opted to do a clerkship after I graduated, and I had all of my clerkship applications out in the summer. Remember that some organizations don’t start hiring until the fall or even spring, so don’t freak out too much if you don’t have a job by the fall. In fact, do not listen to any job talk. It will make you feel incredibly insecure and behind if you haven’t secured anything. If you are having trouble finding a job, go to networking events. Talk to as many people as you can – you never know when you’ll make the right connection.

Upon graduation, you’ll have to start studying for the bar almost immediately. Again, this is very important so be prepared to sacrifice some riding time so that you don’t have to take the bar. Hopefully, you also have secured a job. Once you’ve reached your sixth month after graduation, you’ll have to start paying off your student loans. If you have a job, then you’ve already got a stream of income and have to worry a bit less about paying off your debt. Firm jobs usually pay a lot of money, so it most likely will cover your loans and your riding passion. If not, here’s some tips:

  • Continue sending out job applications. Again, throw sh*t at the wall and see what sticks. You’re jobless, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. In the meantime, get a part-time, or even full-time, job that can help cover some of your expenses. If you get a job at a company with a legal department, getting your foot in the door may be the right step to getting into the legal world.
  • Ask your barn manager or trainer if you can work off lesson costs, board costs, or lease costs. Again, take this seriously. It will help you out, and it is supposed to help your barn manager or trainer out. Consider half-leasing your horse out, if at all possible.
  • Consider a loan forgiveness program. Those options are linked above, and they do exist. For example, if you went into law school knowing you wanted to do public service work, you can get your loans forgiven within 10 years if you work in public service for those 10 years.
  • If you followed the ‘before’ and ‘during’ steps, you should hopefully have some money saved up for a “crisis” situation like this. By crisis I mean, jobless and unable to pay back your student loans right away. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but this is the reality for a lot of individuals, and it is something you need to be prepared for in the event that it does happen.

Do I have one clear, concrete answer for how to manage law school, student loans, and the expenses of riding? No, I don’t. Each person’s situation is completely different. What may work for one, may not work for another. All I can give is my advice based on my experience. What will increase your chances of getting a good job; how you can handle the expense of riding; how you can prepare for law school before you’re anywhere close to law school.

I hope that some of the above tips have been helpful. If you are considering law school and have any questions for me, feel free to comment below, tweet me, contact me on Facebook, or shoot me an email. If you prefer to remain anonymous, I’m at ask.fm. I’m willing to answer any and all questions, I promise.

The best piece of the advice I can give is be 100% sure you want to go to law school and be a lawyer. It is a tough road, a long road, and one with uncertain job prospects – at least for now.

ps. I plan on addressing a question asked of me every week. Feel free to submit them to my ask.fm account linked above or on my sidebar. And you can always contact me un-anonymously at any of my social sites!

How to keep up with school while showing at WEF: Private tutoring for the competitive rider

Palm Beach International Ring at WEF.

Around this time of year only one thing is on every equestrian’s mind: Wellington. Some of us are lucky enough to spend our entire winter down in horse paradise while the rest of us are stuck up in the cold, windy, rainy, and snowy weather cursing our bank accounts and wondering why we couldn’t be more privileged…. maybe that’s just me.

Obviously if you live in New York or New Hampshire, WEF isn’t just a drive down the street – it’s more like a drive down I-95. For those that don’t live in the Wellington area, showing at WEF means leaving their home and school environment behind, but that doesn’t mean education stops. Many WEF riders participate in non-traditional schooling options during their time in Wellington so that their schooling doesn’t suffer while they are racking up points and winning ribbons.

This is also an option for those riders that show year-round and are never really in one place long enough to attend a traditional school. Private tutors and online schooling are two of the most popular options for riders who have a heavy riding and showing schedule.

We were lucky enough to interview Gina Marie Mondel who runs Horse Show Tutor, a small boutique style tutoring service that caters to the academic needs of equestrians who frequently miss school to travel to horse shows.

