Training Advice, Motivation Needed... Pregnant with lack of direction
Two things first: this is going to be on the longer side and I thank you making it to the end and I also don't post on here a ton, but I do read, so thanks again for weighing in for an unfamiliar poster.
I'm 25 weeks pregnant - YAY! Very happy about this; husband and I can't wait for baby to arrive. However, I'm depressed about my horse life. Realistically, I understand that my horse will have to take a back seat for a while. He's the best one for the job as he only ever loses fitness, not training or brains. However, I ended up getting pregnant much faster than expected.. we started trying towards the end of a 7 month break that I gave my horse during the spring and summer of last year. It was the right decision as he's healthy and happy now, ready to return to our previous 5x/week schedule. I'm not ready though!
Pregnancy has been very easy in the long run but with winter daylight hours, exhaustion, and the time-sucking nature of getting to the barn at best I ride him 3x/week. Sometimes I skip a week because of my schedule or weather or a stone bruise, etc. To make matters worse, when I do ride now I'm changing so fast that it is all I can do to give him a solid 15-20 minute work out, mostly just the basics. He's not as fit as he used to be which really makes it difficult for both of us - I feel like a top heavy jello-mold perched on his back. Yesterday we did some hills, the ride before we worked on basic walk/trot transitions (very hard for me right now with no core muscles), often we will work on the lunge with Vienna reins and poles, and sometimes we just have a basic "let's walk/trot/canter day with basic connection". Gone are the days where I felt we had a true purpose to our rides... and I hate that. We are at best maintaining, but there isn't enough consistency for him to really get stronger.
I'm a type-a personality who fights the urge to be a controlling perfectionist (a huge issue in my riding), but the c'est la vie lifestyle is killing me right now. So, in desperation I'm writing for advice - I'm sure some of you have been in a similar situation. What did you do? What sort of training program maximizes 3x/week? How did you stay sane? Is it possible to help a horse get stronger with only a few rides a week?
I've posted ads in my area (Augusta, GA) and on this board looking for a good horseless rider to work with him. I'd be willing to continue footing his bills and help them get to shows, etc, if they would just sit in the darn saddle... but I'm not having any luck as of yet. I need a functional plan for the interim.
So very jealous ! I have had had no major problems thank goodness, but every other ache/pain you can get, I have been getting. The fatigue is beyond getting old.
Originally Posted by Fractious Fox
What did you do? What sort of training program maximizes 3x/week? How did you stay sane? Is it possible to help a horse get stronger with only a few rides a week?
I called uncle or reachedish acceptace. My horse is not very big and I am rather tall for her so balance was already becoming an issue at month 4. I pondered a lease but rather quickly dismissed that as I would rather deal with an out of shape horse than a horse that has developed training problems/built the wrong muscles. I could have paid big bucks to put my horse in training, but that is not why I ride. I ride to learn new things with my horse, not to learn to ride a trained horse (this is MY opinion on riding, everyone has a different reason to ride, that model works perfectly for other people). Also, SO wanted me to stop riding at the beginning of month 5, and I do not want to add any risk that might make me have to do this again as it has been extremely unpleasant... Also, the doctor did say that the baby is not very protected anymore after month 4 so that was another reason.
At this point you already realize how much your body has changed, and I keep getting told that it will keep changing. I am a few weeks ahead of you and have realized that my mobility has already been affected from what it used to be and am realizing that it is just going to keep getting more and more limited. My advice? Find some way to accept that your horse is going to lose fitness and try (I know, type A here too) to just ride for fun. It is really not that big of a deal if your horse gets out of shape. You will be out of shape once the baby comes too, and you two can get fit together!
At least, that is what I am telling myself about me and my horse. How do I stay sane? My dogs are getting walked..... a lot..... Junk in the house is getting disposed of at an amazing rate.... My aquariums are getting the changes that I have been putting off for a long time.... Been getting rid of a ugly rock garden that the previous owners put in and I have not had the time to remove.... and going over 3x a week to feed, let run off some steam, and cleaning up after my horse.
