Do you relish that extra five or ten minutes in bed each morning, snuggling down for a bit more slumber after the alarm goes off (for the first time)? Are your favorite social hours well after dark, with a couple drinks, dinner, and television or movies keeping your eyes open and brain ticking until close to (or after!) midnight? It has become very clear in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series that the horse professional’s day starts early and ends early: When you’re in the tack or teaching for a living, you rise with (or well before) the sun, and value your bedtime as soon as you can get it!
TSB continues seeing “what’s up” in the life of our top authors in one 24-hour period, this week with Superhorseman (top level eventer, dressage rider, and jumper rider) Doug Payne, whose new book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL was released in April. How did Doug get so good? The man rides A LOT of horses! Our leg muscles are sore just reading his schedule. Check it out:
A TYPICAL “HOT” MONDAY
4:30 a.m. Alarm goes off and the automatic coffee maker gets going. When the temperatures are in the mid 90’s or higher, we prefer to get an early start, keeping the horses welfare in mind.
5:00 a.m. Feed the dogs (Nolin and Bacon) and eat breakfast. Jess (my wife) and I are big fans of breakfast (well, of food in general, for that matter). Our usual is two eggs over medium with three strips of maple bacon and a slice of toast along with fresh OJ—all made at home.
5:15 a.m. Leave for the barn.
5:30 a.m. We arrive at the barn. On hot days I try to be on the first horse by 5:30. On typical days, Michelle Novak my groom has the first horse tacked and ready to go as we pull in.
Ryder, Michelle’s German Shepherd, is the first to greet us as we arrive. He can hardly wait for the door to open and Bacon (our dog, not our breakfast) to roll out. Of course this is soon followed by Nolin, the 3-pound Chihuahua, who is not far behind, barking after the two of them. The “fun police” have arrived.
Michelle always fills in Jess and I regarding updates on any medical conditions or farm issues that may have arisen overnight. Nothing significant today…
As for the order of horses. I like to ride the most consuming (time and concentration) horses first. 90 percent of the time that means they tend to go in order of descending levels, with experienced horses first and the babies last to go. This always is subject to some variation mid-day and beyond, based on turnout schedule, farrier, and anything else. But the first few are almost always the same. Today I’m riding 10 horses total with one lesson shipping in during the afternoon. The number of horses varies at different times during the year, but in general I ride between 10 and 15 a day, on average.
Tali (Crown Talisman owned by myself and Larry and Amelia Ross) is first on this list today—he is just coming back into work after a well deserved vacation following the Saumur CCI*** in France at the end of May. [Editor’s note: Doug and Tali were named to the USEF 2014 Eventing High Performance Summer/Fall Training List as a World Class Combination.]
6:45 a.m. Big Leo (Lysander owned by myself and Kristin Michaloski). Today is Monday, and generally all our horses will do dressage today. Fitness work is generally Tuesdays and Saturdays, and the ones who jump would generally do so on Thursdays.
7:35 a.m. Little Leo (Cellar Door owned by Jane Dudinsky). Flatwork—he was quite good today so we ended up in the ring for only 25 minutes or so and then went for a short walk.
8:15 a.m. Snack time: Power Bar and water. In consultation with the US Olympic Committee’s nutrition experts, I try to make sure to get 15 to 20 grams of protein roughly five to six times a day.
8:20 a.m. Rio (Cossino Rio owned by myself and Fred and Wendy Luce). Flat.
9:00 a.m. Eli (Eli owned by Mike Rubin). We primarily did flatwork, but with some cavalletti and small bounces intertwined. I’m constantly working to get him a little quicker and more responsive to allow for quicker more balanced turns and a consistent rhythm when jumping.
9:45 a.m. Rex (Lisnahall Imperier owned by the Virtus-DPE Syndicate). Flat
10:35 a.m. Prodigy (Royal Tribute owned by myself, Kristen Burgers, and Larry and Amelia Ross). Flat.
11:15 a.m. Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich and a few fries with water.
11:30 a.m. Bear (owned by Eliza Woolf). Flat.
12:10 p.m. Eva (owned by Katie Imhof). Flat.
1:00 p.m. Annabelle (Absaluut Annabelle owned by Jane Dudinsky). Flat.
2:00 p.m. I give my ship-in lesson, and have a Power Bar and water.
2:45 p.m. Wrap up lesson and get together with Michelle to figure out a plan for tomorrow, as well as get a list of supplies that are needed for the barn (detergent, etc).
3:15 p.m. Leave the barn and head home to clean up.
3:40 p.m. Run upstairs for a shower, followed by a quick episode of NCIS (or often ESPN’s PTI from the night before) while surfing the web, then a nap.
5:00 p.m. Wake up and return emails and calls.
6:00 p.m. Jess and I head out to meet up with a few friends for dinner at the local hangout bar in Apex.
7:45 p.m. Return home, feed the dogs, and get ready for bed.
8:00 p.m. Hop into bed and turn on a some more NCIS, which I inevitably see the first 10 minutes of before falling asleep. There’s nothing better than going to bed early! We oftentimes try to get to bed this early, and while we do not often succeed, I do plan for at least eight hours when at all possible. If I can work out nine hours of sleep, that is preferable. Without enough sleep I’m just not quite as sharp for the second half of the day.
Doug’s book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.