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Riders who keep horses at home and work full time, how do you manage?

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  • Riders who keep horses at home and work full time, how do you manage?

    Is there anyone else on the board who rides, works full time and keeps their horses at home? How do manage your schedules so that you have time to ride as well as work and manage the farm? I am in the process of buying a farm and I want to set things up as efficiently as possible. The farm is already set up with heated auto waterers in the paddocks and good shelters so that the horses can stay outside almost all the time and therefore minimize stall cleaning time. I have 4 horses (1 riding horse and 3 babies) and we will probably take on a few boarders as well. Hubby is very handy and will be in charge of most of the prroperty maintenance and mowing. I work full time and will have a 50 minute commute to work each way. Am I dreaming if I think I'll be able to ride 5 days a week?

  • #2
    I do!

    I have 3 horses, 2 I ride and compete and one yearling. I work full time also, and my husband is in the military and gone a lot. Depending in the time of year, I get up, do the barn, go to work, come home, rude both horses, then turn out or turn in. I try and give them 2 days off a week, usually the same day so I can use those days to do work around the house and farm.

    It takes dedication and no time for lazin around
    Boss Mare Eventing Blog


    • #3
      I can't currently ride but, I used to do it. My dd's are currently doing it.

      It helps if you have someone boarding with you to help cover the "oh crap" moments and to give you a day or two of breathing room to try and finish all the unexpected projects.

      Definitely consider the new pelletized bedding. It's definitely faster. Figure out every way you can to cut down the time. This may mean a dedicated show bridle and dedicated "it will never ever be cleaned bridle."

      I managed to work full time at 60 hrs a week, do a 5 stall barn and have 3 I had to ride. It really can work but everything must be perfect.

      good luck


      • #4
        It's hard! When I had a 1 hr commute I probably only rode 3-4 times a week. Now I have a 30 min commute and can sometimes work from home. What helps me is having a schedule. I have a lesson once a week and my horse gets a training ride once a week (both at my farm). That means I have to make time for rides to make progress before my next lesson. I also try to hack out at least once a week. I ride almost every day (2nd horse gets a hack about twice a week). Having a handy hubby will definitely help! And 24/7 turnout is a must!


        • #5
          I use to - down to part time now. It is hard - especially if you want to ride more then one horse. I had lights in my arena, would be out by 5:30 a.m. My schedule was, ride both on weekends and holidays, then on weekdays, Friday was a "holiday" for the horses since I often had to work late on Thursday nights, so getting up early on Friday wasn't feasible. Later, I changed jobs, and Monday was meeting night, so then Tuesday was holiday for the horses. I'd generally ride each horse once during the week, and lunge them once or twice. They didn't live in the barn - smaller pastures with run in shelters, which saved me from daily stall cleaning. Weekends were major cleaning days.

          Some other tips - keep things close - grain and feed close to the horses, grooming area close to the horses, etc. We had most of our pastures coming out of one central "hub" with the run in shelters coming off a raised, covered aisle, so I could go into that raised aisle way and feed everyone.

          In depth grooming happened on the weekends, during the week, I learned to pick feet, check legs, knock dirt off the back, and ride a dusty horse. In the Winter, blankets and sheets kept them clean enough to ride.

          It is hard, but doable.


          • #6
            I think it is doable if you are the type of person who prefers using all of your free time doing farm work. I work full time in a very stressful job and have 4 horses, 1 donkey, 7 dogs and a number of cats. No other humans live with me. I ride 4 to 5 times per week and take lessons about every 2 weeks. I am going to try and show this year. My horses are out 24/7 so stall work is a minimum. Taking care of the animals and the farm in general is the way I decompress. I did break down last year and hired someone to mow the yard and to spray for weeds. Not having to mow gives me extra time. I take one vacation a year and would actually much prefer to stay at home.

            You will always want more time for everything but that is true for most people. If you love the animals and the farm, you will make it work.


            • #7
              I do!! And like everyone says, it is hard!

              I work full time as a chef an hour away from my house.

              I have 4 horses, 1 is a 4 year old which is the only one I ride and then my mare and her month old colt and my retired hunter. and chickens, dogs, bird.....

              aarrgghhh! Thats all I can say. Sometimes I sit in my tack room and wonder why I do this alone??!!

              I love my horses, but when I am only in my house after dark everyday, it gets tough!

              I have found easier ways to clean there stall and turn out feed etc., but sometimes I just let things go because I don't have the time! (not feeding obviously, but sometimes stalls wait a day to be clean)

              Bless my boyfriends heart, he tries to help, but sometimes its better to do it by myself!


