Confession: I often find it hard to maintain a work/family/horse balance.
Raise your hand if you can relate. Are you with me?
I moved to a new barn and am getting to know everyone. Very quickly the conversation turned to how often (or not) we ride. Three out of four of us were lamenting how we don’t spend enough time riding because of work and other responsibilities and want to make this a priority this year. The past few six months my travel increased, my clients increased, and my kid’s needs increased. As a result my time at the barn significantly decreased.
I honestly don’t know how other adult equestrians can pull off riding 4-5 days per week. I can’t even make dinner for my family that often. Did I even shower today?
I have to laugh because as I watch my children grow they are so determined to be independent and mature. On the other hand, I’m wishing things were as simple as when I was a child without responsibilities. The grass is always greener.
Adulting is hard. Really hard. Marriage, friendships, children, work- they are all difficult. The best thing is having more independence to make your own decisions but all those former things have to be balanced and considered. There are many strings attached.
Such is life. I have no complaints and worked really hard to travel and work like I do. My children and husband are hugely important to me. But so is my quality time with Ferrous. Often, I put my own needs and his on the back burner. Would he be happy as a paddock pet? Very likely. However, I think he is happier with a balance.
Block Time on Your Calendar
One way I plan on prioritizing my time at the barn is by blocking the time in my calendar. I have many regular clients but often will receive a call to change a date or bring a new client on. As a result, what I thought was a good day to ride might then be used for work instead. Blocking a set time a few days a week for barn means that I have to work around that time. It always makes it more difficult to make an excuse not to go since I’ve already planned my day around it.
Have a Master Plan
I’m more efficient when organized. Planning helps me to relieve some overthinking and anxiety that comes as a result. My goal as part of my blocking time is to set up a training schedule that includes groundwork, conditioning, suppleness exercises/bodywork, and play time which will include either some trails, clicker training, playing ball, or something else entirely! I intend for this to keep me organized. The trick is to actually do it. It may be hard to get there but once you do, you don’t ever want to leave!
Keep a Record
Best laid plans tend to get thrown out the window when you are working with animals. More than once I’ve shown up at the barn planning to do liberty work with Ferrous and the arena is occupied with another rider and not ideal to let him loose. So I switch tacks (pun intended) and either go for a trail ride or perhaps give him a bodywork session instead. I have to be a bit flexible but overall keeping to as much of a routine as possible. If I don’t write it down on paper or in my phone, I tend to lose track of our accomplishments and which direction we should move forward.
Roll with the Changes
Schedules change. Work calls last minute, kids get sick, and life happens. Best laid plans and all that. Today I had blocked the time to spend at my barn with my pony and the weather was glorious. Mom life thwacked me upside the head and said, “Guess what? We are going to have a sick child today and there is nothing you can do about it.” Did I ride? No. I didn’t make it to the grocery store either. Ahh, the helplessness of adulthood. We are certainly not in charge of our own lives when parenting. There is hope though because it can go in a positive way as well. One day I woke to find a full day of barn clients needed to switch days to better fit their horse show schedule and suddenly I had an unexpected day to play that I never expected. Of course I took advantage of it at the barn!
Prioritize Important Items
Riding is incredibly important. Horses are my one “hobby” although I hate that word because it is so much more than a hobby to me. It’s a passion. I will always choose riding over anything else except perhaps a really good happy hour.
I mean, a girl has to let loose! My first priority is my family. I’m a stay-at-home mom who is there every day for the bus and ready to drive my three daughters to activities, oversee homework, and arrange play dates. I’m also a wife with a husband that works long hours and travels often. Then, I’m a business owner working daily to bring in new clients, manage with current ones, and write and market my books. I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands. Please believe I’m not complaining. I love my life and no day is the same as the next. I am incredibly blessed! Of course that doesn’t mean it doesn’t become overwhelming to manage.
Giving yourself time to enjoy your passions has to be a priority. Get rid of the noise, those things that don’t benefit you and you don’t have to do. When you are at the barn, be completely all in. Clear the decks of everything that you can live without and make time for those you can’t. Before we know it we are older, our horses are older, or we cannot do those things we’ve been putting off because of work, illness, or injury. Life your life for today and enjoy the time you have. We may not be able to ride every day, but even a little bit makes a difference in the long run.