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The resource that limits us all the same is time. We only have so much available time to do the things we want to do and we must do.

In today’s multi-faceted lives, there are many demands for our time: work, career, family, and all the necessities of life. So often, it is only the time that is left over that we allow for the activities that make us feel most alive and fulfilled.

It can feel as though there is so much we should do, so much we want to do, but the time to do all of these things just slips through our fingers.

This longing to have more time is something I hear often from riders, and a feeling I am very familiar with as well.

I believe we can acknowledge the limited resource of time and make conscious choices about how to spend our time, freeing ourselves from the frustration of “never enough.”

Many people are familiar with the concept of priorities, but very few people take the time to fully apply this concept in their own lives.

When we become clear about what matters most now, we can give it the time it deserves, and allow ourselves a reprieve from wishing everything could happen now. Life is always shifting and changing, and we can rest with knowing that we can make the decision to change our priorities in the future.

Priorities matter to riders whether or not riding is a top priority for you and being clear on your priorities makes the daily decisions of how to spend your time easier.

Here is an example, if you decide that riding and time with your horse is a higher priority than a clean house, when Friday afternoon comes around and you have a choice between tidying your home for the weekend or heading to the barn, the decision to grab your keys and go see your horse becomes the easy one.

On the contrary, perhaps you know that having a clean and tidy home lowers your stress and is very important for you, then the same decision is again made easier. You grab the duster and mop and only go to the barn if there is time left over.

When someone consciously chooses their priorities, there is not a wrong choice. What matters more to one person is not right or wrong, it is simply their choice.

When priorities are not chosen, and decisions are made on the whim of the moment, then regret often sets in. For example, spending an extra three hours on the job doing busy work and then getting home too late for barn or family time. Or cancelling a lesson to go to a meeting for a volunteer event committee that you care nothing about but for some reason volunteered for anyway.

If work or the volunteer event were high priorities these choices would be satisfying and aligned. But with no priorities in place, decisions like these are often made by pressure from others (volunteer event) or simple ease and inertia (easier to stay at work doing random tasks than go riding, which may require more physical and mental challenge).

So how do you choose your priorities? We will go through a simple exercise to get started. First take out a piece of paper and write down everything you are currently doing or want to do in life. This list may include things such as: career, fitness, spend time with kids, learning photography, working in the garden, volunteering at animal shelter, applying to schools for further education…

Take the time to write down as many things that come to mind for you. When you have your list, go back through and pick the top 5 activities that matter the most to you now. Rank them 1-5, most to least important.

Each time you have a decision about how to spend your time, think about the options and ask yourself – “which of these supports my highest priorities?”

Know that you can come back to this list and revise your priorities as often as you wish, and they will naturally shift as life changes.

Being clear on what matters most to you now will make decisions easier and free you from the frustration of feeling as though everything must be done at once.

Watch the video below for ideas on how to decide if riding is a top priority for you right now.

After the video, leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

See you in the comments,



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48 Responses

  1. This is really helpful, Callie. I realized that preparing myself and my house for downsizing is, at this time in my life, a necessary priority. When that is done will, hopefully, be more time for riding adventures.

  2. Really thoughtful and important video! After a life of dreaming about riding while raising children and working as a choral music teacher/choir director/voice coach — I started riding in my 50’s and got my own horse, River, one year ago. I work part-time now, so, in some ways this was the perfect time to start because I can ride almost every day and my family is very supportive of my time away from home – as they are either at work or school. Riding, training and lessons are my priority right now, but I know that this may be short-lived. My family still comes first so I try to be as flexible and sensible as possible, keeping in mind that I’m still bonding with my horse and it’s important to be with him to develop trust, work on our partnership and become a better rider. I go to the barn every day most of the time and take two lessons a week, as well as work with a trainer for River — but there are weeks when I can only go out 3-4 times – which is still a lot. I think the important thing is that we remain sane and flexible and develop back-up systems. If I can’t be at the barn, I know that he will be taken care of as I pay extra to have him stall-boarded, which works for him, as he still gets 12 hours of turn out every day. I also have friends who will keep an eye on him and let me know if something is not right. I think we have to take advantage of the times in our lives when we can devote ourselves to our horses and riding but stay flexible while making sure our horses are cared for. It’s good to remember that everyone struggles with this. Thanks, Callie!

