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Keeping a horse in work + working full-time = impossible?

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  • Keeping a horse in work + working full-time = impossible?

    I would love any advice and tips from others who work full-time, particularly an 8am-5pm job, and manage to ride every day as well.

    How do you fit it in? Do you ride before work or after? How do you balance riding and work with family/spouse time, and other commitments? Do you compete? If so, how often?

    I usually ride before work - I get up at 6am, try to be tacked up by 6:30am (luckily my horse is only a 5 minute drive away), ride for up to an hour, quickly untack, hose off and turn the horse out, then shoot home and dash through the shower, throw some food in my bag and whiz off to work (thankfully only 10 minutes away). That leaves my evenings completely free to come home, cook dinner, spend time with my husband and unwind. Well, that's the plan. But if work's stressful or I didn't sleep well, sometimes it's really hard to get up! And if I do force myself to when I feel awful, I'm feel very tired at work (and I need my brain to work at work!).

    To be successful, I have do a bunch of stuff the night before:
    • pack the car with all the tack and equipment for tomorrow's ride (jumping saddle/long girth/boots/crop vs. dressage saddle/short girth/dressage whip vs. lunging gear etc)
    • run through my checklist of other horse stuff I need to take and make sure it's all there (towels, bucket, scraper, grooming stuff etc)
    • make up feeds ready to put in car
    • get my riding clothes and boots ready, outside the bedroom, so I can crawl out of bed and not disturb DH too much
    • have my work clothes ready so it's all there to throw on after my shower
    • note what I'm going to take for lunch, and make a pile of things in the fridge and/or beside the fridge so I can grab and go

    Otherwise it's just too intimidating at 6am. I really have to 'help' myself. I realise 6am isn't *that* early, and when I was younger I did work in a racing stable over summer and got up at 4am daily - but I sure was tired, went to bed before 8pm, and didn't ride my own horse! I can't stay in good health pulling both a full working day and early early start each day.

    I've been finding mornings hard lately (demands at work), so I've tried riding after work. It seems to be working okay - I thought hubby might be a bit sad that I wasn't home right after work, but he's been happy enough unwinding for an hour or so. I love making dinner every night, it's one of my 'jobs', so I make dinner before I go to work, leave it in the fridge, then my husband puts it in the oven while I'm riding, and I come home to a hot dinner

    But then I started thinking - hey, I could ride my other horse before work, and make dinner the night before. Tempting!

    Anyway, if there's any way to be more efficient, I'd love to hear it. How do you make it work?

  • #2
    I personally don't think it's really and truly possible to have it all.

    I've always said that having horses is a way of life and you tend to balance other stuff round it or else fit them in with other things that are essential.

    24 hours in a day.
    Only so many daylight hours - or you may be blessed with an indoor and/or floodlights
    A job to fit in.

    Then if you're going to be a "normal" and sane person you need to factor in time for family and friends and relationships..... If you value them that is!

    It's called juggling! Or compromising....... Or kidding yourself!

    Note: My own horses all get to stand outside and do absolutely nothing every single Monday.


    • #3
      I pretty much have the same schedual through the week and the weekends is where I mix things up. You didn't mention if you have children? I do not.

      I work, come home to deal with the dogs and I am out the door to the barn everynight. I float my horses day off depending on if I feel he needs one or something comes up with just life in general. I am home the same time everynight, we make dinner and make time for eachother everynight. While I am riding, hubby does his hobby. Usually the time taken up is golf and in his shop which ever one he feels like that day.

      The weekends, I have no set ride time. I stay flexible so hubby and I can do things together. I may also float my "day off" on the weekends if I need to.

      The best thing was to have something fun, that the other spouse enjoys so when they are doing it they are not sitting around waiting for you to come home, and be home at the same time so they know when to expect you and can have a timeline for their own things.

      My riding I don't treat as "optional" or give my spouse the impression that it can be altered too easily. He appreciates my drive and determination and over the years there has only been a few times he has objected...usually when he has not had something fun that he enjoys doing.

