I recently saw a photograph floating around the internet and it really hit home for me. Some Facebook pages were classifying the image as a “Corporate Cowgirl,” which completely made sense to me.

(Courtesy of the author.)

(Courtesy of the author.)

This image applies to many horsewomen all over the world whether they ride English or Western. There are so many of us who work full time in the business world in order to live and afford our expensive horse habit. We have two vastly separate lives and try to combine them together in order to do what we love: spend time with our horses.

Living these two lifestyles can be challenging and quite time consuming.  Horses require a lot of attention and if you are competing as well, it is almost another full-time job with overtime! Spending eight hours a day at your job can be extremely difficult when you are constantly thinking about being at the barn working with your horse.  It is often hard to squeeze in time for yourself and having a social life is almost impossible—especially once summer hits. (Not to mention the fact that working out is nearly impossible to fit in on the side.) When competition season starts, your weekends are full of traveling and hanging out at shows and jackpots. They can be relaxing, but they are also very stressful and hectic. Pulling yourself out of bed to go to work on Monday mornings after a horse show is literally the hardest!

Yet being a corporate cowgirl can be rewarding too. Many of us horsewomen are working toward one wish: having our horses be our main and only lifestyle. It may happen or it might not be attainable, but whatever happens in the end, we all know that we are extremely good at multi-tasking (we are women after all)! We also can break the world record of changing out of work clothes into barn clothes, that’s for sure! So cheers to the corporate cowgirl:

(©Alex Carlton)

(©Alex Carlton)

1. Who wakes up an hour early to feed her horses before getting ready to go to work each morning and once she’s at work she finds random pieces of hay and horse hair in her hair, clothes, and even her bra.

2. Who works her butt off at a full-time job to afford her expensive horsey lifestyle and to earn a living.

3. Who works from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at her full-time job and then spends her nights at the barn from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

4. Who spends any free time at work looking up horse pedigrees, reading equine news articles, horse sale pages, searching tack sales and/or competitions for the upcoming weekend, etc.

5. Who wishes that her work benefits and health insurance covered her horses’ veterinary and farrier bills. Horses should be considered family members too, right?!

6. Who pulls into work with a bunch of hay in the back of her pickup truck or the backseat of her car (and yes I have done that—garbage sacks come in handy!).

7. Who spends all her paid leave taking time off for horse shows, clinics, and horse health appointments.

8. Who would much rather spend her money on horse tack, competition outfits and/or riding boots than work clothes.

9. Who wouldn’t be recognized by her horsey friends in her work attire, just like she wouldn’t be recognized by her co-workers in her barn or show clothes.

10. Who often wishes she could discipline her co-workers like she does her horse. (They should make office round pens!)

11. Who can’t wait to get to the barn after a long day at work. She literally counts downs the hours till 5 o’clock. On days she leaves early from work to a show, concentration is nearly impossible.

12. Who has a vehicle full of horse tack and riding clothes so she can change into her barn clothes immediately after work. Also, she never offers to haul any of her friends around because there is literally no room for them to sit, it smells like horse manure, and horse hair is all over the place.

13. Who has a horse as her therapist and a horse trainer as a counselor.


(flickr.com/Five Furlongs)

(flickr.com/Five Furlongs)

14. Who after a late morning of feeding horses rushes into work with her muck boots on.

15. Who gets home from work and immediately has to feed her horses, fill water troughs, and exercise them, clean stalls and somehow still fits in time to cook dinner and spend time with her family while doing laundry and other household chores.

16. Who spends a few nights a week taking riding lessons after taxing days at work.

17. Who counts her riding time and barn chores as her nightly workouts, because some days it is hard to find time to work out for an extra hour.

18. Who constantly has to turn plans down with her friends because she is too busy with her horses. She would much rather spend a night at the barn than a night at a bar or club. (When she does go out with her friends, she sometimes feels like she is betraying her horse!)

19. Who, when she does reluctantly go out, has mastered changing from her smelly barn clothes into a fancy “girls night out” outfit in less than an hour.


20. Who knows there is no such thing as a “free” weekend because she is spending it doing barn chores, fixing fences, hauling hay, deep cleaning stalls, riding in a competition or clinic, or going on trail rides. Sunday nights are for catching up on all of the household chores that multiplied during the week.

21. Who drags herself into work Monday morning after surviving a long horse show weekend looking like a Raggedy Ann doll-zombie, with no make-up on and dirt and hay in her hair.

22. Who is so immune to being on the go all the time, she doesn’t even realize how busy she actually is. When she does have a few hours of free time, it almost seems like multiple days have passed. 

23. Who keeps a master calendar of work and horse events and multiple budgets for herself and her horses.

24. Who barely spends time spoiling herself and would rather spend money spoiling her horses with pedicures, chiropractic, and massage appointments.

25. Who constantly wonders what non-horsey people do during their free time because it seems like they would have so much of it (not to mention all the extra money they must have!).

26. Who, when she wins a tough horse competition class or jackpot that she has worked hard to achieve, is reminded of how much her hard work and dedication has paid off and how rewarding it is. A life spent with horses is one that is very humbling and fulfilling!

(Courtesy of the author.)

(Courtesy of the author.)

Are you a “corporate cowgirl?” How do you manage to find time to get everything done? Tell us about it in the comments section!

About the Author

(Courtesy of Christy Fleener.)

(Courtesy of Christy Fleener.)

Christy Fleener is a small town farm girl with a passion for training and racing barrel horses. With 20 years of horse experience, she has trained and competed in numerous western and English disciplines with many different trainers. Christy also runs an equine and lifestyle blog called, “New Dirt and Old Boots”, as well as her own photography business.