Babies, Riding, and Horse Shows? A Bit of Advice From A New Mom. It Can Be Done.

So I haven’t been a mom long, just over a year, and before I lose you to the, “oh god, not another ‘kids are work, quit now’ thoughts” hear me out.  This is more for the future moms out there.  No I am not talking about the 16 year olds, I am talking about the 25-35 crowd, the ones that want a family in the next few years but still want to ride or horse show.  First of all this is 100% possible.  You can do it!  And you can ride while you are pregnant.*  I thought I would share my journey on this since I just lived it, so here goes.

2 years ago, I was living the horse showing dream, I had 2 horses, Emma the jumper and Lily the up and coming eventer.  Those of you who regularly read my blog know that despite being in her teens Emma is a nut job, of epic proportions at times.  You will also know that Lily despite being now only 8 was a kick ride 2 months off the track, a TB with a QH brain.  Anyhow, I was competing 20-30 weekends a year, local shows, rated shows, dressage shows, H/J Show, eventing, fox hunting, you name it, I was involved.  I was even attempting to breed Pearl, my retired warmblood mare, that didn’t work out, a blessing in disguise, I do not need another horse right now.  To be completely honest, I loved it, and enjoyed every minute of it.

So how does a family fit into this?  Well, we kinda wanted a kid and by that I mean, my husband wanted one and I figured at some point I would probably want one too and since I was in my early 30s with the dreaded 35 approaching quickly, it was time to do the kid thing.  We sort of tried for a year, not super seriously though, and nothing happened.  Truthfully, I was ok with this, I wanted to adopt, I was not excited about the whole being pregnant thing, to the point of looking into surrogates, turns out those cost like $100k, which will buy a lot of horse shows.  So just as I was getting to the “lets skip this and adopt” phase when I got pregnant.  Yay, happy times right?  Not so much.

I got pregnancy depression.  “You mean postpartum depression.”  Nope, I mean I was depressed while I was pregnant and fine after Mini EE was born, literally within minutes.  None of this was helped when I went in for my first Doctor appointment and they told me I had to stop riding immediately.  MAJOR MELTDOWN!  Right there in the Doctor’s office.  Those that know me personally know that I do not “meltdown” like ever or even really cry.  Sooo, I did get professional help, and medication, I would like to say it fixed things, but it did not, it just made it survivable.  Think PMS every day to some degree for 9 months.  Feel free to contact me if you are having a hard time too, I am happy to help if I can.  Moving on from that, I rode until a week before mini engineer was born, and no, I didn’t tell my Doctor.  I jumped until about half way through, maybe a little later and did a dressage show 3 months before Mini EE was born.  To be honest, by the last month I was just walking, my stomach moved all funny at the trot.

So is this path for everyone?  No, definitely not.  I had a few things going for me that made this possible.  First of all, early on in my pregnancy Emma got hurt and couldn’t be ridden for over a month.  I knew the first ride or 2 after would be insane, so I stopped riding her, she got a nice 7 month vacation, and truthfully I think she needed it, luckily she got hurt about a week after we went cross-country schooling and jumped all the enormous Prelim boxes, one of which she tried to jump from a standstill, backwards…I was just trying to walk up to it for this picture, that is her standing to the side with the fluffy noseband.  So yes, I was pregnant at the time.  Also, I had Lily, the OTTB that I had been riding for about 18 months, she is very chill, and when she does get sassy she has little rocking horse bucks, 5 minutes on a lounge line and she is back to full on kick ride.  I also made my husband keep Truman, although he is a big boy, he is a saint, I never rode him while I was pregnant but he was there in case Lily turned out to be too much.  Lily was quite happy to just walk around the arena quietly.

The trick to riding when you are pregnant is to not fall off.  If you fall off on a regular basis, then I don’t recommend you ride.  I am the type that only falls off once a year and only when I am doing something stupid, like trying to ride Emma bareback in a halter while attempting to pony the barely halter broke donkey.  Don’t worry, I had this moment of genius prior to getting pregnant.  I did fall off once while I was pregnant, again doing something stupid.  We were schooling cross country, my last one, I “added” a training level fence between the 2 novice jumps I was supposed to be doing, Lily wasn’t ready, ever the trooper she jumped and I flipped off on the landing and landed on my feet.  Then thanks to being pregnant, my equilibrium crapped out on me and I fell over like a drunk person.  My trainer freaked, I was mad at myself, and it was a bad ending to something that could have been so fun.  That is Lily trying to eat the prelim box in the picture above, less likely to climb over the box.  Yes I was fine, no I didn’t go get checked, remember that depression thing, well it put me in a mindset that if I lost it then that’s how it was supposed to be, hormones can be really terrible.

