How can we balance horses and our personal life? The short answer is that it is not easy. Most people would tell you that they simply don’t; the horses come first. Is there even an option? Everyone who is part of the equestrian community knows that if you want to be great, then you have to work for it.
Yet I firmly believe that it is possible to take care of yourself and still follow your dreams. Personally, I struggle a lot with time management. This usually leaves me running out of time for myself. I have found it helpful to keep lists—lists of things that I want to do and things that I need to do. This allows me to weigh the importance of each task on my mind so that I can effectively allocate my time. I also like to occasionally set alarms to help keep me on track.
My life runs on a week to week basis. It all depends where I am and the schedule changes that come with my current location. Whenever I travel somewhere else, I find that I have a difficult time making a new schedule that works for me. I have found that certain things will just not get done. The hardest part about this is learning to accept it. I would absolutely love to accomplish everything I want to get done in life, but that’s not realistic. I juggle the most when I’m in Florida or Michigan—Florida for the Winter competition season and Michigan for the summer off season and training. In Michigan I am a working student for the world class dressage breeding program that is Hampton Green Farm. In Florida I am a client at Hampton Green and a part time working student for another farm. This takes up most of my time.
My leftover time in Florida—if I happen to have any leftover time—is spent practicing how to drive, doing school work, spending time with my family, playing tennis three times a week, and most importantly, taking care of myself. I am also trying to work on my social media presence, with the hope of gaining sponsors to help support my riding development. In Michigan, my “free time”—again, if I have any— is spent with friends and on any extra schoolwork I might have.
In theory, this is a lot for a teenager to manage. But I couldn't imagine my life any other way. I like to be busy. I like feeling like I'm spending my time doing something that I love. That’s not to say that I don’t have days where I feel like I don't want to do anything. Somedays I feel stuck or uninspired. Actually most days I just want to say “forget it, I’m not doing anything.”
But if you really want to get somewhere in life then you have to just suck it up and say I can do this. I want this and I'm willing to work for it”. All this work is so that you can have those days where you feel your best and you accomplish your goal. Because those are the days that you feel like the work was worth it.
I think that the most important thing is to be realistic. Know yourself, your limitations and your flaws. If you know for a fact that you take longer than most to achieve a certain task, build your schedule to give yourself ample time to complete it. Own your flaws and use them to your advantage. I’ve also found it quite helpful to build my schedule around what is the most important to me. That way, any extra time can be filled in accordingly.
We have to be smart when it comes to managing our lives and managing our personal health. If we don't take care of ourselves then we can’t take care of our horses.
Written by Carley Costello