A Post Full of First World Problems

TL;DR: My job is keeping me from my horse.

You may have noticed it's now been over a week since my last post.  Or maybe you haven't noticed, that's cool too.  I haven't been posting, because I haven't been riding.

Work is interfering with Connor time on a scale I never thought possible.  When I was hired, they told me they tried to give engineers week breaks between projects so we didn't get burnt out...but now they've scheduled me to be on the road at customer sites doing massively stressful projects for definitely six, probably seven weeks straight starting last week and going into June, with more on the horizon after that.

I have taken almost no pictures lately because I haven't been to the barn!  But here's the Thorowgood with the wide gullet plate.  Winner winner.

I am already feeling burnt out, and the salary increase is not worth this lifestyle to me.  I have to be happy with my lifestyle in order to be happy with my job, and a happy lifestyle, for me, includes Connor and CrossFit - neither one I'm able to do right now.

I'm deep into the process of, shall we say, getting my work-life balance back at this point, but I can't talk about that publicly yet.  What I can talk about is how I plan to handle this stretch, and would like to know how you guys have handled stretches like this.

Have some random photos of Connor turned out in the indoor on a rainy day a few weeks ago.

I probably won't be able to make most of my lessons next month, so they will become either in-hand work or trainer rides, and since my trainer isn't riding for a few more months, trainer rides will become my trainer giving the (really quite good) assistant trainer "lessons" on him.


(They're not lessons for the assistant trainer, they're lessons for Connor, like a tag team out-of-body riding experience for my trainer.  It's not the same as my trainer being in the saddle, but it's not bad either.  She won't put anyone else up on him except the assistant trainer under her direct supervision, because as she says, "Connor remembers and holds onto mistakes too well to put just anyone on him."  Good thing you're not a lesson horse, buddy.)




My trainer offered to let me out of the two lessons per month requirement next month, but I said no.  First of all I don't want to lower her income like that right when she needs it most.  Second, I want to know Connor is getting people time during the week, because I'm probably going to be a weekend warrior for a while.  Third, my trainer is REALLY effective with in-hand work.  In my last lesson, I had problems with the right shoulder that I couldn't fix in the saddle, so I handed him off to her, and she fixed him on the ground within minutes.

So sassy.

And on a selfish note, I'm going to be be separated from my four-legged psychiatrist when I could use his therapy the most.  Total first world problem to be separated from your horse by a good-but-demanding job...but I love this awkward animal.


Anyone else ever survived a long stretch like this?  Annoyingly, right at the beginning of our show season too...

24 comments:

  1. I've done it for sure. It sucks. I think the longest I've gone is 4 weeks, around our major bi-annual event...that's coming up again this June.

    I do a lot of whining, but I also do what you're doing. Have other people ride him, do a lot of reading and thinking about our goals, look back over old pictures.

    I'm also fortunate in that I only live 8 minutes away right now, so I can go and just sit on him, even if I don't have time or energy to ride, or I can go and groom, or if I'm really on point I can get up earlier and go kiss his nose before work. It helps.

    Sometimes, too, I simply force myself to turn off that part of my brain and find fulfillment with my dog, or house projects. I try to practice out of sight, out of mind, because that can be easier.

    But yeah, the guilt is pretty crappy. And I make a mediocre-to-poor nonprofit salary, too, so it's not even like there's compensation.

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    1. Living 8 minutes from him would change things for sure! Connor is 45 minutes from me, so it's a minimum 3 hour trip to get there, ride, and get home.

      Out of sight out of mind is a good thought - and it helps that I know when he's out of sight, he's getting good care.

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  2. I'm sorry girl, that sounds really stressful. I haven't had to deal with that personally but can see that, so a slightly lesser scale, I'll be trying to balance a similar scale soon. It's causing some angst to say the least. Sounds like you e got a great support system figured out for Connor tho. Just don't forget yourself!!

