How do you cope?

I’m currently a full time student and work 40 hours a week to pay for my school. Last year I was able to show pretty frequently and even managed to win Champion in training level at the year end awards brunch my local dressage chapter hosts. However, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to ride nearly as frequently this year, so my long awaited move up to competing at First level is probably a no go.

I’m obviously not even considering quitting school, especially since I want to go on to grad school here in about a year. However, I tried the whole no horse thing when I first started college and I about died (only partially exaggerating here). This semester I am taking 14 credit hours and I am hoping to reserve one day a week to go out to the barn and de-stress, but finances are tight as always.

Which leads me to my question. How have you all managed to cope when barn time was limited by other obligations? I know horses will always be there so I’m not sitting here thinking if I don’t do horses now, I’ll never be able to, but I really enjoy going out to the barn and I have a lot of genuine friends out there that understand my “horse thing” better than anyone else in my life.


My life has always been horses, but over the years…I have had times where I had to step away.

Tight finances, marriage, having children, and other things have had to take priority over the horse thing. I realized that at certain times of my life, horses just were not a possibility in the way I would have liked it to have fit in. Even today, I opt to spend time with my family over riding. Now that I am older, it’s just another phase.

Include horses in a way that fits, for the life stage you are in. Do not feel guilty if its not the way you think it should fit. Life is not always the way you think it should be, sometimes, it is just the way it is. I know in a few more years, I can go back and really focus on my riding…but I cannot go back and have more time with my kids. Going to school now, might open doors for you to have more horse time in the future. The horses never go away, and you can always go back to them.

I coped by having no other expectations than to get to the barn when I could and just enjoy my horse’s company. No expectations to ride or improve or do more than rub her nose and smell her breath.

I did this through college and through the past 7 years with my kids. I still struggle to find time to ride as my children are still young but there is sun on the horizon and more time in my future.

You’ll get there, too. Just focus on school and enjoy the times when you can get out to the barn without putting any expectations on yourself.

Consider using this time to build the rider fitness you will need if you want to go beyond 1st level. If you work on core strength through things like Pilates and other methodologies, it will help your seat and position immensely.

I didn’t own a horse while going through college - no money, no time. My parents weren’t going to pay the bill, and I could no longer work enough to pay for horse bills AND college bills. So I went to local stables and let them know I was available for riding - and ended up with a nice Arabian stallion whose owner hardly rode anymore but didn’t want to give up his horse - someone else paid the bills, and I rode 2 to 4 times/week. I actually got several other offers from the same stables once people realized I was dependable and could ride.

Then, once out of college, I focused on my career for the first few years, and just took a lesson here and there when I could afford it. After 3 years, I bought a horse - and have owned a horse (or multiple horses) ever since then.

It depends a lot on whether you have to work, and what your major is. Some are more time consuming then others. But it is a time to accept you may need to focus on your future. I do know people who leased or partial leased their horses during college to help cover the costs and keep their horses working. And a LOT of parents who sell the horse when the kids are in college.

I went through this at one point in my life. Poor college student with two jobs… I managed to touch base with the owner of a barn I used to lease a horse at. She put me in contact with one of her boarders who did not ride her gorgeous warmblood and the horse needed excerise. It worked out beautifully. Once I was out of school I planned to save money but ended up buying my horse within 6 months because I just couldn’t wait anymore… :slight_smile:

I didn’t start riding until I was doing residency, at which point money was no so much an issue, but time certainly was.

I just rode for fun, when I could. Of course I was only learning, so no worries aboit levels and competing. But I had enough on my plate without having some kind of internal “obligation” to ride, and this way, riding when I could, it was great for a break and de-stressor.