Rider Insider: Time for Horses


Girl and Horse
In a perfect world, you’d be able to spend all day riding, grooming and doting on your horse. However, real life doesn’t usually allow for that luxury. Most horse owners have to spend their days working for a paycheck in order to keep their horses fed and cared for. Finding the right boarding situation sometimes means there’s a long commute between your home or workplace and your horse. For those who keep their horses at home, a long day at work is often followed by an evening of barn chores with little time left over for actually riding or enjoying the horses.

Horse owners have to be resourceful with their time, whether it’s getting up early to ride before work, foregoing social activities to make room for barn time, or sharing chores to make the work go faster.

What strategies have you developed to make time for your horse, and how do you make the most of the time you have with him? Click “Submit a Comment” below and share your tips with other HorseChannel.com visitors. Some of the responses may be selected for a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

One selected response may be selected by the editors to win a monthly prize! If you would like to be eligible for the prize, please include your email address in the comment form (email addresses are not publicly displayed.)

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  1. I cannot ride due to back issues, so my time with Thalia is more just hanging out in her pasture. I have two round hay feeders, and I like to curl up in one while she is eating from it. It is a lot safer for my baby brother to sit with me there than to be down on the ground with her where he might frighten her and get kicked. I like to sit with her in the evenings after school.

  2. I make time for enjoying my horse in many special ways. It is my chore in the evenings to feed our animals. So I take this chance to be with my mare. Often I just admire her, and other times I bring her treats or else just trim her mane and tail. There are so many ways to make time for your best friend!

  3. I spend as much time as possible with my mare. Some times between homework, other sports, and friends my time with her is limited but i always see her everyday whether we ride, lunge or groom. Make time for your equine friend. they will always be there and don’t hold grudges.

  4. I get to see my horse every day by just grooming or riding, but if I have lots of homework I sit in her stall with her and do my homework. Of course she does like to try to eat my homework occasionly or dumps hay all over me.

  5. The way I spend time with him is first, I am home schooled, so I have more free time.Also, I try to get good grades and get up early so I may have more time in the barn.

  6. Middle school and homework usually prevent me from going to see my horse on weekdays, but on the weekends I will spend all day at the barn playing and grooming and riding him.

  7. I don’t always get to spend time with my horse. I make time for him by doing my homework at school or on the way home. That way i’ll have the rest of the day with my horse. No matter what we do we should always find time to spend it with our horse even if it means doing you homework outside or eating dinner with your horse!

  8. I work on the night shift, which means I sleep all morning and wake up in the afternoon. So in order to get time in with Smarty I go straight to bed after work and head to the barn first thing in the “morning.”

  9. I work at the stables where my Possum is, so if there’s a couple minutes where there’s nothing going on, i take him out and groom him, clean his stall and buckets, or graze him. if there’s only a very little time, then i run over and give him a treat and a hug. if you make use of every momment, then you end up with more time to spend with your horse 🙂

  10. I’m homeschooled, and my 7 yo mare and my 2 yo filly are stabled at home, so I have a lot of time to spend with them. With my filly, Flicka, I usually try to at least groom her if nothing else. And I can get both horses exercised at once by ponying Flicka off of Sweet Pea. That saves time.

  11. I’ve blocked off time on Tuesday and Thursdays that are my horse time. Unless an emergency comes up, nothing will keep me from going to the barn on those days. If I am running low on time, I try to think of ways I can eliminate processes in my routine at the barn; like instead of thoroughly grooming my horse before riding, I can maybe give her a quick bath afterward. Or like bringing my tack home to clean instead of cleaning and oiling at the barn. I’m always surprised at how many tasks I can reorder or get rid of, giving me more time with me horse. 🙂

  12. I ALWAYS leave the weekends open for my horse time. I play high school sports so by the time I’m done practicing I don’t have enough time to ride and do homework. Whenever I don’t have practice I go to the barn and ride. I try to sneak in every chance I get. The weekends are where I spend the whole day at the barn and love on the horses.

