Fletcher, OTTB

The secret to becoming a better equestrian: pick up a job at the barn.

Some people told me I’m crazy for getting a second job. I already have a pretty demanding day job at a Big 4 accounting firm, and I’m soon to start my CPA. I routinely work 50+ hour weeks at that job alone. My lovely, concerned boyfriend is so worried that I am going to burn out. And I have to admit, on paper, getting another job sounds bananas.

However, my big realization this week has been that being at the barn energizes me. Instead of being tired when my alarm goes off at 5:50am on a Saturday morning (like I am Monday to Friday), I am genuinely excited to go hang out with the horses. I guess it helps that they are sooo excited to see me (and their breakfast), haha! I think we all need to spend more time doing the things that make us happy, the things that make time fly by. For me, that thing is being at the barn. It honestly doesn’t even matter what I’m doing. Riding, mucking stalls, feeding breakfast, I’m trying to do it all, and I’m trying to do as much as possible.

I had my first two shifts this weekend, and it honestly doesn’t even feel like work. The girls have been reminding me that it’s not so fun in two feet of snow –  so ask me again in January 😉

Reasons why I love working at the barn:

  1. You get to be outside

We live in a pretty mild place (west coast, best coast!) where it rains a LOT in the spring/summer/fall/winter. We are having an unbelievably beautiful summer this year (despite some wildfire smoke), so I am taking full advantage of it whenever possible.

2. It’s a great learning opportunity

I am currently learning about thirty different horses’ feed routines: what they eat, when and, more importantly, why. I am absorbing SO much information about various supplements and medications each horse takes and paying special attention to their purpose. I make sure read every box and label so I can understand what I’m giving to the horses. I don’t know about you, but I find this stuff SUPER interesting. Actually, I almost switched into nutrition in university but I didn’t have the highschool credits (take all your sciences!!!) and didn’t feel like going back, haha.

It’s one thing to read about different feeds on the internet, but another to actually know the horse and understand the ‘why’. Once I master the basics, my goal is to dig a little deeper into the science of it all.

Also, issues and injuries happen. When they do, this is your opportunity to see how they are dealt with, close up. Right now one of the horses at the barn has a bizarre condition called subcutaneous emphysema. It generally occurs from axillary (armpit) injuries, and feels like bubble wrap when you press on the horse’s skin. It’s basically what happens when air gets trapped under the horse’s skin, who knew?

They are animals and these things happen. You can add all of this barn-knowledge to your arsenal, and you are guaranteed to become a better owner/leaser/rider because of it.

3. The riding opportunities

I’ve only been working at the barn for about three weeks, and I’ve had the opportunity to ride three different horses – and offered a fourth! If people trust you to feed and take care of their horses, often they’ll trust you to ride when they go on vacation of simply just can’t get to the barn.

This is great because experiencing a variety of horses is SO beneficial to you as a rider.You’ll start to pick up on their similarities, differences, and quirks, You become more sensitive and observant. This will quickly develop your abilities as a rider.

That being said, don’t expect everyone to just throw their horses at you. You have to show up, do a great job, have an excellent attention to detail, and really build some trust and rapport around the barn. Essentially, you should use this as a networking opportunity. Bring your best self to the barn every day and show everyone how well you will treat their four-legged toddlers.

4. It is an AMAZING workout.

I wear my Apple Watch to the barn every time I work and every time I ride. In an average morning (6 hours) of feeding, cleaning stalls, sweeping, and pushing the wheelbarrow around, I burn roughly 600 calories. For reference, if I run for an hour STRAIGHT with NO STOPPING I can burn roughly 370 cals. If I ride after, that’s another 300-400 calories!

So…….would you rather have a near death experience doing cardio, or get paid to clean some stalls and build some SWEET biceps??

5. I get paid for something I’d likely do for free!

I can honestly say that being at the barn is one of the only activities that I fully lose myself in. The time flies by, nothing unwanted invades my sphere of consciousness. I find it very therapeutic, and I think it is SO important to pay attention to the things that we lose ourselves in. Being there, and being around the horses, makes my heart happy and my soul calm. Whether I’m listening to music and podcasts while mucking out stalls, or prepping grain for the evening feed, I feel so content.

The best part – it pays for all of my riding and coaching, and then some! I can not think of a better arrangement.



Thanks for reading! Have you ever worked at a barn? Share your experiences below!