The majority of my students utilize my tutoring services during WEF during the winter circuit. Through one-on-one private tutoring sessions, my students are able to fulfill their academic needs despite being away from the classroom, whether for just a week or several months,” Gina Marie said in an email. “In addition to keeping students current with all their homework, tests, and quizzes, Horse Show Tutor also maintains communication with all students’ schools and teachers, minimizing the school’s burden and also ensuring a smooth transition back into the classroom.”

Horse Show Tutor is mostly concentrated on the WEF circuit, but she also tutors throughout the spring and fall competitions, especially during equitation finals and indoors. In addition to tutoring, Horse Show Tutor also edits papers for students of all levels, including some who are now in college.

Gina Marie Mondel runs Horse Show Tutor, a private tutoring service for equestrians competing at WEF.

Gina Marie Mondel runs Horse Show Tutor, a private tutoring service for equestrians competing at WEF.

All of this sounds pretty great, but not every equestrian parent or traditional school is amenable to the idea of missing school to ride ponies or horses all day. What’s the best way to approach one’s parents about hiring a private tutor so that the rider can pursue his or her dream of full-time showing?

“I always encourage students to be prepared when approaching the topic of private tutoring with their parents,” Gina Marie said. “Do research on tutoring options as well as the pros and cons of private tutoring. Parents will be impressed if a student is able to present a fact-based argument as to why private tutoring is a good option.”

Gina Marie also said that she often assists prospective students in presenting the private tutoring option to their parents, which makes the whole talk seem a lot less scary, especially if the rider thinks his or her parents won’t be too keen on the idea at first.

Schools often aren’t too pleased with the idea of a student missing a whole semester to go ride horses or ponies in Florida. However, there are ways to approach one’s school about a non-traditional education option for part of the year. Mostly, a student should be “gentle” about the proposal of attending WEF and missing school for an extended period of time.

Gina Marie also thinks that it is best for a student’s parents to get involved in the process, so a rider should probably approach their parents about the subject before approaching their school about it. If the school still doesn’t seem too happy with the idea, Gina Marie is always happy to step in and help.

“With over 15 years of experience working with both public and private schools throughout the Unites States and Canada, I have been successful in gaining the support and cooperation of numerous schools,” she said. “As a neutral third party with extensive experience, many times the schools are more open to listening to me than a biased parent and/or student.”

Most of Gina Marie’s students start and end the school year in their hometown schools. Gina Marie simply helps the students stay caught up on their work during the intensive show season by sending all completed work back to the school on a regular basis. The rider’s hometown school teachers will grade the completed work on a weekly basis. This allows the rider to have a “seamless” transition back into the traditional classroom once horse show season is complete. In fact, Gina Marie’s students complete the same assignments and exams as their fellow students at home and in the same time frame. The only difference is location.

Private tutoring and horse showing also is a highlight on a student’s resume when it comes time to enroll in college. Because the transition between private tutoring while horse showing and hometown school is so seamless, it does not affect a rider’s ability to enroll in higher education.

“I have reached out to admissions departments of many colleges throughout the United States to be best informed about their acceptance process,” Gina Marie said. “Many admissions departments want to see interesting experiences and characteristics of students that set them apart from the mainstream student.”

What started out as a way to earn a few extra dollars while in Wellington one winter turned into a passion for Gina Marie. She started tutoring as a way to make extra money while she was a freshman in college and spending her winter at WEF. She landed a job working with a local tutoring service and fell in love with it. Her fluke winter job turned into a passion with her own twist – personalized service and attention to each and every student.

Gina Marie loves being able to combine her passion for horses with her passion for teaching.                                 Photo Credit to HorseShowTutor.com

While Gina Marie focuses on English, History, and Spanish, and she has a team of wonderful tutors that help teach all of her students’ varying subjects. Horse Show Tutor accepts students of all ages. She’s tutored students as young as 5, and she has many college-aged students who send her papers to edit.

