barn hacks · physical fitness (horse)

How Do You Tell Time at the Barn?

Most of us are living on careful schedules, trying to get to the barn and get what we need done in order to be home in time to make dinner, let the dog out, or at least see the husband/wife/kids before dark.

If you’re not on a schedule like that, then you’re almost certainly trying to plan your ride: maybe it’s fitness sets, a specific exercise that you don’t want to let go too long, or just a time by which you have to be out of the ring to make way for something else.

I’ve struggled on and off over the years with timing myself at the barn, and I’ve never come up with a really good solution.

Currently, I use a combination of two things: the clock in the indoor and a sports watch.

The current sports watch.
The clock at the indoor is useful: it’s semi-prominently displayed, large, and it lets me break up my work into rough five minute segments, or keep track of a longer ride. It’s not precise, though, and obviously it’s on the wall. I try to spend as little time as possible in the indoor during good weather, so that doesn’t help when I’m outside.
The sports watch is useful because it is water resistant, so I don’t have to worry about taking it off before bathing or hosing Tris down. It has a basic stopwatch function that can be useful for trot sets, except I have to keep looking at it constantly. The one pictured above is super-basic and cheap. I think it cost around $15. Its downside is that I have yet to find one that really holds up well to barn work. They tend to crap out after a few years – dust in the gears, just planned obsolescence, some combination of that.
For a time, I experimented with using my iPhone to track trot sets. I wanted something that was brainless, so I set up a series of staggered alarms for what I was doing. 5 minutes trot, 3 minutes rest, so on and so forth. It gave me a certain peace and worked really well, but it was a complete PITA to set up. That was before there were a lot of interval apps for the iPhone – hopefully something like that would be easier than setting all those alarms!
On the other hand, the iPhone was fragile and bulky to carry, so frustrating.
Anyone have a better solution? What do you use to keep track of time? What about timing fitness work?

11 thoughts on “How Do You Tell Time at the Barn?

  1. Ugh, scheduling was always difficult for me… I always am jamming in so many things and need to stick to a tight schedule. Now that my guy is hurt and not being ridden and is located 20 minutes closer to home, it isn't too difficult anymore… I still keep a tight schedule though…

    When I used to ride on weekdays, most days I would only allow myself 1 1/2 hours at the barn (not including driving time in that). I allowed myself 20 minutes to tack up, 40 to 50 minutes to ride, and the remaining time to untack, clean up, etc… I am very proficient at the barn… Weekends, I can hang and socialize a little more, but weekdays, I just can't…

    It was always a challenge… I have a watch on all the time, because I am always on a tight schedule… I actually hate it and told myself to stop scheduling my life like this, but I haven't stopped yet…

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  2. I just check my watch way too often while riding, particularly right now while I'm doing set amounts of time at a certain gait to bring the horses back to full fitness. It's really annoying and I wish I had something that would just beep or something but didn't require much set up.

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  3. There's a clock on the wall in the indoor, so I use that if I'm riding inside as a general guide. If I'm outside I have my phone on me anyway for music. But I have to confess, I am really lax about timing my rides. We just work until it feels like a good place for a break, and make sure we end on a good note no matter how long or short the ride is.

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  4. yea i just use my phone in general…. and almost never ever time anything (despite lofty aspirations for doing so haha). but then again i almost always have a pretty spot-on sense for a 15min interval…

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  5. Getting a couple of years out of a $15 watch is pretty good, I think!

    My best weapon is a watch with an interval mode. I forget what the current one is — usually Ironman tends out to have the cheapest model with the bells and whistles I want. Set the interval timers for trot or gallop sets, use the chrono function to track raw time otherwise, an alarm to wake up early on event or ride day, done. Never manged to kill one, but I do tend to lose them eventually.

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  6. I always wear an analog watch and that works quite well for basic time. I feel quite naked without a watch AND, up side, helps me take HR and respiration! I use a sports stop watch with interval timing to do conditioning sets — for example, I know it takes me about 30 seconds to canter around the arena, so I do seven laps for a 3.5 minute set.

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