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WWYD? The horse/baby/family debate

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  • WWYD? The horse/baby/family debate

    My husband and I are expecting a little girl in two months and it has gotten me to thinking about my horsey future.

    My mare is a nicer horse than I am a rider, but she is all mare. Has a bit of a spook when in heat and not on depo. Was regularly schooling 4ft courses, etc before the positive pregnancy test.

    I worry about balancing new baby (and exhaustion) and horse (in regards to time and money).

    I've considered trying to find a share boarder/lessor but there is no one at my barn who would be s good match, so it would require sending her out and away...and I've heard some not great stories about other peoples experiences in that regard.

    I've considered trying to sell her out right, but not sure where yo start with that. She's been a pasture puff since December.

    I've considered offering her for a breeding lease. She did very well at inspections but is a maiden.

    So. I suppose my question is what would you do? What have you done?

  • #2
    A breeding lease to a trusted friend is a good idea. You could also consider turning her out in a field for a year--she will still be there when you come back to riding.

    I would, however, give some thought to selling her. Although it may seem daunting with her out of work, it will be MORE daunting later. Even if she comes back from a successful breeding lease in tip top condition, she's still going to be the same horse mentally that she was before, and that may not be the horse you want. And after a year plus off for a breeding lease, getting her in shape to sell for a decent price will definitely be much harder than selling her now.

    I admit this is a tough question because you really don't know (no one does) how having a baby is going to change your life. I took a few years where I stepped back from riding, then rode in a more relaxed way for a while, and then ended up riding like crazy again. There definitely WAS a long period after my kids were born where I was a much more careful and conservative rider. I was distracted, sleep deprived, out of shape (with no extra time to get in shape) and my ability to have the time and energy to keep a horse in steady work was iffy. I avoided riding anything remotely spooky or untrustworthy because there suddenly was a little "what if?" voice in my head. I had a few really nice horses that sat around in a field and then ended up getting sold for peanuts because I wasn't up to putting youngsters back into work. These weren't bad horses--just athletic out of work youngish horses. And I was too busy to organize and supervise sending them off to trainers and one had oddly developed some kind of soundness issue while relaxing in the pasture. I wish I had sold some of these horses instead, it would have been a wiser move.
    Last edited by BeeHoney; Jun. 11, 2013, 11:57 PM.


    • #3
      Yeah, but you don't sound very excited about this horse. You're going to be a whole lot less excited about her after your baby is born. I think you should consider selling her.
      I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


      • #4
        Do you have help- a sitter, family member etc for the baby? If you had a two or three hour window every day to do something for yourself, would you rather ride? Or go to the gym, get errands done, etc? I had all the same questions as you before my first baby. I decided that I need that time for myself a few days a week, and my husband goes to the gym every single day, so for me to have a sitter so I can go to the barn a couple days a week made sense. I choose that over anything else. If you have to work full time and have a horse and a baby I don't really see how that will be possible, but if you are a stay at home or part time working mom with a little help it can totally work, and will be VERY good for you. It's so easy to use the time to get caught up on stuff around the house when you have help but having a horse will force you to go out and be alone and do something physical and healthy just for yourself.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for your thoughts, thus far.

          I've owned her since she was a yearling, so I feel some sense of loyalty that is making it difficult to stomach the thought of selling.

          My MIL is willing to watch juniorette a few days a week, but other than that I don't have anyone who can. We decided that we both prefer that I stay home with the baby.

          I don't have any personal friends or acquaintances who breed, so I have no options that way.

          If I could find a situation with a decent rider/trainer/facility and care program I'd be happy to let her go on a free lease, but I'm not sure how feasible that is...


          • #6
            I have a farm and horses when Mini me was born was doable but I had help watching her. Riding was tough. Since I keep them at home, I made it through the spotty riding times and now, at 5, we enjoy barn time together. But only circa use she loves it. This is one of those crossroads us reproducing horse women must face. Being a parent is a balancing act without horses and more so with (insert sport/hobby/job here).

            If you can afford it, don't feel bad about letting the mare chill for a bit. I found a great free lease option for one of mine, but it was the perfect situation with a reputable trainer (and it took me over a year of spreading the word).
            Come to the dark side, we have cookies


            • #7
              You really have some tough choices- key word here is "you"! It is so subjective, like how hard will it be to leave baby? Do you trust someone to care for your mare? Can she handle being thrown out for a year? Will hubby get resentful? Will finances get tight with new baby? I don't have any answers for you, but I do have advice! Having a baby is totally life changing in ways you can't even predict! Even if you take a break from horses, you will be able to get back to it, I promise! I wish someone had told me that! I really had moments of total despair when first baby was born that my horse life was over and I was mired in laundry and poop all day! FWIW- I did throw my guy out in a field to be just a horse while I got my new baby life organized!! And he came back from it just fine.... As did I! Good luck- whatever you decide, it will all work out!


