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Going from one horse to two

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  • Going from one horse to two

    Hi all, long time no post.

    I was lucky enough to have the chance to add to my menagerie last week and have just purchased a second horse. They're both boarded at the same facility and do the same discipline (hunters) though are very different horses with different temperaments and skill levels (one is fourteen, one is four).

    I want to make sure I do right by both of them in terms of time, training and attention, and am looking for practical suggestions and tips on how to make that happen. For those of you with two (or more), how do you manage your barn time? Do you have any tricks to make your visit go more smoothly/efficiently (ha!) to focus on each of your horses? Do you feel guilty when you pay attention to one and not the other?

    Would love any ideas on how to make my barn time account for both of them. The older one is occasionally used in lessons with more advanced riders, so he does get a bit of exercise beyond me already, but I want to make sure I take the time to have good relationships with both of them, too. I'm crazy about the older one, he's my "soul mate" horse, and I want to get to know the newer one too.

    Ideas and things that have "worked for you" welcome.

  • #2
    I bought a second horse back in July. My older boy is also my heart horse.

    I just try not to chat to much before I ride . I ride both only a few times a week. My older boy is semi retired and he seems to always get a little more of my attention

    I just moved them to a new place so it's a little easier to just ride since I don't really know anyone yet.

    I am also single so I don't need to budget my barn time. I can usually get both ridden and taken care of in about 2-3 hours.

    Good luck with your new addition!!!!


    • #3
      I don't own multiple horses, but I often ride others in addition to my own. I will usually ride one horse, and then put them in the stall to cool down while I ride the other. Then take the first one and put them to bed while the second is cooling out. I usually ride in the evenings so they are inside already and not missing much of their turnout this way. I will sometimes to quicker groomings and rides during the week, and then spend lots of time with them on the weekend or days off.

      Definitely agree with limiting the barn socializing if you are on a tight schedule. Also, when doing 2-3, I try to rotate riding schedules as well, so I will alternate hacks/schools so that I give one horse a hack and the other a school, that cuts time down too.


      • #4
        Good luck to you! I'm not going to be much help - I always feel like I have a very difficult time splitting my time evenly between the two (and then it gets worse when I work my friend's horse, too!). I *am* at a disadvantage with my commute; when I only worked parttime and lived close to work, it was no problem!

        Really, I think you can only do the best you can. I do absolutely feel guilty if I feel I'm giving one more attention, but just remember, they're horses. They are far more concerned with their hay and where to go poop next than they are concerned with when you are going to ride them next!

        Have fun with your new guy/girl!
        If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
        Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


        • #5
          I have two horses in regular work (plus a semi-retired one that I hack 1-3 times a week) and balancing that with a full time+ job and a family can be quite the challenge.

          I aim to ride each horse 5 days a week. Usually I can do both on Sat and Sun, so that just leaves 3 after-work days to fit in. (sometimes I make it out all 5, but it all depends). Mine are in all-day turnout, weather permitting, so if they only get 4 days of schooling, I don't stress.

          What works for me:
          - as others have said, minimize the chatting. Socialize while grooming, but don't stop brushing! You can also chat while you're walking to cool out
          - alternate who you ride first every day. Then if time gets away from you, and you only have time to ride one, it's not the same one who's getting neglected each time.
          - most barns have "busy days" and "quiet days" as far as lessons and other boarders riding. I try to figure out which days are most compatible based on lessons (harder to squeeze in a productive ride in a short time if you're dodging beginners who can't steer) and also facilities (if all the grooming stalls are occupied, it takes me longer to tack/untack)
          - jumping schools generally take me longer than flat-only rides, and schools take longer than hacks. So I try to alternate (ex: Iflat one, and o/f the other and swap the next day.)
          - I am, um, not as diligent about horse or tack cleaning M-F. I brush before every ride, but if my horse still has mud in the mane, I don't worry. I wipe my bridle and rinse the bit after every ride, but taking the tack apart for a real cleaning is only on weekends. I'd rather ride a dirty horse than not ride a clean one becuase my whole hour was devoted to grooming.

          I can normally fit in both horses in 2-3 hours using the above guidelines. Good luck. Having 2 is more fun: you get to work on different things with each which keeps you fresh as a rider, and if one gets sidelined with an injury, missing shoe, etc, it doesn't ruin your day/week the way it does if it's your only mount. It's a challenge balancing work, family and the extra saddle time, but totally worth it
          A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...



          • #6
            The hardest thing for me riding my horses is that they are VERY different fellows, despite both only having ever been trained for the hunters after their race "careers"! Other than having great personalities, they are opposite in just about everything- 17 h, big floaty step, grey, very capable. 15.3 h, choppy little step, black, tries hard but is really not even average.

            It takes my brain and body a little bit of time to adapt to each horse's needs, remember to stop (or start) pushing for more step, remember to balance in the corners the right way for each, etc.

            It certainly doesn't hurt them that I'm slow with my reflexes, or sometimes catch myself letting the big guy lollygag around, but it is something I have to stay aware of.

