What is your after-work barn routine?

While perhaps not every equine blogger has a regular day job, a lot of us seem to have. This sport is too expensive to be unemployed. I am parked reluctantly at a desk from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, and most of the time I just think all day about what I am going to do at the barn once I get off work.


SummerΒ  means changing at the barn is a bit uncomfortable, and occasionally wasp-riddled, so I leave my desk at work at 5 and change into barn clothes while still at work.

Then I sit in traffic for over an hour. Don’t anybody complain to me about your shitty commute. We all have them.

When I get to the barn, Eli seems to know it and I usually hear him nicker as I walk in, even though he’s on the farthest end from the parking lot. I open my tack locker and my trunk and put my stuff down in my trunk and go check on Eli and see if he’s eating okay and everything. Sometimes I pull him out right then, other times I get all of my grooming supplies and tack out first. We are lucky enough to have fans in our cross-ties, so I turn on a fan and get a little bucket of cool water for Eli, too.

Summer in Texas also means riding between noon and 7pm indicates you have a death wish. I take my time grooming, and find something to fuss with while tacking up as slowly as possible.


Yesterday, that was shortening Eli’s mane with a blade and scissors closer to his ears. He got a little nippier than usual after that. I swept up the mane bits before going on to more grooming.

Tacking up, I go with boots first, then saddle, then bridle …


I fuss over and double-check all of it repeatedly, much as I fuss over Eli while grooming, checking his coat, his mane and tail, his legs, his hooves, all for anything out of the ordinary. Same with the tack.

Rides vary from light hacks, to field/slope work, to more intensive flat work or cavaletti, to jump schools. Depending on how hard we worked, Eli may or may not get his front legs iced after a ride, but he will definitely get rinsed off. I graze him a little bit, then stick him back in front of a fan to dry while I clean tack. At the very least I clean my bridle, but sometimes condition my saddle and wash Eli’s boots. I usually clean my tall boots, too, while I’m still wearing them.


Most recently, I’ve noticed a dander on Eli’s shoulders that I am not sure of what it’s from. Old dirt & salt? Beginnings of sweet itch, because the bugs are terrible from the rains? It doesn’t rinse off, so I am going to try shampoo tonight. So far it’s just on his shoulders, but if it spreads or he starts losing hair, I’ll be using MTG on him and he will smell like brisket. He doesn’t seem itchy, so my guess for right now is that going from rain to intense heat has messed with his skin and coat a little and it needs some extra TLC.

I get to the barn 6 to 7 days a week, and this routine goes for M-F. What are y’all’s routines like? Do you alter your work schedule to accommodate barn & pony time?

40 thoughts on “What is your after-work barn routine?

    • Mine’s been about an hour & a half recently because it’s summer so it’s gotten a little shorter. But you live in one of the worst places for traffic generally!


  1. i’m still figuring out my routine with the new job. weekends and WFH days are fine for getting to the barn – sometimes i actually go twice (like, lesson early in the morning, then hack out in the evening) – getting me up to 3-5 days/week w the pony.

    bc days i go into the office (2+ hours of multiple trains, with exact timing dependent on which train i catch) it’s not really feasible to also go to the barn. unless i catch the early train – which somewhat invalidates the time/expenses used to get into the office for that facetime with my colleagues anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have nothing this structured. Maybe because they are at home, but it seems that the routine is interrupted by a fence that needs fixing, or the chickens knocking over all the horse feed, or the neighbor randomly stopping by to chat, or…well you get my drift. On the plus side, commute is not an issue.