              • #8
                I would wait and see before you do anything drastic. I personally would get MIL to hang out with the baby while you ride a few times a week. I have an 8 week old and a 3.5 year old. When family visits, I gladly let the kids play with them and go ride. It keeps me moderately sane.

                Just be careful when you start up again...so you don't get bucked off when you get back on 10 days after giving birth. That was no fun. I greatly underestimated how out of shape I was, and overestimated how much stickability I retained. Plus, new moms are way more top-heavy than you're used to being. I had been doing farm chores up until i went into labor so i thought I was reasonably in shape. Wrong!

                Because I am not riding much I picked up a Jillian Michaels DVD and try to work out for 20 minutes a day when the baby sleeps to get fit again. Long stroller walks help too but it is amazing how tough that lady can make 20 minutes. Good luck!


                • #9
                  I'm in a similar situation- I have a 7-week old baby, and a 7-year old spooky, back-cracking jumper who needs to be carefully managed and in a training program. Every ride takes a lot of work and concentration. I've had him since 3, but never been all that comfortable on him for the above-mentioned reasons. He's been with a wonderful pro for the past year+, but with the baby I am having a hard time justifying the time, expense and distance.

                  I'm seriously considering selling him and finding something a little more laid back who I can keep closer to home, and who would be ok for the barn kids to hack when I can't get out. Love my boy dearly, but with limited time and finances, I need it to be fun when I ride.


                  • #10
                    It's nice to see someone bring this discussion up. I don't have many mom friends with horses and most of my horse friends don't have kids.
                    Anyway, I have a nearly 2 year old son and we are starting to try for our 2nd baby. I also have a hunter (but still green) mare and after my experience with the first kiddo, I'm planning to keep her.
                    When I had my son, I was exhausted for pretty much the first year of his life (he was not a good sleeper until he reached 1yr.). However, after the first couple of weeks after having him, I was dying to ride. Also, I really felt that I needed that 2 hours a couple of times a week as my "mommy time" away from him (I'm a stay at home mom). I ended up hiring a sitter for a couple of days a week since I don't have family in the area. She comes out to the barn with us, so my son gets some fun outside time and I'm around if they need anything. This truly has been the best money I've spent in a long time! I got my sanity back and I learned to live with the exhaustion. When he turned 1 everything changed for me sleep-wise and I began to get 8-10 hrs. of uninterrupted sleep time...hooray!!
                    When I get pregnant this time, I might have someone half lease her for a year - but I will definitely keep her so I keep my sanity when I have 2 kiddos and no sleep!
                    Good luck with your mare and congrats on your little one!


                    • #11
                      I have a 5 yr old and a 17 month old. I had the same horse throughout both pregnancies. After my second I realized that he was too hot, too spooky and not a good match for me now that I had two kids to look after. He waa cold backed and had to be lunged before I could even get on him which ended up being too long for me to be away from the kids, especially since I am a nursing mother.

                      I sold him and got the horse I have now. A been there done that 16 yr old who is easy to handle and ride. It has put so many of my fears to rest and I enjoy every ride now.


                      • #12
                        I have 1 year old twins, a full time job, and a horse - it's a crazy balancing act! Having my horse in a full time professional program has been a must - it keeps her tuned up and ensures that we can (mostly) have positive rides. It also means that if I have a week or two where I don't make it to the barn, I don't worry about anything.

                        If you can't afford/don't want to keep her in a full time program, I would probably either a) find a free lease situation in a good, professional barn with someone you trust (nearby so you can check on her) or b) turn her out for a year and go back to it when you're in more of a routine. The first 6 months or so will probably be chaos! After that, it gets much easier.
                        "A canter is the cure for every evil."


                        • #13
                          Great timing for this thread! I'm due at the end of July with our first, and I'm in a very similar situation with one of my horses. I did try to sell her over the winter when I found out I was pregnant, but I couldn't afford to keep her in a full-time program so she had 4 months off. And when we started to bring her back she was just not interested in any of it. So I've let that go for now, and I hope to be back in the saddle a few times a week by the fall and will try to sell her then. The market is really bad(in Southern Ontario) right now so I may end up keeping her longer than I want to, but I'm prepared for that. I'm lucky that I board at a farm with a lot of horses that need to be ridden, so I don't need my own horse to be able to ride a few times a week. If this wasn't the case I would be leaning towards keeping her. However I really have no clue what I'm in for until the baby arrives.


                          • #14
                            I agree great timing on this thread!! I too am pregnant with my first baby. This was an unexpected pregnancy and I am finding it hard already to deal with my horse.
                            I agree with trip* the market in Southern Ontario is horrible. I am lucky that I don't want to sell my horse as he is very quiet and will be great to come back to riding on after the baby comes. The problem is, no one around here wants to pay anything to partboard a horse. I have him at a beautful top notch facility with great coaching and no one wants to pay over $200 a month. My board is $850.00 including 8 lessons per month. Sorry but, $200 a month will not cut it for an amazing hunter that has won just about every division on the circut and is quiet, and a great teacher. My horse needs to be ridden almost everyday to keep him happy and sound and I didn't think it would be this difficult to find a committed part-boarder for an amazing hunter. I have two great girls riding him now, but they don't cover his board. I was even offering him for a free lease as long as he stayed at his current farm, no one was interested!!
                            These decisions are so hard!! If I were you I would try and find a free breeding lease or advertise her as a free ride situation for someone mature, brave and capable of handling her.
                            Good luck!