      Morning rides, would be tough for me..it takes me a while to get going. Especially in the winter


      • #4
        I agree with the above posters. It's pretty tough. I work full time (40-45 hours) and am hoping for a promotion which will have me working a minimum of 50 hours. I don't have an indoor and can't find a boarding place anywhere close to accept my horse (he's a stallion) so my riding suffers, especially in the winter with the short days. If I could find a boarding facility I would be at the barn everyday riding after work but I am also single and don't have children which makes that an option for me. Family/work/and horses which are in a consistent work schedule? I have no clue how anyone whould do it and still find time to sleep.
        '10 Dolce Latte G - Thoroughbred Mare


        • #5
          When I was young I worked full time and rode everyday, several horses/day, for many years. I did not have a normal social life and so did not have to divide time to spend with a boyfriend/husband.

          In my adult life I worked some but had to spend more time with husband/family than horses and still rode but only one horse. Showing was not as often. Husband and family came first. What a bummer!! LOL!

          Now no husband (yea!) child is grown and I'm pretty much retired so lot's of time to ride.

          I agree with Thomas--it is hard to have it all. Your running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Trying to make everyone happy and content and still be able to do your thing (horses). It can be done, but for how long before you burn out. Several years---yes but something eventually has got to give.

          You need a clone or someone that can ride for you a few days/wk.


          • #6
            I do it. Well part of it. I don't ride every day though. My situation is a bit different as well. The only thing I need to pack is a change of clothes. I only work a 37.5 hour week (7am - 3pm).

            I am at the barn to feed/check on the horses every AM and PM. M/W/F/S/S I have my wonderful parents watch my two kids so I can ride and I teach on the weekends. I get to the barn around 3:30pm and am able to get two rides or ground work sessions in before dark (on a good day ). I do crock pot meals on the days I ride so dinner is ready when I get home with the kids at 6:30. I also have a WS/older lady that I teach in exchange and she tacks up for me so I can get them all done. She rides with me sometimes if I am running late and I also have her do my small pony.

            It's doable. I just think you have to have the right situation.

            Days I don't ride and just stop by the barn, my DD is in the minivan watching Elmo and Dora. She just hangs out for the 30 mins it takes me to feed and run a hand over all the guys.

            Can you not leave all your tack at the barn where you ride? What about doing crock pot meals?

            Not sure if this is an option, but I find leaving my horses out 24/7 (my fields are also pretty rolling ) is a lot easier. They are much fitter then a horse that is kept inside half the day.
            Last edited by sar2008; Nov. 19, 2010, 09:52 AM.


            • #7
              I'm in school, married (no kids), and just picked up a part time job. I can usually get to the barn M-W after school (9am-3:30pm for school). Thursdays I can usually squeeze in a lunge either before school (9am-12:30pm)or after school before work(2pm-6pm). Friday I work all day so there is no horses that day (at least not now with it getting dark at 5:30). Sat/Sun are open, but try do things with hubby so generally only go out one of those days. Most days I go to the barn by the time I'm leaving I'm getting texts from hubby asking when I'm coming home because he's hungry but it waiting for me, he works 7am-3pm.

              Next semester until it stays light longer will be harder as I'll be working all day (8-6) mon, tues, and friday. Will have class wed/thurs. I hate winter....
              Custom Painted Brushes: spcustombrushes@gmail.com


              • #8
                I hear you! I am DEFINITELY not a morning person!!! I currently work a full time job (7a-3p) M-F, and I work another 16 hrs between Friday 4pm and Sunday 4pm at a second job (second job is "pony money"). Sometimes I work both jobs on a Friday, making a 16 hr day.

                That is his day off. Sometimes he gets 2 days off, but mine is the kind that doesn't need to be ridden daily, and sometimes is better for NOT being ridden daily.

