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Desire to ride and holding off starting a family...

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    Desire to ride and holding off starting a family...

    So here I go asking a bunch of internet strangers and extremely personal question. Don't worry, I have been talking to my husband too but I feel like my family and non horsey friends just don't "get it'.

    I have a farm full of horses. SO and I both have no horsey jobs but I'm very active in competing. I have 2 very nice horses, one who is very solid second level and I'm hoping to earn my bronze on, and another who's green but as all the pieces of a top horse.

    I'm getting older, we have the money, we have the desire, I want to have a baby.. but I don't want to give up riding for any amount of time. Riding has always been the most important thing to me, ALWAYS, what happens when that's not the case anymore? I don't want to be that person who leaves my baby in a bucket while I ride all day, but how do you balance?

    I'm not looking for an answer because there isn't one, but what have you experienced?

    There is a group on FB, “Equestrian Mothers,” where people have good perspective on this.

    My husband and I had our first child this year. I’m older for a first time mom (late 30s). Having a baby has made me very aware of my age right now. I don’t have any regrets, but there is part of me that wishes we would have started this journey earlier.

    I’m still too new to this to offer much advice. I can say right now, 5 months postpartum, it’s really really hard balancing career and horses while caring for an infant and adjusting to life as a mother. That’s not a complaint, it’s just the truth. I also know it won’t be like this forever.

    Everyone says your life will change, and that seems so obvious. Yet you can’t fully appreciate the weight of that statement until you are living it.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


      I had my first baby July of 2019. I rode almost until my due date. (I have one saint of a horse) I am also extremely lucky, I have several babysitters available. This year I had great plans to do a few shows and really start riding again. Even got another horse. Now I have baby 2 on the way and have taken a major hiatus from the horses.

      I think having a good support system helped. My MIL and SIL are amazing. My SO is amazing and helpful when he isn’t working. My experience has been *easy* so far but I think it’s really different for everyone.


        It'll never be perfect. Some days you'll be good at horse stuff, and somedays you'll be good at mom stuff. Everyone will be okay. You will spend alot of time crying over having to make choices that feel like "lose/lose." You will be tired. You will be okay.

        A support system of babysitters/family who will watch the baby(ies) is essential. A supportive spouse is essential.

        Keep in mind that life is fluid, and you can't plan for everything. It sounds like, with your non-horsey job and with the farm, you already have two full-time jobs. Children are another full-time job. I think alot of us can do two full-time jobs, but three is hard. You will need help, whether it's family or daycare, or you may have to separate from one of your other jobs. If you want to have kids (who, BTW, will likely be ridiculously adorable and entertaining for the first few years, and remarkable and wonderful after that), by all means make a plan, but be prepared for the plans to change.
        Last edited by SharonA; Aug. 18, 2020, 10:27 AM.


          If you have the means, there are lots of enriching chlidcare options other than parking your baby in a bucket, you can enlist another person to take care of your child while you're busy at the barn. So I guess first you should unpack what you think is wrong with "leaves my baby...all day". Lots and lots of babies spend significant time in daycare, without turning into psychopaths. You say "we" so I assume there's a partner involved in this care. If the child has an engaged, affectionate caretaker. your taking some hours every day to be at the barn (or your job, or whatever) will not damage the child.

          I can't give you an answer for what you should do, but my general perspective is that we (as a society) rarely discuss why to have a baby. In fact almost all discussion frames it as if bearing children is the default condition, and NOT bearing children requires the discussion and Big Choice. Which in my mind is totally backwards because giving birth is one of the most life-altering, expensive, and irreversible (for all intents and purposes) decisions a woman can make. And yet no one asks (out loud) "Why?"
          1. How many hours a week do you want to spend at the barn, in order to feel satisfied?
          2. What changes would be needed in the routines and/or career of your partner, in order to let you ride at the level that's important to you? Is your partner willing/able to make those changes?
          3. Let's say partner is not willing/able to make enough changes in their situation, in order for you to ride as many hours as you feel is important. If that's the case, why is this choice framed as being about your riding / your choices? Partner is making choices here too, and should be equally ready to drastically change his/her life to accommodate baby.
          4. What is it about riding that most fulfills you?
          5. What is it about being a mother that most appeals to you?
          6. When you imagine the very best parts of being a mother, what does that look like?
          7. Do you ever hesitate to be upfront and direct about how important riding is to you, in terms of how it affects the childbearing decision? Why?
          8. Do you ever think about the decision to have babies in terms of what the people around you would feel/think about it? i.e. how much is your desire to have a baby about what you want vs what you think is expected

          All I can say is that when we asked and answered questions like this, the right course seemed plain to me and my husband. We did not have kiddos and 25 yrs later have not regretted a second of it.