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  3. Meh this is no fun at all. I feel for you. The first 3 months of this year were absolute hell for me. I was working going to the barn so I didn't shoot myself and then I would have to work until 12 or even 1-2 most nights and work on the weekends. It's depressing. I finally had to tell my boss I'm not being fairly compensated for the work I do during my regular hours let alone all of the extra time I had to put in.

    Not much has changed with my work load but I had to find a way of getting to the barn or I would have lost my mind.

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  4. That's really rough :( I'm sorry that you're not getting your Connor time in but glad that you're figuring it out. I have had to deal with this in the past when I didn't have an indoor arena and had a few weeks of horrible weather in the winter. It was rough but I also sort of practiced out of sight, out of mind

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  5. My first semester of university I was swamped constantly. My schedule was terrible, so my days were all long, and by the time I got home I had time to eat, do my homework, and not much else. As a result, Jazz was one of the first things I lost time for, and even though I was still seeing her on weekends when I didn't have too many assignments, and usually on my one free night a week, it was still miserable. She wasn't working enough to be fit, which was especially hard coming off of the summer where she was in two lessons a week between pony club and my regular trainer, and in the best shape of her life. I ended up half leasing her out to a girl who had ridden in my group lesson with me in pony club but whose lease horse had gone lame. She took a lesson a week with my usual trainer and I still saw Jazz as often as I was able but I was now able to actually do fun things since Jazz was fit. If you know of someone you trust as a rider, maybe consider a part lease? Although it sounds like that would be difficult since Connor is so pliable....

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  6. I've been there with some of the contracts I worked. Like you, definitely not something I'd want to spend my life doing. It sounds like you have the right attitude and priorities. Best of luck with the work-life "rebalancing". My only reminder would be to look at this as a transitional thing, and also as valuable experience. Fingers crossed for bigger and better things coming your way soon :)

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  7. I was a tax accountant in what now seems like a previous life. I hate to tell you that I didn't have any great ways of coping with the insane hours. I spent a lot of time crying, sleeping, working out, stuffing my face with something terrible for myself and then going back to work. Gavin was terribly neglected during busy season. I ultimately had to put an end to that line of work because I just couldn't handle it. Sounds like you *might* be heading that way, and all I can say is good luck and I support that decision. Mo' money might be cool, but it's not worth anything if you can't enjoy your life.

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  8. Your issue is THE major reason I have not moved up in my company. I'd get a fantastic salary increase but my life would no longer be mine and it just isn't worth it to me. Sorry you're having issues and hope you see the end in sight.

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  9. I wondered where you had been! Hope you can figure something out!

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  10. January is my month of limited barn time, but I am not traveling so I can still make time for the barn. Tough situation. I hope you find your balance. I share the 45 min drive so I understand the time, though in our area traffic can add another 30 mins. Good Luck!

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  11. That sucks. I hope you work out a better horse/work life balance soon. That especially sucks this time of year.

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  12. Ugh I'm sorry, it's just the worst when work-life balance isn't happening. I just went through a fairly hellish few months at my job and felt lucky that I only rode on weekends with how stressed out I was. Definitely couldn't have kept a horse going and it was so far beyond not being worth the salary. Fingers crossed everything works out for you and in the mean time, at least you know Conner is getting good work and excellent care!

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  13. There's no solution to missing your horse :( but you can resolve to do lots of postural work/ core awareness as you work, and practice moving and sitting softly which should feed into your horse life when it returns. A minute of meditation or yoga in the loos can stop madness setting in. In the past when I've had busy spells I've made two minutes a day to read a training article so I can get new ideas and feel connected to the stables even when I'm not there. Other than that, count it down in percentages and arrange a treat for when you finish. Good luck xxx

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  14. I worked for Quarter Horse Congress for a few years, which required I didn't go out to the barn for the entire month of October. It was hard, but having good people in place to take care of my pony, as well as send me pictures and updates really helped.

    I also usually "bribed" myself with buying something that I really wanted at the end -- one year I bought a new saddle!