If you dream of showing at WEF and aren’t sure how to approach your loved ones about a non-traditional school option so that you can live in Wellington for the winter, here are some advantages to private tutoring to help you get started on “that talk”:

  • Tutoring is more fun because it is casual, flexible, and has more freedom without compromising your education;
  • Students take less time to learn and comprehend new material because the tutoring is one-on-one;
  • The tutor and the student have an “andragogy” relationship, which Gina Marie explains is one where the tutor and student are viewed as equals and contribute equally to the material covered in the session. This is opposed to the normal teacher-student relationship, which is “pedagogy,” or teacher as superior and in control of the class and everything presented during it.
  • Your return to your hometown school will be seamless, and you will stay on track with your classwork and exams as if you were at home.

So for those of you dreaming of showing at WEF but unsure how you’ll also keep up with school, there is an answer – and it’s a good one: Horse Show Tutor!

If you are interested in Gina Marie’s private tutoring service, you can find her on the web here. She can also be found on Twitter. If this article hasn’t convinced you that Horse Show Tutor is one of the best out there, you can check out Horse Show Tutor’s testimonial page here!

Happy horse showing (and studying)!

Holiday gift ideas for your horse or pony

The last in my holiday series is a list of things you can get your horse or pony! Obviously, this is most likely more fun for the owner than it is for the horse (unless the present involves food), but I personally like to get my horse and pony gifts for Christmas, so I am just throwing out some ideas!

- Back On Track: Back On Track items are amazing. I have grown my collection since I first started using the Back On Track Back Pad earlier this year and saw amazing results for my horse’s sore back. Each of their items is infused with ceramic particles that, when exposed to the horse’s own body heat, will reflect that heat back onto the horse. Their items are great to use for sore muscles, a healing injury, or even injury prevention! Their is a whole bunch of science behind it as well as clinical studies to back up their claims, and the products are used by some big name riders like McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, and Anne Kursinski (do I really need to go on with convincing you to try their products?) If you’re not sure what to buy first, I suggest you think of a potential or currently existent problem area your horse or pony may have. For example, my first purchase was the therapeutic back pad because my horse has a sore back. Since then, I’ve purchased quite a few of the BOT products and have noticed a change in how my horse goes after using them. They are definitely worth the money and a great investment in your horse’s health, well-being, and longevity!

My horse in his BOT mesh sheet, neck cover, and hock wraps.

My horse in his BOT mesh sheet, neck cover, and hock wraps.

 

- A nice show halter: Every horse that goes to competitions should have a nice, high-quality leather halter that doesn’t get all mucked up during turnout. If you don’t have one of these for your competition horse or pony, or if your current show halter is aging fast, investing in another show halter is another present idea. Again, your horse or pony could probably care less, but it will certainly make him or her look sharp when arriving at the show grounds!

The Wellfleet Fancy Stitch Padded Halter from SmartPak is show quality with some affordability!

 

- Thin Line Bareback Pad: If you like to ride bareback, your horse will thank you for buying this pad. Thin Line products are designed to evenly distribute pressure across the horse’s back and enhance shock absorption for both horse and rider. The Thin Line technology also ensures there is no tack slippage, and it molds exactly to your horse’s or pony’s back with help from natural body heat. This pad will make your bareback ride much more comfortable for you and your horse!

ThinLine bareback pad.

 

- Flavored stall treat: My former horse, Sprite, often suffered from boredom when inside, so I decided to try giving him a Likit one day. He LOVED them, and it eventually became something I would give him as a special treat. He actually didn’t get the concept of licking it and decided to bite chunks out of it instead, but these come in all sorts of flavors to suit any horse or pony’s taste buds. There are other flavored stall toys on the market too, such as Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Balls (yes, that’s what they’re called…), the Horse Pas-A-Fier, and if your horse cannot have sugar, there are Uncle Jimmy’s Licky Things with no sugar added. There’s also the Nose-It! Ball which you can fill with treats or with your horse’s grain, if he or she eats too fast.