            Lots of good advice here. I especially like Hungarian Hippo's #8 - 'what you want vs. what you think is EXPECTED'. That is a significant statement, and do take the time to think that one over.

            I waited to have the first one, I was 30 when he was born, and I'd been married 7 years already. In my family babies tend to pop out 9 mos after "I do". People had finally quit asking when.... I waited until I was sure it was something truly wanted on my (our) part, not something we did because it was expected of us. The second one didn't come along until 9 years later, simply because I was working full time +, and I wasn't giving up my horse time to tend a second child. Eventually we got to a position where we are able to be on a single income, and #2 came along.

            Some of the things I did to adapt were having child things at the barn - a playpen, stroller, etc. I had a baby backpack, he'd ride around in that while I cleaned stalls and such. When I rode I'd put the playpen in a corner of the arena, or some such area. And let's face it, your goals will be altered in some way. Whether that means it takes you longer to get there, or you end up not getting there at all......

            There are so many variables in this question...... you just cannot know, and nobody can give you a 'pat' answer. If you know some professionals who are actively working in the business while having a family, I would reach out to them. Especially the females. (I am sure there are some on COTH but I don't know who they are).


              I can completely relate, I kept procrastinating on trying to have kids for the very same reasons as you. Once I hit my early 30's I decided to actually start trying and spent the past 5 years going through IVF and other countless fertility treatments all without success. So, I came to realize maybe my future was supposed to be horses and not kids! I still have embryos frozen and if we decided to go the IVF route again, we'd only have one (if we're lucky) and we'll be older parents (late 30's) but that's okay with us.

              What does your husband want? Is he itching to become a dad, or is he indifferent at the moment? The last thing you want is to create any sort of resentment towards you or your riding if he is ready to start a family.

              That being said, my trainer and countless riders at my barn have children and still manage to compete regularly and make it to the barn 5 days a week. I'm sure there is a large period of adjustment, but so many riders manage to do it I'm sure once you figure out the routine you can make it work.


                Of course non-horsey friends/family don’t “get it,” horses are a “hobby”, a passion, that is rarely matched in regards to commitment by any other activity. That’s fine, they don't have to get it, they only have to be supportive of you and your decision.

                I agree with really thinking, by yourself and with your SO, if you want kids because you actually want kids, or if you want them because you’re supposed to want them.

                If you have the means, you could adopt or have a surrogate. This prevents the physical concern of riding while pregnant and any break that you might need to recover after birth. As far as future childcare, yes there’s lots of options. A live-in nanny who helps not just with the child as needed (like when you’re physically on the back of a horse), but with household chores so you can significant other can spend more time with the child is a nice option. I worked in daycares in college, there were always kids whose moms were stay-at-home moms that didn’t work, and still the kid was in daycare full time M-F. There’s no one definition of a family and how it must operate.


                  It sounds like you have a horsey property. Do you have boarders? Staff? Or are you 100% responsible for the care of the equines there? Plus have a full-time job? Does DH help with farm upkeep and horse chores?


                    Something that caught my eye, you say you want a baby....but do you want kids, pre-teens, teenagers? I ask that because I've come to understand that my mother wanted a baby but actually, truly is not capable of emotionally dealing with kids. Oddly, she was an excellent elementary school teacher, but is and remains completely incapable of placing any child's emotional needs ahead of her own.
                    I'm similar, but a generation later of course, and more comfortable in determining that I won't have kids ever. And now I am married to someone who can't, so!!
                    Thankfully, my mother was balanced by my father...who did not want children, but once he had them put his career, his passions, and his hobbies to side and devoted himself to making sure that my brother and I could pursue our own interests.
                    A question you need to ask...if you have a teenager whose passion is swimming say, are you willing to give up horse time and horse money to support that?


                      I hear what you are saying, and I feel the same. Horses have always been my number one priority and certainly still were through the getting married/having babies time of life.

