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How do you balance riding two horses and your life?

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  • How do you balance riding two horses and your life?

    I'm finding it very difficult to fit in riding two horses. I got my Thoroughbred mare back from a breeding lease 2 weeks ago and have my Paint mare. Paint mare has been ridden 6 days a week since probably around mid-March. This was our first year trying out eventing, did 1 CT and 2 HT just intro and a few hunter paces. I'm having a hard time not riding Paint mare every day. I feel like she's going to get out of shape/lose training. I work on dressage 2-3x week, jump 1x week, and usually do trot/canter work out on the trails 1-2x week; rides generally lasting 45 minutes and atleast one hour lesson a week.

    TB mare needs to get back into shape, just doing walk-trot long and low stuff to build her topline and butt back up before asking for more. Really only riding 20-30 minutes.

    Now that you know what I do with them, I should mention I have a just turned two year old. My husband works full time and goes to school full time. I try not to ask him to watch daughter as he has so much on his plate. My other support is my mom, but she also works full time (meaning usually 50-60 hours a week, haha) and balances three men, oh man

    Summer time was easy and husband helped a lot and really supported me, but now that school is back, time for me to support him (make sure he always has food!) and not be demanding. I work two days a week as well, but it's not really the job keeping me from riding.

    So those of you with little ones and multiple horses, how do you balance keeping your horses fit? I've tried bringing toys to the barn and having her play while I ride, but she only made it 10 minutes, sometimes I never made it on at all. She's still a little young I think for that, but friends recommended I try.

    Will my Paint mare stay fit on only 3, maybe 4 days a week? Can I get TB mare fit on such few days as well? Let me know how you do it! I'm feeling like I'm in over my head and should have kept TB mare out on her breeding lease another year.
    - paintmare

    Horse Eden Eventing - A Virtual Eventing Escape

  • #2
    Well--there is no balance. It's wayyy too much time spent at the barn to be considered "normal". I bought #2 last fall and have been trying to keep up with this since. I don't have a 2 year old, but have a full time job that doesn't have a lot of flexibility. One thing that has helped is that my older Tb mare is a great multi purpose horse so she has been a "stand in" for other boarders horses who have injured themselves, or don't jump, etc. She was a "school mistress" for a young rider at our barn who had never done an event. It's great if you can find a good, responsible rider to ride them a couple days a week. I also had a woman who was paying me to trail ride her this summer. Unfortunately, she is a fair weather rider so that doesn't help me in the winter.

    But mostly I have a "regiment'. During the week I ride 1 horse a day (alternating days for each horse). On the weekend, I ride both. Sometimes I don't ride on Friday (my husband is in shock when I take a day off). This means both horses get at least 4 days a week of work, sometimes 5.

    My regiment works well until we have to go away for the weekend, or I travel for work, or I take one of them to a show and can't ride the other. Then, I have noticed that neither of them are worse for wear from the time off.


    • #3
      At BN/N really 4 or 5 days is enough. I don't ride mine 6 days a week until Training level (and sometimes its 5 days a week even then).
      Custom Painted Brushes: spcustombrushes@gmail.com


      • #4
        Yes. Time is so precious, make every minute count. One every other day is ok. Or do both together - teach them to pony.
        Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
        Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


        • #5
          it's doable

          I have had two horses on and off for a long time and board both. I ride maybe 3 to 4 times a week max here are some tricks:

          right now I have a 10yr old ottb and 6 year old wb. have had both for 5 years.

          when the mare (wb) was a youngster, she really only needed in hand work or quick sessions of up to 20 minutes max. anything longer was too much for her (per my trainers advice on young horses). so until she was 4, 20 minutes tops on whatever you do.

          now both are full riding (both event and foxhunt) and where I board keeps the horses out almost 24/7 except when feeding or in winter, they go out during the day. The huge amount of turnout is very helpful with keeping horses fit and has cut down on alot of riding "just to get them out" and we can just work.

          since my horses are on 8 acres, I add 15 minutes to catch, stall and get tack out etc....usually it takes less than 5 to catch (if i'm lucky, they are waiting at the barn door

          Grooming: doesn't need to be show quality every ride. Sometimes it's just cleaning where the tack goes, quick body check and go on..I don't have a half hour just to groom each. Without rushing, one can brush and tack in less than 10 minutes. (learned that from a top notch dressage trainer, with the amount of horses she has a day, if she doesn't have a groom, that 's what she does). Horses are fine and still clean up beautifully for shows. Looking perfect each day is too much work! sometimes rinsing off the dirtiest one and stalling before riding the cleaner on first helps too. (17hh TB loves to roll in mud)

          riding: I either time up to 45 minutes for both horses, or I'll do a longer work out on one and shorter on the other, and switch the next time. especially your more fit horse, that one can have some shorter more intense sessions without loosing fitness. sometimes I do a strong 20 minute hack on each. since you can ride up to 6 times a week, you could easily ride both for 20-30 minutes a day and get plenty of work in. Longer sessions don't mean you get better work. If you have a plan, and it's met, and it's way before you expected to finish, reward your horse and quit. sometimes that is the best training of all for a horse at any level. or riding one and do a inhand/lunge with the other..mix it up.