  13. After a hard day of school on mondays, i go to the barn, and before i ride i like to just spend 10 to 15 minutes just to love on them i spend some time with them, that always makes me happy.

  14. I make sure my homework is done on Saturday, so when Sunday rolls around, I get all my chores done and finally have the evening to enjoy with the horses. It’s a great way to start my week!

  15. I play soccer after school on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so on Mondays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Sundays I am able to go to the barn. It is so nice to be able to ride on Monday! School is especially tough then, so getting to ride is a nice break.

  16. I usually make time for riding my horse Caleb or Zippy by mainly staying caught up in all my schoolwork, which seeing as I am in 8th grade, means that I normally have lots of homework.On the days that I dont have a lot of work I will go directly to the stables to ride my horse so I can get a lot of time in with him.

  17. I wish I was fortunate to have my own horse, but I don’t have one as of today. Maybe tomorrow!
    I go to a friends barn who owns four horses and we split the workload/chores in the barn. When everything is done, we get to spend time with the horses and do a little riding. It’s a great way to get the chores done and get to the horses faster!

  18. I wish I was fortunate to have my own horse, but I don’t have one as of today. Maybe tomorrow!
    I go to a friends barn who owns four horses and we split the workload/chores in the barn. When everything is done, we get to spend time with the horses and do a little riding. It’s a great way to get the chores done and get to the horses faster!

  19. Making time for my mare Luna isn’t a problem. However, making time for work and household chores is what I struggle with! Being with my Appaloosa is my priority; everything else is what I try to fit in here and there. I waited too long in my life to acquire her; I’m not going to miss out now!

  20. For me, my horse is always my top priority! When everyone is going to some big party or dance, I stay with my horse… I always try to do my homework quickly, so I can have the rest of the day to spend with Ben, my horse!

  21. My horse is the first thing I pray about when I go to bed and the first thing on my mind when I wake up. He lights my morning skies and cheers me up. I’m completely devoted to the old guy.

  22. My horse is a mini horse and she is very smart and very cute just a few weeks ago I started riding her with my trainers help because she has never been rode before. My little pony Misty was very good when I rode her and I hope to do it again soon!

  23. I use feeding time as a time to get some quality time with them. Whenever I bring them in to eat, i groom them and look them over for any scrapes or anything. I also like to sit out in the barn while they are eating and listen to them munching on the hay.

  24. I’m in high school so life is pretty crazy! I use my off-hours for homework to make sure I can go see my babies guilt free. I love taking a little extra time to groom them after I work with them.

  25. Even though I’m homeshcooled, I don’t have as much time as you’d think. Most of my time is spent on schoolwork and then by that time, I’m so dog tired I want to take a nap. Well I’ve learned with horses that sometimes they’re the best remedy for sleepiness. If I can give up my nap time, they can help me forget that I ever wanted a nap in the first place. Owning horses isn’t about HAVING time, it’s about MAKING time to enjoy them.

  26. Time for horses as a working adult is a juggling act in the best of circumstances; an unattainable dream in the worst. I’ve been lucky to have an understanding husband and a great workplace with flex scheduling. I wake up early to feed and groom the horses, then get to work early, which allows me to leave early and ride most days before the sun goes down. My husband and I share house chores on the weekends, which frees up my schedule to ride. I also find that our slow cooker is immensely helpful in reducing time spent in the kitchen!

  27. As a high school student I find that I can focus and use my time more effectively if I think of work in terms of the rewards that come from it. The extra 30 minutes I spent finishing an essay instead of going on the computer means more time grooming and the morning I spent at work is the farrier bill. It gives purpose to things that aren’t so fun and helps make sure they get done so I can spend the rest of the time enjoying my real passion, being with my horse.

  28. I find time for my horse by making sure I always have a certain time to at least go down and give her a scratch in her favorite spot. And I of course have to feed her hay/grain along with her pasture turnout during the week.It doesn’t hurt that she comes running to a couple whistles and shouts of her name!

  29. Always right before and after lessons. Not only is it a reward for doing a great job after a herd work out it’s also a great time to bond and relax. And jest when ever I have the extra time and I’m bored I’ll go hang out with him while he’s grazing in the pasture.

