Living in the midwest, I've been struggling with the problems of wintertime horse ownership for years. Every time I visit the Chronicle of the Horse forums I see a post complaining about how hard it is to find time to ride, especially in the winter. I always refrain from commenting on these posts because that situation is all to real for me, and I try not to complain about it too much. But, right now I'm feeling the stresses of winter, so you all get to hear about it.
To fill you in, I work a full time job, my husband is in medical school and we own two dogs. It's not unusual for me to get up at around 5:30 a.m. just to be able to get a run in before heading to work. My husband and I ride to work/school together (I work at the same University he attends), and that morning car ride is the last time I will see him until 8 p.m.
Sometimes I'll skip lunch to try to leave early. Unfortunately, when I skip lunch it usually just means I have worked an extra hour that day and didn't get to leave early. After work, I dart home to try to get changed/check the mail/make sure the house isn't burning/pack up my dogs. Then, I can head to the barn. Sometimes during this time, I commit a cardinal sin and sit down. Never do this. You WILL NOT get back up. Bad plan.
Once on the road to the barn, things usually go just fine. I try to fill the 30 minute ride with things that get me excited/thinking, like Horse Radio Network or Stuff You Missed In History Class (yes, I'm a history nerd) podcasts. If these can't keep me awake, then I use the time to catch up on phone calls (hi, Mom!). By the time I get to the barn, the sun has set.
At the barn, I am all business. I don't have a ton of time on weeknights, so I catch my feral creature (Guinness lives outside 24/7 and currently resembles a yak) and brush off enough mud/water/hay to comfortably put on the saddle and bridle. During this time, GP gets to eat his dinner grain ration and my dogs get to run around and play in the indoor arena. I check his legs for obvious swelling/missing pieces/heat and pick out his feet, then we ride.
My ride+cool out time takes about 40 minutes, and the whole time I think about how awesome it is to have an indoor to ride in. After this, I untack quickly, love on my horse, and put him back out in the field. It is now around 7pm, time to close up the barn (I'm usually the last person out there) and drive the 30 minutes back home, picking up my husband on the way to the house.
Once home, I make dinner and clean house while my husband studies. We eat around 9 p.m. Afterwards, I fall asleep on the couch with the dogs, dreaming of doing it all again.
How do you manage to find time to ride?
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