Schedule Change For The Better

I'm very lucky that my job lends itself to being more flexible than some. My work can very easily be done remotely, in fact I work remotely one day a week. On top of that, I have been toying with schedule changes that will allow me to ride more easily during the work week.
As everyone knows, training progress requires more riding than just on weekends. As all adult amateurs know, riding during the work week often requires immense amounts of will power and the ability to actually move through space and time.
Typically I've done all my work week riding in the evenings. For awhile I would leave work and drive straight to the barn, requiring me to leave work on time and spend only 90 minutes at the barn. With no one to let the dog out, I needed to be home as fast as possible. Moving into the city allowed me to cut my driving down to only trips to the barn, but it also meant I had to ride the train 30 minutes home before embarking on mid-rush hour drives out to the country. This was not ideal. I found myself getting home at 9 or even 10 pm, and always riding in the dark during winter. Sleep was getting hard to come by, and feeding myself healthy food was equally difficult. I did enjoy taking the dogs with me every day, though.

With growing work responsibilities, I had another problem to contend with staying late. With more work comes more hours to put in the work. Staying even 30 minutes late could mean the difference between being able to fit a trip to the barn in my schedule or not. After months of having my riding time cut out of my days, I needed a change. So, I proposed an idea to my management and they accepted.
Now I ride in the mornings. The change isn't without it's own challenges, but I am on my second month of the new schedule and really enjoying it.
The idea was to ride before work, coming in late on the days I come into the office and ride (Wednesdays and Fridays). This allows me to stay late when I need to, but still get my horse ridden. The schedule is hard, but takes a lot of stress out of my planning. That makes a huge difference.

Here's what a typical work week riding day for me looks like now:
5:10 am - Wake up, check the weather, get dressed, feed the dogs, make tea, grab a protein bar, jump in the car. (20 minutes)
6:30 am - Arrive at the farm. Tack up the horse. (15 minutes)
6:45 am - Ride. Part of each ride is a hack around the fields with the dogs. If pouring or otherwise needed for training, I might divide my ride between ring and field. (1 hour)
7:45 am - Load up the dogs and head back home. (1 hour drive)
8:45 am - Park at home, make more tea, shower/change, grab my stuff, kiss the doggos goodbye. (15-30 minutes)
9:15 am - Hop on the train to work. (30 minutes)
9:50 am - Arrive at the office and get to work.

My schedule dictates I work until around 6pm, though often I do leave a little earlier or later. I usually try to go for a run when I get home, then settle in to do a little more work or just decompress from the day. I'm typically in bed by 9:30 or 10.
Sometimes we even have time to check in on Pig! Though usually only time to ride him on my WFH days where I save a 2nd commute time.
For those of you noticing I only spend about 75 minutes at the farm? The small amount of time at the barn doesn't really cramp my style. That's all I need to whack the mud off my horse and get in 25-45 minutes of riding. Planning out my riding goals means I arrive each day with what I want to work on. Having a set time limit means I can't let myself pick fights or drill. This actually leads to more productive training in the long run for me. Plus, I save all my longer grooming and tasks for weekends, when I can stay at the farm as long as I want.
Yes, I might be posting sunrise photos just to make y'all super jealous. Is it working?
The fact that I have weeknight evenings to myself for the first time in actual years is wild. The benefits are massive. I'm actually getting to bed on time and sleeping enough. I'm on track with my running goals, and hitting the gym more too. I'm able to go out with friends and attend the interesting events across DC. I stay at work later as needed without feeling guilty or like my dogs are missing out. Plus, the girls get to run around the fields almost every day, which means they're happier, more tired, and more content while I'm gone at the office. Riding in the evenings meant a lot of rides where they had to stay in the car because it was dark and I could only ride in the ring.
While I haven't created time, it feels like there's more for all these things!
On top of everything, I'm even spending less time in the car. Morning rush hour back to the city isn't half as bad as evening rush hour to the country. Doing this drive instead of my evening commute saves me 10-20 minutes. Plus my early morning commute to the farm is extremely quick and easy (well... as quick as physically possible), as almost no one is on the roads that early.

This schedule isn't for someone who doesn't love early mornings, and it requires a support system at work willing to allow some flexibility with work hours. However, I'd recommend this schedule to anyone facing similar issues to me. It really works. Plus, the sunrise view between the ears of your horse is 100% worth the work.
And seriously, those sunrises are always stunning.
Do any of you use an alternative schedule to allow you to ride more often? Have you ever changed your schedule and found it's helped or hindered in the rest of your life?


  1. So glad it's working well for you! I'm the first to admit i'm not a morning person, although I have ridden before work a time or two in the past with previous jobs where I didn't start until 9 or 10. I would say the biggest time I have to adjust is when it's too blasted hot to ride in the afternoons, which is my usual time. In Northern Alberta we are blessed with endless sun in some parts of the summer which has allowed me to ride outside without lights as late as 11 PM!

    1. HAHA OMG outside riding at 11pm with no lights??? that's amazing!!!!

  2. I used to! When I worked for a start-up I rode Tu/Th mornings and got into work around 10/11am and stayed later. At Stanford I used to wake up early on WFH days to beat traffic out to the barn too (until they cut me back to 1 WFH day, boo-hiss). Glad you found some balance in there!

  3. I really loved "summer hours" the one summer I got them at my last job - I could ride in the morning before it got hot and then go to work. I may aim for something similar this year because my new job affords me a bit more flexibility, I just haven't really pushed it yet. I can WFH but I'm so neurotic I'm worried about "abusing" it even though I definitely get more done those days haha. My only problem is the shitty parking situation at my office if you arrive later than about 7:30!

  4. Yes, yes, yes! I'm so freaking happy for you that you're finding more balance in your day-to-day. Getting to bed at a decent hour makes such a difference. But on top of that, having time for yourself to keep up with life is one of the best feelings ever. Yay for happy Austen, happy dogs, and happy horses.

    1. Ugh. This is Liz. I dunno why Google keeps saying I'm unknown these days.

  5. This makes a lot of sense. I am not able to ride first thing in the morning before work very often. Sometimes in the summer I can but I also have barn chores to get done. However, my commute to work is 10-15 minutes and I can make it home in time to ride before supper. I did change my schedule to 4 days a week of work and I love that. It will see me through to my retirement (which is in 2 years). Since I moved the horses home I am pretty regimented with my bed time schedule. I have found it to be really beneficial for my mental and physical health.

  6. I am not a morning person either, but you've been chatting this up so positively I tried it this morning and the lack of traffic was amazing, plus it was really nice to start the day seeing my spice!!

  7. This has been my schedule for a long time now and I love it!

  8. I love this schedule! although I don't have to get up as early as you do most days, I do like that Hampton and the barn get me at my best. In the mornings. And then work can get me when I am tired haha. I love mornings and I'm not sure I would like the schedule of riding after work (if I had a job where my shift ended earlier obviously)


Post a Comment