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The Rider’s Commute

When your destination is the barn, the commute is always worth it.

Depending on where you live and your horsekeeping, horse leasing or riding lesson situation, you might have a regular commute to the barn.

The drive to and from the barn can be a time to mentally prepare and reflect on the ride, or a time to worry. And for almost any commuter, outside factors, such as traffic and weather, can hinder the pre- or post-ride zen.

I often use my commute to the barn as time to clear my thoughts and air my grievances from the day or week. Sometimes I use it as an opportunity to put on a private Broadway performance for myself. And yet, despite my best efforts and optimistic attitude about the barn commute, it sometimes turns into a period of stress and frustration.

Maybe the sun is setting and the fact that the lights are out in the round pen means there won’t be time to longe my horse. Or I’m spotting a very dark cloud in the distance, and I know my horse will act like a fool with an incoming storm, even if the radar assures me that the storm won’t come within 5 miles of my barn.

No matter what happens on my drive, I’m always happy once I get to the barn. Throughout my different barn commutes over the years, ranging form 5 minutes to 45 minutes, I’ve identified a few categories that the drive can fit into:

The Ideal Barn Drive

To the barn: While driving, I often find myself thinking about the stresses of the past few days, knowing that they will all disappear when I step outside my car on to the barn property.


From the barn: I’m on a horsey high. I had a great lesson. I might have missed some distances or maybe even taken an emergency dismount, but I had horse time and I’m happy.

The Stressed Barn Drive

To the barn: I have so much to do today. And I need to get to the cleaners to pick up my dry cleaning before it closes. I’ve been meaning to do that for two weeks. But I refuse to give up my horse time. Snap! I forgot I need to prepare for tomorrow morning’s meeting.

From the barn: What a great ride. I’m so glad I made time for myself. Wait. I also need to call my sister back. And what else was I supposed to do? I need to make a list…

The Traffic-Filled Barn Drive

To the barn: Welp. I’m late for my lesson. I did not anticipate two wrecks. Darn Houston traffic. I just passed the accident. It’s a fender bender! I’m grateful no one is hurt, but steer it and clear it! I’ve got a horse waiting on me.

From the barn: I knew I could fit in my lesson, catch up with my barn friends, clean my tack and still make it to my friend’s birthday dinner with enough time to quickly shower and change. Oh wait. There’s mystery traffic at 7:45 p.m. headed back into town. Why? Whyyyyyyy?

What about you? Where does your mind frequently wander during your barn commute?

Liked this article? Here are others you’ll enjoy:

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Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.

Allison Griest

Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas, and a former assistant editor of Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She has a passion for horses, dogs, hiking, and writing.

View Comments

  • I usually find myself pretty nervous about how I'll do during my lesson. I also worry about which horse I'll be assigned since I'm still a young rider and not very confident yet. Just I myriad of situations along those lines :P

  • I'm usually quite anxious on my drive to the barn. My lesson horse is moody and unpredictable. Some days he'll be a perfect pony, and I'll gain some confidence, but as soon as I let my guard down and I think we are progressing, he stops listening to my aids, refuses, runs out, bolts, or just gets lazy and refuses to pick up his feet.
    So in my half hour drive to the barn I wonder what mood he is in, try to visualize a good lesson, and hope and pray that I make it out in one piece. Depending on the ride, during my drive back I'm either floating on a cloud of glee, or replaying what I did wrong to make him act up, and wondering if all this time and money I'm spending are worth it.

  • This article fits me to a tee, but my instructor and I discussed leaving all the stresses lo"locked up" in the car! Mentally telling myself the will not infringe on my time on my horse. By the time I'm back into the car, the overwhelming joy of the ride kicks out the worries!

  • This article fits me to a tee, but my instructor and I discussed leaving all the stresses "locked up" in the car! Mentally telling myself that they will not infringe on my time on my horse. By the time I'm back into the car, the overwhelming joy of the ride kicks out the worries!

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