          I've had trainers tell me that alot can be accomplished in 20 minutes when you have multiple horses to ride. A jump instructor had me jumping up to 3 foot fences at a very slow collected trot..after 20 minutes of that, both horses were pouring sweat and it didn't seem so hard to me LOL.

          I also have some very good friends that are horseless and, if needed, get them to ride when I cannot or have them ride with me on long hacks. then both horses get done at the same time!

          you can make it fun. the horses are used to it and you aren't so stressed about it. And if you don't get to ride both horses one day because something isn't going right, don't worry.

          good luck and have fun!
          I love my OTTB! I get my dressage test done faster!


          • #6
            I have 13 horses in the barn to take care of - 5 are mine. I was also working FT the last 3 years and have a 7 and 3 year old human children - husband works fulltime too. And I was actually taking care of my mom here at home until she died almost 2 years ago. CRAZY. And I just started riding for someone at another barn.... and I run the 4H horse project group. I guess I will get enough sleep when I am dead!

            SO - If you can do 4-5 days a week - you are super woman with that. Six days a week - with a 2 year old WOW. BN and N do not need 6 days a week. I assume the horse is turned out those 2 days? Make sure the workouts are thorough.

            If you are concerned about fitness - you can do these things: You could lunge the horse 1-2 days - a WORKOUT lunge with side reins and such - I have lunged with my baby strapped to my back but you want to be very careful.

            Another idea - when my daughter was born - I had a teenager 'friend' who I paid when I rode to watch her - my payment was to take $ off her board. But you could pay a teen who rides at your barn - their problems usually are they have school, homework and have to negotiate transportation. Sometimes THAT can be the key - say you will drive her to the barn if she will watch your child while you ride. Pay her by being her ride there.

            Another idea, find ANOTHER mom of a young kid and see if you can trade off - she ride - you babysit - you ride - she babysit....

            When your child is 3 - I will tell you also you will WANT the child to be involved in SOMETHING with other kids. We took our daughter to an upscale daycare - meaning they were all about some kind of teaching not just being a day care and we put her in for 3 half days a week. We were in CA and this way she was playing alongside other kids and getting some comradery. When we moved to where my husbands family lives - I left her with cousins her age a few days a week and we paid for the babysitting - it was SO good for her to get friend-time.

            Age 2 is sort of difficult. They are not really old enough to start the friendship building but not babies to stay in a playpen. BUT they are fun and only 2 once in their lives so if you find you can only ride 4x a week - hey, you have a kid who will be 3 in a year! =) Enjoy the mommyship - glass half full!

            Now my daughter is in second grade and my son started a learning daycare and so I have basically 9 am- 230 to ride horses and organize my house. Still not enough time!!!!!!


            • #7
              Ha! No balance. Something is always suffering.


              • #8
                HA..i miss read the "just turned 2 year old" as the other horse...LOL..sorry about that...very funny...
                I love my OTTB! I get my dressage test done faster!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
                  Yes. Time is so precious, make every minute count. One every other day is ok. Or do both together - teach them to pony.
                  Took the words right out of my mouth. I have a full time job, a toddler, an infant and 4 personal horses + one small pony....Ponying is my BFF.


                  • #10
                    Try not to give yourself a hard time when you get behind with the riding of them. You'll always be behind with the riding of them ! I find a fit horse helps keep himself fit - when he's fit, he's forever gallolloping around his paddock, herding his mares, doing trot-sets up his hill, bucking and farting for the sheer joy of it. At BN, as long as we really work on the work days, he maintains super-fitness on 4 days a week.

                    Another thing that helps is training, bombproofing, manners ... getting them to be really really nice solid citizens ... and then other people can help with the riding ! I grab every opportunity I can to get people to borrow my eventing ponies for lessons. Lend them to good kids for clinics and pony club camps, when theirs is off at the last minute ... I have ponies going to clinics I can only dream of affording for myself - at other people's expense ! Hurrah !


                    • #11
                      I have no kids and I do not have the time for 2 horses.

                      Many people ride their horses EOD.
                      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by sar2008 View Post
                        Took the words right out of my mouth. I have a full time job, a toddler, an infant and 4 personal horses + one small pony....Ponying is my BFF.
                        Do you find the ponying would make them more attached? I just don't want them calling to each other and acting stupid. I know Paint mare doesn't care, but before TB mare left for breeding lease I could hardly even ride her in the ring. She would whinny and try to bolt to get back to the barn.

                        Since she's returned she is MUCH calmer, I actually took her for a half hour trail ride by herself the other day, this is something that we never would have been able to do before. I no longer have them stabled next to each other either, but they do go out in the pasture together.

