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Riding in the early morning before work

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  • Riding in the early morning before work

    Just curious for all of those who do this -- how does it work for you?

    Last summer I tried to ride after work, and most days it just didn't happen. Too tired, too dark, too buggy, bad weather...the excuses go on and on. But this year I am DETERMINED to ride!

    So I'm considering riding early before work. However, I would have to be in the car on my way to work by 7:15 at the latest. Unfortunately, a flexible work schedule is not an option.

    So if you ride early, do you like it? Do you feel rushed? How early do you get up? What kind of grooming routine do you do? What kind/how long of a ride do you do? How many horses do you ride? Does your horse mind riding before feeding, or do you feed first? I will also be responsible for feeding, so I need a little time for that.


  • #2
    I did this before I got pregnant (not riding now). I got up at 4:45, in the car by 5, on the horse by 6, off the horse by 6:45, and back in the car by 7.

    It is fine if you are a morning person. I would go two days a week, then both days on the weekend. The only problem I had is that in the winter I often had to skip it because either the ground was frozen or it wasn't daylight yet (no lights in the arena). I am now very comfortable riding in the dark if the stars are out. Horses see better than humans in the dark, and they never had a problem with it even when I did. (On that note, bucking is VERY disorienting for riders when it is pitch black out.)

    My horse never minded the early hours. I left a note for the BO on days that I rode so that she would delay giving his grain for a few minutes. I did a very quick groom before, a slightly longer one when I got off and he is cooling out. I find that is easier and I can adjust as necessary given the clock. No one cares if he has shavings in his tail at that hour.

    I can never plan to be out of work at any particular time, so riding in the morning is the only way I can stick to a schedule.


    • #3
      Part of it depends on what is available. I ride in the AM before work during the spring, summer and fall. In the late fall/winter when the days are shorter, I try to adjust my work shedule to allow an afternoon ride. The arena does not have lights, so that does dictate some of the schedule.

      I have found the AM rides to be better for me, afterwork I am sometimes just way to drained. I do allow 30 minutes for eating breakfast, but as there is food in front of hiim 24/7 it isn't quite as big of deal (well to me, he might claim otherwise).

      The hardest days are when I have a meeting at 8 AM. I have learned to not ride on those days as I just am too worried about being tardy to the meeting. I ride both days on the weekends and try to schedule meetings to allow some flexibility.
      Last edited by lesyl; May. 15, 2009, 07:49 PM. Reason: Information re: areana lighting


      • #4
        I ride before work on Tuesday mornings, with a friend who gets up early enough to bring jug-size lattes and morning buns from the coffee shop for us. It is a highlight of my week. When I arrive at work, I feel like I have gotten away with something. Riding in the morning keeps you focused, because of the time pressure - I actually do more riding in less time. When I ride at night, I tend to stand around and shoot the breeze with people for an hour and half, then dink around the arena for ten minutes, then put the horse away.

        Grooming is largely nil, I knock any mud chunks off the saddle area then throw the saddle on - again because of the time pressure. We usually ride on the trail for an hour or so. It is so beautiful in the morning and we see lots of wildlife. We sometimes get back from our ride after the horses have been fed but they don't seem bothered by being ridden before breakfast.

        I love it, I would do it every day if I didn't feel compelled to carpool to work with the huz a few days a week.


        • #5
          I loved it. Cool, no bugs, and what a way to wake up in the morning. Yes, I was tacking up with my eyes half closed, but gosh, my whole day was kapow!! It was hard to get up and do it, but soooo worth it. I know people who have to be at work at 7:00 am, and some at 6:00 at the hospital, so they are at the gym at 4:00 am. Means they wake up at what, 3:30? Work out for 1.5 hours, that's 5:30, shower and are out of the gym by 6:00 or 6:30. If they can do it for the gym, its immenently reasonable to ride early.

          Here's my question. Is it bad for the horse to do that work before being fed? Because if I had to feed him first, I'd have to wait a bit to ride, and that's be no good. I did it when I had him at home, and rode before feeding, and felt guilty. I didn't eat first, so I justified it. He seemed fine and happy to be out, and had a great breakfast when we came in. What do you all think?
          Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


          • #6
            When I am off from school during the summer I work at the summer camp from 7:30 - 5:00 each day, I am too drained by the end to try and ride so morning are my only option.

