Balancing Time vs. Money

We were talking at the barn the other day about time vs. money when it comes to horses. Obviously, in an ideal world you’d have both: plenty of time to go ride whenever you wanted, and plenty of money to pay for horses/lessons/shows. No doubt that’s the ideal scenario if you want to rise through the levels.

I also think either extreme of trade-offs can work for this.

Have no time, but lots of money? Import that fancy warmblood, pay for full training, and grab mane. As long as you can make it out for semi-regular lessons and you have an forgiving horse, I think you can rise pretty high pretty quickly. I’m not going to comment on whether that’s fair or not because that’s a moot point.

Have no money, but lots of time? Working student positions, farm help, etc. Building those connections, learning the skills, showing that dedication opens doors. I’ve seen it happen more than once. It’s a lot more hard work and takes a lot longer, but can have amazing results.

For me, I think I’d choose the latter. Mostly because I just really really like spending time at the barn. Of course I wouldn’t complain about a fancy import, but I would rather be at the barn than the office- even if I couldn’t ride.

But I also think these are fairly unrealistic extremes. It’s not some linear spectrum. In my mind, it looks more like this:

Professional image making skillz

So you’ve got the ones with no time or money, the ones with everything, the ones with the trade-offs, but then you have that middle area. Which is where most people I know are currently sitting (at least the ammies that I know). I know I’m square in that middle section myself.

The middle section is full of people with jobs that pay decently but not exorbitantly. Who have commitments to their careers and people they care about, but can take some flex hours or vacation time on occasion. The ones with a bit of time and a bit of money, but not a ton of either.

So how can you make that work when you don’t have either more time OR more money to contribute?

Short answer: I don’t really know. I don’t have any magic answers. I only know what has helped me thus far and what I plan to keep doing: making sure two phrases get used often.

“Thank you!” and “how can I help?”

My trainer, my assistant trainer, my farrier, my vet, my barn help, my barn friends, my barn friend’s moms, my manfriend, my barn dogs, my barn cats, my horse, my family, my roommate, my roommate’s boyfriend. They all help me out every single day. The least I can do is make sure they know how much I appreciate that help by overusing the phrase “thank you.”

And I may only get to the barn after work for a few hours each day, but I still want to learn and be involved. I like helping kids get tacked up, doing night check, being an extra hand at shows when I can, anything I can do to pitch in. If there’s a chance to do something with a pony, I want in and I’m going to repeat “how can I help?” until someone tells me to shut up and go home.

These aren’t going to *poof* make me rich or convince someone to adopt me as the sole heir to their secret fortune (though I’m open to that if anyone is interested, just saying), but I do think people notice that dedication. Certainly I’ve had some helping hands come out of the woodwork along the way.

So I’m going to keep on that route and keep showing up as often and as long as I can.

How do you balance the whole time vs. money conundrum?


18 thoughts on “Balancing Time vs. Money

  1. Centered in the Saddle 06/01/2017 / 10:44 am

    Hustle hustle hustle. Like you, I pitch in my extra time to help around the barn and at shows. I also will pick up freelance or side jobs for extra income to pay for my own shows. (Of course, then I have less time to devote but there’s that whole balance thing again.)

    Another thing that I don’t think gets talked about as much is regular/career work. I’m vocal about my aspirations, advocate for my own growth and periodically ask about raises and/or bonuses. I used to be so uncomfortable talking about money but no one else is going to advocate for me so now I’m pretty used to checking in on wage increases, a new bonus structure, etc. If you don’t ask, they don’t know what you’re looking for and can’t help get you there. The answer won’t always be “yes here’s more money” but by working hard and being open about compensation with my manager(s), I’m working toward the “more money” end of the spectrum. Slowly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 06/01/2017 / 10:58 am

      Oooh I smell another blog post. Being your own advocate in your career I think is one of those hurdles that you have to get through as a young professional- knowing how to talk about money in a productive way that makes sure that’s an open conversation with your company. Fantastic point.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen M 06/01/2017 / 11:36 am

    I think I pretty much fall in or near the area of the middle ground — a little bit of both time and money, but would like a little more of each.

