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Jobs that allow freedom to show

Hi, Eventer here, but figured the HJ crowd has more knowledge into this since it seems like many are doing weeklong shows many times a year.

How do you have enough PTO/flex/etc to show as often as seems necessary to be successful? Not talking about the money aspect that we currently have threads on, but the actual time off to show.

What type of jobs allow this? or single income and stay at home parent? or horse professional?

How do you make it work for you?

I think a lot of this is going to depend on what your personal version of being successful entails? Is it the ability to go out at compete competently at a certain level? Move up levels? Qualify for specific competitions/awards?

You’re going to get a lot of responses from people who work remotely or are their own bosses in terms of flexibility. I work a job that can’t be done remotely but offers fairly generous leave that can be built up to a certain level and I can manage my own scheduling within a particular week. I’m not going to 10-12 week long shows a year, but I’ve always felt I had enough time off and flexibility to attend multiple 3-4 day shows over a weekend and go to a couple of week long shows during the year.

To me, most of being successful at shows comes from the work at home in lessons and training. I can compete comfortably and competently at my chosen level. If I had a particular goal in mind I might just be more strategic about which competitions I go to. But I also acknowledge that I have no desire or time/funds to chase accomplishments that require competing multiple times every month.

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I work in tech startup world which has a lot of pros but also a lot of cons.

The big pro is that I do get a lot of flexibility with my time as well as remote options. I get to start my day/end my day when I please; the work just needs to get done. Occasionally I have to work weekends–but then I can flex my time around to go to shows.

Alternatively, I bring my work to shows. Paying for full care has its advantages: I’m able to be on the grounds and can work around my ring time all while knowing my horse is in good hands. I don’t know how possible this is with eventing. For as much as folks crap on “programs” in H/J world, it is probably the biggest reason I can show and still have my job + family life. You can find good programs; you also need to really do some soul-searching on what hills from an equine management perspective you’re willing to die on. A lot like sending kids off to kindergarten and trusting that if the teacher changes the brand of applesauce for snack time, it’s not the end of the world and they’ll adjust if there are problems.

The con about tech startup life–fair warning–is that you have to be extremely ruthless about setting your boundaries and prioritizing your work. This is where I see most folks struggle and fail in startups. Either they have no work/life balance or they’re terrible at prioritizing their work and hitting deadlines (or have bosses who are terrible at prioritizing).

Edited to expand my answer a bit.


Honestly I am just curious what gives the best flexibility. Or those that don’t have the flexibility, how they make it work for them.

To me, as a lower level eventer currently, I spend much of my time/money competing at schooling shows hosted at recognized facilities (so shows aren’t as long or as $$), and traveling for lessons. Not a lot of lesson options locally, so for me to lesson, I end up having to flex or use PTO in order to make it & trailer out for these lessons (and many people don’t have this problem, but instead use the days for showing, whereas I’m using days to train).

It adds up, and I am just curious about how others make it work.

I am in marketing. I work in office for a major corporation.
They gave me the option of 7-4 or 8-5 for my regular, I chose 7-4 so I could ride in the evenings.
We also get summer hours, which is 7-5 with half days on Fridays.

I get 2wks vacation no matter what, but you accrue more the longer you work here. You also get 40 hours sick & an employee choice day off. I currently have 5 days to burn before Nov 1, so I’m going to go groom at a show in town and help a friend. :rofl:

My manager is great about WFH flexibility. I don’t take advantage of it, but I do use it if I need to work from the house or on the road if we’ve got to travel and can be on my computer. In my position, I really don’t have a need to be inside the office, and I have a team, so it’s a little more flexible that way for me to be out. My company is also very adamant about taking all the time you are given and having hobbies outside of the work place.

Lastly, I live in a convenient area. For me and my discipline, there are a ton of lower level weekend shows around within 2 hours. Almost all the majors are within an hour of me (minus AZ & OK). I don’t have to travel a ton to go show, which I am incredibly grateful for - so that definitely helps.

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No weeklong shows for me, but my company (loosely) follows a 4/10 schedule (M-Th 10 hr days with every Friday off) which allows me to do 2-3 day shows any weekend without taking PTO. They also let me float hours from week to week, so I can work 50 hours one week and only 30 hours the next with no raised eyebrows. It does make it trickier to get to the barn during the week though.

I’m a subcontractor, so I technically don’t get PTO but it does give me the flexibility to just take unpaid time off whenever I want if, for example, I wanted to go to a weeklong show. Of course, i don’t get a paycheck for that week, but it does give me the flexibility to manage my own budget and how much PTO I want to “pay myself” out of my paychecks each week.

I guess the most general guidance I can give is to find a job where you have tasks to complete but have discretion on how/when you do the work. And a company that truly supports work flexibility in practice, not just in marketing. If you can work longer a few days a week and then trade that into a half day or day off, that helps preserve your vacation/sick days. You can find those jobs in a number of industries/professions.


