I now feed and water all the horses at my barn in the evenings to help bring down my boarding costs. I've been rediscovering my barn worker skills lately in order to better afford my horse. (It's definitely easier when you're in your 20's than when you're on the cusp of turning 50, I'll say that.)
That being said, leaving work late means with all I have to do before I can get my horse tacked and in the ring to ride, all I'll get is about 20 minutes before I really lose daylight.
Is it worth it to even ride?
I was tempted to just groom him a bit after feeding and watering and that would be it. But we just got through a long, cold bitter winter where Joey and I had 3 months with no riding. That, and the lessons ingrained in me over years of competitive riding overrode the thought to be lazy. Any time spent in the saddle with a positive outcome will add to the hours needed to make a good horse.
So with a thorough but quick grooming (which is a chore in itself since Joey is shedding like crazy) I saddled up, zipped on my half chaps and buckled on my helmet and out we went.
I'd rather be eating, mom but okay let's go.
Once I mounted up, my thought was, "what exactly am I planning to do?"
And I really didn't know. I really only felt like I had the energy for a leisurely walk around the ring but that's a waste. I got here, now let's do something.
So I started riding bending lines and adding walking over ground poles that were in the arena from lessons earlier in the day. We pushed into the rail from the quarter track and out again to do some work off the leg. We halted and backed. We rode long rein and on contact. We even trotted a few circles starting at 20 meters and spiraling in then out.
Then we walked out of the arena and up the driveway to a small grassy hill and walked up and down that hill to change up working on a flat surface.
And then it was dark enough to quit. And my 20 minute ride made it to 30 minutes, just walking and trotting a bit. But look at all the small things we did. There's always something to work on or refresh. So many little details that add up to a nicely trained horse.
It was quality work. Even just at the walk. 30 more positive minutes to add to Joey's resumé.
If you only get 20 minutes to ride, don't take the easy way out, use them. No minute in the saddle is ever wasted.