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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2003

    Default Rearranging one's dreams

    So this is not really a vent, as I'm not unhappy with what's happening in my life (in fact I'm happy and feel really lucky, actually), I suppose I'm just musing out loud, as it were.

    I have a lovely, fantastic, talented mare who is now 17. We have competed very little in the many years I've had her, first due to me being broke, then due to being nearly broke and having no time (law school and working), then due to injury, then due to what seemed to be a lack of time (though now I feel like I had much more extra time than I realized!). She has, however, taught me a huge amount and I love just seeing her face over the gate in the morning.

    Anyway, my daughter is now 9 months old and I've been very motivated to ride and compete and foxhunt again. Recently my husband gently indicated he doesn't think competing and hunting are realistic goals for me right now. I have a demanding job (we both do) and, well, a baby! Who still doesn't sleep all that getting myself up at 4am to hunt, for instance, just seems impossible as she still needs my help to sleep until some normal time in the morning.

    So I suppose I'm just feeling a bit adrift and trying to figure out what I want, what is realistic, and what my goals should be (I guess I am more goal-oriented than I thought!). We are thinking of having LO #2 in a couple of years, also, so we might be talking 4-5 years before I can realistically plan to "get out there" again.

    I can and still plan to ride regularly for fun, keep taking lessons, etc. Am also working on a long-term plan because, well, just to have a plan, I suppose!

    Like I said, just musing, although if you took a break for kids, life, etc. did your return to riding/competing go according to plan? Were you able to compete with a job and elementary-age kids?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2003
    Charlotte, NC, USA


    No kids but a demanding job too.
    What about trying some hunter paces. The ones around here start normally between 9-12 for ride out times and we ride for about 2 - 2.5 hours. Not as much $, not as early so the baby can sleep, not competitive (per say so not as much time training. I love doing them. They are a fun day.
    Pamela Ellis

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 22, 2008
    The eastern edge of the eventing wasteland

    Default What a dilema

    Can't really say too much because I am only a little ahead of you with a 6 year old in First grade and a 3 1/2 year old. I teach riding and I have my own horse. I had alot of the same life problems that kept me from doing all I wanted (no $$$, then had $$$ but horse injury 1 [broken bone], then had $$$ but horse injury 2 [bowed tendon], then Lyme disease, then no $$$ again!) , I was doing real estate title closings free lance up until the market tanked. Teaching happily picked up enough to cover the bills, but just barely.

    My daughter is in day care 2 days a week and with Grandma on the other. I teach both weekend days but not all day.
    My horse is 20 (going on 7) and due to a super tight budget I only showed once but it was a last minute fill in spot at a dressage show at my barn. But that is OK becasue I am kind of burned out going to the local shows I have been going to for years! All I want to do is Hunter Pace this fall a couple of times for fun.

    I can say that the desire was there to show and really ride! up until this year. I wish I could afford lessons but that has taken a back seat, along with alot of other things.

    The way I look at it is I chose to bring these two wonderful amazing people in this world. It is my responsibility to raise them to be loving, responsible, empathetic adults. And hopefully get them well educated in a field that will keep them gainfully employed for a long time! That is my number one priority.

    When my kids were small their demands were simpler, eat, sleep, food, poop and play. Now there is school and other activities. They like riding ! at least!

    When I am at the barn teaching, but esp. riding my guy, I feel guilty that I am not home with them. When I am home with them, I start missing the barn. There is no right answer for me.

    Right now I am settling for the fact that I can keep my horse as opposed to retire him. I am really happy he is sound and able to keep up the level he has been at. I am able to ride him 5 days a week and get out for a trail ride from time to time.
    My tack is getting old (saddle is going on 11 years and showing it), I wish I had a trailer and a truck to pull it. Plus a small farm to park it on. I wish I had a little more spare money to put towards the college fund. But I have to be thankful for what I have.

    I know several women who raised the kids and got back into horses. There are a couple at my barn in their 70's, about 4 in their 60's and plenty in their 50's. I am only 40 so there is hope yet!

    I can moan about how my life did not turn out how wanted and agonize over the mistakes I made. But I choose to embrace the life I have and really enjoy every day. I am truly happy when I am with my horse like I was the first time I saw my horse. Only it is even better 13 years later becasue we have such a great partnership. When I see my kids wake up every morning I smile and can't wait to give them a big hug. No matter how aggravated they got me the night before!

    I am hopeful one day that I can get to all those events I really, REALLY want to go to. (My dream is Rolex. It's a big one!). Even if it is not with my current horse.

    When you start stressing out every day about what you need to do and what you want, you really need to sit down and decide how you can make a compromise that works. And make up your mind to be happy with it. There is "no one size fits all" here.

    I look at the people at the upper levels and I see them riding competitively in their late 50's and beyond. So I have hope for me. You should too.

    Right now your daughter is very tiny and demands alot in terms of care and patience. As she gets older and more self sufficient you will find more time for yourself but it may not be when you want it (at night, during nap time or broken up throughout the day).

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once they are big enough to get involved in weekend or after school activities then you will have more time to devote to riding.
    "You're horse is behind the vertical!"
    "Of course he's behind the vertical, I haven't jumped it yet!"
    - NLK
    "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2003
    Nonsuch House


    No kids here either, but I will tell you that all the kids that ride usually have parents that put them on a horse at a very early age and then went on to teach them how to ride.

