Bees with horses, how do you manage your time?

posted 2 years ago in Pets
Post # 2
266 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: St. petersburg, FL

Hi there – I have two thoroughbreds. Good for you for thinking OTTB… I just love them. πŸ™‚ 

I’m really lucky that my SO is decently okay with my horse obsession. He doesn’t love them, but he knows we’re a package deal, after all, since I’ve had my old mare (she’s 27 this year!) since I was 14, so she comes first. We were only dating for like a year when I got my second, so I didn’t consult him because honestly it was such a new relationship then that I didn’t even feel the need to. My SO has confessed he wished we had at least talked about it because now it affects us time/money wise since we are most likely going to be engaged soon, but I didn’t feel like in that moment I had to. Now, I wish I kind of did even though I know he would have said “but you already have one!” (again, she’s 27 and can’t be ridden… he doesn’t ‘get it’). 

Anyway, now that we are in the stage of our relationship where ‘my’ horses are going to be ‘our’ horses, this is such a relevant topic. My horses are both at my parent’s house, where I currently live. So, I see them twice a day because I’m their caretaker (sometimes my SO will do chores for me if I can’t, and i’m lucky to have my parents and my neighbors also able to in case of emergency or if we go on vacation). I also have a horse sitter I can call that I trust that has taken care of the farm for me if I leave and my parents also can’t do the chores, so that’s good. I would definitely find someone you trust that can be that person for you, just in case. 

However – I am going to preface this with the fact that my gelding, who is only 13, is going to be my last horse that I own. Since you’ve already owned, you know the time and money expenditure is relatively huge, and I just don’t want that responsibility for the rest of my life. While i’m youngish and have a great job and good health, I manage, but my boy will be my last horse, then i’m leasing, because that’s so much easier!!! I can’t tell you how hard the medical emergencies are on me, and the worry that I have pretty much every day that maybe this is the last month, or week, or day for my 27 year old… she’s ancient! I’m just a worrisome person, so yeah.

As for time management – I wake up at 5:30, do the barn, then head to work. Then after work, I come home and do the barn, ride if I have time, then workout and eat dinner/go to bed. My SO is super cool about going out to the barn with me to help throw hay or feed or something while I muck. We get to spend some time together, too, but I usually just save the long rides/time in the barn for the weekend, and do maintenance/bare necessities during the work week, because I don’t have flexible hours/time. My days are long during the week, but my horses don’t care if they don’t get ridden every day (my 27 year old has been fully retired for 2 years anyway), and i’m lucky my gelding is the same whether I ride him once a year or every day… he’s just an angel that I don’t deserve πŸ˜› 

However, when my friend kept her horse at my house, and I was riding in a program and showing last year, I did board my horse. I paid $400/month for full care field board, so that included grain, hay, and daily check ups and access to a full sized indoor, outdoor, etc. Stall board in my area runs about 650-700 per month just FYI. When he was at this barn, I would either wake up at 5 to ride before work, then do my own barn (5 minutes from my house, luckily), or I would just see him in the evenings. I was only able to see him once per day, and I definitely saw him every day for the year he was there. I decided to bring him home once my life got a little busier and I started prioritizing my workouts over riding, so I brought him home and now I get to see both of them twice a day! I love it, but boy is it a lot of work. That’s why I kind of wish I leased, even though I wouldn’t give it up for ANYTHING in the world. 

Can you ease into ownership again by leasing for a while? Then find your heart horse and adopt once you get back into the swing of things and find the schedule that works for you?

Post # 4
408 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I have two horses! I got my first when I was about 6 months out of school, and my second about a year afterwards for my hubby (then FI) to get into riding. Thankfully, he got into riding. I trained the first one myself (got him as a baby) and basically had to restart hubby’s horse because she was an anxious bat-case. They’re both rockstars now and we love riding together!

I’ve always pasture boarded both of my horses, so I don’t feel guilty on the days that I don’t make it out to them. Also, that way I don’t have to coordinate with anyone to turn them out (or pay extra $ for that). They are totally fine in the rain, snow, etc.

When I had a less flexible work schedule, hubby and I would drive to see the horses almost every day after work, and on weekends. Spending time with them was something we both enjoyed doing together, so I feel really lucky in that regard. I’ve paid anywhere from $250-400 a horse/ month for pasture board. I would DEFINITELY look into somewhere with an indoor arena to board. Especially during short winter days with limited daylight, it’s really nice to have somewhere to ride.

