Wish there were more hours in the day? 5 ways to make the most of your time

  • There's no doubt that eventing at a high level involves a hefty dose of hard graft. But when top riders are wishing there were more hours in the day, what do they do to make the most out of their time?

    1. Be realistic

    When you’re working against the clock, don’t waste time on the things that, in the short term, don’t matter. “I’m not one for scraping every speck of mud off when I ride at home. I’d rather every horse has done enough hill work than gone out clean,” says Vittoria Panizzon. “They are going in the field afterwards anyway. Time is as tight as finances, so they live out at night. It keeps the workload down.”

    2. Utilise social media

    Owners, sponsors, friends… There is a long list of people with which to keep in touch, so make the most of social media. “My husband takes pictures regularly and we put them on Facebook so that owners can keep up-to-date with what their horses are doing,” says Essex-based Victoria Bax. “I make a point of phoning owners every month, too, but Facebook is a great way to keep them in the loop on a daily basis.”

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    3. Choose the right staff

    Working with horses is hard graft, and employing people who can cope is sometimes easier said than done. “I’ve been fortunate with my weekday lady, but weekend staff has been an issue,” admits Victoria. “It’s often young people wanting pocket money, but they don’t understand the job or they don’t listen. I’ve had to let some go because of this.”

    “It is hard to find good staff who last,” Michael Owen adds. “Most of the working pupils I take have been taught by me for a while, so they already know how I work and what my standards are. I’ve found it’s better finding people I know instead of advertising.”

    4. Be time-wise

    Get the most from your riding routine by schooling, jumping or galloping all of the horses on the same day. “I build a course, then every horse jumps it,” says Andrew Nicholson. “Sometimes they might not even do a practice fence. I get on, jump round, then it goes up a few holes and they do it again. I have a lot of horses to fit in, so it has to be quick — but at the same time they must be learning something.”

    5. Make the most of people

    Ginny Howe‘s parents help with the running of her yard, while Michael’s mother often grooms for him at events and Victoria relies on friends to help with hacking. “A lot depends on your personal situation, but boys can often rope in a wife or girlfriend to help, or maybe your family owns stables or there is someone close by to help with the small things, like laundry,” says Vittoria. “Last year I was ordering things from Boots online because I didn’t have time to go to the chemist. All the girls live with me and I cook most nights, but they help with washing up and housework, so everyone pulls their weight.”

    Don’t miss the full feature about top riders’ routines in this week’s eventing special issue of Horse & Hound magazine (5 March 2015)

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