Tips for Juggling a Busy Schedule and Horses

navy lids
Like many riders, I have to balance barn time with an otherwise full schedule, and it isn’t always easy! Most of us have to manage riding, family, work, and other responsibilities, and it can be challenging to find the time for it all. Currently I am juggling my full-time role here at SmartPak (as a Marketing Manager), pursuing my MBA part-time in the evenings, riding my mare Luna, and training for my first full marathon this fall. So, I’ve put together my top 5 tips for balancing horse time with other responsibilities in this blog. I hope you find them helpful, and please share your favorite tricks for managing a busy schedule in the comments below!

  1. Plan ahead
    This is important when trying to balance multiple responsibilities and priorities. First, I schedule non-negotiable items such as work, class, and exams. These could be anything, but they are your items that can’t be skipped or moved. Next, I add in any big events I want to do, such as a horse show or a road race, to make sure the dates don’t conflict. Lastly I add flexible items to my schedule, such as riding and running days, which brings me to my next tip…
  2. Be flexible
    Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. The weather may not cooperate, maybe work ends up running late, or something unexpected comes up. Whatever the case, in order to get everything done, you will need to be flexible. I often swap riding or running days, use the weekends to catch up, or am willing to skip a day if the stars don’t align. Sometimes family, work, or another task has to take priority, and this is when flexibility is key to keeping everyone happy.
  3. Recruit help
    No one can do it all, and even if you could, it’s not very fun! When life gets too crazy, it’s always easier to lean on friends, family, or a trainer to help you out. I’ve recruited fellow SmartPaker Erica to help me by riding my mare Luna on Fridays, as well as when I’m on vacation, or just need some extra help during busy weeks. It’s a huge relief to have a free evening to get other stuff done, as well as during exams or other busy periods. Luna has benefitted as well from a more consistent work schedule, and so we’re both happier. Whether you need help with riding, childcare or work, don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
  4. luna ribbons

  5. Cut yourself some slack
    No one is perfect, and there will have to be some give and take in order to get everything done. Sometimes you may need a little more down time, or may not be feeling well. If you miss a riding day, or a day at the gym, try not to stress! Simply resume your routine as soon as you can, and don’t let a temporary setback derail you.
  6. Have fun!
    Riding (and life) are supposed to be fun, not stressful! If you find yourself constantly frazzled or overwhelmed, it’s time to take a look at your schedule and cut back in a few places. Remember, horses are a hobby, not a job, so if you aren’t enjoying yourself, you’re doing it wrong! Try to enjoy your time at the barn as down-time, away from the stresses of everyday life.
    Good luck and have a great ride!

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12 comments on “Tips for Juggling a Busy Schedule and Horses
  1. Beth says:

    This post couldn’t come at a better time! I just returned from a week volunteering in Maine (with no cell service) and spent Labor Day weekend feeling overwhelmed with all of the ‘balls’ I have in the air right now. Between my full-time job, riding, finding time to work out and 2 freelance jobs, I am stretched thin and sometimes it takes a toll! You gave great advice and congrats in advance on your first marathon – I’ve finished two and know the dedication and time commitment that training entails. Bravo for handling it all!

  2. Becca says:

    Great article! I find that if I don’t have time to see my horse and workout, I will combine the 2 activities and jog with my horse. He gets attention, a little exercise, and I don’t have to stress about not getting in a workout. It’s something different for him too than thinking I have to ride him every time.

  3. Charla Salathe says:

    Thank you for sharing, this could not have came to me at a better time since I am changing my career for a better lifestyle of being able to keep my two beautiful horses but it is a regular schedule which I have not had in years. I also run which definitely helps my attitude. I was starting to worry how I was going to fit all in but this really helped.

    Keep up the great positive attitude!!
    Charla

  4. Margo says:

    On days I don’t have as much time or I tend to be more tired – I make those my lunge days. It gives the horses a bit of a mental break and me a physical one. So I have a schedule – Tuesdays are my lunge days. Wednesay I get help and have my instructor ride my horse Thursdays and Fridays are my ride days Sundays are my horses turn out and hand grazing days. Mondays and Saturdays I take off – unless I’m feeling up for more work. I recruit help when I need it and don’t stress when the schedule doesn’t work out. Life happens… People get sick- work can be overtime… It happens. I’m not an Olympic rider -not close, so I don’t train like one, but I do try and set goals and test myself. I love to ride and sometimes…. That’s my only goal.

  5. Brylan hatfield says:

    I really love this website it really helped me and Denver get stronger.

    Thanks smart pak

  6. Jan says:

    Come on. Ridiculous! how can anyone do all that? I have started running recently and am working up to a half marathon. I have a hard time fitting in that training, riding my 2 buddies and taking care of house, cats and dogs. And I don’t work!

  7. Kimberly says:

    Wow. well i have a full time position and freelance another . 2 horses , 4 cats. the cats are pretty self sufficient . So I’m not nearly as strapped as some . However i am finding that sticking to a schedule is key. If i don’t the things i really don’t want to do (but NEED done) won’t get done . For all u who enjoy a horse i saw a shirt with a horse n rider that said: if it wasn’t for my strong will power i’d be cleaning a stall right now!

  8. Kimberly says:

    Hello I’m back. Forgot to add– if u have to drive to to various places keep ann xtra set of riding clothes and freshening up items n a bag in ur car. This also helps just n case plans change!

  9. Erin says:

    Thank you for sharing your advice! Like others, this post came at an opportune time for me. I’m struggling balancing student teaching, a night class, and work with riding. I think what I’m missing is having a schedule to fit it all in.

  10. Amy says:

    Any tips for balancing all of the above when you also have to do all your own barn chores? I find that on any given day I may have time for chores or riding, but not both. Lately that means my mare isn’t getting out much. I work full time and try to exercise mid-day if I can fit it in. With less light in the winter I am worried I may not have time to ride at all!

  11. Linn says:

    What a timely article!! Yes it’s a bit tough Amy; I live alone with one horse and 3 low maintenance barn cats. On days I don’t ride I pony my horse two miles down the gravel road in my pickup(on the wrong side of the road while he trots one mile, lopes 2 mi, then trots last mile) with him in the ditch. While he’s cooling down tied in the indoor arena (soon with a cooler)I ride my bike 6 miles( hills and wind). So far that’s the only way I can do both at my long lunch time.

    another tip; pour up the next meal the night before. I use slow feed hay nets, so fill two extra while one is outside. Smart pacs are poured up the feeding before also.

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Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

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