Finding Time for Horseback Riding

Check out these 10 smart tips to get more time in the saddle.

From America's Horse

Truth is: You aren’t going find more time to ride. You haven’t overlooked the 25th hour in the day; it doesn’t exist. The only way you can increase the time you have with your horse is to decrease the time you spend doing other things. Here are some suggestions:

Blow Up Your TV
If that seems extreme, then at least learn to set your DVR, or ask a 12-year-old to do it for you. Record programs you really think you need to see and observe how you never get around to watching them because you’re riding instead.

Quit eating dinner - at least with silverware and plates
Instead of always succumbing to society’s ritual, start thinking of food simply as fuel.

Find a suitable barn fridge at a garage sale and stock it with no-prep food like fruit and peanut butter. Or buy 20-pound bags of trail mix and eat more like your horse. He doesn’t complain about eating the same thing every day.

It’s hard to find time for horseback riding. But on the days you are reunited with the saddle, you might as well try something new. Download the AQHA Recreational Riding report and start enjoying your horse in more ways than you ever thought possible!

Afraid family members will revolt? Let them try getting along without you a few times; they’ll either cope or appreciate you more. But don’t get your feelings hurt if they actually prefer this new arrangement. And do encourage family time at your barn, as well.

Quit Brushing So Much
You know how annoyed you get when your horse immediately goes out and rolls after you wash him? Imagine how frustrating it is when you automatically start brushing him right after you put his halter on. He’s thinking, “Didn’t it occur to you that I rolled in the dirt because I prefer this look?” Being clean all over isn’t important to him. Why is it to you? Clean the area covered by the saddle, blanket and girth, check his feet and hit the trails.

Leave Your Saddle in the Tack Room
Ride bareback. You’ll develop more balance and save time saddling and unsaddling. But only do this on a seasoned, “bomb-proof” horse in a confined, uncluttered area, if you haven’t ridden bareback a lot. You need a horse that can tolerate you bobbing or squeezing too hard with your legs until you get the feel. If you slide off, it just proves how reliant you are upon the saddle - that you’ve been sitting, as opposed to riding. Or maybe it proves your horse is too fat.

Ask Advice From Someone Who Doesn’t Have a Clue What You’re Doing
Invite a non-horseman to walk through your barn routine with you. We tend to fall into habits “because we’ve always done it this way” - but maybe the reason you started doing something a certain way has changed. For instance: the recycled tin can that used to serve as your car only held one bag of feed, and then you’d tie a bale of hay on top. And you still only buy feed a little at a time. So you stay up to date on the bulletins posted at the feed store, you waste a lot of time and you’re sure not saving any money.

Females: Give Up the Hot Rollers and Color-Coordinated Nail Polish
You know why the weakest category at rodeo queen pageant is horsemanship?

Don’t let your tired routine get you down. Find new ways to enjoy your horse! With the AQHA Recreational Riding report, you can discover horsey vacation spots, the world of competitive trail riding and so much more. Download the report to uncover new horseback-riding adventures.

The hair. Hair like that, a lot of makeup and high-maintenance nails take time away from other things, like riding. Besides, the look is outdated. Professional models can whisk their makeup in on in five minutes. If you can’t, you might want to try a more natural look. The fashion mags are full of tips.

Two Words: SportsCenter
The proliferation of cable channels and sports coverage has turned national pastimes into national obsessions. You already have a hobby, remember? Your horse? And your hobby could probably benefit from some exercise, too. Rather than watching professional or collegiate athletes play an entire game while your own muscles atrophy, get out and ride, and watch the highlights on ESPN or the news tomorrow morning, so you can still function socially by knowing all the scores.

Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time
In other words, do two things at once. Do you jog? Jog with your horse. Need to return phone calls? Get a cell-phone holster or strap it to your saddle. Need to reciprocate for a friend’s kindness? Invite her on a trail ride or give her kid a riding lesson. Afraid your horses take away from family time? Find fun ways to incorporate significant people in your life into your horse activities.

Hire It Done
If all you do is work - at your job, at your home, at your barn, ad infinitum - you aren’t taking very good care of yourself. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll quit functioning efficiently, just like a car engine. The money you spend on a professional housekeeper, lawn or laundry service, stall cleaner or babysitter is really in the best interest of your family and career. Probably even your horse.

Go to Plan B
If you really don’t have time for your horse, decide if this is a temporary or permanent situation. If it’s temporary, turn him out or loan him to someone you trust. If it’s permanent, consider finding him another caretaker. Same thing if a money crunch is compromising his care. Perhaps you can reserve the right to an occasional ride, or you can visit your friends’ horses.

Everyone knows horses are a big responsibility. No one will criticize you for turning the responsibility over to someone else until your lifestyle changes. If they think about it at all, they’ll admire you.

AQHA Member Benefit Spotlight:

Do you worry about horses you’ve bred or previously owned? Does it keep you awake at night? Luckily, AQHA members can enroll in a program that protects the future of the horses you care about for FREE. The Full Circle Program will contact you should a horse you enroll ever become unwanted or ready for retirement. So, enroll in the free program and eliminate the worry.