May 2017 - Eye on Eventing: My To-Do List
Written by Lauren Billys
Friday, 28 April 2017 21:40

Prioritizing & time management must be cultivated in a riding career and carry over well to the rest of life.

by Lauren Billys

The balance between riding and “normal” life has been one of the hardest challenges of my riding experience. When the “hobby” we choose is really a lifestyle and has no set hours, it can make finding our way to typical life appointments and decisions difficult.


Columnist Lauren Billys contested the 2016 Olympics in Rio, on behalf of Puerto Rico, and has written about that remarkable experience for us since early 2016. She continues to compete and is accepting students and horses at Lauren Billys Eventing on the Monterey Peninsula. Visit for more info.

I remember this balancing act most vividly when I was in college and in a sorority. I would go to class, change to riding clothes, head to the barn, back to my sorority, peel off my boots at some bizarre hour, and get ready to go out with my friends after picking shavings out of my hair and eating a meal of string cheese and pretzels.

Likewise, I would run out of time and just wear my riding clothes to school. I knew this was becoming a regular habit when my classmates complemented me on my new riding clothes. The challenge of this balancing act is undoubtedly difficult, but within this lifestyle comes opportunity.

As we know riding is time consuming, I find it is most important to prioritize the daily “to-dos,” create a schedule and then stick to it. In creating a schedule, I have learned two hard lessons. One is schedule more time, not less! And the other is to not over commit.

Making either of these mistakes means something in your schedule has to give and your “to-dos” either do not get done or are compounded on to the next day. This time management is a key to successful riding. Without time management, it is easy to feel like your riding is not improving. But with good time management, each day and ride can be purposeful to keep your horse and riding growing positively.

I have found I am the most successful when I have a healthy and helpful team of individuals that support me. As we all know, it takes a village. But, depending on your level of riding and commitment, this village can look very different. For myself, it is made up of working students, a barn manager, coaches, physiotherapists, clients, and the list goes on. For the majority of people, this team consists of a farrier, veterinarian, riding coach and boarding facility.

No matter the circumstance, when I meet riders who have surrounded themselves in a supportive community that has helpful and knowledgeable team members, everyone wins.  In this environment, your horse is cared for when life gets busy and your momentum in growth and care doesn’t have to take a back seat. I think it is crucial in the juggling act of horses and life to be surrounded by this kind of village to succeed.

Something I have found so amazing about my peers who ride is their likeness in terms of work ethic and attention to detail. I know this is not by chance. These attributes are grown within the horse community. Learning how to care for a horse well requires these attributes and grow by having good prioritizing skills, effective time management and a positive team. These details are vital when it comes to being successful. I know when these pieces are in place life as a horse person feels less hectic and more amazing. Sometimes I think the craziness of our horse-lives can be overwhelming, but often I stop to look around and think how lucky we are to do what we do and never stop growing to be better in our craft.