Likit flavored stall treats.

 

- EquiFit AgSilver CleanBucket: According to the EquiFit website, horses prefer water from an EquiFit CleanBucket than from a regular bucket. EquiFit’s AgSilver products are some of the best around, and I use them myself on my horses when they have a minor cut or a fungal issue. The CleanBucket uses the same AgSilver technology to cut down on that slime that tends to build up in your horse’s water bucket over time. It also prevents bacteria from growing and improves the taste of the water. If you have a horse that doesn’t drink a lot of water on his or her own or that never likes to drink water while inside, maybe giving this a try will improve your horse’s hydration habits!

EquiFit AgSilver bucket.

 

- Gourmet horse treats: There are a ton of gourmet horse treat companies out there, so you have a wide variety to choose from. Your horse would love a package of horse treats from any of these fine companies: Pony Pizza Company, Charleigh’s Cookies, Pink Pony Bakery, Willie Bakery, or NickerBait. I also love Probios apple treats as they are a great way to give your horse something he can always use more of: probiotics!

Graham cracker flavored Willie Muffins.

 

- Massage, Chiropractic, or Acupuncture work: Alternative horse medicine is on the rise, and many vet offices now do things such as acupuncture, chiropractic work, or give massages! This type of work can benefit any horse, even if the horse is perfectly healthy and has no anatomical issues whatsoever. Plus, even if you think your horse doesn’t have any issues, a chiropractor or masseuse could tell you otherwise. Maybe your horse isn’t aligned properly, or he has some extra stiff neck muscles. Whatever the issue – or non-issue – your horse will certainly enjoy the pampered life from one of the above specialists.

A horse receiving acupuncture therapy.

 

You know your horse best, so only you can say what he or she would enjoy the most! The above list is also assuming you have the usual horsey items, like blankets, tack, supportive boots if you do a lot of jumping or other strenuous activities. Remember to spend your money on the essentials first before splurging on something like a nice show halter or a fancy water bucket!

Can being a brand ambassador put your Amateur status in jeopardy?

One of the biggest questions circulating around social media – at least that I’ve seen – is whether being a brand ambassador for an equestrian company can violate USEF’s Amateur status.

Ambassadorships are not the same as sponsorships. An ambassador is not paid to use the company’s products. An ambassador basically represents the company in a positive light and promotes the company’s products, usually by using them at their barn, using them at shows, and promoting them tastefully on social media (read: don’t be annoying about it). Some companies simply expect the ambassador to promote the product and use it whereas others will provide the ambassador with some perks, such as discounted or free products.

Since an ambassadorship isn’t a sponsorship – it can’t possibly be in violation of Amateur status, right?

Wrong.

I reached out to USEF’s Regulation Department via email and received an answer on brand ambassadorships – both ones that give discounts/free products/other perks and ones that simply expect the ambassador to promote the product on social media and in other ways.

Amateurs are not allowed to receive any remuneration in connection with promoting or advertising a company’s products. This includes discounts on products or free products. USEF referred me to Rule GR 1306.2, which states “Remuneration is defined as compensation or payment in any form such as cash, goods, sponsorships, discounts or services; reimbursement of any expenses; trade or in-kind exchange of goods or services such as board or training.”

So discounts and free products.. well, any type of “compensation” is a no for Amateur status. What if the ambassadorship doesn’t include any perks?

This still may be a violation because it could be perceived by another rider as an action in violation of Amateur status which could lead to a complaint being filed against that Amateur.

USEF stated that it “typically caution[s] amateur’s [sic] against participating in these activities unless they are certain they could prove to the Hearing Committee that their relationship/agreement with the company does not violate the amateur rules.”

It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to Amateur status. If you’re unclear about something, you can always check USEF’s official rulebook or reach out to their Regulation Department for a clarification.