Just 10,000 Hours

I just finished reading (listening) to a book for work called Scrum. Scrum is about how some companies (organizations, people, whatever) are more successful than others and how they achieve that. It goes through your typical “extremes,” removing titles, more transparency, sharing of knowledge, etc. But the one part I found most interesting was the concept of teams doing sprints to achieve parts of the whole and offering a corresponding incentives to do so, allowing them to basically dominate deadlines and come in months earlier with a better product.

During these mini-sprints, you set a goal, divide that goal into parts (maybe monthly), divide it even further into sub-parts (maybe weekly), and again into super subparts (yep I made that word up but you see where I’m going here), and then go forth and conquer. I thought about how I could perhaps take that knowledge to work towards that ever lofty goal of becoming a better rider than I was yesterday, and I came up with an idea.

I was sitting on a flight, bored after finishing Denny Emerson’s How Good Riders Get Good: Daily Choices That Lead to Success in Any Equestrian Sport, which basically told me I should never have children, marry/date/settle down, or work outside of the horse industry if I hope to be a “great” rider, when in the middle of the book he quoted another favorite of mine, Outliers: The Story of Success.

According to Outliers (which is another great book EVERYONE should read, but perhaps not the most motivating when you soon learn that some people were just born into the perfect situation to become masters of their trade), in order to become an expert in anything, you need to put at least 10,000 hours of practice into it. 

Doesn’t sound like a lot, until you realize what that really means.

Let’s play with math:

365 days in a year, 24 hours in a day, max 12 hours of work a day realistically.

If you rode 365 days straight for 12 hours a day, 365*12= 4,380 hours

If you were to do that for 2 years and a little over 3 months straight, you’d hit 10,000 hours. But I don’t know many people who can 1) afford that, 2) that means no holidays, vacations, life outside of the barn because you become a barn hermit, 3) do that without getting injured or sick and needing to rehab or take time off.

More math:

I’ve been riding for almost 20 years. Between camps, working student gigs, horse sitting, schooling other people’s horses, lessons, homework rides, playing around on trail rides, horse shows, etc. I’d average that over that period I’ve conservatively done about 3 hours a week of riding.

3 hours * 50 weeks (I vacation) * 20 years = 3,000 hours.

Dear God I have a ways to go.

So with all of this in mind, I decided to do a sprint! I talked to my instructor, and asked if I could school horses for 4 hours every Sunday from October-December (excluding Christmas). With an hour lesson each week, that’s 5 hours of riding a week for 3 months.

12 weeks * 5 hours = 60 hours

If my schedule can handle this for the long term, and I can continue this pace for a mere 28 more years, I can hit 10,000 hours by the time I’m 56. Much better than 74, which is what I’d hit if I kept up with the 3 hours a week average. So I’d still have 20 or so years (fingers crossed) of good riding time, and who knows what I will have accomplished by then!

Plus I’ll be schooling different horses, which Denny always talks about being so important to becoming a better, well-rounded rider (OK I get it, Denny…), so let’s see what they can show and teach me.

It’s definitely a long term goal, and I’m sure there will be times where I have to adjust those hours (some weeks more, some weeks less), but hey, might as well give it a shot!

I’m very excited for this sprint, and I’ll be tracking my progress as well to see how my position improves (or not), how my training techniques improve (or not), and basically what changes you see in 12 weeks.

Wish me luck!



  1. WOW! That’s some serious math! I’ve just done mine. I came back to riding ( rode from 6 to 19 and then did not ride until I was 50). so I ride 5 days a week for an hour each ride. .Leaving out what riding I did as a kid for the current 16 years that’s 4160 hours. Well…. I’m already 67 so I think I will not make the 10,000 hours required. Ah well…..c’est la vie. But thanks for posting this anyway. Interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of my coach’s favorite reminders whenever I get down on myself for my lack of speedy progress. She also . likes to compare actual riding hours per month or year to real world equivalents – like if you started a new career tomorrow no one would expect you to be at senior management after being there 250 hours or the equivalent of 3 months out of the year. Like you, I’m taking on some more rides to hopefully get there quicker! Good luck, can’t wait to read about your results!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is definitely an interesting way of looking at it. I calculated my hours when I read Outliers a couple years ago and felt pretty impressed with the numbers I had clocked. It might do it again see where I stand now!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s