    I am also usually the last person to leave the barn at night, and one of my favorite things (and sometimes anxiety-inducing) to do it walk up and down the barn aisle checking on all the hopefully happily-munching-hay ponies before I hit the lights (and CALMLY walk to my car because it’s not creepy at night by myself of anything). That’s one of the “time” moments I’m not going to give up just to eat dinner 30 minutes earlier or something lame like that.


    • hellomylivia 06/01/2017 / 12:20 pm

      Agreed completely- I’d rather have dinner at 10pm (and I usually do) if it means a little more time to groom, graze, feed, or just breathe in the barn.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. L. Williams 06/01/2017 / 4:22 pm

    Hustle Hard, Hustle Long. Prioritizing and Managing Time like a Train Conductor. Though now I have more time because I WFH everyday and I hope it stays that way but if not I will savor this time as it stands now.


    • hellomylivia 06/02/2017 / 7:33 am

      I think I need a giant poster that I see first thing when I wake up that says, “Hustle Hard, Hustle Long.”


  4. Abby F 06/01/2017 / 6:26 pm

    I think to a certain point, the no time/lots of money works. There are certainly plenty of amateurs that win ribbons that way. However, I think if you want to jump big jumps AND win ribbons (and survive… haha) it seems that nowadays, you need lots of time AND lots of money. Depressingly enough, when I see the riders that are winning in the High AOs, they have both. So many of those rider have loads of money, a full string of horses, and are training every day.


  5. Abby F 06/01/2017 / 8:59 pm

    Wanted to add one more thing just in case my post made me come across as someone that doesn’t appreciate what I have. As a working student and groom growing up, I NEVER dreamed I’d have the opportunities or the horses that I do now. However, showing at shows like WEF is definitely an eye opener when you see how much money and time it takes to truly be competitive at the top. At first, I found it discouraging to think about competing against horses that literally cost over a million dollars. Now, I just focus on doing my best and enjoying the heck out of riding my horses (who are, in my opinion, just as incredible as the million dollar horses). Sometimes, our best gets us a ribbon and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m learning not to be in such a hurry to get to the top. Obviously, more money can get you there faster, but I’m confident that I’ll get there eventually (because Charlie is a magical unicorn 😉 ).


    • hellomylivia 06/02/2017 / 7:37 am

      It’s definitely disheartening to see so many “amateurs” winning that get more saddle time than most professionals I know. I’m with you- Frankie and I might not always be the most competitive ones in the ring, but we’re definitely having the most fun, and learning and growing at our own pace! (Also I tell Francis about Charlie on the reg so he knows who his role model is supposed to be. We both have pony crushes on Charlie<3 )


  6. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership 06/02/2017 / 1:37 am

    I’m in a weird place right now in that I have no job, so no $, but tons of time, but I spend all that time trying to get a job so my riding really isn’t improving either. My years spent working for rides as a teenager and in college definitely taught me the value of hustle. I think I learned a lot more as a rider by having to work so hard for the rides (plus always getting the most challenging horses). I kinda miss those days. Maybe I’ll do a midlife crisis and become an adult working student in the future.


    • hellomylivia 06/02/2017 / 7:38 am

      I swear, job searching is a full time job in itself, just without the paycheck. I vote for the adult working student route!!! Then I can live that vicariously through you haha


  7. Liz 06/05/2017 / 6:19 am

    For me, it’s such an ebb and flow. The best thing I’ve found that helps is to be incredibly adaptable and have multiple plans in mind. Having three horses in work isn’t easy by myself – especially when they’re split between two barns 50 minutes apart right now! But if endurance has taught me anything, it’s that rest is just as valuable as work for my horses. I’m able to ride them less than many one and they’re still in great shape because I make sure that the quality of our workouts is the best it can be. Doing more with less, I suppose, and being super adaptable along the way. Not easy for my Type A brain, but it’s what works best!


    • hellomylivia 06/05/2017 / 9:26 am

      That’s such a good point- making sure to suck every last drop out of the time you have and making it really count


  8. Tracy - Fly On Over 06/19/2017 / 3:33 pm

    For me, it’s all about prioritizing, helping when I can and asking for help when I need it. Those three things have helped me countless times!


  9. Micaylah 08/09/2017 / 1:45 pm

    Asking how you can help and always saying yes to helping someone when you can has certainly changed my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my trainer and how much we help eachother.


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2017 / 8:43 am

      It’s seriously so great that you have that mutually generous relationship. It ends up being great for both of you!


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