                      Having babies just makes the concept of priorities more important. If horses are a priority you will keep riding and doing things in the same way. If horses drop back in priority, you will not. I would say 9 times out of 10, moms find that their priorities shift and the horses take a step back. But as the 10th person, I can say that I rode and showed at a higher level and higher intensity when my kids were born and still little than I had in the decade or so prior. I have my horses at home and was working full time, and still rode 2-4 horses a day every day of my childrens' baby years, and continued showing in the big jumpers through that time with the same intensity as before..and ultimately at a higher intensity when I took my big guy up through the big FEI Grand Prixes while the kids were still toddlers. When they were really little, though, (like too little to leave at home with dad since I was still breastfeeding) I wound up with an extra horse that I would hand to a horsey nanny to show, and then I would have a nanny for the baby alongside me at the shows and we played a game of hand-off-the-baby all day long. At home I planned my rides for nap times and/or times my husband was home.

                      My husband understood my insanity and always helped me figure out scheduling and logistics. That was probably the biggest factor in allowing me to manage my time in a way that kept the horses at the forefront. But I will say that I stopped after 2 kids because I couldn't imagine taking a step back for another 9 months (even though I rode throug both of my pregnancies). Now I have a daughter who rides with me every single day, and it's made riding even more rewarding and enjoyable. I never thought about that part of it when I was planning to have kids!
                      Flying F Sport Horses
                      Horses in the NW


                        I am at this point in my life too and it is scary. I want a kid or two maybe at some point, BUT I am not ready to give up my lifestyle. I love having my horses at home and I have goals for them. I don’t want to stop what I have started with them.

                        The thought of being pregnant is also terrifying to me. It is so personal and in a way makes me very embarrassed to think of others seeing my body in that way. I know it is natural and a miracle and all that Jazz, but it just bothers me to no end. I can’t imagine having others asking personal questions (ie my in-laws) about my body. My sister just had her first baby and this really bothered her too. People don’t know where the line is!!

                        I also worry how I will juggle it all when an actual kid has arrived. Again, after watching my sister (who doesn’t work, have real hobbies, or anything like me) struggle to make time for it all, it just scares me!

                        op thanks for bringing this topic up. People do not understand why or how horses are involved in this decision and thankfully you guys do 😉


                          I agree with much of what Hungarian Hippo stated - think of all the reasons why. Coming from the perspective of someone who decided to NOT have kids, there is a lot more to the decision than what some may think. I, like you, am competitive and LOVE hanging out with the horses. I decided I didn't want kids for two reasons - 1 was that I often see the woman bearing the brunt of child rearing (including picking up/dropping off from daycare and other activities) no matter where the husband stood on the issue, 2 was my EXTREME distaste for diapers/spit up/drool/food on face. I have so much of a visceral reaction to it that I would probably psychologically damage the poor kid; 3 was that I just do not WANT to find time or change my daily routine or take that break from riding that the act of being pregnant requires.

                          I am now of the stance that if any future husband wanted kids, he would have to be able to do 80% of the child rearing 'chores', otherwise it is a no go. I know one person who said the same thing and the husband is holding true to his word.

                          I also agree with coming up with plans. My brother and sis-in-law put their first kid in daycare. When the second came along, they became dissatisfied with the daycare and eventually found in home care (through Angie's List or something) for the same cost. the differences were immense, though - instead of leaving the house in time to get kids to daycare and get to work, they are spending that time at home and leaving later to get to work at the same time. They don't have to worry about getting out of work on time to get kids from daycare. Now that the kids are in school, the in home sitter gets them (and a few others) to and from school so Kindergarten hours are not so much of an issue to two working people.

                          I would sit down, find out where exactly your husband is and see what your schedule looks like. Do at least one of you have a job with steady hours (ie - 9-5 no overtime)? How many hours do you spend with the horses and how willing are you to cut back? What does your budget look like? What will happen if horse show money needs to get funnelled to kid? How will activities/play time with classmates/birthday parties/etc. be handled?

                          My main reasons for not having kids:

                          1- not willing to cut back on horse time, which is about 3 hours every evening
                          2 - not wanting to deal with diaper phase (can my kid pop out at like 5? I can deal with that)
                          3 - my brother has 3 kids and the middle one is loud, obnoxious, self centered...just to much for me and neither parent is that way so I could have one that comes out like that one!
                          4 - Do not want to take the break from riding and my career that being pregnant will entail (again, if I had a husband and he really wanted kids, he would also have to do something to bring that break and loss of fitness to balance)
                          5 - now that I'm older, I do not want to be 60 when my kid finally graduates college and my life is completely my own again.
                          6 - kids are EXPENSIVE!


