When I started law school, I had moved to a new city and state, and I did not know anyone other than my classmates. My high-school and college friends were several states away, as was my family. Because everyone I knew was a law student, law school became all-consuming, and it was easy to miss what was going on in the “real world.”
A few months into my first year, I noticed a flyer inviting people to participate in the university’s equestrian team. I had been riding since I was four years old, so the team seemed like a good fit for me. I joined the team and became the only law student — the only member who was not an undergraduate, actually. The team practiced one night a week, and those practices were important to me for a number of reasons.
First, law school was completely foreign to me. None of my relatives were lawyers; in fact, I did not even know any lawyers or law students (other than my own classmates) when I started law school. So, during my first year, particularly during my first semester, everything felt foreign to me. Riding, however, was something I had done almost all of my life, so that one evening a week when I practiced with the equestrian team, nothing was foreign; I was in an environment that was entirely comfortable. I understood the expectations and could just relax and enjoy being in the barn and around the horses.
Second, team practice forced me to exercise, even if it was only one evening per week. As we all know, being a law student (and frankly, being a law professor) can be a pretty sedentary business, so it was good for me to get out of my apartment and onto the back of a horse for a few hours each week. (I also had to haul my saddle and other equipment on the city bus for the first few months, which was in itself a form of exercise, but that is a story for another day.)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, being with a group of people who were not in law school (and who frankly had little interest in anything about law school) forced me to keep one foot in the world outside of the law. Spending time with my teammates even one night a week helped me escape the world of torts, contracts, and property for awhile and remember that there was a lot going on that had nothing to do with school.
For those three reasons, the time I spent riding on the equestrian team was some of the most valuable time I spent as a law student.