  3. For me riding and owning horses is all about relationships. I recently had a wonderful occasion to be with my horses and on a conference call at the same time. As the time for my call was due I realized I had forgotten to open the paddock gate. So with my iPhone plugged into my ears – and my phone on mute, I open the gate and then just sat down in the grass. Within a few moments the horses came around to have a look and I remain there for the conversation putting myself on or off mute as needed. Not only was it a wonderful conversation with my colleagues on the phone but when I hung up all the horses came back and very clearly had a chat with me, really connecting. I noticed with their clear connection that before they were just giving me a curious glance.

    Somewhere someone and it could’ve been you Callie, said that the most important thing is to connect even if it’s only for a short while. I take this advice and put it to good use. When I’m short on time I can take 20 minutes for a bit of connection be it grooming or just going through the fundamentals of a quick lounge with a long 16 foot lead rope. I find these sort of connections improve our relationship and my ability to make clear requests with a minimum amount of aides.
    Thank you for your videos thank you for your dedication and sharing with us riders and horses people your amazing wisdom and knowledge.
    All the best Lindsay Shea

  4. Difficult question, husband first ? Of course! (and he does fencing and field topping so must come first. But riding/ hacking out, my main aim, has to be supported by keeping the horse healthy – hence field /grass farming, hence husband coddling, healthy cooking etc ) so groundwork /longing/ in hand etc – Then there’s sailing, and boat, and horse care whilst away. Then maintaining friendships – to ride out with (!) or to care for horse whilst away. Everything is intertwined. There is a big support system involved for every thing
    However, great to be reminded that we do need to identify priorities. and never mind the attic full left for the kids to sort.

  5. Hi Callie, Excellent post. In addition to the time factor, some of us older folks, like I am, aren’t always physically able to ride as long or as much as we did. Then the guilt factor rears its ugly head. We have to learn to tell ourselves it’s OK if we cannot ride on a certain day. It’s hard. It would be cool if you could aim a couple of your posts to the aging population. Unfortunately we are all not spring chickens anymore. Cluck! Love what you write about and the videos. Thank you.

  6. Absolutely, you have said it so well. Thank you for taking the time and saying it’s OK not to be connected under saddle, but simply to just be “with” our horses. The relationship refreshes me in ways that no other does – at the cool end of a long day. I have sometimes berated myself for not getting to the barn and riding instead of setting up that list of priorities and allowing for the ups and downs. I have forgotten that there are many ways to have horse time besides lessons and trying to “make progress.” This video and the above comment was a great start to my morning.

  7. This is excellent. I have no problem identifying or following my priority, which is to be with my horses. My house is anything but spit-spot, but I sure am happy!

  8. This video is very timely as I have been planning my next few weekends around when I can spend time with the grandkids, ride and hang out with my horse. I find myself feeling a bit resentful when I have made commitments to volunteer or other events that cut into my barn time. This exercise has helped me clarify that my priorities now are my family, my horse and riding, my work and my friends.

  9. Good morning Callie, and thanks so much for this.
    How very helpful, sensible, and uncannily timely and relevant for me.
    I’ve just got back from a lovely but exhausting week at a family wedding in England, am trying to rekindle enthusiasm for a couple of work projects, and I’m wondering when I can schedule a lesson and just have some fun at the barn. But mainly this morning I’m wondering how to set clear boundaries for myself in the future instead of letting myself get overwhelmed with big and little commitments, many of which bring no enrichment to my world. And while all this plays out, my beloved Appaloosa waits patiently at the barn for me.
    Thanks to your clear-headed and down-to-earth advice, I will put my priorities down on paper (my horse is absolutely at the top, for her sake and mine). I will challenge myself to take charge of my freelance work schedule, and reconsider social engagements and everyone else’s demands to fit in according to what really matters. Because if my horse is exercised and we are connected, we’ll both be healthier and happier. The rest will surely follow.
    Thank you. Thank you.

  10. Thanks for the reminder, Callie, on setting priorities. Here’s the list you inspired…
    1. slay a ‘daily dragon’ (dragons, for me, are paperwork like income tax, accounting, etc. the things I tend to procrastinate on, that then feel like an ‘elephant’ on my back). Doing a dragon first thing helps set my day at ease.
    2. Progressively tidy each area of our ‘little farm’… gardens to bed for winter (here ‘down under’ where seasons are opposite), tack shed makeover (let go unused gear), declutter house (even a ‘drawer a day’) …
    3. daily creative writing session
    4. relationship time with my horses (groundwork, grooming, games, or riding).

