5 Time Management Tips for a Better Barn Life Balance

Updated July 13, 2023

Like many riders, balancing barn time with a full schedule isn’t always easy! Most of us have to manage riding, family, friends, work, and other responsibilities. Finding the time for it all can be challenging and often overwhelming. Having a plan and staying consistent can help reduce stress and allow you to enjoy more of your time at the barn without feeling pressured by the to-do list. These five time management tips will help you balance horse time with life outside the barn. 

1. Schedule Non-Negotiable Items First

Scheduling is important when trying to balance multiple responsibilities and priorities. Always schedule non-negotiable items such as work, classes, family trips, or doctors appointments before adding anything else. These could be anything that can’t be skipped or moved. 

Next, add events you want to take part in, such as your goal of making it to regional championships, to ensure the dates won't conflict with other things on your calendar. Lastly, add more flexible items to the schedule, such as riding and training days.

2. Have Some Flexibility

Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan. The weather might not cooperate, work may run late, or something unexpected may arise. Whatever the case, you will need to be flexible to get everything done. This may look like swapping a riding day with a training day or using the weekends to catch up. Also, be willing to skip a day if the stars don’t align. Sometimes family, your partner, work, or another task must take priority, which is when flexibility is key to keeping everyone happy.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Three girl barn friends chatting with each other in the barn aisle.

No one can do it all; even if you could, it’s not fun! When life gets too crazy, lean on friends, family, or a trainer to help you. Recruit a fellow rider to hop on your horse when you are on vacation or during busy weeks. Often, having a free evening to do other stuff or stay home and relax during busy periods can be a huge relief. Your horse will also benefit from a more consistent work schedule, making you both happier. Don't hesitate to ask for support if you need help with riding, childcare, or work.

4. Give Yourself Grace

a rider tacking up a horse on cross ties.

No one is perfect, and there must be some give and take to complete everything and achieve your goals. Sometimes you may need more downtime or may not be feeling well. If you miss a riding day or a day at the gym, try not to let it mentally overwhelm you. Simply resume your routine as soon as possible, and don’t let a temporary setback derail you.

5. Remember Why You Have a Horse

Riding and life are supposed to be fun, not stressful! If you are constantly frazzled or overwhelmed, it’s time to look at your schedule and cut back in a few places. For many owners, horses are a hobby, not a job, so if you aren’t enjoying yourself, you’re doing it wrong! Try to appreciate your time at the barn as downtime away from the stresses of everyday life.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.