The Work, Barn Balance
The last two weeks found me drowning in work to the point where I was too breathless to even ponder writing a blog. It also brought the inspiration to wonder about the work, barn balance. It is a real teeter totter ride trying to figure out how to fit it all in at times. The emails, meetings, driving, grooming, riding, tending to nicks and dings, vet appointments, farrier hours, saddle fittings, and never-ending laundry all seem to get thrown about during the week. I often find myself exhausted, covered in horse hair and a variety of horse products, chugging coffee, realizing that I forgot to each lunch as I pray that my Webex meeting won’t require a video.
I remember reading about top international riders who also held down a full time job, and a family, and wondered how they did it. I still am amazed how someone can ride and compete in CDIs at the upper echelons of the horse world, or be happily proceeding through training level, with a full time career. There is endless prepping and primping for the horse. All of the maintenance that keeps our four-legged athletes happy and healthy is really time consuming. You can’t forget yourself as a rider either! If you are going to make it through any dressage test or cross country course you need to be fit. Cross training, chiropractic work, massage, and a proper feeding schedule are not just for the horses. How does one accomplish all of that while attending Zoom meetings and multitasking through long lists each day?
It may not be an option for everyone, although it is certainly more common today. Working remote provides a lot of flexibility with our equine schedules. Many of the riders I know at the barn have remote positions that allow them to work from home and the barn via computers and phones. It is the norm to take calls while getting your horse ready, or while walking them out after training. The barn office has wifi so a lot of people will slip in to a clean professional shirt, comb their hair, and take video calls there. We all work together and switch training rides if there is something we can’t miss at work, and everyone is open and flexible so that we can all make it function with our schedules. This collaborative approach as a barn community is gold.
Find a Schedule
Horses love schedules, they thrive on them. Diego knows, and expects, that I show up in a particular time period each day. Creating regular space for your horse adventures during your day will reduce anxiety, and provide that much needed reprieve from your job.
I am a nerd when it comes to time. I know how long it takes to tack up, put on wraps, and that depending on the mud levels I include additional grooming time. If it is a hot day, maybe your ride is shorter so you have enough time to cool out. Knowing exactly how much time you need for every task at the barn will streamline it all. Otherwise the barn can be a time warp where 5 hours pass in a blink. A lot of us would be happy living in that timelessness, but it just isn’t always possible.
Of course there is always the wild card when dealing with horses. Ours is called Henley, the old man who always has something new to tend to. You never quite know what you will come across when you go to the barn. I find you either have to provide yourself with some extra “surprise” time, or figure out how to deal with it when it comes up. Again, having a close knit community can really be a saving grace. I don’t know what we would do without our friends at the barn who are willing to check in on our horses if we are indisposed.
Take a Break
One of the most important lessons I continue to learn throughout life is that it is okay to take a break. Take a few days off from riding, or get a day off from work. Every training session doesn’t have to be progress, it could just be stretching and staying in a nice forward rhythm. Maybe your ride for the day is an easy walk around the property. Going out and simply grooming, or slipping them a treat or two, is totally acceptable. In fact it will strengthen your bond to visit your hoofed partner without a constant agenda that needs to be accomplished.
There are a lot of ups and downs with horses. Developing the ability to breathe through it and tackling things one step at a time is a must. Then give yourself a break so you can take care of you too.
I don’t have all the answers for finding a work, barn balance. It is something I am constantly working on. Setting up a consistent schedule and working together as a barn community can make your barn time management more enjoyable and stable, (pun intended). This is never more true than when chasing Henley down the barn aisle with a laptop in hand, trying to get off of mute so I can pretend to answer a question I didn’t hear, as the vet is standing with Diego trying to explain something I actually want to listen to. So I grab another cup of coffee and keep on.
Keep riding with Equine Diaries!
Note: Everything on this site is based on personal experience and research. We do not profess it to be an absolute truth, as everything can change based on someone’s experience, situation, horse, and background knowledge. If you see something that you feel needs another perspective, or if you would like to add any factual knowledge, please reach out to us with your thoughts and resources. We are open-minded and welcome constructive input.
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