    For me, Even ’10 minutes’ a day on each priority area relieves stress and gives me a feeling of moving forward… and helps me create the HABIT. Even a brief session with one of my horses can be an amazing experience of connection. And so often, just the act of getting started on a priority miraculously ‘extends’ the time…

  11. My horse is my number one priority and that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to ride, could just be hanging out at the yard with my horse and horsey friends……. having a horse keeps me sane and is absolute therapy for my soul. I do work full time but have understanding bosses who allow me to work full time hours but over 4.5 days per week (I start early, work late some days and work through lunch breaks). This enables me to have a half day on a Weds to ride, as well as weekends, and with the lighter evenings in the UK now I’ll often ride after work Mon & Fri. I pay my livery yard to do my horse completely on a Tues and Thurs and on those days I will also work overtime if I’m struggling to keep my workload manageable, or I can log in to my work PC remotely from home during the evenings to catch up. I’m also very lucky not to have any family commitments either.

  12. This is such a timely topic for me right now. I’m balancing my work, my horses and my family. I have my horses at home so I do get to spend time with them even though I may not be riding. My one funny guy likes to follow me around the paddock while I pick poop hoping I will scratch him with the pitchfork. Anyway my biggest issue I struggle with is the energy levels I have after a work day. I’m an older rider now and many times feel very guilty for not playing with my two horses. Your advice is great as right now I would love to be riding every day but am really learning to be ok with only a few times a week. It’s becoming ok that it is not my top priority, even though caring for my horses is a top priority. I’m lucky I get to be with my two everyday. Thanks for all your insight and advice, it’s nice to know that I am not alone in the balancing act of a life with horses.

  13. Timely video, thank you! Just decided after being thrown from a spooked horse in a lesson, that riding shouldn’t be a priority at this point. I am an older rider, a caregiver and very active but I cannot afford to become injured. I was told that when a horse spooks suddenly and for no apparent reason there is little one can do. I thought if I became a better rider, this type of thing wouldn’t happen and while I am so sad to give up riding, it appears to be for the best.
    What ways can I stay around these animals that I love? Hoping to replace this priority with something I love as much.

    1. Nancy, I think your honesty with yourself is very commendable. Having a balanced seat will help in situation like when a horse suddenly spooks but there are occasions where even the most solid of seats will lose their balance and come off! If it is available to you I would imagine volunteering at a therapeutic riding center might be a good way to still spend time around horses without riding.

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  14. Hi Callie ! Thanks for this great post. I struggle with prioritizing often . I take a weekly lesson and definitely try to make that happen regardless. It’s truly what I look forward to all week. I do not have a horse , only ride the schooling horses at the barn. I love my barn time and wish I could do it more than once a week. A goal of mine someday ! Thanks for taking the time to post this video and keep us thinking !

  15. I find that if I don’t set intentional plan to ride other life thugs takes over. My career could consume my whole life if allowed, I’ve learned that I need my horse time and I need to be rested. At one time I was trying to fit it all in and would ride when I was completely exhausted to have time on my horses. Now I make sure I leave work at the end of shift, I ride every other day and the off riding days I do family, friend time, or hiking and other activities I enjoy. I don’t pressure myself like I use too. I ride to enjoy my time with my horses in nature. I did have a coach in the past and felt pressured to train and compete, bu competition was not a priority for me as it was for her. I did compete some but once was pressured I didn’t enjoy it. I’m at an age if I don’t enjoy it I don’t do it.

    1. Melody, I think it is easy to let career consume our lives however, if riding makes you feel good than taking the time for it is important for self care!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  16. Great advice Callie. Riding is definitely a fairly high priority for me, but I also have a 4 acre property, two horses, other animals, a job (and a husband!) that all need my time. When you make a conscious choice about how to spend your time I think you feel more at peace, instead of perhaps feeling guilty, or even rushing to get something done so you can go do something else (a favourite of mine). If I don’t have enough daylight left after work, or enough time to ride my horse and give her the focus and attention she deserves, I just don’t do it. I might instead just give her a brush and muck out her paddock. Or I might do something that involves ‘self-care’ eg: a yoga session, or just have some time-out. And then when I DO have time, and can focus on my riding or horsemanship without being distracted / feeling guilty / rushing to get somewhere else, I go and ride.

