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Koolio 03-21-2013 11:44 PM

Motivation to ride - making time
 
I have ridden casually for years, and taken lessons in some years, but with work, family and crappy weather, it seems both my horses and I are pretty out of shape. I do try to ride bareback in the field for a least 20-30 minutes once every weekend, but with snow, rain or cold, this often doesn't happen. I want to get back to riding regularly and get back into shape, both for my own health and enjoyment and for my horses. I love to ride, but just don't seem to get out nearly as much as I would like, as life keeps getting in the way.

I recently joined a local horse club that offers both a trail riding and a versatility program. In both programs riders / horses get points for the number of miles they ride or the number of events they participate in. I have registered for both programs in the hopes that this will get me out riding much more. To start off this season (although it is still winter here), I have registered for a 3 day beginner eventing clinic next weekend and plan to start a haul in weekly lesson in May.

What do you do to help yourself to make more time for riding?

DancingArabian 03-22-2013 12:09 AM

Simply put, riding has to be a priority for you. It has to be treated as Something Important.

If you're just busy, then organizing and planning will help. Are you having trouble with dinner because you're riding? Try making casseroles, soups/stews or using a crockpot. Are you cold? Get lots of thin layers - I find that thick stockings layer well under jeans or breeches without a lot of bulk. Thermal underwear too, tops and bottoms.

Figure out the time of day you'd like to ride, consider what you have going on around that time and figure out how to delegate or make those tasks more efficient.

Koolio 03-22-2013 10:00 AM

Sorry if this comes out as arant, but I wonder if others face similar challenges.

Riding is important, but so are my children, my family, my safety and my job. It is not ever as simple as throwing in a casserole, or layering up. I already do that whenever I can and still that only means a once a week (maybe) ride in the winter. For 5-6 months of the year it is dark before I get home from work. Winter cold isn't chilly, it's COLD, like -20 and windy. The ground isn't just snowy, it's icy and treacherous to walk on, never mind ride or drivea anywhere with a trailer in tow. My horse and I already took a spill together once this year.

I have to haul out on Tuesday for a saddle fitting and then again next weekend to the clinic I signed up for. Although I'm excited about both, I am worried I won't be able to get my trailer out of the 3'snowbank it has become buried in over the last few days. Today, all roads are terrible and there is a travel advisory on all of our roads. I hope they clear enough to haul by Tuesday, but the forecast isn't looking promising. If the roads are not better, it is not worth risking the safety of myself or my horses. I keep my horses at home, but haul in to events when I can, when the roads are safe enough to haul. In the winter, they often are not.

During the summer, I am expected to spend at least a few weeks to two months with my parents at my grandparents summer cottage which is 600 miles away from here. If I don't go then, I never see them as they live 2500 miles awayand are somewhat intolerant to our cold weather. If I don't go, they feel like I am preventing them from seeing my kidsand get very upset. Since my daughter rides too, she would rather stay home and ride and my son doesn't want to go without me. If I don't go, my family drifts apart with bad feelings. In the summer the decision to stay home and ride more means hurting my family.

I am trying to find ways to maximize the amount I ride when I can. This is why I started these programs. I hope they will help me to find indoor clinics and events on weekends, and organized trail rides in the winter, spring and fall. I also hope these programs will also help me to track my progressand see how much riding I actually do in a year.

So it is not simply a matter of making riding a priority. We all have to make choices and although going riding is my preference, it is not the best or most responsible choice to make. When I go riding, someone I care about has to go without my time and attention. These are tough choices to make. I envy those who have more freedom to ride when they want.

DancingArabian 03-22-2013 10:18 AM

Sorry you're offended but all I had to go on was your original post, so I tried to keep my post helpful in a general way since I didn't know what you were facing in terms of obstacles to riding. Reread your first post - you asked about making time for riding without explaining why your time is limited.

I don't know what space you have available to you for riding. In the winter, shoes with studs or snow pads might help your horse. So would all weather footing in your riding space. I have no way of knowing if those are doable for you, but that's all I can offer. For the winter you could also try working on other things like liberty training or groundwork. You could even teach your horse to pull and work up to skijoring. Regarding the snow and trailer out - hey I get that. I don't trailer around much if at all in the winter. Nothing you can do about that though.