We moved to acreage about 2 years ago, and we’re finally building a barn and fencing off a couple of acres so we can bring them home πŸ™‚ We purposely moved to a neighborhood with horseback riding trails, so that we could enjoy more time with the ponies. Can’t wait to be able to just walk outside, hop on, and go for a long ride!

P.S.: If you’re into natural horsemanship, you should check out Warwick Schiller if he isn’t on your radar. I basically watched his videos and was able to start my own horse.. he really explains things well and isn’t as cult-y as some of the other trainers out there. He has vidoes and a FB group.

Post # 6
211 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Since you’re planning on moving, is keeping your horse at home an option? This would obviously take some money/effort/upkeep but would allow you to spend more time with your horse, because you wouldn’t have to deal with the barn hours or barn commute.

I also know someone already mentioned leasing above, and you said that the barns around you that offer leases tend to be show barns. Are you getting this information online etc., or directly from the barns themselves? The reason I’m asking is because many of the more “casual” barns I’ve ridden at DO offer leases, but they are not advertised because the owners will only offer the leases to riders they know who are already at the barn taking lessons, etc.

Post # 8
1301 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I’ll chime in. I’ve been riding over 25 years (started as a tot) but have only owned 2 horses for brief periods – the rest of the time i’ve leased and catch ridden. SO and I just purchased our first home (no acreage), we live in a suburb of a VERY horse expensive city, and I work ~65 hrs a week. I’m currently horse shopping very actively so expect to have a horse ASAP. I’ve been horse shopping since Sept though so have been leasing/catch-riding/lessoning in the mean time.

So I will give my current situation as well as my planned schedule once I own.


I have two horses at my disposal currently plus a trainer who lets me take lessons on her personal horse. I am very fortunate that I am a very capable, confident, and soft rider so people want me to ride their horses.

First horse is an OTTB that I lease from a private owner that is kept at a boarding barn a 10 min drive from my house. I ride her before work 1x a week plus 1 weekend day (plus any of the weekends the owner is away). Weekdays I ride for ~20-30 min before work between 6:30 – 7:30 and then catch the 8 AM train downtown for work.

Second horse is a high-spirited Welsh/Arab cross that was purchased to be a schoolie in my friend’s lesson program but is definitely NOT schoolie termperament. I’m petite so friend has asked me to exercise pony whenever I can as everybody in her lesson program is scare of pony and refuses to ride her. I try to ride her 1-2 days of the weekend but the barn is ~45 min away and with winter cold weather I’ve gotten kind of lazy/wimpy about getting out there.

Third horse is the personal horse of my trainer – a 17 yr old PRE that was out of work for a few years and is now coming back into it. Previously trained to a high level. She’s quite protective of him so I’m super appreciative that she lets me lesson on him while I search for my own horse. However she’s expensive so I typically only lesson every other weekend.

So basically during the work week I ride one morning and then my weekends are spent barn-hopping to ride each of the three (so annoying that they are at 3 different barns!)


Going forward:

I expect to buy something young and green (~3-4 yr old) and am a firm believer that babies should only be worked 3-4x a week for max 30 min. I expect to keep horse at a barn ~10 min from my house and work the horse weekends and 1-2x weekday mornings. Weekdays will be quick sessions before work whlie weekends will be a short ‘working’ session and then exposure work (hacks around the property, de-sensitization work to ‘scary’ things, ground work and manners) as well as longer grooming and bonding sessions.

Once horse is going under saddle for a few months I’ll start lessons 2x a month on weekends in the off-season and then we’ll see what I can manage during show season when most trainers are unavailable for weekend lessons. 

Once horse is 5-6 years and a more solid citizen/established dressage horse then I’ll probably look for a part-time leaser who can ride a couple times during the week. For a less skilled rider I’ll charge a higher fee and for a more skilled rider I’ll essentially waive the fee — but that’s much further down the road.

Horses are such a time and money suck, and honestly I cringe when I crunch the numbers and look at what my per-ride cost is on a monthly basis. But at the same time I’m a miserable cow when I’m not riding so my husband has learned to accept that the time and money is worth it to have a pleasant wife to be around πŸ˜€ 

We’re also trying to start a family right now and I do wonder if I’m crazy to be looking to buy when my already tight schedule is about to get even more hectic. However I’m actually TRYING to get a horse before we conceive because I know that if I have a horse I’m really excited about, I’ll make it work — vs if I’m just catch-riding or riding a lease horse out of convenience I’ll quickly let the horse drop off the radar. 