                            Originally posted by ladybugsbw View Post
                            The thought of being pregnant is also terrifying to me. It is so personal and in a way makes me very embarrassed to think of others seeing my body in that way. I know it is natural and a miracle and all that Jazz, but it just bothers me to no end. I can’t imagine having others asking personal questions (ie my in-laws) about my body. My sister just had her first baby and this really bothered her too. People don’t know where the line is!!
                            Girl same. I’ve known since I was in high school I don’t want kids (early 30s now), and a large part of that is the actually being pregnant part. Nah. I’m good.

                            I will never understand why a woman being pregnant suddenly means her body is public property. Not just the questions, but the touching. My twin sister had her first child last year. The number of people, random people, not just close friends and family (which, frankly, still is not okay IMO), that greeted her by putting their hand on her belly instead of out for a handshake just absolutely blew my fracking mind. Bitch No. WTF?


                              Support really matters.

                              If you have supportive grandparents living close -- LET THEM HELP.

                              If you have a supportive young rider who can work your horses -- LET THEM HELP.

                              Both the grandparents and the young riders will appreciate it, and their help will help.


                                Originally posted by B and B View Post
                                Something that caught my eye, you say you want a baby....but do you want kids, pre-teens, teenagers? I ask that because I've come to understand that my mother wanted a baby but actually, truly is not capable of emotionally dealing with kids. Oddly, she was an excellent elementary school teacher, but is and remains completely incapable of placing any child's emotional needs ahead of her own.
                                I'm similar, but a generation later of course, and more comfortable in determining that I won't have kids ever. And now I am married to someone who can't, so!!
                                Thankfully, my mother was balanced by my father...who did not want children, but once he had them put his career, his passions, and his hobbies to side and devoted himself to making sure that my brother and I could pursue our own interests.
                                A question you need to ask...if you have a teenager whose passion is swimming say, are you willing to give up horse time and horse money to support that?
                                This is really important! My parents gave up a lot of their personal interests and hobbies to support my sister and I through out childhood/ teenage years. My parents experienced the opposite of what is discussed here, sister and I loved horses caught the riding bug badly. Our parents were decided NOT horsey, so we never owned and only were able to have care/ alternative arrangement leases paid by ourselves as teenagers with jobs. My parents worked hard to support our interests, but if my mom was traveling for work and my dad was working the weekend, guess what, we didn't go to the barn for my scheduled lesson! And that was for their jobs so we could keep the heat on, not for their own personal hobbies.

                                My sister hasn't touched a horse in 15 years, I took 6 years off to establish a career that was high paying enough to afford horses in the 2nd most expensive city in the US. I gave up horses again recently to go back to school -- it is just not financially responsible at this time. I do plan to go back when I am back into the workforce full time. As much as I love horses and (per my trainers) have so much talent to do more in the AA's if I owned currently, or competed more regularly, I fundamentally realize that there is more to life that requires my current attention.

                                There is a large possibility that your child will have ABSOLUTELY 0 interest in horses, and will want to play hockey at a high level (just as time intensive as horses and shockingly expensive for some reason). Would you be okay with taking seasons off to support your child financially, physically, and emotionally through their passions/ possible activities that may or may not lead to a happy child, a child with friends/community, and university programs/ scholarships? How would you answer the question: Horse show or your child's hockey games in a city 3 hours away? How would you explain your choice to a 10 year old?

                                My sister has a toddler and is pregnant with her second, she works full time as does her husband. My sister LOVES yoga and hiking (2 very cheap and accessible activities compared to horses), and uhm, if she does either 4x a month she is THRILLED. Children are in some ways, the ultimate sacrifice, there are ways to keep both passions alive, but it requires often a fair amount of extra cash, a really supportive and flexible spouse, great communication skills, and a comfort with having to put down activities and passions for the development of your child.

                                Speaking all of this from a child with parents who really did the best they could given the circumstances and their own emotional baggage, and yet still suffers from diagnosed emotional PTSD from childhood experiences.


                                  Great question!

                                  My husband and I were married 17 years before we had our first. I was eventing and he was racing motorcycles and kids did not fit in the picture. Somewhere about my mid-30s the baby switch finally clicked on and we decided to start our family. I was 37 when my son was born and 39 when my daughter was born. They are now 23 and 20, and are absolutely wonderful people, if I do say so myself

                                  I firmly believe that experience with horses is very helpful in raising kids; horses are just huge toddlers, IMO.