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  3. My after work barn routine:
    1. Change in work bathroom stall into barn clothes
    2. Quickly scurry out the door with sunglasses on and hope no one sees me before I get to my car (not because I’m ashamed of what I look like – I just need to go to the barn ok.)
    3. Make the 45 minute pilgrimmage to the barn on the outskirts of town.
    4. Stop by coffee shop because it’s caffeine o’clock. People stare and my usual answers to questions are “Yes I ride horses. No I don’t know American Pharoah.”
    5. Walk 1/4 mile to get horse out of paddock. Walk 1/4 mile back to barn – much more slowly because WE ARE LEAVING OUR FRIENDS FOREVER OMG.
    6. Tack up, ride, tack off, rinse off. (This is where the time flies and I’m pretty sure Stephen Hawking couldn’t explain how time warps here.)
    7. Hand graze and talk to barn friends.
    8. Walk 1/4 mile back to paddock. Drop horsey off. Sit and watch horsey eat a while. Restore other horses’ fly masks to factory settings. Walk 1/4 mile back to barn.
    9. Put away things and clean up.
    10. Drive 20 minutes back to my house.
    11. Take shower and make dinner for hubs and feel guilty that it’s so late. But he understands πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! I second the idea of this becoming a blog hop πŸ˜‰

    Like you, I change into riding clothes before leaving the office…it’s just easier. When I get to the barn (~25 mins, give or take), I usually grab my tack on the way into the barn because the tack room is at the front, and Roger’s stall is at the opposite end. He’s already eaten dinner by the time I arrive, so I pull him out of his stall while simultaneously making sure he’s still wearing both shoes (bc it’s Roger) and putting my boots and helmet on. I try to do as thorough a grooming as I can, then I start with his boots, then saddle pad/saddle/martingale/girth, then buckling my helmet, then his bridle. The type of ride varies each day, depending on what we both feel like doing, but I make a conscious effort not to jump him a lot two days in a row…trying to keep those ankles as happy as possible! Post-ride, I untack and either hose him off or curry really well (in the cooler months), throw his BoT quick wraps on the fronts, and then do some carrot stretches in the aisle before putting him away. If I have time and it’s a nice evening, I’ll hand-graze him for a while and just let him hang out. I clean my tack after I put him away and he’s BoT’ing, and sneak him a peppermint (or two) before I leave.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am a morning barn person because I work from 10 AM-6 PM and there are too many people/children at the barn in the evenings! I would much rather go in the evening, as I am not much of a morning person and always feel sort of rushed, but it is easier to go in the morning when no one is there.

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  6. My horses live at my house so my routine is a bit different. I have about an hour commute home (barf) from work. I feed all the critters when I get home, unless it is winter and the days are short I ride as soon as I get home. Now that it is summer, in Texas, the hubs cooks dinner at 6p and we both go play outside afterwards. I have one horse that I show and one that I’m breaking to ride. I usually only ride one a day during the week and both on the weekends and try to get more rides during the week on the show pony if we have a show coming up and time off if he just had a show. I’ve only ridden the baby horse 3 times and I prefer to ride her when it is SUPER hot to dissuade bad ideas.
    I always do horse boots BEFORE saddle. I am curious by people’s routines with tacking up. I’ve been hit in the head by a lot of stirrups when booting after saddle (I used to show reiners) so started this routine when I was still a teeny bopper. I never ever jump at home, per trainer’s orders. We just do cavalletti and some ground rails to practice counting strides. Show pony HATES trail riding so we live life in a lot of circles or some variation of circles.
    After riding routine depends on what else is happening around the place and how sweaty the horse got from working. If not terribly sweaty I’ll just groom with the curry and brush really well. If sweaty then they get a bath. Summertime is evening turnout so I’ll put them back in their stall/paddock until nearly dark. In the winter they are up during the night so they stay in their stall/paddock (my stalls have either a giant run or a small paddock. I hardly ever keep them in just the stall).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Since I board Justin where I live, I get off work at 4 and head home to change. It’s so relaxing to fuss over his grooming, pull his mane a bit, etc. and like you said, in the summer its worth it to do that to wait and ride later. As far as routine I don’t follow anything super strict, but he does get BoT quick wraps on before every ride, as he chills in front of a fan.