            I am very lucky that the barn is about 5 minutes from my house and my work is the barn next door. So I am up and out the door by 6 and groomed/tacked and on my horse by 6:30 for a 45 minute ride. Then I have 15 minutes to cool down and untack, just in time for the morning feeders and for me to walk to the next barn for work.
            “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

            !! is the new .


            • #7
              Originally posted by AnotherRound View Post
              Here's my question. Is it bad for the horse to do that work before being fed? Because if I had to feed him first, I'd have to wait a bit to ride, and that's be no good. I did it when I had him at home, and rode before feeding, and felt guilty. I didn't eat first, so I justified it. He seemed fine and happy to be out, and had a great breakfast when we came in. What do you all think?
              Ever since I learned that a horse's stomach is still that of a wild horse who grazes constantly, mostly walks, and runs for only short bursts, never does the sustained trot and canter or a training session, and therefore still owns a stomach that is acid resistant on the bottom half and not so much on the top half, I have not ridden a horse on a totally empty stomach. They need to have hay in their stomach to mitigate the acid and keep it off the top area. That being said, my vet totally agrees that a small amount of grass hay, like 1/6 flake eaten right before riding is just fine and will serve the acid mitigarting pupose. So when I need to ride a horse who has not eaten anything for 5-6 hours, I give one big handful of hay to eat while grooming and tacking. If I was doing a walking trail ride, I would not worry, but a lot of collected trot tightens up the stomach area a bunch.

              I do not know if this is accurate, but it makes me feel better.
              Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


              • #8
                I like it. It's cooler in the summer, and I don't feel like I have to rush home from work to get a ride in.


                • #9
                  It's great to start your day on horseback! Someone earlier said that it feels like you've gotten away with something - I agree! Aren't we lucky we get to ride ??

                  I do the minimal grooming on work days, but make up for it some nights when I'm too tired to ride but have enough energy to groom. I also make up for it on weekends. That will give you your socializing time as well, which you're missing in the early a.m.

                  Have a plan before you get to the barn, know what you're going to work on, and be efficient. Build in a little time for surprises (5 or 10 minutes if you can) because one never knows what you'll find when you get there - loose horse in the aisle from a night spent wandering, cat in your locker and the ensuing clean-up (ask me how I know), extra muddy horsie with burrs glomming up his forelock, etc...

                  Have a quick clean-up kit for yourself that you keep at the barn so you can change and go to work smelling and looking great (and I know you all know what I mean!).

                  Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.


                  • #10
                    I have done this and kept to a very a very strict schedule so I would do everything I wanted to do with a time I HAD to be off the horse and bolting to the shower. It is great, but you need to be aware there is little "extra" time to deal with issues, and you hate to get off in the middle of working through something because if the time factor. So, it is not a good time to introduce new things or work on problems. Better to focus on things you both do well, the basics, etc...
                    "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"


                    • #11
                      Being as how I worked at the track so long, I still ride early anyway. I will usually get up have a few swigs of tea then go feed the horses. Back in for a bit on the computer as I am now. They're good to go in an hour.

                      During the summer I try and ride out racehorses to stay fit depending on what's going on here. They are usually very suprised to know my horses have been mucked out, ridden, bathed, and put out before I get to work. I had to be at work at 7:30am and the sun is up at about 4:30am here in the summer - loads of time!

                      Now for you guys that have full time jobs and ride early - well done to you! I would think it would be great not to worry about arena space and loads of people. Just you and your horse! And while I don't do it anymore, riding in the dark on a crisp fall morning under the stars is just heaven as one poster mentioned.

                      COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                      "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                      • #12
                        I used to ride early before work last summer. It was the only time I could ride most days. I would get to the barn at about 5am (woke up at 4) and ride until 7, the get to work at 8am. Fortunately (or unfortunately,a s the case may be-the job was crappy...literally) my work required no personal hygiene. I worked scooping poop/cleaning kennels at an animal rescue. I absolutely love riding very early, because here it is the coolest time of a hot summer's day, and also it felt like teh day would get started "right."