  30. Since I have work and school I don’t always have time to ride or see my horses. I live about 5 minutes from my parents house, where my horses are, so when I can ride, I just throw the bridle on and take off, instead of tacking up, to save time. Bare back is the best anyhow right!

  31. Actually, I don’t have a horse. However, I am trying to save up for one, and let me tell you, it’s HARD. But there’s always a way to earn a little extra cash here and there.
    I have to get all my schoolwork and chores finished or I can’t have my weekly riding lesson. When I do get the money and buy my horse, I’ll be able to ride every day, not just weekly. Not only that, but I’ll spend valuable time caring for my horse – one of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you can care for your forever friend. So the trouble of saving up will be worth it in the end.

  32. I actually don’t have a horse either, but my parents have been letting me take riding lessons since 2007. Last year I became a helper out at the barn where I ride, which allowed me more time to work with horses and people. This past summer my mother lost her job, so I was unable to take regular lessons, but the owner of the barn still lets me come out and work as a helper with the beginners. Even with out my regular lessons I learn so much from working with the instructors and teaching beginners how to groom and tack up horses; and best of all my pay is in a “free” riding lesson. Spending an afternoon or two working like this is one of my high lights in the week:).

  33. I do not have a horse, but I am looking to buy one. I have gone to riding lessons for the past year and a half about and I love it. I try to spend as much time as I can with the horses I ride. I think that if we quit things that we don’t need to do, we can spend a lot more time with horses. Try start by cutting any computer time by 10 minutes daily for an example. Have fun with your horse if you have one, and if you don’t, keep dreaming!

  34. If you can ignore your horse to make time for Internet or television, why not give up internet or television for your horse?? You can do without those things but can you do without you horse?

  35. I plan out my week in advance. I make sure that I have time to ride my horse, and then plan everything else around it. It helps me balance out my education, social life, and anything else that comes up without being overwhelmed. A schedule keeps everything from getting out of hand!

  36. I have two horses. One was free and the other cost me $1. They are both pets first and riding horses second. They are also works in progress. Here’s how I’ve made things work for us. First of all, I found a barn that is 5 minutes (count ’em FIVE) from my home. It is a family farm and I am the only boarder so I work off almost half of my board. My career has me at a job half an hour from home & horses so after work I go to the barn and feed my horses and do the chores (weekdays I just do my horses stalls etc, weekends I do all the horses). On week nights in the winter it is too dark to ride. (Though, if I’m really craving saddle time, I invested in a nice a helmet lamp as well as a flashing red light for the back. It sounds crazy but I used to be a rider at the track and we would ride in the early morning and in the winter that means in the dark.) However, what I usually do for time with them M-F is plenty of ground work. I spent early spring teaching my TB should over and hip over from the ground through positive reinforcement. Late spring when I was in the saddle, he was doing a half pass within two sessions. I’m more about their health and our bond. I’ve found that ground work is the best thing for that. They spend at least half of their days outside (in nice weather they are more or less field boarded) so that and the ground exercises keep them fit enough for short trails around the farm on Saturday and Sunday. I’m in love with my horses and riding isn’t my priority. I’ve done a lot of riding over the years. Now I just want to be with horses and do everything I can to make them happy.

  37. My horse Rusty gets ridden almost everyday! He was givin to me along with a saddle. He was very under weight and hadn’t been ridden in 6 years. He is now my best barrel horse. Even if I don’t ride him I brush him or roundpen him. I like to teach him tricks and we both LOVE a good trail ride.

  38. We just bought our girls their first horse about six weeks ago and I completely stressed about finding the time to spend with him. Work, school, activities and the evening routine seemed to leave NO time. As it turns out, late dinners are no big deal, homework is easier to deal with knowing they want to go back tomorrow, and the time we all spend at the barn just makes all the other hectic moments that much more tolerable. They don’t ride everyday, but they’re both learning so many lessons they couldn’t learn anywhere else…my opinion is that when they grow up they won’t remember if the kitchen floor was clean, but they’ll remember that when they asked to spend time with their horse, I always said yes, and we were always there together.