    Now that its getting unbearably hot, I sometimes ride around 6 am before work. I’m lucky that I can flex my hours enough to get this done (9-5 instead of 8-4). But I do this similarly 6-7 days a week. Even when I’m dog-tired it still feels nice to spend the evening in the barn after I ride cleaning up, bathing or cleaning tack πŸ™‚

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  8. Mine depends on my clinic schedule. If it’s a nice schedule and I don’t have to be at the hospital until 7:30-8 AM, I try to get up at 4 AM to ride. But usually, I have to be at the hospital at 6:45-7 AM or I’ve worked the previous night, so I’ll pack riding clothes in my car and go immediately after I’m freed from clinics which can be any time between 4 pm and 9 pm. I go 3-4 days during the work week, and 1-2 days on the weekend as my schedule allows. I usually try to keep my riding/grooming time under 2 hours for both nugs, because the boyfriend wants me to help out at home, and I usually have homework after clinics are done for the day.

    Basically, I keep riding clothes in my car constantly and if I have a 2 hour chunk of time, I scoot on out to the barn.

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  9. My routine is almost the same, but with an added 5-10 minutes of debating going home instead of the barn because traffic, then deciding to just go to the barn every time anyway. And then trying to change in the hot barn bathroom wondering why I never think to change at work.

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  10. I am struggling to make something work. My barn is only 10 minutes from my office, but getting off at 5 isn’t really ideal for that scenario. It is always the hottest time of the day and I’m usually tired or grumpy. On the cool days I go out right after work and stay till 6:30 or 7. I used to graze after a rinse off from work but the mosquitoes eat me alive so I had to stop that 😦 Generally I am running home and bf wanting to know when I’ll be home so I can cook dinner and take care of the house.

    On the really hot days I just go home and play with my ponies there. Not as fun because I don’t get to ride or see my heart horse but I just don’t have the extra time to wait a few hours at the barn for it to cool down. I need to figure out something though

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  11. My boy gets terrible sweet itch (I’m talking loses half of his tail, rubs his mane out, scabs and dry skin EVERYWHERE.) and what has really helped the last couple of years and kept the sweet itch to a minimum (very little hair loss that I typically notice only because I’m over cautious lol) is Horseman’s Dream Anti-Fungaway. Works way better than MTG in my opinion, it stops the hair loss right in it’s tracks and helps their skin fight back against the gross sweat and bugs!

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  12. My riding horse and retired horse are at home with me. During the spring/summer/fall, Tuesday evening, I ride in a lop sided unlevel patch of sand/dirt/grass. I can only walk or trot carefully, but we do what we can. Thursday night, I hurry home, load up the horse and go to a arena. Sat morn, I trailer to a different arena and have my lesson. Sunday morn, I usually trail ride or clean barn/wash/pull/manes/ tails/clip ect. Winter is the same, except no riding on Tues. and I ask my hubby to trailer the horse to the arena, so I can meet him there on Thursday night and ride. And get home sooner. I am not a brave driver, and the rain and dark is too much for me. I wish I could ride more, but I am 57, and work full time +. This is the best I can do.

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  13. I’m so blessed to work exclusively from home now, so my barn routine is pretty easy. I work in my breeches, and then take off when work slows down.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good post! I think i’ll do the same on my blog….once i get back to blogging again. oops. Soon!
    My husband doesn’t understand why I wear my riding clothes to work. He doesn’t get why changing into tight long pants at the end of the day is such a pain. I’m lucky that I can just get up from my desk and head over.

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  15. Pingback: After-Work Barn Routine – hellomylivia

  16. I work as a lawyer here in Australia 4 days a week with a 1.5h commute, a 3.5 year old son and a baby on the way. My horses are at home living out so general care/feeding is fine twice a day but negotiating riding time is more difficult! I’m lucky to have 1 year of maternity leave coming up so will use a babysitter and try and fit in 3-4 rides a week then. My husband travels and works long hours. I get so frustrated having the horses on my doorstep and not riding, I love my work and family but your routine sounds wonderful. Enjoy your pony time!!

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