Calling on the Clock
Kristie Moore balances her hectic schedule as a 9-1-1 dispatcher with riding three barrel horses by sticking to a routine, creating habits and leaning on family and friends.
By Blanche Schaefer, originally published in the January 2018 issue of BHN as part of the "Faces in the Crowd" series profiling everyday barrel racers juggling their equine pursuits with full-time jobs, family and daily responsibilities.
There is no such thing as a typical workday for Nevada barrel racer Kristie Moore. She is a 9-1-1 police, fire and medical dispatcher for the City of Henderson Police and Fire Department just outside Las Vegas. Moorecurrently works a swing shift from 2 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Friday.
“It’s stressful, but I wouldn’t trade my job for anything in the world,” Moore said. “It’s never the same—the next phone call or radio transmission could be something totally different. I don’t know that I’d be able to do anything else.”
She has worked in the emergency response field for 25 years, beginning as a volunteer firefighter in California. During the state’s twin earthquakes in 1992, Moore’s unit lost communication with the main dispatch center.
“They needed someone to dispatch the unit, so instead of going out on an engine, I did it,” Moore said. “The more I stayed, the more I liked telling the boys with the toys where to go and how fast to get there.”
Moore started with Henderson in May of 2000, and after moving back and forth to California to accommodate her husband Mitch’s job in technology, the couple settled in Henderson permanently in 2009 with their two dogs. Along the way, Moore struggled with health and weight issues and stopped riding horses.
“At my heaviest weight I was about 305 pounds, and I’m about 165 now, so I didn’t ride,” Moore said. “I had a thyroid problem and thyroid cancer, I broke my leg and was non-ambulatory for a while, so that didn’t help. My sister is a nurse, and she finally said, ‘You need to do something, Sissy; I want you around as long as I am.’ I had bariatric surgery, and it saved my life—when I lost all this weight, I wanted to get back into horses.”
Moore now owns three horses: Mr Bono, Rooster and Rockett. Somewhere in the chaos and stress of it all, she finds time to keep all three horses in shape and haul to area barrel races. Moore’s formula for distributing her time between barrel racing, work and family lies in three principles: developing a routine, creating habits and surrounding yourself with people who help lessen your workload.
Develop a Daily Routine
When you have a lot going on in life, it’s essential to create a routine and stick to it. Moore has her day planned down to a science.
“I’m up at 4:30 a.m. and out at the barn by 5 a.m. While the horses are eating, I clean their pens. I’ll ride and get done with one, get him hosed off and cooled down and then I’ll grab another one. On workdays, I usually work two horses and then the third horse will get round-pen work, or I let them relax and be a horse,” Moore said. “After we’re done and cooled off, I’ll get their grain together and do some housekeeping in the barn and clean my tack room. I try to finish up by 10 a.m., and then I’ll lie down for an hour and get ready to be at work by 2 p.m.”
Moore says keeping a routine not only makes the days easier for herself but also for her equine companions. She keeps them all on the same workout schedule as well, doing a mix of barrel drills, pasture riding and lessons once a week with her trainer.
“I think it’s fair to keep them on a schedule—I see my horses every day,” Moore said, who owns a barn at the Henderson Saddle Association where she keeps her horses. “I try to keep them all on the same riding schedule too, because if not I get confused about who’s done what which day. They don’t get ridden every day, probably five times a week, and on the weekends I’ll go to my trainer’s house, Kathy Montano, up in Washington County, Utah, just about every Sunday.”
While it may be difficult at first, Moore advises planning out a set routine and forcing yourself to stick with it.
“All of us have a routine, and I’m sure when you first started that routine it was a bit discombobulated, but now that you have a routine it goes faster,” Moore said. “The hardest part is managing it all and telling myself to do it. I don’t have to make the time—the time is there, but I have to force myself to get out of bed early.”
Create Efficient Habits
Moore’s job as a dispatcher requires constant multi-tasking. She applies the same concept to her barn life as well. Moore says once you create good habits, daily tasks will go much faster as they become second nature.
“When you create a habit, the more you do that habit, the quicker you get at it,” Moore said. “I have to multi-task at work, so [at the barn] I’ll toss feed and while they horses are eating, I’m cleaning. When I’m cleaning, I kick open the faucet on the trough to water so I’m doing two or three things at once. If I can do all those at once, I’ll have more time to ride.”
Working efficiently applies to riding, too. Moore’s biggest timesaving tip is to avoid dragging out your ride and arguing with your horse if things aren’t going well.
“Don’t fight with your horses—you’re wasting time. The more you try, the more angry and frustrated you get, and pretty soon your 20-minute ride is an hour ride,” Moore said. “If my horse isn’t doing something exactly how I want, I’m okay with not exactly perfect. I’ll find a good note to end on and pick it up the next day. You don’t have to spend hours in the arena—your saddle blanket can be wet in 20–30 minutes if you’re working the right way.”
Use Friends and Family to Lessen the Burden
Keeping good people in your circle to help with your workload is critical to juggling a busy work life with responsibilities at home and horses.
“My biggest supporter is my husband, Mitch—without him, I wouldn’t be able to do half the stuff I do, because when I’m with my horses he’s managing home stuff, which allows me to go to races,” Moore said.
Moore also says her “barn family” is a huge source of assistance when her schedule is stretched thin or unforeseen obstacles pop up.
“At night, since I work swing shift and my husband works out of town, one of my barn neighbors feeds at night,” Moore said. “I fell off a ladder and broke my heel in November 2016. I was out of commission for 16 weeks, and my barn family stepped in to help. I couldn’t walk at all or see my horses. My feeder and cleaner Pam McConnell took them out and fed them, and Aleda Tesmore helped so much, too.”
For the Love of the Horse
At the end of the day, Moore wouldn’t have her hectic life any other way. The thrill of accomplishing a major goal with her horses is worth every minute of her busy days.
“There are times where my job is so stressful, and usually by Friday I’m mentally exhausted,” Moore said. “Managing it all and telling myself that getting up early and riding my horses and doing those drills, it’s worth it coming out of that arena and hearing that I won a check, or just having good runs and keeping the barrels up.”
Outside the barrel pen, the joys of being a horse owner help balance the tension and anxiety that come with Moore’s high-pressure job and helps remind her of what’s important in life.
“The coolest part of the morning is between 4:30 and 5:30, and it’s quiet out here. I like the peace, because sometimes my job is so stressful I just want to be alone with my horses,” Moore said. “Your brain takes a while to shut down if it’s been a real stressful night. I’ve come out in the middle of the night and sat on a hay bale and talked to my horses, and sometimes if it’s a bad call, I’ll cry. They listen to me—they’re great listeners. My horses will always love me and meet me at the gate. I take a big deep breath and relax and get all that stress out of me. They’ll come up and nudge me—I think they know. They’ll be that arm around my shoulder.”