What is your day job and how often are you at the barn?
My day job is a little unusual – I do marketing, PR, and social media management for professional drag racing teams and performance parts manufacturers. I also write for several drag racing publications. I started working in the industry in 2004, but eventually got sick of the cubicle life. In 2012, I quit my desk job and started my own motorsports marketing agency (P.TEN Marketing). Why? Because I wanted more flexibility in my daily schedule so that I could ride more! ;) I currently work from home, and that gives me the opportunity to decide my own hours. The upside to this is that I can ride during the day (when it’s still cool in the summer, or before it gets too cold in the evening in winter) but the benefit comes with a big trade off. On days that I choose to ride, I usually wind up working until 10pm or later to compensate for the “missed” daytime hours. It’s worth it, though, and I’m extremely grateful to have such a wonderful, unique opportunity to balance my professional life with my barn time. I usually take a jumping lesson on Tuesdays, a flat lesson on Thursdays, and try to go for a hack at least once on the weekend (so long as I’m not away traveling for work). In general, I ride two to four times per week, although I wish I could go every day! It’s tough to balance my “want” to be at the barn with my “need” to focus on growing my business so that I can continue to pay for riding. I’m a serial entrepreneur, and I recently also started a small equestrian clothing company, Ride Heels Down.
How do you plan your horse's training and show schedule around your work schedule? How often do you show?
I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to lease an extremely talented horse from my trainer, Halliea Milner at Go With It Farm in Johns Creek, Georgia. JJ is a great little guy and I love him as if he were my own. That said, he’s still an active part of the GWIF lesson program, so he gets plenty of exercise and conditioning even when I’m not able to make it to the barn. It’s a great situation! To horse owners who can’t get to the barn often enough to exercise their own horse, I’d definitely recommend half-leasing. As for showing, I try to compete at least once a month. We go to GDCTA schooling shows as well as USEA recognized events, and also participate in our farm’s schooling shows to keep us “tuned up” between events. Off-farm, multi-day eventing competitions can get pretty expensive between entry fees, stabling, and hauling (since I don’t have my own horse or trailer) so once a month is about all my budget can handle at the moment. My goal is to make it to the USEA American Eventing Championships!
What do you find you struggle with most as an adult amateur? And how do you overcome that?
My biggest struggle is wanting to always be at the barn, but knowing I couldn’t continue to afford to ride if it weren’t for work. So, I have to be a responsible grown-up and finish all of my work-related responsibilities before I go to the barn. If I want to ride more than usual in one week, I have to get my work done first. That often means late nights or 14 hour work days so that I can “get ahead” and have some pockets of free time to spend at the barn. When I’m away for a show, that’s pretty tough, too, since work never stops. If I’m gone on Friday and Saturday at a competition, that means instead of spending a relaxing Sunday on the couch watching trashy TV, I’m up early and on the laptop catching up on work all day. It takes a LOT of self-discipline, but it’s definitely worth it!
What's been the best advice you've received and what advice would you give other adult amateurs?
Time management is your best friend. We have a lot of responsibilities as adult amateurs, be it balancing riding with work, family, or other obligations. Knowing your schedule, and scheduling your days, will help you to be more efficient, get more done, and forget less. I LIVE by my Outlook and Google calendars. I put absolutely everything on there, and I can get so much accomplished simply by having an organized plan of when things will get done. Today, for example, I did client work from 8am-11:30am, ate a quick snack, and now I’m on my way out the door to ship some orders for my other business, Ride Heels Down, drop off some holiday cards to send to clients for my marketing company, take a saddle pad to get embroidered, go to the bank to make the weekly invoice deposits, find something for lunch, head to the barn for my 2-3pm jumping lesson, take care of JJ, clean tack, fight traffic all the way home (about 45 minutes), stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner, eat, do dishes, take a conference call from 6-7pm, and then get back to work for as long as it takes to catch up on everything I missed from while I was out. It sounds like a lot, but it’ll get done simply because I have a clear list of what tasks are on the schedule for me today! The more I streamline my professional life, the more time I’ll have to ride.
What does being #AdultAmmyStrong mean to you?
More than anything, it means being a part of a unique community that has the goals and ambition of younger riders, but may not have necessarily had the time or opportunity to make them come to fruition. That said, I think it’s incredibly important for adult amateurs to support and encourage one another. Riding is hard, competing is harder, and doing well at it is the hardest yet – we need to lift each other up and celebrate the achievements, no matter how small or large, rather than be catty or petty. Leave the drama to high school… we’re here to work hard, have fun, and be #AdultAmmyStrong!
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