    Make sure you include your children in your horse activities and it will pay you back when you are out Fox Hunting or eventing with them.

    Then when you age and need help they will be there for you. My husband and I went to watch one of the local hunts and there was a woman riding sidesaddle leading a pony with a child in the saddle. I thought how lucky that child is.
    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2001
    Parker, Colorado


    First thing, when kids AND horses are involved, throw any plan out the window!! You're only going to set yourself up for disappointment!

    I just had my 3rd daughter, and for the 3rd time I am getting rid of the baby weight and getting back on the horse. My baby is 6 months and my other two are 6-1/2 and 2-1/2. I also have a full time job. I've gotten "back into it" twice already, so the 3rd time is a piece of cake!!

    My involvement with horses is certainly less than when I was pre-kids, not just for lack of time but less finances too. Daycare is a lot more expensive than board I can say that having the horses at home now is KEY. So much easier than when we were boarding. But I tell you what, it makes every moment that much more valuable. My husband can always tell when I haven't been riding much because I turn into Grumpy Mom.

    When I had kid#1, I had a nice quiet TB and I took a foray into hunter-land. I half-leased him to another rider, which help eased the finances and got him more rides when I could not be there.

    When I was pregnant with kid#2, we moved to a little 5 acre farm and then I had a barn of my own. WOOHOO! Since I wasn't riding (sold the lovely hunter), I scoured craiglist for rescue projects. Found an amazing giveaway TB, former prelim eventer, that needed some rehab from an injured knee and boy did I win the horsey lottery with him. Spent my pregnancy rehabbing his knee, and after I had kid#2, started slowly riding again. We were both out of shape so we were a perfect fit for each other. Started doing a little eventing and finally got ourselves to a real USEA event when BAM, found out I was pregnant with kid#3.

    Spent the winter being pregnant. No real riding. But nice to see the horsies out in the pasture and pat their noses.

    Had kid #3 in April! Had to lose 30 lbs before I do much with the horse because he is now 17 going on 18. And....... drum roll...... tomorrow we are going to a little schooling show! I know it's puny, but I have worked so damn hard to get back to this, I feel like I'm going to Rolex.

    SO I guess what I'm saying is that yes of course you can still have some goals, but don't expect them to be exactly what they could have been pre-kids. My plan is to do whatever I can with no more than 2 rides a week. (Even squeezing that in is tough.) But that's enough fitness to take my old schoolmaster out on BN jaunts and do just fine. I watch for pair paces, clinics, and schooling shows, because they are cheap, easy, fun, and low-stress. I have no goals to advance or move up the levels (OK, maybe Novice next summer), just being out there is enough, and doing the best I can do with my free horse, ancient tack, and rusty old trailer.
    where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 3, 2005
    Black & white cow country


    I ditto everything above. I'm in the same shoes as the OP. I had my second little boy two months ago and am really feeling the itch to get back in the saddle. I haven't ridden much in the past 3 years, so my body turned to mush. I am realizing that because my mare is out 24/7 with our other horse, she's actually a lot more fit than I am! So no worries about bringing her along too quickly...I tire out much faster than she does. lol

    Finding the time to get out and work with her is hard, even though we now live on horse property and they are literally in our backyard. I totally understand the guilt thing mentioned above. But I've also come to realize that if I don't get enough of a horsey fix, I turn into a grouchy mom, and my kids are better off spending time with their daddy while mommy is getting her horsey fix and then having a happy mom the rest of the time.

    My goals have definitely changed since having children. When I was in high school I thought I would be a pro rider and trainer. I never thought I would get married and have kids. All of that changed when I met my husband (who is also horsey, thank God) and fell in love. Now I am a SAHM and can't pour tons of money into the horses. So I'm learning to just enjoy what I have for now. There will be plenty of time to get more serious when the kids are older, in school, or moving away to go to college. In the meantime I will be content to be an ammy who takes a few lessons, hits a few shows, and just enjoys the horses as an outlet from the craziness of raising two boys.

    Life is what happens when we are busy making plans.
    Happiness is the sweet smell of horses, leather, and hay.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2006
    Seattle, WA


    I think you can fit in whatever you make a high enough priority (and in no way do I mean to imply that one person's priorities are better or worse than another's, just that they're all different).

    I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 year old. I wasn't competing as actively as I had around the time I had my oldest, and over the course of the next 4 years (after having him and through my second) I bought and sold a bunch of horses and "sifted" through horses ending up with my [now] 1.40m jumper mare and my [now] 1.40m jumper gelding, and a few other horses. I compete more heavily now than I did before having kids, and I also ride at a higher level than I have since I was in highschool (I'm back in the GP ring with one of them!).

    I also have a very demanding full time job. My responsibilities have recently changed and I've had to incorporate 3-4 day a week travel into my schedule 2-3 weeks out of each month. It's made me look very closely at my horses' conditioning schedules, but hasn't changed much otherwise.

    Anyhow, my point is that if the horses are a priority for you then you'll find a way to do it. If not, then enjoy whatever it is that IS a priority for you now. Your kids are little for such a short amount of time that there is NO SHAME in a horsewoman putting things on hold for a few years. I do think that combining kids and horses gets a little easier when the kids get a little more independent. I think that one of my "magic bullets" (when it comes to Things That Allowed Me to Return to Riding) was the fact that I had (and have) a super supportive husband who understands that riding keeps me sane. Without that I'm not sure I would have been able to show as heavily over the last few years.

    Good luck!

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