              • #8
                Yep, I'm in that camp too

                I've got 4 at home at the moment (I have one other not at home, but that's a whole 'nother story!), and I've had up to 9 at any given time. But my normal number is 4-5 and that's where I stay unstressed. I try to keep 3 of them showing throughout the spring/summer/fall and I let things die down a lot in the winter.

                I have a full time job and 2 small children (ages 4 and 7). My job has had me flying to the SE (from the NW) for 2-4 days a week 3-4 weeks a month for the last 3 years, so lots of travel on top of my too-many-hours-a-week-to-count job. But on the plus side, I work out of my house when I'm not on the opposite coast. I've tried to simplify everything to the point that my husband doesn't have to think about the horses more than absolutely necessary, which also makes it easier for me when I'm home.

                My guys have large water troughs that don't need to be dealt with when I'm gone (sounds like you've already got water taken care of with automatic waterers), they're all out 24/7 so I don't have to deal with moving horses or cleaning stalls. And I try to keep feed simple so there are no questions while I'm gone. For example, I have custom supplements made up for mine so I'm not having to feed 3-4 items (i.e. Glanzen, Sel/Vit E, extra Mg, etc.) and Horsetech does that for me.

                I also have mine set up in a hub-like way. Everything can be done from the barn so DH can feed and take care of horses from one central spot. This is especially important when I'm gone since he often has the kids running around while he's feeding and it keeps them out of harm's way.

                Like you, DH does all of the property management....mowing, weed whacking, fence building and repair, etc. That is a huge amount of time and effort in and of itself, so just beware of what you're asking before you move in!

                Riding is the bigger challenge for me. I do keep mine ridden every single day I'm home, but that isn't always enough for my big jumper and my baby (which requires semi-frequent "helper rides" during show season). But if you're not trying to keep them showing all summer then it's not such an issue. When I was just working full time (and not traveling so much) I didn't have a problem riding 7 days a week. It meant a lot of sacrifice on things like eating at a normal hour, any personal activities and time (i.e. no haircuts, manicures, etc. for me!), tack cleaning, in depth grooming or bonding sessions, etc., but everyone got ridden every day. And even now I'm keeping to a 1-2 horseshow a month schedule with my big guy in the High AOs and Grand Prix classes, and my baby coming up the YJC ranks as a 5yo.

                I had boarders for a while (which is how I got up to 9) and it made my life absolutely miserable. The money they brought in was never worth the hassle of people who didn't care about your property as much as you. They were good people and are all still good friends, but it effectively doubled (if not more) the amount of work I had to do. Now I happily only have my own horses. But this is also partly due to the fact that I'm gone so much and wouldn't feel comfortable taking money for caring for horses when my non-horsey DH is actually the one doing it for a third of the month.

                Bottom line is that if you want to ride enough, you'll find a way to make it happen. If other things become more important then they just do. No reason to stress either way. My kids are a much higher priority than the horses now, but that just means that I'll ride at the crack of dawn (before the kids are up) or after they go to bed rather than sacrificing time with them if I can avoid it.

                Good luck to you!
                Flying F Sport Horses
                Horses in the NW


                • #9
                  I also have 3 daughters, a full time job and a DH that travels every week. We have 15 acres. I try to make everything as easy (and safe) as possible and that the horses can live as horses. I have PSG horse and 2 daughters that compete, so it is possible to be efficient and show.

                  All horses live in a dry paddock with run in and are out on pastures at least half of the day. I have barn help for 1-2 hours a day to muck, turn out, fill buckets and mow. I use swift pick shavings so wet shavings can go into paddocks and they mix with the footing and dry out (a huge bonus). Summer is tough because we are mowing like crazy as horses can't keep up with the grass. DH is mowing as I write this.

                  It is hard work at times, but I love knowing how much my horse eats, drinks, poops etc. In my case DH is key. Not possible without him.


