When Your Hobby Becomes Work: How to Balance Life and Horses
I hate to admit this, but lately I’ve been having a hard time getting to the barn. My passion for horses and riding is still burning as brightly as it was in the 5-year old “crazy horse girl” Olivia I was once, but it’s a little different from when I was a youngster. Between a full time job, going to school full time, paying the bills, and also trying to have some time for all the “life” things in between, getting out to the barn has become difficult. Have you ever felt like you just can’t fit it all in? Maybe there is too much on your plate and getting out to the barn can be the last thing on the list. Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there right now! It’s hard to balance everything, but there are a few simple things that you can do to help you to reset and re-focus on the things that are most important to you. These things have helped me to stay on top of my toes, and still have time to make it out to the barn!
1. Reevaluate Your Schedule
Sometimes when the hustle and bustle of life gets in the way, you may feel like getting out to the barn is the last thing on the list. This can be especially hard when you’re boarding your horse because it can be easy to miss a day or two when your horse is in great care. For me, I’ve had luck writing down my schedule. Whether you are listing it out day by day, or down to the hour, listing everything that happens every week can be helpful. When you see it written out, you can see some opening times that you didn’t notice. But it also could be beneficial because maybe your schedule needs a bit re-vamped – something as simple as waking up an hour earlier to hit the gym, gives you an extra hour later in the day to make it out to the barn. Don’t knock it before you try it either. I used to swear I was never able to get up earlier, but now I feel such as sense of accomplishment for my day, all before 7 am!
2. Get Organized
Okay, so you’ve written out your schedule. You see some time throughout your week that can definitely be beautiful barn time. Write out the days that you can make it out to the barn, and make it reasonable. Setting a goal to make it out to the barn 7 days a week when you know you are only able to make it 4 is only going to set you up for failure. Pencil in that barn time into your schedule for the times that you absolutely know you can go. Even if it is 3 days a week, if you are able to make it out extra days those are bonus days! Also, decide what you are doing – are you riding and conditioning your horse? Are you going for at trail ride? Is it a groom, treat and spoil your horse kind of day? Whatever day it may be, decide how much time you need, and what you will be doing. For me, the days that I ride, I like blocking that whole evening off just for barn time. That way, when I get there, I am not pressed for time and feel pressured to get what I want done in a small time frame. When I want to go to the barn to do a quick lunge and groom, I know that I can set 2 hours a side, and be sure to stick to that time frame!
3. Make A Plan and Set Goals
So know you have a plan for your week – woohoo! Now you need to stick to it. Keeping yourself disciplined to sticking to your schedule is key to maximize your time. While you need to stick with it, make it flexible where if you need to change it you can. Set goals to try out your new schedule for a week and do exactly what you need to do. See how you like it! Any adjustments can always be made. If you miraculously come across some free time, use that to your advantage! Use your time wisely and go see your horse – it will be good for her, and it will be great for you, too!
4. Be Grateful
I think that this is an easy one for me to be forgetful of (for a lot of aspects of my life), but it is so important. I can look back and remember how amazed I was at 10-years old, that I had this big, beautiful horse in my backyard. I worked so hard to get her, and I loved her so much, and I was so grateful that she came into my life. It can be easy to forget sometimes, especially when your hobby starts to feel like work, especially when it is being fit into a schedule. Remind yourself daily of the big (or small) beautiful horse in your life – that loves you and looks forward to seeing you. I often think of how lucky I am to have a big beautiful horse now, that nickers every time she hears my voice, and I know that the bond we have is so special. I am so thankful for that!
5. Ask For Help
Just like with anything in life, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Right now, where my schedule is at, I’m not able to ride as often as I would like. Luckily, I have an awesome barn manager who is willing to ride or lunge my horse for me when she can so my horse’s schedule stays consistent. If you aren’t able to ride or get out to the barn as much as you’d like right now, think of ways that could help you. Could your horse be used as a lesson horse at the barn? Who knows, maybe that could take off some of your board! Would someone be interested in a half-lease? Is there a little crazy horse girl that would love to come and even groom your horse for you on your off-days? There are always options, and you shouldn’t be afraid to look into them.
6. Hold Yourself Accountable!
Last but not least, this is one of the hardest things for me. Holding yourself accountable to all of the things mentioned above – organizing a schedule, setting a plan (and sticking to it) – can be one of the most difficult things to do. However, it’s crucial to keep yourself accountable, so you can see where you are at and where you are going. So how can you do that? For starters, reflecting back on your weekly goals is helpful, so you can see where you are at and need to improve. There’s also no harm in rewarding yourself, either! Maybe there is a certain color of Piper Breeches you’ve been eyeing up. If you achieved your schedule and goals, treat yo’self! You could use those breeches on your next ride!