Congratulations and best wishes for a continued easy pregnancy!
I've not been in your shoes due to pregnancy, but I have been in your shoes time wise in the past and found that half leasing worked really well for me which I see you're working on. Are there any local eq teams? Pony clubs? Lesson programs? I'm just wondering if you could spread the word amongst some other programs and find someone who could do some of the basic riding that you're doing as you bring him back into work.
Else, is putting him in a program with a trainer an option? (it wasn't for me financially)
You didn't mention how old your guy is, but I'm assuming young/middle aged. Taking some time off without a "goal" isn't going to ruin him. He could sit totally unused for a bit until you're in a position to ride at your desired level again. While I can totally understand wanting to be working towards something and not enjoying the "maintenance", you can only do what you can do. So cut yourself some slack and consider just hacking out and enjoying him.
I can "feel" your frustration through your post. I'm sorry. You've got a lot of life changes happening though, so please do be kind to yourself. Just because you're not on your way to the Olympic trials or Rolex or whatever doesn't mean that your horse time is meaningless. Find the "horse crazy kid" in you and just enjoy the time you've got right now. That would be my advice.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Yes, the changing body thing is definitely a game changer! I haven't looked into sending him to a trainer... not financially possible right now but also, as HotSensitive seems to agree, it's not really that I want him to move forward regardless of my efforts. For me, it's just that I don't want him getting further away from where we were, especially since I need to keep his options open. I don't ever intend on selling him (he's "the one"), but I might have to one day, or more likely I might have to lease him...my husband is in the military and between moving/possible deployments/etc, it might not be feasible for me to be his primary rider for a year or so after baby arrives. I don't know... I've been in bad situations with selling horses unexpectedly in the past, and I vowed never to go through that again.. that I would always keep the horse's resume fresh and updated because you just never know what will happen. So, that's where the frustration that BuddyRoo picked up on comes from.
I do have some good news though... Yesterday I finally received a reply to one of the notices I posted in my area and I have someone who might just work out. It's not worth it to me to put just anyone up there... they have the be the right match... but I'm going to see about doing some trial rides and lessons to see if this is the case. Fingers crossed... this might be a situation that benefits me and the rider as well!
Meanwhile, I decided yesterday to teach pony some tricks. I can at least give him variety this way. If the rider works out, I would feel much better about limiting my rides to a couple of long walks a couple of times a week. He'd be happy and so would I.
Thanks again for your suggestions, and to anyone else who chimes in.
[QUOTE=Fractious Fox;6808050]Thanks to you both for your thoughts!
For me, it's just that I don't want him getting further away from where we were, especially since I need to keep his options open. I don't ever intend on selling him (he's "the one"), but I might have to one day, or more likely I might have to lease him...my husband is in the military and between moving/possible deployments/etc, it might not be feasible for me to be his primary rider for a year or so after baby arrives. I don't know... I've been in bad situations with selling horses unexpectedly in the past, and I vowed never to go through that again.. that I would always keep the horse's resume fresh and updated because you just never know what will happen.
I have a 5 month old baby and I was in your position last year. I feel my horse is a keeper too but agree that life circumstances can change drastically and it makes me nervous to have a horse out of shape in a field. I decided to keep my horse even though I couldn't find a part or full lessor. Right after my baby was born I would have told you that I made a huge mistake in not selling my horse. A month ago things started to get easier and I've found a part lessor for my horse. Now I'm glad I didn't sell but I can see why that option is on the table, even for a keeper horse. How I made the decision to not sell when I was pregnant was that I agreed with myself that should everything go badly I would give my horse away to a few good homes I can think of. The horse I have should be worth a decent amount if money but I'd do right by the horse first because of the risk I was taking.
The training between you and your horse is largely about developing your mind/brain/neurology. There is sooooo much you can do with a horse that does not involve you being on them, or even you having to move very fast. Your brain is what has to do the working.