                                  Good luck with your decision! Kids aren't for everyone, so make sure you're all in if you decide to go for it. Your life will belong to someone else after kids, but in a wonderful way.
                                  Graphic Design & Websites


                                    Congratulations to all who have had babies in the last little while, how exciting!

                                    OP, all I can say about kids now that mine are in their twenties is that it goes by fast. My passion for horses waxed and waned when they were little and I was okay with that, but it seemed in no time I was able to fit horses right back into my daily existence. My husband was and is super supportive though, loves horses himself although he doesn't ride, and was of the opinion early on that kids raised around horses and their care and attention could only be a good thing, even if they had no interest in riding. We had a team sports - crazy son who grew up helping get the hay in and fix fences but never rode.

                                    It turned out we also had a couple of kids who loved to compete so we had a wonderful era when we were traveling, camping and showing together and I wouldn't trade that for anything. But as parents we were ready for any level of interest from zero to all in, as long they found something they enjoyed.

                                    For me I do remember preparing myself for the scenario where I might not be as involved in the intense training or competitive aspect, but was okay with it because I knew horses would always be a part of our family life on some level. That might not be enough for some people.
                                    One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                                    William Shakespeare


                                      I'm only 8 months into parenthood with my first so am still very much trying to figure out how to balance demanding full time job (management consulting) + child + horses. So far I've had more ride time then I expected.
                                      A supportive SO has been the most important factor
                                      A light several months at work has been hugely beneficial (I'm working ~50-55 hrs a week vs standard 60+)
                                      No time lost to commuting due to COVID has been probably the biggest tailwind for my riding
                                      Extra cash to spend on nanny / horse care so that I have someone to watch baby when SO can't and I have nothing to do at the barn other than tack up, ride, and put away

                                      If baby wasn't in the picture I would do things differently - lesson weekly (vs every other, but too hard to line up schedules every week), board further away at preferred barn (vs 5 min down the road at OK barn), have a horse that doesn't look feral and clean tack (because every barn trip is a mad dash).

                                      While pregnant I looked at life and thought "No way can I fit a baby in and keep things going the way they are"...and then I had a baby and I'm still going. Shifting priorities also means shifting time management. I got more productive / faster at work so tasks take me less time, I got less picky about the house / horse / tack (and I didn't think I was picky to start...), and I'm operating much better on less sleep then I ever imagined!!

                                      Now we're talking about trying for baby #2 in the next year and the heart attack of "how can I possibly make that work with riding!?" is starting all over again, but you know what...I think we'll figure it out.

                                      Everyone told me when I had a baby that riding and my dog would fall to the bottom of the proverbial totem pole...but they didn't. I think they do for many people, but they stayed priorities for me and so we're adjusting life to make it all work. Thank god for nannies, daycare, grandparents, supportive SO's, full board barns, and a job that is pandemic-resilient though!!


                                        Original Poster

                                        Thank you all for the supportive, non judgement conversations. I'm terrified to join mom groups of facebook because they all seems so scary!

                                        I'll try to answer as many questions as I can...

                                        * we have great support. Both our families are within 30 min drive, MIL is willing to watch baby (as a paid position) and my parents are also both retired and have said "we're always willing to baby sit but not run a daycare" which I totally respect.

                                        * we own our own small farm and do not have boarders, I have a women who gives riding lessons on my horses (I take a cut) so all of the non show horses pay for themselves. All the horses live out 24/7 with shelter and eat outside so farm chores are pretty easy unless it's storming or someone is injured or something.

                                        * hubby wants kids but is younger than me so doesn't feel that biological tick tok (do they ever?) he is AMAZING help with the animals. He's not a horse professional but can bring in and out, feed, knows if someone is colicing etc. If I'm feeling lazy he willingly feeds for me.

                                        * someone asked about babies vs. kids. I'd really rather not be pregnant or have a newborn. We looked into foster/adoption but our state is a unity state and are very upfront about always making the #1 priority getting the baby or child back with a family member. I just don't think I could go through loosing a child like that. Adoption is something we've started looking into but $50,000 and up is very intimidating. We would have to refinance our farm or something to get a lump sum like that.

                                        * I love kids, I gave riding lessons for years, I was a nanny throughout college and helped every summer with pony club camps.