I teach at a university and it is generally very flexible…I can set my class schedule for when I want, as long as I am there for classes and meetings, and I am answering my emails/calls/students in a reasonable time they will pretty much leave you alone! Can’t really take a vacation during the semester…but since that ends the first week of May and doesn’t start until first week of September, it’s not a big issue. And I can still travel during the semester as long as I am not cancelling classes to do so.

You do pay for it…during the semester, I work a LOT of hours and work is always following me everywhere. But, I consider that a worthwhile trade for all the flexibility I do get.

I ended up teaching (swore I never would) after first going into PT…working as a PT for a number of years and deciding I hated the restrictions hospital admin was putting on us, plus there was no growth opportunities. My mom taught Chem at a university so I was comfortable with that world. So I did a PhD program (already had a DPT) and jumped over to academia.

Academia is not for everyone…I am at a teaching focused university, so while we have to do research, the demand for that and getting grants is not as high where I am. But, again, the trade of is lots of flexibility for a lot of work…but I can do much of that work at 10 pm on the couch or while at a conference or show.

My job allows me to do something similar - I have every other Friday but work 9-hour days.

I think you’ll probably find that a remote job that allows you to flex your hours will be the most advantageous to being able to do the amount of showing you’re looking to do.

I’m a lawyer at a boutique litigation firm. Court dates and trial are inflexible, of course, but a lot of hearings are still done over zoom and trials are fairly rare (unless you do criminal work, which I do not). I chose my firm for the work-life balance. For long weekends, I’ll generally work from home Friday morning and then ship Friday afternoon. For a week-long show I’ll take the time off, but then work in the evenings as needed to get that PTO back. This year I’ve done 1 week of Saratoga, 1 week of Vermont, and three local events where I had shipped, rode, and course walked Friday and showed Sat/Sun. Plus a bunch more one day stuff on the weekends.

I may work other weekends to make up the hours or get everything together enough I’m comfortable dropping it all for a show week, but that’s the compromise. Right now, the cost of showing is more prohibitive for me than my PTO or work schedule.

I think the big upside of being an attorney at a smaller firm is that generally, you know who is going to need you and when. So as long as your work is getting done and you’re communicating, there isn’t the emphasis on being in the office 9-5, Monday-Friday. When I worked in a big firm in a major city, I was much more concerned with getting an out of the blue email with a new assignment while I was mid ride.


I’m retired. That’s the best. :slight_smile:

In my professional life, what I observed was that the better you are at your job, the more valuable you are to your employer, the less replaceable you are viewed as being, the more freedom you have to make your own schedule. In the later years of my working life I was, by and large, free to come and go as I pleased as long as I continued to produce.

I have a relative who used to be in marketing, specifically advertising sales. She was very good. At one point in her career, she had so many long-term contracts that she didn’t need to be out there hustling every day to keep the money coming in, which gave her a lot of freedom to take time off for personal stuff.


I work for state government and have a flexible schedule that allows me to do a fair amount of shows, but the trade-off is that it doesn’t pay super well.

We currently have a hybrid work schedule where we can pick our in-office days, so I tend to do that early in the week in order to work remotely from shows. My office also doesn’t care what hours we work so long as we meet 40 hours and don’t abuse the privilege. So I’ll take official time off for only 4-6 hours on a Friday and then work up the difference earlier in the week by getting up early or staying late. This stretches out what I already consider generous time off which is 120 hours of vacation (40 of which I carry over from the previous year), 36 hours of personal, 64 hours of legal holidays, and then sick time which accumulates each year if you don’t spend it, and then the allowances increase with tenure.

My supervisor and director are also super amazing and don’t care what I do since my work gets done and I offer to take on more projects (gotta get those brownie points). Having great leadership and office culture makes a world of difference. My supervisor even came to watch me at a show once!

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Another remote tech industry person here. I work in marketing for a Bay Area company but live in OR so I don’t even have an office I can go into. My last company was local to me but still during covid precautions so same deal, WFH all the time.

I’m not showing these days but 2021 was a big year for me, and WFH really made it possible. I did a lot of away shows including a month in Thermal and really got the process down. I’d go early in the AM to take off standing wraps and hack, trail ride or handwalk (my horse was an older guy who needed to move on show mornings), then after groom/wash his legs and get my tack clean and ready for showtime. If I had afternoon classes I’d be back at the rental house on my laptop working by 7, 7:30, and if I was showing in the morning I’d hang in the setup or the VIP (which I did at a few shows for easily accessible wifi and snacks) til it was time to get on. Usually I’d just have to do a quick swipe with a towel at that point since I’d already groomed him.

Having a rental apt/house close to the showgrounds was key, and I loved the shows that had livestreams going—I’d just put it up on the TV while working so I could watch my ring and see when I needed to leave. I think I showed 14 weeks that year and only had to take like 4 of those days off, and that was while grooming for myself most of the time. Luckily my supervisor and the rest of the team were really supportive—I’d take calls from the show while hurry up and wait-ing and they’d always ask me to put my horse in frame haha.