I think those programs will help you keep track of your riding but your issue is simply that you have a lot of demands on your time in addition to riding. All you can do is to try to change how those things are approached or just not participate in everything. I'm not trying to be a jerk but time is finite and if you're not available then you're not available. Your time is limited by other demands that you cannot/will not give up - if you can't make more free time somewhere then you won't get more riding time. I'm not sure what you were looking for in asking for help on making time to ride.

What about trying to do a lease situation or lesson series during the vacation? Can the horses come with you? Could everyone go to a different location together where you could bring your horses or ride someone else's?

I get that its dark and awful in the winter. I don't ride when it's like 30 because I just won't have a good time, but I find other ways to enjoy my horses company. What about in the summer? Can you get up extra early and ride? Or maybe go for a ride after dinner? Make it a family thing - even if everyone is not riding they can hike (my husband does that while I ride).
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LynnF 03-22-2013 10:49 AM

I am in the same situation with the winter weather and it getting dark early. I don't have the option to haul out much in the winter because they roads I live on are very treacherous for lots of the winter months.
I take a once weekly lesson on a lesson horse. Believe me, at first I was totally against this, I have owned my own horses for many years, have been training my own and other peoples horses for quite a while and there is no way I am going to pay $50 an hour to go ride someone else's horse while mine are sitting at home getting fat and lazy. But then I tried it and I found that it is a great way to get out riding even if it is not my horses. I learn so much that I can apply to my training at home and I get to just relax and not worry about training for a while.
As for my own horses, I will get out and take them for walks (also something I used to think was stupid), it gets me and them out for some exercise and beats the cabin fever, without the risk of a horse falling on me due to poor footing.
I do admit that in the winter my horses are generally fat and lazy because it is hard with the poor weather and dark hours. But I do what I can and have to be happy with that until I win the lottery and can build an indoor!

Koolio 03-22-2013 07:45 PM

Thanks for the advice Dancing Arabian. I think I'm just ranting a bit over the latest snow storm. I got away from work a little early today and made it home in time to help my daughter fit and briefly try out her new saddle. While it was still cold (-8) and windy with over 2' of snow on the ground, it was sunny and good to get out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the roads will improve enough by next week so I can safely haul to the clinic. I'll start digging my trailer out tomorrow.

LynnF, I have taken lessons in the winter before to keep up with riding. It's just hard to pay to ride someone else's horse when your own are getting fat at home. I am also already paying for lessons for my daughter (also on a lesson horse), so lessons for two plus the upkeep on 4 horses at home gets very expensive. Once the days get long enough and the roads are better, we will go back to hauling in my daughters horse for lessons. I hope to join the same lesson with my horse as well.

This winter has been brutally long with LOTS of snow. Next year I may look for a place to board at least one horse where I can ride regularly. For now, I hope this is the last of the snow and the weather will start to cooperate soon so we can ride more.

LynnF 03-22-2013 10:03 PM

I hate the thought of paying to ride someone else's horse while mine are sitting around getting fat, but for me it is almost impossible to ride in this weather. I save money all summer while I can to pay for the lessons. It works for me but I understand that it won't work for everybody.
We must be close together because our weather was similar today. -8 but sunny here too!

Koolio 03-22-2013 11:00 PM

LynnF, yes we must be close to the same area. I'm in Strathcona County just east of Edmonton. The recent weather has been so frustrating. We've had snow, and lots of it, since early October. Blizzards this late in the spring are not uncommon, but not like this with loads of snow and cold temperatures for long periods of time.

I'm starting to worry about the number of mosquitoes we will have this summer with all the moisture. Fortunately, I have full coverage fly sheets with necks and belly bands for all 4 horses and I'm planning to do West Nile shots next week. I will also stock up on fly spray early in the season and figure out some sort of smudge system. We are also building a barn this spring (no arena), so I am hopeful it will be up with the stalls in before mosquito season.

I have come to the conclusion that access to indoor riding facilities is a must around here during all seasons so im looking for as many options as I can find. The number of nice riding days seems to be few and far between.

LynnF 03-23-2013 10:13 AM

I am just south of Red Deer, has been the same and if it is anything like last year the mosquitoes are going to be insane! I feel for you and wish there was more advice I can give you. The only thing I can think of is move somewhere warm!


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