Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Perils of Balancing Life with Horses

This is kindasorta a horsey post so I apologize in advance for lack of Dickie antics. I have been feeling bad lately about how hard it is to balance my social life with horses. I have some amazing friends but the older I get the more scattered my friends are. None of my best friends from the same social circle. Some live on the west side of town, some on the east side. Some I met through work, some through school, some through activity groups. Some work day shifts, some nights. Some Mon-Fri and others are like me and rarely work the same days two weeks in a row. That would be hard enough as it is but I also have to fit riding in. It is a new thing for me to be balancing a non-horse life and horse life. I have always had an active social life but for most of my adult life my best friends were my horse friends. We could catch up on life on horseback. Or meet up for drinks before/after a ride. Then I hurt my hip, Bre needed to be retired. I now have many non-horsey and who never knew me when I rode everyday. 

 I work 12 hour shifts and it is impossible to ride on a work day. I get to the hospital by 630am and don't leave until 8pm (often later). It is 30-45 minutes before I get home. That means I pretty much have to dive in bed when I get home in order to get a full night sleep. I am a nurse at a very high acuity hospital so skimping on sleep to see friends or ride horses isn't even a consideration. I am left with four days to work my horse. If I take a day off of riding it is because I was swamped with homework, have a date with my very patient honey, or spent time with my family. Taking a day off riding it means I need to find a way for Dickie to get worked (costing $ I don't have). It isn't fair to expect a horse to perform at a high level when they aren't kept in shape. I even feel like just working him four days a week isn't enough and once he's older and I'm expecting a lot out of him I will need to get someone to help. 

My drive to the barn is anywhere from 30-60 mins each way depending on where I leave from. That means I might have two hours of commuting. I don't love the long drive but it is the only place I can afford that has lots of turnout, two giant arenas, and trails. If I even shorten my drive by 15mins that takes me to barns that are either slack on horse care or are missing one (usually more) of my must haves. It's at least a few hours by the time I ride, groom, clean tack, fill slow feed nets, etc.... That takes up a good chunk of my day. The rest of the day is filled with homework and my partner needs to take priority over the rest of my free time. With my schedule I might have one or two days a month I could fit in a social event and if my friends happen to be busy those days we are SOL. 

I wanted to vent to you all because there is no way for a non-horse friend to get "it." I don't blame them for being bummed for feeling neglected that I can't see them. If I were in their position I would feel the same. There is no way to help someone understand that taking another day off riding is a big deal. If he isn't kept in shape he is at risk for injury. Heck, so am I. I barely keep in riding shape as it is. When I have too much time off my hip hurts for days once I get back in the saddle. And how do you explain that a young horse needs consistency? If he was 15 and well trained having a few days off wouldn't be a big deal. At four if he has more than two days off we end up playing too much catchup. The more he is worked in a week the more confident he is. He's also a real bitch to handle for the barn help when he isn't worked. He's not a tennis racket sitting in a closet. He's a 1,200 lb people loving creature who will tear the barn down from boredom if he isn't handled. Missing riding days are just bad all around. 

Anyhoo there's my vent. I just thought a few of you would understand how hard it is to juggle horses with life. 


  1. It is hard to balance everything, especially if you want to do more with your horse than just trail ride or play around. And even though that is all I really want to do, it is still hard to fit everything in!

  2. it's hard. I know from my own experience. I just had to be firm with my riding days. My good friends first accepted and then understood it with time. It will get easier. :)

  3. It's too bad you don't have a place to keep him at home. :( I love having my boy at home so I can see him several times a day, every day. Also this post makes me feel like a total hermit... I haven't really ever had this problem before because my work hours were way better than yours, but at one time my husband was working horrible hours that conflicted with my work schedule and even though we lived together we could go days without seeing each other. It was horrible!! So I do have empathy for what you're going through. Sadly I don't really have any solutions because getting injured, losing your job, moving in with your parents and building a new house is really not that pleasant of a solution LOL!! It was a blessing in disguise though, as hard as it was at the time, since we now get to spend time together. Anyway all of that aimless rambling was basically to say I sort of know how you feel and I hope things get better.

  4. Umm, I completely get it! Throw a kid in the mix and it is even harder! Would be easier if they were a teenaged horse lover too! But, as long as I am never on the back burner we are all good!

    1. Dont know why this is coming up as posted by PathfinderThree, it should Josey's Mom... Oh well :) At least you know I am still reading your blog, got to cyberstalk the Dickie!

  5. I thought I posted but I must have screwed it up. Anyway, balancing horse, career, partner and other people seems hard because it's hard. My friends do understand but perhaps not always. I have found that people always seem to think that it's okay for you to miss a ride but don't realize that it adds up. Just stay true to what you want and accept that you will feel that you have shortchanged some aspect some of the time. It does get better though. Honest.