Prior to switching to tech/WFH life, I worked for a public university in marketing and communications. Didn’t pay well enough to show on the level I wanted but the vacation time was ridiculous. I’d accrue 15 hours of vacation time a month, 8 hours sick, and lots of public holidays. It was definitely enough time to show regularly and the general culture was very work-life balance-focused, so it was easy to make arrangements to my schedule for lessons and hacks. I got permission to do the occasional work-from-show day as well which was nice.

*edited with additional details


I’m self-employed and work in media, largely freelance editing for a multitude of clients. The flexibility is great, but I am literally always working. I function well that way, but the computer comes to every horse show, and I do sit down in our show set-up and try to work, mostly uninterrupted, for an hour or two, then continue working when I’m home or in the hotel in the evening. I am fortunate that none of my work requires immediate urgency so while I do check Slack and email often, I don’t worry about anything pressing coming through while I’m on a horse or showing.


Fully disclosure I don’t show due to cost. But here are my thoughts for my job if I did. (and my job can make enough it’s just not where my focus is at the moment)

I’m a software project manager in fintech who actually leans a little more into the product manager territory. Meaning I’m a subject matter expert on a few areas of software and design. A starting software implementation Project Manager is probably not going to make enough to show the A circuit. However, given 5+ years of good experience you can.

AS stated above, being in a full service environment really helps. My horse is in training 4 days a week. My program isn’t full full service, I still tack up my horse etc., but pretty much everything else you could think of is handled for me. If I was showing florida I could probably only swing 2 weeks of it. 1 week I could work remotely, and my schedule is flexible enough I could make it work, plus he’d have pro rides during the week anyway. Then the next week I’d take vacation and probably do 2 divisions.

The rest of the year I’d have to go on Thursday night, work from “home” Friday and show sat/sun.

My work is pretty hard core on 3 days a week in the office. I can work one additional complete week remotely which is where I got the 2 weeks in Florida from. Other places you could do my job completely remotely (but you might not make as much) I pretty much schedule everyone’s lives on a project so I could mostly make sure I had time to ride, etc. However, I would need full service to make that a go.

So yeah be a good developer like not just run of the mill you need to be special, and or a product manager/engineer. However, those jobs often come with lousy work life balance. Honestly the easiest way is to be wealthy already :slight_smile:

I work for the local government and we accrue a lot of PTO, most of which rolls over from year to year. My supervisors have always been easygoing about granting leave, and I even did a month in Florida one winter. This morning I came in 2 hours late to get a shoe fixed on one of my horses. Nobody cares if you take a few hours or days off, as long as you’re getting your work done and not missing important meetings. In my particular job, I’m also on-call 24/7 so there’s some leeway that comes with being willing to take on that commitment (i.e., if you’re available when the after-hours things come up, no one will begrudge you needing some time for your personal life during the work week).

I have a law degree and am admitted to practice in two states, so could be making more money in the private sector, but I chose to stay here because I prioritized the time and flexibility for horses (and vacations, but we haven’t taken one of those in a while, mostly because of horses :roll_eyes:). Some days I question the sanity of tying my life choices to these absurdly expensive, fragile, and ungrateful animals, but here we are…


Sales - As long as you’re hitting or exceeding your quotas there isn’t much they can say.



I work in healthcare (cardiac ultrasound). When I was working in hospitals there wasn’t a lot of flexibility, that was a big part of my decision to leave and take a position with a private clinic.
I work M-F 7:30-4. The techs under me work 40 hrs/wk, since I have some extra supervisory duties I’ll often work through my lunch or will come in early since I have the keys to the office. Usually works out to an extra couple hours per pay period.
I have three weeks of paid vacation, but I can take more if I want.

Last year I took a few Fridays off for horse shows, and I took two weeks off in December to go to WEC. I’ve taken a few long weekends for shows this summer, just booked off a Wed/Thurs to do the baby greens with my young mare in September. I was planning on taking 2-3 weeks off in March to go to Florida but I might wait another year for that.

I’ve got a few friends who are nurses who have lots of flexibility for shows and vacations, they pick up a lot of extra shifts and trade a lot of shifts to make their schedules work.

I don’t actually show but my job is stupid flexible. I work in corporate accounting/finance and specifically pick tech/software companies to work for. I’ve found the tech companies to be much more flexible. The boss makes a big difference too I won’t work for a micro manager. Right now my regular work is 7-4 and everyone at the company gets every other Friday as a half day just standard. As long as I get my work done (and I don’t usually have a ton) I can take off for appointments, farrier, morning rides without saying anything or taking pto. We start with 20 days off and get more the longer we stay at the company. I’m 100% remote and can work from anywhere I want hotel, show, barn etc.