                  • #10
                    I've got 2 horses at home. A 9 year old gelding who will start competing 3rd level next weekend and a 30 year old mare who is my retired event horse. I have a 6 stall barn, but only the 2 horses at this time.
                    I work full-time and even though I am in a school district, I work 12 months. Many days during the week I have to get my daughter on the bus at 8:30 and arrive at work at 9:00, having already taken my "lunch hour". I am very lucky that my work place is flexible. My husband is a paramedic and works a different schedule every day. I also have in-laws in town that get my daughter off the bus in the afternoon, when needed. We are very lucky.
                    This time of year I am able to get the horses turned out for at least 2 hours in the morning before I leave. I ride when I get home...even more time now that the days are longer, and turn out again if the weather is good. I have tried boarders, but it has never worked. They don't want to do the work and I am not home during the day. My horses have adjusted well to my schedule and my husband will help out when needed. He has even offered to take care of them and do stalls so that I can go to Gladstone in a few weeks
                    I try to get a lesson as often as I can, however it can be an all day affair. I have to drive 65 miles, one-way, and many times my daughter will also have a lesson while we are there. Yesterday I left at 9 am and returned home at 4:30 pm.
                    I make it work because I want to have the horses at home and ride...although sometimes I think if I didn't have them and the 6 acre property, I would have more time and money I also get up early to get to the gym or run before my husband has to leave for work at 6:30 am. If I can get that out of the way, I don't have to add it to the end of my day!
                    Mirror Image 2001-2007


                    • #11
                      Mine are home and I work full time with a lot of travel. As others have said, the key is to make everything as easy as possible!

                      Mine are on 24/7 turnout, with a run-in shed. I'm jealous of your automatic waterers , but have two big stock tanks that will provide water for several days.

                      I usually only manage to ride 3-4 days/week, but with the turnout, that works for my crew. I take one lesson a week, which I haul out for. This usually motivates me to work on stuff the rest of the week so I can show progress

                      When I travel, I set all the grain/supplements up in buckets ahead of time so hubby doesn't have to think about it.

                      I clean what I can during the week, and deep clean on the weekends. I've decided not to stress about things being perfect!

                      Good luck! I love having mine at home!


                      • #12
                        Manage? Well, I'm an insomniac which is good. If I can't sleep I might as well get something done. I work full-time, am on call 24/7, have two teenagers though one has moved out, married, have 9 horses-5 dogs-4 cats at home, and compete 4 horses at PSG, third, second & training. I start/back my own. I couldn't do it without help from family, understanding from family (I ride instead of clean, well, until there's going to be company and then the house gets my attention), and ARENA LIGHTS.

                        I set everything up the night before for the AM, noon and PM feeding of the next day. I get up at 4:30 and feed, clean, move horses around. I live 75 miles away from work and must be there by 8 am to start surgery. Family feeds horses at noon and again at 5 pm. I get home usually between 6:30 - 7:00 PM. I start riding by 7:30 PM. I can do at least 2 horses each night. I have 3 days off a week (I work 4 so-called 10s). On those days I ride my 4 and occasionally my son's mare. I feed again at 10:30 PM which is when I set stuff up for the next day (We live in the desert and my horses are on dirt lots so they get hay 4 x's a day. The trade off though is I no longer have to mow field, bale or put up hay; fence repair is minimal too).
                        Ranch of Last Resort


                        • #13
                          I have 5 acres and 2 horses. Here's my schedule in the summer months:
                          5am - up, dressed and out to the barn
                          5:30am - mounted and riding
                          6:00am - cooling out, feeding
                          6:15am - heading for a shower, breakfast
                          6:45am - out the door for my 45 minute drive to work
                          7:30am - 5pm - work
                          5:45pm (or so) - back home, feed, muck stalls, do any evening chores, dinner for me
                          8:30pm - in bed

                          Weekends help me catch up on things I can't get to during the week, but this schedule is wonderful and I feel like I have extra time to relax.

                          The rest of the year, I ride after work and it's more difficult to get all the farm chores done during the week because it's dark before work. I move my work hours to 7am - 4:30pm, so I have more light after work. I rely heavily on weekends to catch up. For me, this is quite manageable. With more horses and/or borders...shudder.

                          Oh, and I work one horse 5 days a week and the other gets 4. They double up on weekends, but otherwise, it's one horse per morning.


                          • #14
                            If I can do it, anyone can! I have 5 horses...three riding, one broodmare and one 3 year old (although he was just sold so will be moving to his new home soon), 5 dogs and two cats. I have a 12 acre little farm that I manage on my own with some minimal part time help. I own my own veterinary practice and work on average 50-55 hours/ week.

                            All the horses live in a central run-in shed that has 4 separate 10X20 bays. Each run-in has its own dry paddock that then open up to separate pastures. So I never have to walk horses from stalls to pastures, etc. I just open and close gates as needed. They are out on pasture 12-15 hours/ day so minimal cleaning of the run-ins needed. I have heating water tubs I put in each run in in the winter months.