                For the most part, M-F I try and go to the barn immediately from work when I can so I don't waste precious time at home checking facebook (or COTH!). If I'm focused, I can do my 2 stalls, feed, bring in, and ride in under 2 hours (I only ride one, though). Then I'm home by 6pm, which gives me and the boyfriend 3 or 4 hours of quality time (assuming he is also home!). And, I am perfectly comfortable simply not riding that day if something comes up- dr's appt, traffic jam, I need a really good nap, etc.

                I don't have kids. I don't have any specific tv shows (except Glee!!) that I "have to watch". I'm perfectly content if dinner is a salad and grilled cheese. And, boyfriend MUCH prefers me to go to the barn than not. Without even knowing my schedule he is able to tell if I've gotten my "fix" recently or not just based on my general mental health!

                It sounds like you're being pretty efficient. Honestly, if you're going to be riding, whether it's at 4am or 4pm, that is time you will be away from the hubby, away from the house. Be okay with that It is often said that the best marriages (longest lasting, most satisfied, etc) are the ones where each spouse has their own "fun things" to do. Yours is riding. And it sounds like hubby is okay with that, so go with it!! You stay happier and healthier for it.

                My only suggestion is leaving your stuff at the barn, if you can, and also consider making "reheatable" meals on Sunday to get you through at least a few week days.


                • #9
                  I'm a stay at home (will go back to work when my son starts preschool) and I still find it tough to find time to ride!

                  His grandmother takes him two days a week for a few hours so I have some time to ride/errands/whatever needs to be done. On the weekends I usually ride only one day so I can give the hubby a break. He works his butt off during the week and I feel he deserves some time to himself as well.

                  So, I probably ride 3 days per week at the moment. It isn't ideal, but my horse is with a trainer so I know he is getting worked and is staying in shape.


                  • #10
                    If you have no kids, understanding hubby sure it can work. Why make yourself get up early every day? How many horses? If just one should be doable. Ride saturday and sunday, maybe one long session one of these two days. Take Monday off. Ride Tuesday am, make crockpot for Wed night, ride Wed night, ride Thursday am, take off Friday. Your horse is getting 5 days or riding and you get to sleep in 3 of 5 week days.


                    • #11
                      I ride in the am, but my horse is at home.
                      If I'm motivated to ride, I get up, shower, ride, then do a quick-change and be on my way. Somewhere in there get the 3 year old child ready for preschool or daycare.

                      Now with it getting dark so early, after-work rides are out. And they are really too inconvenient anyway - by the time I'm done, dinner needs to be made, kiddo needs attention, hubby needs to get work done etc etc.

                      I think its not *impossible* but you definitely have to make sacrifices (like sleep!) if you want to keep your horse in full work, all while working too.


                      • #12
                        I am NOT a morning person, so I ride after work. I'm married, work full-time, and have two step kids that are with us Thursday-Saturday. Generally, I try to work from 7am-3pm, with a 30 minute commute to the office. From the office it's 45 minutes to the barn, then from barn to home is 25-30 minutes. To keep DH happy at home I ride Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (unless he needs to work late, then I shuttle the kids to their evening activities and forego riding). If I'm showing on Saturday (no more than twice a month) then I'm at the barn Friday too. Otherwise I try to ride Sunday afternoon. I always pack my bag the night before riding and grab it on my way out the door as I head to work. Once I'm home we eat dinner, then I have about another hour of work to do online, try to get in a load of laundry or dishes, maybe catch some TV/relaxing time, then off to bed. It's tough, but by setting a schedule of evenings that I'll be at the barn and a commitment to be home by a certain time Hubby and I have come to an agreement and there is much less gnashing of teeth over my horse habit.
                        "Beware the hobby that eats."
                        Benjamin Franklin


                        • #13
                          I do, but it's hard.

                          I work a minimum of a 45 hour week, it's usually more. Work is 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This summer I was riding four days a week usually, if not more, and actively competing.

                          But here's the kicker - it's 40 minutes from my house to my job and 40 minutes from either to the barn, so riding after work means that I'm running home, grabbing dog, and sitting in the car for generally another hour in rush hour traffic. There is no riding before work, because that would stick me smack in a MUCH worse rush hour.

