Marissa Schaefer Jan 09 2023

Part 1: Recognizing & Preventing Burnout in the Equine Industry

7 minute read

Get ready to learn what burnout is, how to recognize it & the solution to preventing it.

Don’t forget to download the Blog Guide and work on the prompts before the next Part 2 blog.


Developing EquiPro was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I’d have (no exaggeration) meltdowns every morning. I didn’t understand how I could be so excited and passionate about something… yet so miserable.

I knew to finish development and launch EquiPro, I’d have to create more productive thoughts to get me through the challenges I was facing, because my current mindset sure as hell wasn’t serving me.

It was during this process I realized that there was more to the picture.

I wasn’t just weak (like I thought), but rather facing what so many others face - exhaustion, overwhelm and eventually burnout.

And I know I’m not alone.  Feelings of overwhelm and burnout are something equine professionals face everyday.

(In my initial research surveys, equine professionals said they #1 reason they wanted a business admin system was to fight burnout. Woah.. and here I thought they just wanted nice session reports.)

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Feeling overwhelmed and burnt out do not have to be a part of the job.  And the solution to this is actually super simple


  • Overwhelm is an emotion we feel that’s the result of the amount of something that is just too much to handle - like the crushing panic & stress you get when your clients say they need x,y,z from you and you think you don’t have the time to properly do it.

  • Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused from being continually overwhelmed. 

Think of overwhelm as stage 1 and burnout as stage 2. You don’t get to burnout without first being overwhelmed for a long period of time. 

  • Mindset is the set of thoughts and attitudes we have.  A strong, positive mindset prevents overwhelm and burnout.


Have you ever thought of throwing in the towel when working with horses and getting a ‘normal’ 9-5 job?

We’ve all been there - working in the equine industry comes with way more stress than traditional jobs, as there is so much out of our control - weather, injured horses, constant horse emergencies, how the horse is acting that day, barn drama, client drama, etc. 

As equine practitioners, we also feel the pressure of client expectations, the pressure of social media and the pressure we put on ourselves - all equating to even more stress.


How do you feel the night before work?  Are you excited to wake up, go to the barn, work on horses, talk to clients and improve your skills?  Or are you dreading it all?

How do you feel once you get home? Are you tired, yet fulfilled, after a hard day’s work? Or are you exhausted and completely drained?

Symptoms of burnout are important to recognize and can manifest in different ways. Do you ever feel…

  • Unsatisfied with your work/ like you didn’t do enough

  • Constant, looming sense of failure and self doubt

  • Irritable and frustrated with clients

  • Little patience dealing with horses

  • Headaches/ jaw pain/ neck tension

  • Hard time falling/staying asleep

  • Waking at night with work related anxiety

  • Sense of apathy - can’t bring yourself to respond to clients or complete small tasks

  • Cynical and as if you’re always complaining

Burnout isn’t some hyped buzz word. It’s simply exhaustion from being constantly swamped.

Burnout happens when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally/physically drained, and unable to keep up with life’s demands.


So how can we prevent these feelings in an industry where there is so much out of our control?

We have to learn to manage our thinking to eliminate stress and overwhelm.  I know - it sounds crazy, but stick with me…

You can’t go into a barn and do your best work and give the horse your best when you're spiraling in your mind.

Once you can free yourself from the weight of negative thoughts that don’t serve you, you’ll be inspired to do your best work and deepen those client relationships.

As equine professionals, we pour so much of ourselves into the horses we work on, but we need to remember to put some gas back into our tank or eventually we will burn out.  And only with a healthy, strong mindset can we do that.


I want to suggest a few mindset shifts you can play with in preparation for the next Part 2 blog where I’ll show you the tools I use to manage my mindset & support my mental health.

Mindset Shift #1 -  Overwhelm is completely in your control to change with your thinking.  It’s not everything going on around you - but rather how you choose to respond.

This one is actually really fun to play around with once you choose to own it.

For example, I recently went on a trail ride with others.  Their horses kept stopping and walking crooked, plus my dog was running laps like a psycho.  I was getting horribly frustrated and blaming that frustration on everything happening in that circumstance.

I stopped myself, owned my thoughts, and set an intention to remain calm and present despite the chaos.  Their horse’s didn’t stop staggering, and my dog didn’t stop her craziness, but my horse and I hung back a little and had a great, calm ride.

It takes intentional practice to retrain your brain to not jump right back into overwhelm but it is possible (and next week we will talk about how).

Mindset Shift #2 - You deserve self-compassion.

Facing burnout doesn’t make you weak - it makes you human.

If you’re facing burnout, this doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or you’re doing something wrong, or you’re not a good practitioner or don’t belong in the horse industry or someone else could be doing a better job than you. It really just means that you’re an amazing, passionate practitioner that over-exerted yourself.

How can you show kindness to yourself when you feel burned out or inadequate?  What can you do to extend the same compassion to yourself that you would a friend?

Mindset Shift #3 - Practice asking “Why do I feel this way? What thoughts am I having about this circumstance that are causing this emotion?”

Judging yourself when you’re feeling down, overwhelmed or burnt out doesn’t get you anywhere.  It’s time to say goodbye to the inner critic.

Once you practice curiosity, you can find out what exactly is triggering you and come up with solutions to help you work through them.

For example, if you find yourself working on an ancy, uncooperative horse and you start to get down on yourself thinking ‘if only I were a better practitioner the horse would be standing still’ or ‘the horse must not like me’ or ‘someone else could be doing a better job with the horse’ notice it and stop.

Then shift to curiosity. ‘Why is the horse acting this way?’ The horse is just providing feedback - maybe you need to use less pressure, maybe you need to move to a different area and come back, or maybe you need to step back and let the horse take a break. Heck, maybe it’s feeding time and they’re hangry.  

Can you see how critical judgment won’t get you anywhere, but curiosity is a huge asset? 


If you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, my biggest wish is that you know you aren’t alone - and that overcoming these feelings is possible.

In the next Part 2 blog, you’ll be provided with actionable tools to help you create the thriving business you want without the burnout.  You’ll learn how to be proud of yourself exactly where you are now and during every step of your business journey.

Now, it’s time to get to work on the writing prompts found within the Blog Guide so you’re ready for the next Mindset - Part 2 post.

See you then!

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