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  15. Like Erika I also used to be a tax accountant at a public firm and pretty much barely survived each January through April 15th. Usually I would pull off riding and see the boys daily until I started exceeding 70 hours per week (commute is only 10 minutes each way from my house, work was 15 minutes from my house the other way). I'd get up extra early and work all weekend just to squeeze in that hour and a half at the barn on one of my horses each week night. I literally just made it happen or it wouldn't have.
    Then when I started moving up at the firm and those weeks started nearing 90 hours I was done. What's the point in making the money to own the horses if I can't enjoy them. I'd leave work at 8 and drive straight to the barn just to see them for 30 minutes before the barn closed.
    So I now work for a publicly traded company doing their taxes. I may have slightly traded overtime with going to the gym but I'm a newer and happier (and thinner) version of myself! I hope you are able to get your balance sorted out soon and get back to that cute pony!

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  16. Gah, sorry to hear that work is sucking up your extra horsey time.

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  17. In the short term its easy to overcome but if it keeps going and going the long stretches will just destroy your morale.

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  18. :( I hate that this is happening to you during show season. My only advice is to be mentally prepared for your return and lower your expectations of yourself as low as you possibly can (because we know we're all our own toughest critic), that way you'll surprise yourself with how much you retained! Does everyone try to play these special head games with themselves, or am I just nuts?? In the meantime, I promise to tell Connor for you how special he is and how much he is loved every Wednesday night.

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  19. I think you hit the jackpot with that saddle - great score and thanks for sharing another good wide horse option.

    I hear you about work-life-pony balance. It's skewing way too far towards the work end of the equation around here. At least you have trusted people to hand handsome Connor off to. Hope everything resolves favorably asap. :D

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  20. Sorry to hear your job is being so consuming right now. I've definitely been there with mine! The military drops some RANDOM things on you. Combine that with being a paralegal for a trial team and pretty much anything can happen. Whenever they drop something on me that has the ability to mess with riding schedules, the gym, or any other planned events I pretty much just take it one day at a time and commit to fighting it out to make time for what I want. Taking it one day at a time makes it seem not so overwhelming when shit really hits the fan. If that means I get up earlier and ride before work, fine. If that means I'm at the barn until 10pm, fine. Work is not going to win.

    I totally hear you though, having a higher income in exchange for time to do the things you love pretty much sucks. Thankfully my caseload is constantly changing (some cases are much more involved than others) and the special office I'm in right now has a schedule that can't be beat so I'm going to enjoy every minute of that. I have worked with attorneys that said that when they were in civilian practice they showed up to a firm and the secretary was like, "Welcome, here's your key to your hotel room across the street, you won't be having time to go home every night, we have too much work." That is absolute insanity to me. What is the point of living???

    Glad you are on your way to making things work out for your quality of life!

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  21. I hear ya. I'll have weeks where there is just so much work and emergencies that I'm busy from 6am-10pm or later and there is just literally no time to go to the barn or do CF. Thankfully for me it's usually only a bad week here or there and I can usually find time to make it to the barn at least once or twice on my normal busy weeks, but it is really easy to get burnt out. I'm constantly struggling with feeling like Hero isn't progressing as fast as he could, or like I'm not progressing as fast as I should be in CF because my schedule can be so hit or miss and get frustrating.

    For me, I just try to remind myself that all the crazy busy work schedule isn't forever and that I just have to make it a little bit longer. And that Hero can probably benefit from time off as well (thinking about how sore I normally am from doing CF consistently).

    That's got to be really, really hard to not have an end in sight... I agree when you say at some point it's just not worth it to not have that work/life balance.

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  22. I have had to be apart from my horses many times. My horses (and other hobbies and family) Have also led me to make career decisions. For me it has been worth fighting for my work/life balance and I am so much happier on the other side of constant travel, or 80 hour work weeks. Advice for dealing with it? It seems like you are doing the best you can in that you have someone who is working with him and you visit when you can. It is hard, but hopefully you see the end of the tunnel which always helps :)

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  23. Good luck! I don't have much help, I'm the worst at scheduling

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