                          So yeah, I do it, but it's long days. On riding days I go get the dog, throw something in the microwave to eat on the run, change my clothes, and fight daylight to the barn. I am installing new lights in my grass ring so I can ride after dark, and after Christmas the horse is going to be boarded somewhere closer with an indoor.

                          Have I mentioned that we're self-care? It's a long day.
                          They're small hearts.


                          • #14
                            I work full time, 11 hours a day between work and commuting. Husband and I have a farm, and I ride three horses and am competing all three. I ride every day unless it's raining. I leave my house at 6 a.m. so riding in the a.m. is not an option for me. But I have a lighted arena, which really is a necessity. I get home at 5, and am not back in the house until around 8 p.m.

                            You have time for what you put first. It's really that simple. I come home, change clothes and head right back out the door to the barn. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 and most importantly DO NOT SIT DOWN ON THE COUCH!

                            I watch no television unless it's while I am cooking/eating dinner. Dinners are kept very simple - nothign fancy, but it is not 'pre- prepared' food -- mostly fresh veggies from farm store and simple entrees. I do NOTHING during the week except ride - no trips to the grocery store, no stops anywhere on the way home unless life or death necessity! I sometimes can ride two horses after work, but I always ride two or all of them on Saturdays/Sundays.
                            Donerail Farm


                            • #15
                              Ummm. I don't find it that much of a problem, but then, I don't have a life. *G*

                              I am an 8 to 5-er AND a commuter. I pack my riding clothes in the truck which I leave at the train station. I go straight from the train station to the barn, change, ride, do errands (grocery shopping, etc.) and go home. Usually home by about 8PM. Rinse and repeat 4 or 5 days a week (i.e., the work week), then, of course, lots of time on weekends.

                              The caveat, of course, is that I am responsible for myself and my horse only. No husband, no kids. "*shrug*


                              • #16
                                It's possible. Not fun, but definitely possible.

                                i generally work 5-6 days a week (usually one day on the weekend) I work from 7:30am-4:30pm. I get to the barn around 5:30pm and try to ride 4-5 times a week. Makes for loooong days, and I rarely get home before 8pm (and then of course, I have to make myself something to eat, take a shower and plan for the next day LOL)

                                It was actually worse a few years ago...I was in university full time (6 courses), worked 30 hours a week and had two horses. I wasn't home before 10-1030 each night. I actually made myself sick at some points because I was so stressed and driven.

                                What I've realized is to be gentle with yourself. If you're tired and cranky, give yourself a break. The horse won't suffer if he gets a two day break while you catch up on some zzzzs
                                In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.


                                • #17
                                  I work only 35 hours a week but have a long commute to the barn and manage to make it out there 7 days a week and ride 6 of those. Granted I am only 22 so no hubby or kids, SO is 6 hours away finishing school, and I don't really have any friends outside of the barn. My days usually go something like this...

                                  Work 8-3(no lunch hour).
                                  Drive straight from work 1 hour to pick up the girl that I give a ride to the barn on weekdays (nice extra $$$).
                                  Drive another hour to the barn, hitting a drive thru on the way for food (I have gotten good at eating salads and such while stuck in traffic).
                                  Arrive at the barn around 5pm, ride, clean, etc. (The barn I board at thankfully has an indoor).
                                  Leave around 9pm.
                                  Drive an hour to drop off girl.
                                  Drive another hour home.
                                  Arrive home around 11pm.
                                  Shower and fall into bed around 11:30.
                                  Repeat cycle!

                                  Fridays we leave the barn a little earlier since I don't ride (horse gets a training ride) so Friday nights are time to sleep/relax, go out to dinner etc. Saturdays and Sundays I sleep as late as I want, lay around, then get up and go to the barn whenever I feel like it (no girl to drive on weekends so it only takes about an hour to get to the barn).