                            In the mornings it takes me 15 min in the summer, 30 minutes in the winter. The evenings are about the same. On M-F evening I pay my neighbor to feed the horses so I can come home from work and just ride.

                            I get up at 6am-ish so I can leave my house by 7:30 am and be at work at 8am. I get home usually around 6:30 and then ride one horse. A friend rides and competes my second riding horse so that one I don't ride. My third riding horse is a little Paint mare that I have for family and friends to ride when they visit. I do trail ride her on the weekends to keep her in semi condition. We haul out once a week on satudays for a lesson.

                            When I am out of town my neighbor takes care of the horses. My dogs I board at my work.

                            I also pay someone to mow the house yard, driveway and road frontage. That helps a ton! I do all my own pasture care (mowing, weeding, etc.) I also care for my garden (flower and vegetable) myself.

                            The only time I find it a problem is when a horse needs doctoring. My 3 year old had a foot abscess in the winter and I needed an extra 30 minutes each morning and night to tend to his foot. It was only for a week thankfully!
                            Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


                            • #15
                              You can do it, but not if you don't like schedules and planning. I also couldn't do it without my awesome husband because he takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting and maintenance, as well as manages horses when I have to work late. I work 60 hours a week or so, have a 30 minute commute, and while my schedule with work is relatively flexible (making vet and farrier appointments easier) its also erratic so I end up working some nights and weekends.

                              Whatever you do, make sure your place is set up for ease of every day management. This means nothing should be more than 30 steps away...tack and feed room, pasture gates, etc. this will also make it easier when you have to go out of town. People who care for my horses always comment on how Streamlined everything is. Anything that can save you time is worth it.

                              Good luck and have fun!
                              Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                              • #16
                                I do. It's really hard but doable. It helps greatly if you don't have children, have a husband that is on board, and you know how to organize your time.

                                First you will not have much a social life, and forget just about all the dining out and movies. You will be too busy for that.

                                I work out during lunch hours (my company has gym on site and a Y is just two blocks away, which I'm also a member of, both of which help greatly), and eat my lunch while I work in front of the computer.

                                I fix very large meals on weekends and those are what I eat during the week. The good thing is by doing that, not only do I save time, i am also able to set appropriate portion for each meal, so I won't overeat.

                                When I get home, I heat up one of the dishes in microwave, eat, and then go out to ride. I normally ride one~two horses a day. I then read one of the training books or watch my video tape before I go to bed.


                                • #17
                                  Nope, been doing it for 40 years. Grad schools, commute, work, kids, horses, old farm, boarders, husband.

                                  It all starts out wonderful. At some point, you spend more time fixing up things, taking care of sick horses, getting rid of the boarders, working more, and maybe the wonderful husband who fixes, feeds, and does everything gets sick of being the ignored handyman who comes in 2nd or 3rd behind horses and kids.

                                  I never rode as much as my friends or boarders. Not sure I would do it over.
                                  There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


                                  • #18
                                    I used to. Honestly, what took the back burner was the riding. Especially during cold Ontario winters! I also lowered my expectations of horse care. The horses were honestly healthier with a little benign neglect. I realized that feeding two pasture puffs a full portion of beet pulp morning and evening wasn't doing them much good. They came through the winter fat and healthy on just hay alone. Obviously wouldn't work for horses in work but with nowhere to ride in winter they weren't doing much!


                                    • #19
                                      P.S. Forte is my horse's name.


                                      • #20
                                        I used to, and now that I'm boarding again, I actually MISS it! Hubby and I have decided that we will be buying another horse property in the future so that I can have my horse at home again.

                                        A big help is if you're a morning person. I love getting up before the family (hubby and two young daughters) and getting outside to feed, muck, fly spray, clean the water troughs, etc. before the day really begins. It's really peaceful and a great way to start the day. That way, after work can be saved for the more fun stuff, and the weekends is when any more time consuming projects around the barn get done. Presto, time to ride after work, because you already did all the other stuff in the early morning hours!

                                        The time of year that's harder is winter, because the days are shorter and the daylight hours are taken up by work. Arena lights and good lighting in the barn really help there, but that time of year is certainly less fun.

                                        The one really big issue with working so far away is if there's a health issue that requires tending to several times a day with one of your horses. I have a mare that's prone to those types of things, and when the vet would say, "Clean the wound and put this ointment on three to five times a day," my stomach would turn in a knot, because what do you do? It will happen to you too at some point, so you should think about what your protocol would be. Having my mare in full board at a barn really helped me realize how nice it is to be able to just pass those instructions on to the barn manager.