    1. Tracy, I love the point you made here that if you don’t have time to do it sometimes it is better to not do it than feel rushed – I know I really don’t enjoy being rushed during my rides it takes some of the joy out of it!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. I am an older retired rider with a sensitive horse with whom I am trying to establish a better relationship with. I can’t be in in the saddle as long as I used to due to hip issues/ hip flexor. I need to make the most of my time on and off my horse. I want to continue to progress in my riding ability and enjoy my horse even for the shorter time.. I have an establishment with small indoor and outdoor arenas and access to trails. I need more confidence to push outside the box to use what I have available to further our education. Thank you for your availability. I find it so helpful.

  18. You are so insightful Callie.

    It is marvellous to be reminded to “regroup” and affirm one’s true priorities in life. To be accepting of all the hiccups along the way, and look at strategies that assist in getting things back on the right (personal) track.

    Very positive message. Thank you.

  19. This post is timely for me as I struggle to balance work, horse time and family. I’m lucky in that my horses live with me and I get to be with them everyday as I care for them. They get lots of attention but where I lag behind is my riding time. I’m an older person who’s energy levels are slowing down. I have been feeling guilty that I have not been able to muster the energy to ride/work my horses(I have 2, one is in retirement). I’m learning to feel ok with the fact that I can’t do what I used to. Thanks to your blog on this subject it’s nice to know other people share similar struggles and it is ok that I don’t ride 5 days a week. I scrafice a lot to have my horses but would not change anything (other than adding more time and energy) because they are a huge part of my life and I love them. I believe my horses are happy. Thank you Callie for your insight and ideas on this subject.

  20. My husband and I joined the Princess Anne Hunt Club in Charles City, VA to make Riding a priority. Since we made the commitment and pay monthly to be a member we feel forced to get up while it’s still dark and freezing cold to trailer our horses to the hunt. Once we get there and mounted by 9:30 am we are so happy we did. If we didn’t have this commitment and accountability of our PAH friends we would not ride often. We would find work that is “necessary”.

    1. Debbie, having something to hold you accountable is a great way to make riding a priority!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  21. Hi Callie,
    I enjoyed this week’s video! I certainly find my life to be very busy and my priorities include my work (which allows me to financially support my horse and riding) , my husband and relatives, and my horse. I may not get to ride him every day but make a point to see him every day even if it is for quick grooming or a quick hand graze. I feel it is important for me to see him and for us to maintain our connection. Even if I can only spend a short time with him, it still brings me great joy and I leave him feeling renewed and grateful.
    I am working on trying to cut back my other priorities so I can spend more time riding. I need to learn to say “no” to other people and organizations. I continue to work at this!!
    Thanks for the reminder about prioritizing riding in our lives.


    1. Nancy, saying ‘no’ is hard for me as well so I can very much relate to you! I’m sure you and Captain have an awesome bond 🙂

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  22. Unfortunately, I don’t have my own horse as of yet, but I ride at a barn every Sunday. I have been a returning rider for 3 years now. I really relish, and look forward to Sundays, and my time with, Splash.
    I find myself feeling a bit envious of the previous posts as I would love to have the opportunity to connect with a horse (and riding partner) of my own one day.

    I am very good at prioritizing my time, and work very hard at my job. I have a wonderful, and loving, husband who does most of the housework while I am working on my career.
    Thank you, Callie. You always have wonmderful advice, and I continue to enjoy your videos.

    1. Beth, just because a horse isn’t in the cards for you right now that could change in the future!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  23. Thank you for this, it’s very apt for me at the moment, it’s taken a bit of pressure off me I have been in total confusion for months now.
    Thank you again

    1. Pauline, I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to take some pressure off of yourself. I hope you find some clarity!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  24. Hi! My immediate family is a high priority, but that means that I spend some weekends traveling, as my daughters live several hours away. I switched to a new barn where I have unlimited lease time instead of a half hour each session and they are really flexible about swapping time. So, since the new barn is a 10 min ride from my house instead of 40 min highway ride, even if I only get 1 ride in, I can ride that day for 2 hours and I still ride longer than 3x per week at the old barn for the same away-from-home time as 1 half hour ride. Plus I think I am learning more by being in the saddle longer for each session. Added plus-Patrick’King comes in every other year! Sometimes changing barns is the right answer for managing priorities.