            And, since I can only currently get out there every couple days, sometimes only once a week, it is hard for me to say "Oh, I'll just give X a bath tomorrow and give Y a bath today" because in all reality, X will stay sweaty and gross for another week and that doesn't feel fair. (Like yesterday- it was in the 70s here, and had gradually been getting warmer and humid, so both my horses were nasty gross and the old guy even looked uncomfortable in his skin in the pasture. He really needed a bath, for his comfort, but I only had time to hose him and quite honestly, it still wasn't enough to get the full winter of crap off him).

            So, my time there is longer. But if you're able to get out more often and need to stay on the short side of time, ride horse A one day and B the next day, and which ever one you're not riding, just pick their feet and knock off the really offensive dirt and be done with them.

            It was also easier for me when they went out in the same pasture and were stabled right next to each other. Even if I wasn't riding one, I would still see him and give him a quick eyeball and a pet while I grabbed the other one. Or, I could grab them both at the same time and walk them in together (it helps they are very bonded with each other, and would walk to the ends of the Earth if it meant they could be together). Now they are in different pastures, and it adds another 10-15 minutes to my time at the barn if I'm bringing them both in OR putting them both out.


            • #7
              I would imagine the 4 year old would take up more time and energy from you - I'd give my first ride to him so your mind and body are fresh enough to train a youngster.


              • #8
                Originally posted by ElementFarm View Post
                alternate who you ride first every day. Then if time gets away from you, and you only have time to ride one, it's not the same one who's getting neglected each time.
                This has been key for me.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ElementFarm View Post
                  - alternate who you ride first every day. Then if time gets away from you, and you only have time to ride one, it's not the same one who's getting neglected each time.
                  Big ditto on this one...


                  • #10
                    I like to get my horses out of the arena as much as possible.

                    Back when I was juggling two, I taught them both how to "pony". I would head out for conditioning rides with both horses tacked up.. one with a halter over the bridle. Mid ride I would switch horses and pony the other.

                    Both seemed to really have a good time out on the trail.. well the three of us had fun!

                    Cantering two eventing fit thoroughbreds at once was pretty cool! (do not try without practicing first! )
                    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                    • #11
                      I have nine as a new ammy, they each get some sort of work out each day, switching up who you ride first, teaching others to pony, long lines & showmanship are some ways we switch it up, we usually only jump about once every two Weeks so that cuts down on time too.


                      • #12
                        I have two at home, so I am fighting daylight and weather conditions. Hopefully DH will have the arena completed by next weekend, which will be all weather and have some lighting from the barn itself, so I will be able to at least hack at night.

                        I currently have an 8 year old Oldenburg mare that I have had for a year and a 6 year old OTTB gelding that I have had for 7 months. Both pretty green.

                        A big ditto on the alternating who is first. Additionally,

                        - I aim to ride 5-6 times a week for both horses. I take one lesson a week, alternating horses.
                        - I ride both on Saturdays and Sundays
                        - If it's a light hack day, I do both horses. This usually occurs 2 days a week, maybe 3.
                        - I aim to have 2 days per week that I work on just one horse, on whatever issues arise. That way I don't feel pressured to hurry up and do the other horse too.

                        A big thing for me is to be flexible and if something happens that you don't go according to plan, let it go. I can get a bit uptight about that.

                        Also, individual horses and weather patterns come into play, for me at least. My mare is SMART and, especially in the summer, does not need to be done 6 days. She is FINE with 3 - retains lessons and maintains ok fitness. The gelding I feel is going to need more regular work - he's only about 30 days under saddle right now. And the mare does NOT care if she is worked or not - just as happy getting fed and patted. I have learned to let go of the "equality" guilt because no two horses are going to have the exact same time needs at the same time.


                        • #13
                          I tried the having two horses for a while. Not for me.

                          With a full time job and both jumpers in full training,no arena at home and two big horses that didn´t work out to haul at the same time I was constantly tired and never home.

                          I tried the every other day thing, trailriding one of them in the morning (trying to do some flatwork) for 30-40 min before work which worked ok when the weather was ok and ground not frozen. Then hauling the other to the arena jumping/proper flatwork. Mucking/preparing feed, taking care of equipment and so on after that. Otherwise hauling both at two different rounds..

                          Nope, staying with one horse which makes it all so much more fun and doesn´t feel like a burden at all..Now I´m looking forward to it every day instead of feeling the timepressure.. Maybe not what you wanted to hear but my view of the matter.


                          • Original Poster

                            Hi all, sincere thanks for the responses. Exactly what I was looking for and I got some good insight from every post. Thank you!


                            • #15
                              Be an efficient groomer/tacker. I'm a working amateur with 3 (one of which is retired) and don't have the luxury of grooming until they shine and brushing manes and tails every day. I clean what needs to be cleaned to work effectively, and leave it at that. Some days my boys have hunks of dirt embedded in their mane, but it doesn't affect our ride, so I don't worry about it.

                              I've also learned to ask for help. There are some great little riders at my barn who are dying to ride anything they can get their butt on. So if I'm having a hard week at work, I'll call one of them up to just pop on and hack around.

                              I do feel guilty when I don't work one, but it's the nature of the game. Sometimes I just don't have time to ride two and care for the third.


                              • #16
                                turn off your cell phone !