                            • #15
                              I gave away my crazy and talented horse when I was pregnant, and leased out my gentlemanly horse for six months to a friend. I started riding him six weeks post baby, and was back eventing within four months. I realize that's not for everyone, but I really missed riding and it helped keep me sane in the post baby sleepless craziness. I hired a teenager at the barn to watch her for the hour I was riding, then to untack if needed. I would wait and see how you feel post baby.


                              • #16
                                If riding and having your horse time at the barn is an important part of your life then I would not give that up simply because you are starting a family.

                                Riding and having time with my horse was very important to me as a new mother and as others have said, try to take a few hours several times a week for yourself, it will help you keep your sanity! If your MIL can watch your daughter a few days a week you could ride then. My daughter is 2 1/2 and I work full time. I am able to ride 5 days a week because I make it a priority. If I need to hire a sitter for a few hours so I can ride I do it. I don't have time to do much else for myself but if I can ride I am happy.
                                I rode up until 2 weeks before my due date and then started back 5 weeks after giving birth and I agree with others it takes time to get your fitness back. My gelding is older, pleasant to ride and safe if in regular work so I truly enjoy my rides on him. While I was pregnant I arranged for a trusted friend to ride him a couple days a week and she continued riding him after my daughter was born until I could pull off riding 5 days a week myself. That was a huge help. I considered a partial lease but having someone I trust and that I know is going to take good care of my horse is more important to me than the money from a partial lease. If someone is riding my horse for free I make the rules 100%.
                                That said, if your mare is a challenge to ride now she may not be a great match for you after you have children and have limited time to spend in the saddle. I am not suggesting giving up horses all together but if you are not sure you will feel safe riding her you might consider selling her and buying a more predictable mount.


                                • #17
                                  Though a life long horse fanatic, I gave up owning and riding when I was pregnant with my first son and only re-began when my second son made it to middle school. This was not just a financial and time-saving decision but also a preferance to only have only one passion in my life at a time. I don't speak for others, but this was the best decision for me by far. I'm now back into owning and riding--albeit at an advanced age, and loving every minute.
                                  Mon Ogon (Mo) and Those Wer the Days (Derby)


                                  • #18
                                    I love hearing from others in similar situations. I was seriously horse shopping when I finally managed to get pregnant. Because it had taken 3 years I stopped riding very early in my pregnancy and didn't go back til 6 weeks post. For me, my confidence and physical ability dropped dramatically after having my son. You are sleep deprived and hormonal and every little aspect of your life changes. If you really love your mare and can afford it, find a way to keep her around, and doing some sort of work. Just know that your brain gets out of shape along with that belly. I totally changed what I wanted in a horse after my son, I just can't afford the risk anymore.


                                    • #19
                                      Well, I had every intention of riding as long as possible while pregnant and being back in the saddle/hitting the gym the day little boy turned 6 weeks. The best laid plans.....mare ended up injured and needing surgery, and little one turned out to be super colicky! So he was probably over 3 months old before I even got back on a horse. It killed me to not ride for so long, but he is my absolute first priority. Honestly, the dog, horse and husband all come far behind the baby! It's still tough now at 4.5 months because we are a "grazing" nurser and he will not take a bottle and likes to be held and moving at all times. I'm lucky with two things, I have a friend and daughter who ride and take care of my mare (albeit, out of state) and there are plenty of people at the barn who help me with the baby. We have a pack n play set up in the office and a bouncer for him to play in. Maybe you could just continue giving your horse time off and assess the situation later once you've gotten through the first few weeks of mommy hood!


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by calipony View Post
                                        For me, my confidence and physical ability dropped dramatically after having my son. You are sleep deprived and hormonal and every little aspect of your life changes. If you really love your mare and can afford it, find a way to keep her around, and doing some sort of work. Just know that your brain gets out of shape along with that belly.
                                        I didn't ride after 4 months because it was very uncomfortable, and didn't ride a whole lot before that because of terrible morning sickness and fatigue. Ended up on bedrest shortly after that. Which all sucked, because I had finally figured out how to ride my horse well and was planning on spending a few weeks in Ocala with him over the winter.

                                        I started back at 2.5 weeks post-partum with just some nice long walks. At 6 weeks pp, was happily galloping around the rolling hills of the farm and starting to jump again. At 7 weeks, I feel totally fine to pick up where we left off when I stopped riding in the fall. So, your mileage may vary quite a bit as far as how you feel physically and mentally.