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Finding time to focus on your horsemanship can be difficult, especially when you have family and work commitments. With that being said, horses are just like kids, they learn best with consistency and repetition. The more often you can work with your horse, the quicker he’ll learn and remember lessons. Can you still make progress with your horse if you only work with him two days a week? Yes. Will you make as much progress as you would if you go out to the barn five days a week? No.
The secret to balancing horsemanship with life responsibilities is to set priorities. There are only so many hours in a day and only so many things you can do, so you have to prioritize what you really want to do and what you have to do. I’m no different. For example, when I taught clinics, I instructed 30 participants from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and I also needed to ride my reining and cow horses as well. To accomplish all that, I’d up at 3 a.m. and ride before the clinic started and ride again during the clinic’s lunch break. I didn’t, however, have time to work out for 45 minutes like I usually did. I really enjoy working out and it’s important to me, but I had to give something up. Plain and simple, no one can do it all. Sometimes, during clinics, I’d only get two of my four horses worked a day, but I still made the effort to get what I could done. I’m telling you that so that when you have a lot going on, you don’t beat yourself up and feel like a horrible horse person. It’s OK to not be able to get to it all every single day.
My mentor Ian Francis often said to me, “If you want something bad enough you will find a way, if you don’t you will find an excuse.” Honestly, that’s what it comes down to when deciding where horses fit in your life. If your horses and developing your skills as a horseman are important to you, you’ll find a way to enjoy them, spend time training them and bettering yourself. If they’re not important, then you’ll think of a million excuses to not be out at the barn. That’s the simple truth. Ultimately, finding time to work with your horses and becoming a knowledgeable horseman is up to you.