    1. Mary, that sounds like an awesome situation! That is very true as to figuring out a farm that is a good fit for you and your house and taking your priorities into account is a definitely part of the process!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  25. I had a dream of owning a horse farm. Right now I work as an executive in an ad agency. For many years, I’ve ridden 2 to 3 times a week, making it one of my top priorities along with my career which supports my riding and my lifestyle, followed by caring for my dog, yoga/jogging, my family in Montreal (I drive up, they visit me). What I came to terms with was that owning a horse was tough for me, because I could not make riding a priority 6 days a week (I feel like I have to be a lot wealthier to do it full-time). It was too costly to pay a trainer when I was away or couldn’t make it to the barn. It became too much responsibility. I take my responsibilities very to heart, such as my dog, who has a great life, so not being able to devote the time needed to owning a horse, I made peace with riding in a higher level school program with an angelic Argentinian Warmblood called Nico . Although I’m single, I have a lot of priorities which keep me occupied, and balanced, not too stressed out. Perhaps one day I will own that horse farm but not without finding a partner to do it with first. If I save enough money from my job that would be a great working retirement option for me.

    1. Thank you for sharing Jane! I think it sounds like you are very honest with yourself about the time you have to devote to your riding in fairness to the animal – very commendable!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  26. Riding is second to work only because work pays for riding and horse care! My husband of course is top priority even though he can’t understand my true passion for horses. (Mind you he owns his own horse, we have a truck and horse trailer and try to go away camping with our horses twice a month, or at least go out on trail rides once or twice a week.)
    He owns one of the shirts that says, “Yes, I’m married, she’s at the barn, no I don’t know when she’ll be home, no she’s not imaginary!”
    I wish I could be at the barn 24/7!

    1. Shanna, I think many of us can totally relate! My husband needs one of those shirts 🙂

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Thank you for the tools I needed to let go of self inflicted guilt around my ‘lack of riding’ I have a young family and hard working (non horsey) husband and a busy life. I recently sold a young frisky horse and bought an older solid horse that I can jump on once a week and that’s all she needs. The decision took a year but I don’t regret it one bit…. I hear you about the great cost of owning horses… Calie any perspective I n this topic? … cost management
        Love your practical advice ! 🙂

  27. my priorities vary with the season and weather – more riding on sunny summer days! I don’t compete, and own my own horse that I board at a local barn, so I can go anytime I want, but the arena and other areas are often in use, so in the summer I just go out trail riding. Winter is more structured, as I have to fit my riding in around other people. Work is a necessary evil, I try to do as little of it as possible, but someone has to pay the bills. My family understands what a physical and emotional benefit my horse time is for me, so the all support it being a priority, and my children are grown and can look after themselves. I had a big gap with no horses in my life, and I am not willing to do that again.

  28. Thank you Callie I was needing this, riding it´s a priority but now I need to focus on my new horme, I am moving, and I was feeling guilty because I do not have time for ride .

  29. Thank you Callie!! It has been a challenge to balance work, family, and riding. I work too many hours as a nurse; and when I’m finally at home I’m too drained mentally and physical to do much of anything.
    I decided this weekend I no longer need to work extra hours at my job to get ahead. My work will always be there no matter how late I work. I’m making my life a priority. I will focus on quality family time, continuing selfcare, and making riding a priority. I’m planning on spending time with my horses during the week after working as well as weekends. Thank you again for helping me regain my focus and priorities!

    1. Very exciting life change Sandra! We only go around once, might as well make the most of it! Congratulations on making you a priority 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  30. I really appreciate this one! I work as Recreation Therapist in an Alzheimer’s care community. I love my job and it can be very taxing at times so I leave work mentally and emotionally drained. I think I’m too tired to ride then I remember that my first priority in life is staying sober which is exactly what my horse helps me to do! My horse went through a rough time when I couldn’t care for him. I am well now and have him back in my life and he means the world to me!

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