You can’t keep your horse once you have a baby.
Actually, you can, and soo many of us horsey mums are living proof. I lost track of the amount of people who asked me what would happen to my horse, Rio, when they found out that we were expecting. Many of them assumed this would mean the end of my horsey days, and seemed surprised when I gallantly said he would be staying put!
You see, I had a bit of a life plan that involved getting married, buying a house, getting a horse, and then having a family – this was always the order I’d hoped it would all happen and it pretty much did, other than horse coming before house! For anyone who’s grown up wishing to have their own horse, you’ll know where I’m coming from, because you know that at some point life gets a bit too real, and you’ve missed your opportunity until potentially much later if at all. Once Rio was safely collected and popped into his field 3 years ago this November, that was it – he’s here for life, one way or another.
I’m very lucky in that after the best part of a year unridden, when I eventually got back in the saddle, you wouldn’t have known he hadn’t been ridden yesterday. If anything the break did him a whole world of good, and he came back even better. This continues to be beneficial for me as our ridden routine is even less consistent than it used to be before baby. Be prepared for this, as unless you have a good network of babysitters on call, riding regularly can be tricky.
If you are expecting, or if you’ve just had your own little bundle of joy, please don’t be put off keeping your horse. Where there is a will there is a way, and whilst I contemplated looking for a sharer, this is a route that ultimately I couldn’t take as I would be far too picky and interfering! Rio is, and always will be, my fur-st baby. (In fact not long after Eliza was born, a horsey friend asked me how my baby was, and I immediately launched off into how well Rio was doing… That’s what you call baby brain, right there!) However, many people find the perfect person to dote on their horse, and can find the assistance a very welcome relief at what is always going to be a hectic time.
Your yard friends are going to help you (if you’re on a yard!) There’s plenty of change to come, and it will take you a bit of time to establish a routine; whether they just check your neddie is still standing, or drop his feed into the field for you in the mornings to stop you having to
stress rush around to get down, they will help you out whilst you find your feet. Before you know it you’ll be breezing around and you’ll wonder what you were worried about. Work around nap times and if you know baby is going to sleep after a feed, then use that to your advantage.
If you can get things prepared in advance, that’s also a huge help. I made up 2 weeks worth of feeds in sealed food bags so that breakfast and dinner times would be one less thing to worry about, just pour and go (or in my case, the yard girls could pour and go whilst I was in hospital!) It’s also wise to leave emergency contact details at the yard in your absence, and possibly a recipe for their feeds/daily routine etc should anything not go quite to plan and you need to ask for assistance.
At 6 months old, Eliza often doesn’t nap now whilst I’m at the yard, which does make poo picking tricky on some days when she wails as I walk away to get my wheelbarrow. Night vision is now a natural thing for me whilst poo picking in the evenings after dark. If you know your little one has a limited patience span, then prioritise what you want to get done, and if you only get the first couple on the list completed, you’re less likely to feel flustered about it later. As a minimum I make sure that Rio gets his feed and hay in the morning, and a rug change if necessary. Any extras (water containers filled, poo picking etc) are just that, happy bonuses that I don’t have to do later in the dark!
On another note, don’t let people sway you one way or another on whether you are or aren’t riding whilst you’re pregnant. Some people are comfortable riding until they’re 7 or 8 months in, but only you can decide what you are happy doing with your horse. I didn’t ride when I was carrying Eliza, and I wouldn’t change that. I have friends who rode, and they wouldn’t change it, so please listen to your body and just do what is comfortable for you. Some people ride up until they simply can’t get on any more because of their bump!
Having your horse and your baby is a positive thing. It gets you out of the house, even if only for an hour or so, and it gives you and baby much needed fresh air. Getting stuck in a rut staying at home is all too easy, and you can end up driving yourself nuts! Having the yard to get out to can also mean a bit of adult conversation away from the goo-goo vocabulary you will become accustomed to very quickly… So don’t write your horse off when you have your little one, because the hard work is worth it, and every moment I get in the saddle now, I appreciate that little bit more. Not to mention, the cuteness and fun to come if your little one goes on to catch the horsey bug… That’s a whole seperate blog post!
Just to clarify, I have nothing against any mother or mother to be who chooses to loan or sell their horse as I understand that sometimes situations in fact don’t allow you to do both. This is just my experience and little tuppence into motherhood and horse ownership! Please do comment below with your own experiences of being a horsey mum (or mum-to-be), and any tips you might have for others!