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:

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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?

 

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Balancing Act

Hi everyone!

Still here, still kicking. As mentioned in my last post, things have been a little crazy busy lately and I’ve had to carefully manage my commitments. I was hoping that taking a step back from blogging would do the trick, but I was still having a lot of stress around the clock and something else had to give.

And sadly, that has been barn time. It’s the last thing I want to cut back on, but the only thing within my control at the moment. So Francis and I haven’t had a lesson in a few weeks, and I’ve only gone out to the barn mayyybe 2x/week. He’s had a few pro rides, I’m letting him be used in a few lessons, and I’m making it out when I can so he’s still getting ridden with some consistency.

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And still bein’ super cute

At first I felt really guilty and bummed about this- I have such big plans for this show season! I want to ride! I don’t want other people riding my pony in lessons! My poor boy is being neglected by his mother!

But you know what? Life happens. Things will either calm down or I’ll learn to manage them better, and we can get back to our 5-6x/week training routine. This is part of being an adult ammy. Frankie absolutely doesn’t mind the relaxed training schedule, he’s probably thrilled!

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Even if he does make silly faces

And this is the part where I tell you just how grateful I am for my boy. Our rides lately have been chill WTC hacks- nothing advanced or difficult, just some equine therapy for yours truly. Francis has come out every single time with his sweet eye that I fell in love with the first time I saw him, happily bopped around with me, and soaked up my attention. It feels like he knows this is what I need right now. He’s been getting more and more powerful and “spicy” to the jumps lately (I use that term lightly, because Francis), so to feel him back himself off into My Little Pony really makes me emotional oh my gosh I’m tearing up as I write this because I love my horse so much.

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So many hugs and kisses for the sweetest

We even celebrated our 1 year anniversary of him joining the family! We wore matching hats, shared a bag of apples, and enjoyed a nice relaxing ride together. I’ll have to post my rambling introspection on how we’ve both changed over the last year in another post- there’s just way too much to say there. Needless to say, it’s been the best year of my life and I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for anything.

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He was VERY unsure about the hat. Until he realized it was not for eating. Then he lost all interest and allowed me to wave it around and put it wherever.

Due to my lack of saddle time lately I decided to opt out of the show on 4/9 (competing at 1.10m after not jumping for a month seems…dicey), but I’m hoping to be back in the swing of things for the first week of Culpeper later in April! We’re planning on doing the High Adult division to lock in some more points, and tentatively (and I mean very tentatively) thinking of having either Trainer or Assistant Trainer take him in a 1.15m class to get some confidence-building miles at that height. I’d like him to navigate that height with a competent pilot up top before he has to jump that height AND deal with his mistake-prone mother. We school that height comfortably together at home, but we all know that shows are a whole different animal.

I’d love any advice you all may have on juggling different commitments as an ammy! Or if you don’t have any advice, I’d appreciate any good vibes you can send my way. Looking forward to making it out the other side of this craziness and getting back to my preferred craziness ❤

After-Work Barn Routine

Loving this idea from Karen at Patently Bay! All us ammies have our own schedules and it’s so fun to peer over the fence to see what we’re all up to.

Here’s how things usually go for me:

5pm: change into riding boots. I usually just wear my breeches to work because they’re so much more comfortable than jeans to me at this point and I SWEAR EQUESTRIAN CHIC IS TOTALLY TRENDY RIGHT NOW. So my changing is pretty much just my shoes.

5:05pm: Get in the car and call my mom. She is wise. Sit in a little bit of traffic, but make it there in ~20 minutes.

5:30pm: Make the rounds. Check the lesson board to see who’s riding that day, pet some ponies, say hi to the cats, help as jump crew for lessons if needed, just chill and decompress.

6:35ish: Fetch Frankie from his field. I like him to be outside as much as possible, so I’ll wait until the last possible moment to bring him in. Usually he just stands there and waits for me to go get him, but last week he trotted up to me and I almost cried.

6:40pm: Groom and tack up. I don’t groom TOO intensely before riding, just picking feet, curry, soft brush. Everything else waits until after we get sweaty and gross. Tack is basic: open front boots go on first (for the simple reason that if I wait to put them on, I will forget and he will go sans boot. Not the end of the world, but homeboy kicks his own legs sometimes and I feel better having some protection on him), then saddle, then I get my helmet/gloves/crop, then bridle. Nothing fancy and it’s the same day-to-day.

7:00pm: Hop on! If we’re lessoning we’ll do about 20-30 min of flatwork before jumping, but otherwise we focus on flatwork. Sometimes I’ll drag out poles to work through to mix things up. Usually sharing the ring with at least one other person.

8:00-8:10pm: Hop off. Run up stirrups, loosen the girth, undo his noseband, pick his feet, and clean up any poops before leaving the ring. Usually end up standing in the ring chatting with people for a while before ACTUALLY leaving the ring.

8:15pm: Eventually make it back to the barn. Depending on how sweaty he got, we’ll (a) curry the crap out of him, (b) sponge off the saddle area and any sweaty areas, or (c) hose off his whole sweaty body. He gets some Heal Quick/Healthy Hair from the Herbal Horse put on his various scrapes, and then some Shine Bright coat conditioner. Can you tell I’m a fan? Francis smells so purdy after this.

8:45pm: Fly spray and turnout. Big Man is on night turnout so he gets to go right back out when I’m done. More often than not, he sticks around for smooches at the gate, takes a good long drink of water, and then heads off for a good roll. And more often than not, I stand there watching him roll around like a dork and take snapchat videos of it. It’s never not funny.

8:50pm: Clean tack, put away all gear, sweep the aisles, clip up crossties. Basically taking care of everything that ISN’T Frankie. Also chat with Trainer, other ammies, the cats, etc.

9-9:15pm: Hit the road. Hope that manfriend is coming over and bringing food. Call Dad to gush over how great my pony is and give him the low-down on what we worked on.

9:45pm: Make it home, shower, eat whatever is easiest to grab, and fall asleep before doing any of the laundry I’ve been needing to do for weeks now.

This happens pretty much every day during the week except Tuesdays! Those are super busy lesson days at the barn so I skip the craziness and let that be Frankie’s day off. So far it works great! I’m lucky enough to have some great ammies to hang out with at the barn and be social, so some nights I’ll stay later. It’s not hard convincing me to stay at the barn 😉