                                  Next year I plan on going back to school part time, so I'll be squeezing that in on top of everything. Luckily the girl I give rides to now will be getting her license this summer so I won't have that extra commuting time.

                                  Good thing I'm young! (and that work pays for my gas)
                                  RIP Owen 2/2/07

                                  Laguna <3


                                  • #18
                                    Is it easy..no. can it be done.. yes.
                                    I work full time, have 15 horses, 10 acres, 2 children, and a husband.
                                    I start work at 7 am, morning riding is not an option. since I drive my youngest to morning daycare at 6:30 AM, I leave the house a 6am.

                                    I keep 6 horses in full time work except for december and jan.. But I only personally ride 2 horses through those two winter months, the others are all on layup - or either are broodmares or babies etc.

                                    In winter:
                                    I ride a horse everyday outside in a full weather ring with lights, after work. alternating, and lunge the other. Weekends I don't ride friday evenings, thats 'date night' with the hubby, saturdays are snowboarding with the kids , sundays I ride both horses.

                                    I save horse chore time by the fact that both the boys are now old enough and willing enough to do barn chores for pay - so they feed and clean stalls. which this year *first year they've done this* has saved me several hours a day - they come home from school and do chores while I ride.

                                    I usually make all lunches the night before, for everyone, bread machine ready to go, etc etc - whatever I'm making the next night for dinner prepped and in the fridge.

                                    One great time and money saver: when cooking meals - I always cook extra servings, either for lunch next day for me and hubby, or I freeze, so end of each month I usually have a weeks worth of ready to go dinners stored in the freezer - for those days I just don't have time to make something shiny and new.
                                    Originally posted by ExJumper
                                    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


                                    • #19
                                      I have three and a half horses. Two of them are retired an living at home as is the "half." (Mini, pasture ornament )

                                      The third is my riding horse. In the winter, he is boarded at a barn close to my office. I ride 5 times a week, more or less. Mondays and Fridays I generally don't ride. This appears to be sufficient to keep both of us in shape and making some progress.

                                      I'm married, no kids at home. Husband has his own time-intensive hobby--but we share an office at work so we see quite a lot of each other...

                                      I go straight to the barn after work. I ride, then drive 45 minutes home, feed and sort out the home horses. I'm done outside usually by about 7.45. Then I cook dinner, on the nights that we are both home--he's usually out doing his thing Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

                                      I try to do the grocery shopping on Fridays on my way home.

                                      If I have a social engagement on another evening, I might ride Monday instead, or I might just ride less that week, depending on the weather (if it's blowing a blizzard and treacherous any night, I go straight home. I'm not going to the Olympics, so if I miss an evening, it isn't the end of the world...) and whether I have something like a show or a clinic coming up.

                                      I mostly have to trailer out to my trainer. I try to do lessons on the weekend, but that doesn't always work out. If necessary, I can leave early occasionally (Yes, I run the business, which gives me some flexibility to meet the vet and the farrier, but it doesn't mean I can swan off whenever I want--that sets a lousy example to my staff,) race to the barn, hook my trailer up and head out down the freeway for a late lesson--this is exhausting in the winter, though.

                                      In the summer, I bring boarded horse home, and that makes life a lot more leisurely.


                                      • #20
                                        Last year when I was showing I managed to work full time and ride 5 days a week and show on the weekends. I have four horses at home, a husband and daughter.

                                        My boss let me change my schedule during that year so I could work 7 - 3:30pm thus giving me more time in the evenings to ride and get my barn chores done. I had to haul to my trainers to ride so I had the additional time to hook up the truck and trailer. I was able to ride an hour or so and my horse was in great shape. I was also able to get home and make dinner and finish taking care of my other animals.

                                        Personally there is no way I could ride in the morning before work. For me it works better to ride in the evenings. I am also very lucky to have a VERY understanding family and they don't get too upset when we are eating dinner at 8 pm because I was riding late
                                        RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                                        May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                                        RIP San Lena Peppy
                                        May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010