                        • #13
                          Wow, an early morning trail ride with a latte sounds heavenly... sadly, my barn is close to an hour away and I'm a teacher, so I would have to be done with my ride by 5:30 in order to get to school on time.... followed by a day of, "Miss, you ride your horse to school? You smell weird."
                          "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                          Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                          • #14
                            I used to when I had a job that required me to work a late shift once a month so my start time was 2 hours later than usual. Plus the barn I was boarding at was about 20min from work - actually closer than home.

                            I'd dress for riding, pack work clothes in the car, drive the 40min to the barn, tack up & take a leisurely trail ride for around an hour.
                            Come back to clean up & dress for work. The barn even had a shower I could use which was a Very Good Thing in Summer.

                            I loved those quiet mornings in the woods, just me, horse and whatever wildlife rose early too. There is nothing like a gallop in the early morning peace.
                            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                            • #15
                              I did it for a decade when I was working. I'd get up when my alarm went off, winter, spring, summer and fall. I usually treated myself to stopping somewhere that had nice coffee and muffins either on the way to the barn or on the way to work. I was quite lucky for many years, in that I lived in a cottage on the farm where my horse worked. When I married my husband, I was working at a company that had a great gym, so I would pack my clothing and go from the barn to the office and shower at the gym (just ALWAYS remember to PACK underwear ).

                              Good luck with it.
                              Chronicles of the $700 Pony
                              The Further Adventures of the $700 Pony
                              www.blithetraveler.com <-- My Blog


                              • #16
                                up an mounted at day break

                                not a problem for the horse [ask any fox hunter]
                                the scheduling of the time is up to you
                                Last edited by armandh; May. 16, 2009, 06:41 PM.
                                more hay, less grain


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by AnotherRound View Post

                                  Here's my question. Is it bad for the horse to do that work before being fed? Because if I had to feed him first, I'd have to wait a bit to ride, and that's be no good. I did it when I had him at home, and rode before feeding, and felt guilty. I didn't eat first, so I justified it. He seemed fine and happy to be out, and had a great breakfast when we came in. What do you all think?
                                  I've always heard that if you feed more than about 4 pounds of grain concentrate at a sitting, then yes. Endurance horses eat along the trail, then eat before rides, during vet checks, immediately following rides, etc. My horse can trot/canter 13 miles, then eat a bucket of soaked beet pulp and pellets with some grain mixed in, then eat her hay, then go on down the trail for another fast 12 miles. Endurance horses have been doing this forever, but I haven't seen them loading up on straight sweet feed by the pound. 100 mile horses can be on trail for 24 hours straight. They HAVE to eat all through the ride.

                                  Riding before work is tough for me since I have a 50 min -1 hour commute to work, and my start time is 7:30. But it is doable. Get up at 4:30, on the horse by 5:00 (horses are at home). Ride till 6, in the house and get ready to go - leave at 6:30.


                                  • #18
                                    i do it.

                                    this time of year it's awesome b/c it's light out when i get there before 6 a.m.
                                    in the winter it's less awesome but i still prefer that to riding in the evening after work which for me would mean 8 p.m.
                                    TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                                    • #19
                                      I do it in the summer, as soon as sunrise is early enough. Up at 5, on horse by 5:45, off at 6:30, groom, feed, etc, in shower by 7 and on the road by 7:30. My commute is 90 minutes and I have a 9:30 staff meeting every day, so being late is not an option.

                                      I have to do this, as I never leave the office before 6:30 or 7, and never seem to make it home before dark!
                                      Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                                      • #20
                                        When my horse was boarded 10 minutes from my house and on my way to work, I would do this occasionally. I really did enjoy it, the mornings were so much cooler and it really got me awake and ready for the day. Unfortunately, my mare had strong opinions about being ridden before breakfast, and it never occurred to me to give her a little bit of hay while we got ready. She lives too far away to ride before work now, but I would do it again in a minute if I had the opportunity, and just give her a little pre-work snack so she wouldn't be such a cranky-pants.