When you work a full-time job, spending enough time with your horse can be challenging. Not only are you chained to your employment 40+ hours per week, you still have to fit everything else you have to accomplish into your schedule, plus find a way to get to the barn. A trip to the barn is rarely short, so to get quality time with your horse, you have to become a life-hack master. These four life hacks will streamline your personal and professional life, giving you more time at the barn.
Go Shopping Early
6 AM is my absolute favorite time to go to Walmart. I never have to stand in line at the checkout, the employees are friendly, the aisles are free from other customers. I can take my time and browse for what I want without other customers ramming me with their carts or rolling their eyes at me if I am staring at one shelf too long.
By shopping early, I avoid cutting into my barn time. When I had a Monday through Friday job, I timed my Walmart trips so that I could go straight from Walmart to work. Since I frequently bought perishable groceries, I invested in an Orca cooler (buy it here). In the summer, I knew my groceries would stay at the proper temperature until the end of my work day, and in the winter, it kept my perishables at the correct temperature and not frozen solid.
Most days, I don’t cook. I am a grab-and-go and intuitive eater, so I use food for fuel as I need it. I keep my fridge and cupboards stocked with high-protein vegan foods like the Five Best Vegan High-Protein Snacks for the Barn. I also keep Vega protein powder (buy it here), quinoa, soy yogurts, and a variety of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.
Tip: If you have to schedule an appointment anywhere, whether it is a doctor’s appointment for yourself or the mechanic for your vehicle, try to be the first appointment of the day. Most places open on time, but the later the day gets, the more time you waste waiting for your turn because no one operates on time. My mechanic is conveniently located across the parking lot from Walmart, so I can do my shopping while my car gets serviced – another time saver!
Hit the Gym at Lunch
Equestrians are athletes, so going to the gym has been an important part of my daily routine since college. I get my cardio at the barn, so I focus on lifting heavy weights to muscle failure to build strength, yoga to improve my flexibility, and Pilates to increase my core strength. Using my lunch break to hit the gym gave me more time for my horses in the evening and left me feeling energized for the afternoon ahead. The gym can be a bit crowded at noon, so I preferred to take my lunch at 1 PM to miss the crowd. A quick grab-and-go snack before and almond butter on a bagel after kept me fueled until dinner.
Now that I work for myself and set my own schedule, I go to the gym late in the morning, but only because that is when my gym has childcare available. I would still prefer to go around lunchtime. My muscles are warmer so I can lift more effectively midday, compared to earlier in the day.
Clean a Little Every Day
While my barn is spotless, my house is usually questionably clean. At one point in my life, before I was married and my daughter was born, my house was open house perfect every day. That was because I could clean, leave for work and school, and come home and no one had touched anything. Now that I live with other people, I clean and as soon as I turn around, something else needs my attention.
I do not want to spend my days off cleaning my house, so I clean a little bit every day when I work so that I do not have to clean anything on my days off, giving me more time with my horses. I am a morning person, so I have to clean early in the day or it will not get done. Eat the frog.
I spend no more than 30 minutes a day cleaning. First, I turn on music and declutter as much as I can, as fast as I can, for three songs. Sometimes this involves putting things away, and sometimes I just move them to the room where they belong. Then, I vacuum all my floors – carpet and hard floors – and I use my steam mop on my hard floors. The bathrooms get a quick wipe down, and by quick I mean I am in and out of there in less than one song. Beds get made, dishes loaded in the dishwasher, and counters wiped down. Everyone in my house does their own laundry – even my four-year-old, although she needs help moving her clothes from the washer to the dryer and her folding skills could still use some refining. Without the burden of cleaning and laundry on my days off, I have a lot more time for my horse.
Schedule Your Day
Scheduling your day includes, but is not limited to, your barn time. By scheduling it, you make it happen. I schedule every minute of my day in my Live Whale Planner (buy it here), from the time I open my eyes in the morning to the time I close them again at night. I run High Plains Arena, I work as a freelance writer, and I parent my four-year-old daughter full time. My days are busy and my time is valuable. Scheduling every minute of my day keeps me on task and helps me accomplish more. It also makes me more present when I am spending time with my horses or my kid because I know that everything will be done when it needs to be done.
I find it very easy to fall down the social media rabbit hole, so I schedule time during the day to check and post to Facebook and Instagram. I answer emails twice a day. I always have one uninterrupted hour a day for free writing (which usually turns into my blog) and I schedule the rest of my writing time based on my deadlines for the week. Horses are fed at 6 AM, noon, and 6 PM. They get worked early in the morning in the summer and late in the afternoon in the winter. I have 24 hours in my day just like Dolly Parton, and she managed to write Jolene and I Will Always Love You on the same day! If she can do that, surely I can accomplish all the little things I need to do.
Once you set your schedule, the hardest part is making others respect it, especially if you work from home. Learn to tell people no. As a horse owner, we know that the unexpected happens, and I always account for that. Be sure to respect your own schedule too. You created your schedule to give you more time with your horse, and sticking to it will make that happen.
Life is Short. Get to the Barn.
I spent 12 years in a small Montana town where wages were low and cost of living was high. Montana does not have very many nice weather days, and I wasted too many of those chasing the dollar and not riding my horse. Life is short, and the time I missed with my horses I cannot get back. These four life hacks streamline my life – both personal and professional – so that I can spend more time doing things that I enjoy.
What are your best life hacks to streamline your life so that you can spend more time at the barn? Let me know in the comments below!
Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.