Marengo, Selling is definitely not an option that I will ever actively seek... but you just never know, right? I'm happy to hear that you didn't sell and realized that it was the right choice after your life evened out. That's great to hear!
Microbovine, Thank you for your thoughts. I agree, risks are to be measured heavily while pregnant. Each person's choices are different. I've probably only taken five tylenol pills during the last 25 weeks, quit caffeine 100%, and watch everything I eat. However, I still run every day which my neighbor nurse scoffs at and I ride my horse, which some people think is a terrible idea. I don't need to justify this decision, but I have reduced my riding significantly, keep it easy, and my horse himself is soon to be included in a hippotherapy program due to his safety. Still a risk, but mitigated. As I posted earlier, finding a rider to take over for a while is my top goal.
Isabeau, thank you for those videos! That stuff is GREAT! I've been working with him from the ground a lot, but we need to shake things up and he will have a blast. If this rider situation works out and we start doing some fun stuff from the ground, he will be so happy.
Congrats!!! People babies are a lot of fun. I agree with those who say to shake it up with some fun ground work. Your boy looks like a total cutie. Makes me wish I were closer to help out.
Something that helped me (I have an 11 month old) was that it wasn't going to last forever, although it felt like it did! It will be over before you know it and life will get much more hectic with a wee one.
I rode up until 6.5-7 months, then I just couldn't stay on the huge green bean that I was riding. Weebles wobble and this one almost fell down! If I had had access to a quiet partner, I would have be-bopped around until the baby was born.
Just keep remember that it DOES get better, you will have more time, and try to let yourself enjoy your new little one. I'm sure that your boy will enjoy the time off and the snuggles and groundwork. They grow up so bloody fast, it's amazing. The little people that is!
Take care of yourself, both mind and body. You will need some "you" time after the baby is born. I would encourage you to hire a sitter or have hubby watch baby and ride your horse. It would be good for all 4 of you. Too many think of having a baby as a riding death sentence. Sure babies take up a lot of time but you still need to have a break too. You will be a better parent if you get to have some fun too. Best wishes!
Superminion and My Two Cents,
Thanks - it is hard but important to remember that this isn't a riding death sentence, as My2 pointed out. I'm not really the personality to let it become a riding death sentence, but I am the type to worry about it going that direction, ha!! Fortunately for me though I do have a super supportive husband. He loves the horse as well and also knows how good my horse time is for me, so he will ultimately support me. I do hope this rider situation works out well though, because it would be great to start back on a fit horse who can be physically forgiving of my pathetic core muscles!
I am currently 24 weeks pregnant and I quit riding my event mare when I found out I was pregnant. She hates just to plod around and she is not fun when she isn't in constant work. She went to a friend's back in October so that she had something to ride and horse got worked. Friend has since called and asked to bring her back since her time at the barn has been cut drastically due to school and work. So I am now in the process of trying to find a leaser to take her through at least June. There is a pony clubber that is going to try her out this weekend that is currently without a horse. If it doesn't work out, I am just gonna bring her home and let her be a pasture puff until I can get back on. It would just be nice for her to be in shape and ready to go once I am able to ride again...we can all dream!!
Yes, we can all dream! One of my mottos... plan for the worst but expect and work towards the best no matter how crazy it makes you. This really seems to come out in my horse-life... !!
I'm fortunate enough in that my horse has split personalities... he's game-faced when we are "really riding", but sweet as sugar when I (or my beginner husband) need him to be low-key. The only problem is keeping him stimulated mentally; his brain never slows and he's an outright imp if he doesn't get his people-time (just ask my barn owner!). I'm just selfish and really want to see him maintain or move forward while I can't work him.. partly because it will benefit me, partly because I think it is "responsible", and partly because I really just get pleasure out of watching him go if I can't be on him. He's just the best thing since sliced bread, and I've been smitten with him since the day I first laid eyes on him.
I have a 5 and a half month old baby, and I JUST rode my WB mare (hot, sensative) for the first time 2 weeks ago.