That white glaring round thing in the picture above is my belly, this was taken my last ride, a week before Mini EE was born.

So I survived pregnancy, and a last minute c-section, I have a very pretty little baby that I adore, and 2 mares that need work.  So 4 weeks (sure I was told 6 weeks but who listens?) after Mini EE was born, I started to ride again.  It helps having the horses in the back yard, then daddy could just come outside if something went wrong.  I started with Lily, gave her a little lounge, then got on, I had no other plans than walking and if it went well, I would attempt to trot.  Well after walking, trotting and cantering her, I pulled Emma out and got on her and did some walking and trotting.  Here is another article about post baby riding .

My last dressage show, 3 months and 1 day before Mini EE was born.  I was pregnant in all the pictures included above.

By the time Mini EE was 2 months old I was headed to my first horse show.  I took Emma, I did a one day schooling show, I entered in a 2’3″ hunter division, yes my 3’+ jumper mare was in a tiny hunter division, and she went around like a 3’+ jumper mare, much to the show staff’s entertainment.  For me it was just to get back in the game, low stress and get away from being a mom for a few hours.  It was great, no I didn’t place, and I didn’t care.  I don’t show nearly as much as I did, I have put Emma on semi-retirement not that she is 16, she just does a random A show or schooling show, on the order of about 2 a season, she is quite happy doing this and even was champion in the TB jumpers at an A show this past spring.

I focus more on Lily now, she is doing well eventing, we just moved back up to novice, we had done 1 schooling novice before I had to stop jumping and since I didn’t have enough time to keep her in shape, she has stayed at beginner novice.  I can’t complain too much, it’s nice to go to a show and not have to worry if you will make it around or not.  The lack of complications in my life are very welcome.  What about leaving the baby?  Well I did 2 nights away when I went to a show a few hours from home when Mini EE was about 9 months old.  I missed my baby but the break was nice.

On top of all of that, our recent trip to Colorado was literally a “Showcation”.  Lily got hauled 18 hours to do 2 weeks of H/J Schooling shows in Estes Park Colorado.  Mini EE decided sleeping in Colorado was optional, the nights were rough, luckily grandma and grandpa came so mom and dad could get some sleep.  Lily was very good, I think she needs some more slow show miles but she placed in 6/8 rounds among some tough competition in large classes.  The best part is, when I showed up at the horse show every day, if we did any “prep” it was 5 minutes on the lounge to let her stretch out after being in the stall all day and night.  On a side note, Lily loves attention, including Mini EE fingers on her nose, there is nothing better than when Mini EE gets excited seeing Lily and being able to pet her.

So my suggestion, if you are thinking about having kids sometime soon, pass up on that fancy-hot-wild horse you want to purchase and look for something that will take care of you before, during, and after you have the baby.  For me, that was Lily.

Pregnancy accomplishments:

  • Qualified for dressage schooling show championships
  • Won a BN schooling event, was in first from my dressage test on and finished on my dressage score
  • Did my first novice Eventing Derby and schooling event
  • Got 6th in Novice for year end at the local level
  • Got 5th in Beginner Novice for year end at local level with 2 shows after Mini EE

No telling if Mini EE will be an Engineer, but yesterday she jumped on her stuffed pony and started bouncing up and down, then fussed while sitting on Buddy the donkey, until he started walking, then apparently it was fun.  On a fashion note, if you need super cute horsey baby clothes check out Mini Britches.  Waaaay adorbs

A few qualifications:

  • My horses live in my back yard, I care for all 4 of them including my mini donkey and was out feeding all but a week after I had the baby.  I had to have help lifting feed bags and hay bales at the end but the rest I did.
  • I work 40 hours a week still and only took 6 weeks off
  • Mini EE has just started sleeping through the night in the last month or so
  • My husband is VERY supportive and very good with our little girl, this is a big one!
  • I don’t have a nanny, Mini EE goes to daycare just like the rest of the Dual Income kids.

*You should only do what you feel comfortable doing and if you have any complications, for sure listen to your doctor.  I am not a doctor and this is just my personal story, so do what is right for your situation.

As a thank you for getting all the way to the end, Smartpak is having their summer clearance, time to stock up on fly masks, fly sheets, sun stopper shirts and whatever else for next year.  They are also doing deals of the day.  Tomorrow’s is $150 off of something…

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