  39. I don’t own a horse, but I do sacrifice a lot to ride the sweetest 6 year old pony, Ellie. For one, my parents use their time to drive me to lessons, which are 45 minutes away. Instead of hanging out with my friends, I am at the barn grooming, or playing with Ellie. I make the most of my time with her by forgetting about the outside world and just focusing my energy on helping her grow into a fantastic little pony.

  40. I always find time to be around horses!! Whether it’s riding, helping other riders with lessons, grooming, mucking (or other stable chores: feeding; washing; ect.), leading horses to and from places, or even just sitting in the pasture watching them graze and play. I bring homework to the barn. I bring horse crazy friends to the barn, and tell my other not so horse crazy friends if we can meet up later. My family always knows where to find me if I’m not at home or at the track: the barn. I may not have my own horse, but I still make time for the ones that need a little extra TLC or who just need a girl to hang with and make them happy!

  41. Everyone thinks that when you graduate high school, and start college, and get a job that you have to give up riding or settle for only getting out occasionally; this is not something I was willing to accept. I don’t own my own horse yet but I go out to my barn as much as I can; before school, after work. I sacrifice a social life, do chores, and exercise the horses, anything that keeps me doing what I love!

  42. For me, time with my horses has always been about making them a priority in my life. If I first take care of everything else in my schedule and only then try to “fit in horse time”, I will find my horses lacking attention. Instead, I take a hard look at how I chose to spend my time and organize my life in such a way that my horses are regulary scheduled into my calendar. Life is so much more satisfying when I know my horses needs are properly addressed because I’ve worked to spend time with them.

  43. No one can keep me away fom horses, it is impossible. When I have free time, I look at my Horse Illustrated, and when I work, I have my mind which can do more than even reality itself. When I am in the car I imagine a horse galloping right outside my window.

  44. I stay organized. If everything is where it is supposed to be I don’t have to waste time searching for it. Which means more riding time for my horse and I.

  45. i have 3 boys and the oldest is only 3 and my hsband is in afghanistan right now so i dont really have much time to do anything. fortunatly i have my horse at home so during play time outside for the kids i have them come out with me to the pasture. they love to do chorse groom and feed so i get my time with the horse and with my boys

  46. Homeschooling! It’s the answer! Riding, it can count as gym class, but of course it’s way better! You can start your scool as early in the morning as you please, that way, you can get it done quicker, which allows you to have more time with your horse!

  47. I make time for my horses by getting all my homework done at school and by getting rides home from school. I love my horses and I tend to come off as a bit anti-social to people because instead of hanging out with people on weekends, I’m out with my horse riding up in the hills or working on training my saddle-cow.

  48. • I have always heard that all horses need a job. That it is important and cost worthy. I use to think that too. But I have come to realize that it is not a job they need. But a Purpose! If it is their purpose to stand in the field and make you smile, good. If it is their purpose to get hungry every morning so you will drag yourself out of bed, when depression hits and you’re feeling sorry for yourself and would rather stay under the covers, good. Or if is their purpose to give you wings, to let you feel the wind on your face as you gallop across the field and forget all the trials you have been going through, good. So it is not a job that horses need, they need us as much as we need them. Thank you Lord for the beautiful horses in my life. They have saved me!!!

  49. I go out early the morning to take care of my horse and other animals and I ride every time when I ride my horse I feel like I’m soaring! My horse is my best friend…forever!

  50. I work with horses all day long, so sometimes its hard to go out to the barn every day to ride my own. I still do every day after work, and I feel a million times better every time I’m there. My horse gets time with me every day no matter what. I’ve skipped vacations just to stay home with him!

  51. Between being a senior in high school and horseback riding, I can be quite busy. I try to make it a goal to ride my horse at least an hour 5 days a week, even getting up at 4 am to ride before school!

  52. I don’t find timed I make time. I don’t own my horse he belongs to my trainers but I am his only rider. I work at the barn to ride him and take lessons on him. I do lots of barn chores just to ride Hume more and develop a better relationship.


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