I have 2 horses, one is retired, and she's my new to me horse (well, 2 years now, but I lost a year due to pregnancy and a winter due to weather) and we finally got around to bonding when she had rain rot, believe it or not. I wasn't ready to ride her yet and she had scabs on her saddle area as well (ouchy).
But now she's better, and I can ride.
I'm not gonna lie-the last thing I want to do after being up 2x at night to feed the baby, then working 8 hours, is ride her. No one is around at my place at night, and that worries me when I ride. Before, I didn't care. I preferred my barn because it was a ghost town. Now I worry about having a motherless baby.
So she's moving to a more populated barn.
When I found out I was pregnant, I found a rider for her (she NEEDS a JOB). I was going to sell her, have the rider campaign her for me.
Turns out the rider and she were an awful match. It got to the point where the horse tried to toss the rider and HATED her. And she is a good rider.
I ended up having to send mare to the trainer to undo the damage done. (She'd figured out the rider's breaking point and developed a few bad habits).
I left the horse in a field until now. No worse for wear. Just an FYi, and my experience.
I ran until about 28 weeks, then I swam instead. I couldn't believe how easy swimming was while pregnant. I suppose it was because I was more marine mammal shaped, LOL!
Do be very careful and if your horse becomes fractious, just get off. we are built to protect our babies, but not necessarily from falls. My husband is a physician but he never told me what to do. We just sat down and discussed the risks and I calculated them as too high.
On the other hand, I was riding again within a few months. I would like to say it was regularly, but it wasn't. Babies change a lot of your priorities and I was unsatisfied with the local daycare options.
Now that our son is going to kindergarten in the fall, I have brand new horse plans. It will be bittersweet.
My 3 have been sitting in a field since I got pregnant. One was fit to start endurance, the other coming back from time off due to hoof imbalances that caused soreness. The third is basically retired so no biggie there. I tried to ride early on, but I was so very sick and dizzy that I did well to make it to work. I intended to stop by the time I was showing anyway, and it was well after that when I felt physically up to doing more than petting them once a week.
Its just a short time. I think mentally for me it still would have been easier to toss them out than to try for more than walking around the pasture, but the risks to my daughter and myself were too high for me to justify riding. I went thru years of infertility, so I couldn't live with putting her at risk in any way I could control. The horses will survive with carrots and petting. If anything, my bond with my Arab is better now. I spend so little time with him that he loves for me to pet and rub on him. Before he never cared much.
The only part that frustrates me is the beautiful weather and knowing there is an endurance ride very close by on Sept 1 that I would love to be able to attend. Past that, they are fat and happy and that's all that matters with them right now.
Thanks Microbovine for the additional post. I wouldn't recommend to anyone that they ride into their pregnancy - that is such a personal decision at the least, and in my case I would have never considered getting this far if I didn't have a situation that was conducive to success more than failure. I also wouldn't ever recommend getting married early, which is exactly what I did. I'm still happily married to my best friend 9 years later, but it's not the road for everyone and it certainly wasn't easy! In all honesty, I'm looking forward to doing more ground work and really transitioning my boy over to someone else for a while.
Hampton Bay... gosh, I would feel overwhelmed with three even if I wasn't pregnant! Kudos to you for managing all of them, regardless of your "delicate condition" I'm sorry to hear that you had a rough go of things initially with all of those great pregnancy symptoms.
I hear ya on the weather thing too.. I love the cooler weather and really hate seeing these blue-sky days with crisp temperatures get passed up one after another. Blah!
UPDATE - Good news though to those who have been following...
I have a meeting scheduled this Sunday to introduce my horse to a possible rider. I'm so excited. This is a young rider who is doing very well and is a part of my greater horse-circle.... my good friends know these people very well and they also ride semi-regularly with my instructor. The rider is showing regularly above my current level, clinics and lessons all over the place, and is local to my barn. Both the rider and the family are great; I'm really hoping this works out for everyone! This could be just what I'm looking for