As for leasing vs buying – I’ve been leasing and catch-riding for 10 years. I am so done with not having control over the horses’s training, maintenance, upkeep, etc. To me the financial investment ot regain that control is worth it.

Hopefully in the next year or two I’ll change jobs to one with more flexibility and shorter hours. My goal is to find a job that allows me to work remotely 2 days a week and those days will become my riding days.

I’m not sure I’ll ever want to have the horses at home to be honest. The cost savings are typically outweighed by the time required to care for the horses daily but also all the maintenance and upkep of the property. Plus I NEED an indoor in winter or else I won’t ride (too wussy) so unless we move to a warm climate I expect my horses will always be boarded.

 ETA: in buying our house having close-access to boarding barns was a high priority. We compromised on commute for this. So our commute to work is ~40 min door to door with a direct train (we live ~5 min from the station and our offices are both a 1 min walk from the other end station). Because of this I have a choice of barns that are within a 15 min drive of the house – something I’ve never had before. However because we are about as close in to the city as you can get for horse country, the board prices are steep. It’s painful, but the reality of the city we live in. Someday I’d love to move to a more wallet-friendly horse area, but for now I just cry a little at what it costs then soldier on.

Post # 9
1301 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

View original reply
mrstaylorlevy :  Typiclaly private owner leases are best found through word of mouth. I don’t know what level rider you are, but I find that if I take a few lessons with various trainers and then let them know that I’m looking for a horse to lease that I can leverage their networks. As I said, I’m a pretty strong rider so am fortunate that by mobilizing these networks I’ve had a pretty good success rate of being put in touch with an owner that is looking for their horse to get extra ride time. The trainer can vouch for my riding ability which smooths out the process quite a lot.

The other method to try is FB. I’ve joined basically all the local FB groups and just monitor for people looking for leasers.  I’ve also worked to get a few sample videos of my riding ability that I can share. However, I’ve had way less success with FB vs word of mouth.

Typically leases always come with a fee. Once your network is large enough you can also try catch-riding, but I often prefer leasing because you have regular access to the same horse rather than spending each ride basically getting to know a new horse.

Post # 10
746 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

I’ll chime in too even though this thread is older –

I currently have 5 horses BUT at this time they are my only “job” and we keep them on our property. Two are seniors (28 going on 29 and 25 going on 26), one is my FHs, one is preggers, and one is a large pony I picked up last spring so I’d have something to ride harder than I could my old ladies and mama.


I used to only have 2 (my old ladies) and I used to work 60-80 hour work weeks. My parents had a small boarding facility and I kept them there. I would go out early mornings if I didn’t work too late the night before or I would go out really late after I got off work. If I just couldn’t swing it I would ask another boarder for assistance. I also allowed one of them to be used in private lessons and shows so that helped immensely.

When I did board I much preferred the more casual/rough board atmospheres. I felt there was more of a community and less competition. It doesn’t sound like rough board is an option with your schedule unless you found someone to lease or co-op with you.

As for cost – that is hard because it so variable and dependent on where you live! When I lived in New England and kept them at my parents they averaged me $500 ($250/each) a month in feed, farrier, and vet. I didn’t have to pay board. Where I live now I think all 5 cost us maybe $300 a month? If even that? Horses are vital for work in the area so prices are not jacked up here.

Here is a pic of my 2 old ladies and my mama.

Post # 11
1908 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

Just noticed- old thread… 

Post # 15
746 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

View original reply
mrstaylorlevy :  I ride multiple disciplines so when the baby comes (and providing all goes well) I’ll see what the baby is best suited towards and go with that! It’s my first home grown baby so I am so super excited/anxious/etc. Both parents are super athletic so we might have a lot of options. I have a suspicion that this baby will end up FHs if it grows big enough – in which case it will be used for cow/rodeo work.

We actually bred the mare at our vet’s recommendation as she was having uterine issues (enlarged follicle which caused intense pain) and would completely collapse 3-4 times the months she was changing season and going in/out of heat. Super, super scary. She said our options were spay, one of those pearl/marble things to keep her out of heat, or breeding. She said there was a pretty high chance the marble would not work for her so she recommended breeding since she’s a really nice mare with a wonderful temperament and we were looking to start a baby this coming year anyway.


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