Riding + training + a full time job?
We are kicking off our DB Ambassador feature series with Gail Knoffloch, an eventer in Kansas! Read on to learn how she juggles a full time job, keeping horses at home, along with her OTTB training and sales business!
Horses have been a big part of my life since I was about 7, and I always dreamed of having horses at home when I was older. I’m finally living the dream, and I love it! It’s a lot of hard work, very time consuming, and we make a lot of sacrifices for “the boys,” but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I’ve always leased horses, and eventually owned and boarded, but in the last year I’ve been lucky enough to have my horse (and then multiple!) at home. When I moved in with my fiancé (now husband) he already had some land, and we quickly got to work putting in fencing and making a shelter for my horse. In May of last year I was able to bring my guy home! It was amazing to have my horse so close to us, where I could be the one in control of his care on a daily basis. I found out quickly that horses will find more ways to hurt themselves when you have more time to take care of their problems (or they’re more spoiled now, that’s up for debate) but also that with a routine and being taken care of by “their person,” you and your horse’s bond will become so much stronger.
We live a very busy life. My husband is a truck driver, and is up at the crack of dawn most mornings to get out on the road. I work full time at an optometric office, and am trying to build up my small training/sales business while competing my horse on the side. It takes some early wake up calls and some late nights, but we make time to live the horsey dream!
Here’s a typical day in the life:
I’m up about 4:30 on weekdays. I pack lunches for my husband and myself, feed the dogs and cat, and hay the horses. Then I get to work riding. My competition horse, Exy, is usually first, and I ride him about 45 min or so. We keep on a schedule that rotates between dressage, trot sets/gallops, and jump days. After that it’s one of my sale horses turn. When I’m finished, I hurry up and grain, fill water, and get ready for work (think wet wipes for face, wash arms in sink, throw hair in bun, deodorant and PERFUME all in about 5 min) while they’re finishing eating. Get my coffee ready to go. Just before I leave I let them all back in the pasture together. I have to be at work at 8:30, and it’s a 30 minute drive. I do my makeup and eat breakfast on the way. Thank goodness I wear scrubs and athletic shoes every day- if I had to take the time to put a proper outfit together I’d really be in trouble! Most days I get to work on time...!
For a while I had two project horses and my competition horse, so in addition to the morning routine I’d ride one after work. I get home around 6, so would immediately get changed and be on a horse by about 6:30. Husband usually gets dinner started while I ride and then feed again. I’m so lucky that my husband is an amazing cook and takes on this job most nights so I can do my thing. He also takes care of all the little things that keep everything going, that I don’t always have time to do (or let’s be honest totally forget), and even though it’s a lot I know he loves the horse life too, I constantly find him out with the horses giving them treats, scratches, or spraying them off with the hose when it’s hot. We try to get to sleep around 10-11 and then wake up and do the whole routine again.
Besides working the horses 5-6 days a week around a full time job, there are so many other things to do! Picking up hay and grain, and then stacking it all when you get home, CLEANING: the horses, tack, pads, boots, the never ending pile of hay by the feeder that they’d rather pee in than eat...the list is never ending. And then there’s the area I ride in- I keep my arena and jump field mowed regularly, and reset my jump course about once a week.
We’ve learned a lot of different tricks/hacks to make it more affordable too- as I’m sure you know the horse life is not cheap! This includes everything from my dressage letters (gallon jugs with electrical tape letters), arena (pvc pieces with holes drilled into them for rope to run through- the whole arena literally cost $40), homemade (husband-made) jump standards and flower boxes, to homemade fly sprays and everything in between.
It really does take up all of your time, and is so different than boarding somewhere! But, even with the full time job and limited hours in the morning/evening it is totally doable. You just have to really hustle to live the dream!
Gail is a trainer and eventer in Augusta, KS. She enjoys retraining thoroughbreds off the track for jumping and dressage, and finding them great homes where they will utilize their new skills. She is a graduate C3 pony clubber and has competed through preliminary level in eventing. Growing up, she spent every day in the summers riding anything and everything that she could, and evenings during the school year. This is where she learned to love training horses, as many that she rode were green.
Gail has a truly amazing husband, Rod, and they have been married for almost a year. He is her biggest supporter, and also her biggest critic! He has a good eye when watching her ride, and always has great suggestions to help her and the horses improve. Together they have a little piece of land, 2 yellow labs, and a cat (besides the horses of course). Rod’s daughter and Gail’s stepdaughter, Kelsey, is around a lot, and is Gail’s first student. She is learning to ride right now, with the hopes of eventing in the future. They couldn’t be happier that she got bit by the “horse bug,” too!