                        Do you pony in the ring or on the trail, or both? And what exactly do you work on? Just walk-trot? Do you use just a halter and leadrope, lead with chain?

                        Thanks for everyones advice so far!
                        - paintmare

                        Horse Eden Eventing - A Virtual Eventing Escape


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gry2Yng View Post
                          Ha! No balance. Something is always suffering.
                          Should have also said, forgive yourself for it.


                          • #14
                            I find riding one at a time helps my balance....


                            • #15
                              This is a good reminder thread for me! I've had 2 horses for the last 5 years or so, FT job, do other activities (ski, bike, etc.), have dogs and husband. With 2 horses I am always feeling guilty about not doing enough or not having enough funds to do what I want with either. My first ottb had to be put down with a broken knee last fall, I replaced him with another young ottb that just died suddenly of a ruptured diaphragm. My other horse is a tb/draft cross that will always need more conditioning than the tb's. He is a solid citizen though and we are wanting to go training level next year. I have such a hard time not looking for another ottb, but this thread reminds me that it is easier to have one horse to focus on with limited time and money!


                              • #16
                                I have 1 horse, FT job and no hubby and I can't ride 6 days a week! lol.

                                Honestly, your BN horse will stay fit enough for BN with 4 days a week, 30 min of work (plus warm up/cool down). Your horse is probably training + fit right now at 45-1h 6d/w. Once they have their base fitness, you only have to maintain it, and it's less to maintain than build up.

                                When the season is over, give yourself and your horses a month off, or more. Spend time with your family and just go to the barn to spend some quality time with them. You probably need a break. You can wear yourself out faster than you think without knowing.


                                • #17

                                  I've had two horses for the last 6 years, and I have always struggled with the balance. I am always feeling pressure to always be riding, and then I feel guilty if I take more than one day off. And certainly the financial aspects and deciding which horse to do what with ends up being a struggle too.

                                  I have no children, but I have a husband, dogs, barn and house responsibilities, cats, birds, etc. I am lucky to work from home and have my horses at home, so I can juggle my schedule most of the time to accomodate at least one horse per day, but I still have to work. Then there are days I want to go to the gym or focus on something other than the horses, so I don't ride every day. And the days I do ride both horses, something else just doesn't get done, period.

                                  Recently I have been really questioning why I do this to myslef and maybe I should sell one. I *really* don't *need* two horses!

                                  I ride at the lower levels and I have TB's...so fitness isn't an issue. My issue is more that my horses are green and so it's more about consistency so we can progress, and then making sure I keep my butt in the tack to maintain my comfort. So if they are being good for a ride, I may only ride them for 20 minutes that day.

                                  I don't and never will ride both horses 6 days a week on a regular basis, actually it's very rare if that ever happens. And I always designate one day a week where I don't ride either horse. So maybe if you take off some of that pressure that you don't have to ride both 6 days a week, it will give you more time for other things. And for your fit horse, just work on maintaining her fitness and you could probably shorten the ride time.


                                  • #18
                                    Try having 20! plus four dog children! Thank God I have lights! I ride to midnight some days!!!
                                    Heidi A. Lord
                                    Fast First Farm Richlands, NC
                                    Facebook: fastfirstfarm


                                    • #19
                                      How early so you start? I have 2 and am a full time grad student. One is UL the other is only 6 and getting a late start. I leave for the barn at 6 am and get to campus by 10. Or, I leave campus at 5 and ride in the evening.

                                      But I don't have children, and my bf generally feeds himself (and me!! Thank goodness), and I still don't have time to breathe. The last television program I saw was on an airplane inbetween grading papers and reading the chronicle! There just won't be time!! But enjoy the hectic nature of it all! I know I wouldn't have it any other way!


                                      • #20
                                        Re ponying, I do long slow work this way, walking hills, trotting etc.
                                        You may develop more of an attachment than you want - in my case with two geldings it was useful to develop AN attachment... made handling them together easier.

                                        I have two big horses -- they need to be ridden 6 days a week, no shortcuts, no 20 minutes and you are done, if I want to run them in a T3d or Prelim (current goals), they need to do their work AND hack for 45 mins a pop, that sort of thing.

                                        My saving grace? they are absolutely dead easy to handle, perfect manners, will hack out alone or in a group. I recently took a bad fall and had to stop riding for a few weeks, and managed to get both of them at least out on nice long hacks 5 days a week just by emailing everyone and offering trail rides.

                                        I never say no (obviously, I have a list of folks I "approve" -- but for hacking out, I am looking for sensible and responsible) -- tomorrow they are both doing 30 min dressage schools (would be with me if I were sound, will be with my trainer)....someone emailed me about hacking out...I said, YES! so one or both will go out for an hour or more after the school.

                                        Plus as someone else said, I loan them out to good riders for clinics or lessons with good clinicians or my own trainers, if I can't ride them.
                                        The big man -- my lost prince

                                        The little brother, now my main man