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Moms: Looking for advice on staying involved in horses during pregnancy.

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  • Moms: Looking for advice on staying involved in horses during pregnancy.

    Okay, fellow equestrians, I just found out last week that I'm two months pregnant. If you've seen any of my other posts, you'll know that I've had an awful time finding a new horse after putting my gelding down in February. The upside to all this is that now I see a rhyme and reason to all the roadblocks I faced. The timing clearly wasn't right for a green project (which is what I can afford), and I feel much more at peace about the whole situation.

    However, the moments of anxiety I've had about being pregnant have all been horsey related. I've seen so many girlfriends have kids and seem to lose their identities. They seem to let go of all their personal interests and hobbies and the only thing they want to do or talk about is BABIES. I'm excited to be a mom and really looking forward to this new phase of my life, but I also want to keep being me and horses are a big part of me. I was thinking of taking a break anyways, to give myself some emotional and financial respite from horse shopping, so I've already kind of made peace with that prospect.

    Does anyone have advice for staying connected with the horse world during pregnancy and the newborn months? My doctor advises against riding, but I would have kept riding if I had my old horse, whom I trusted implicitly. Unfortunately, though, all I have in my life right now are greenies and unfamiliar horses. Has anyone had experience having a baby and then getting back into the saddle? How did it go? Was it easy or hard? I'm a little nervous that once the horse column goes out of the budget we'll never be able to squeeze it back in there, especially with all the new baby related expenses we're sure to have. A tiny part of me is tempted to buy a horse now so we are forced to keep that part of the budget intact, but I'm not sure how wise that is. Probably the hormones talking. I'd love to hear from the moms out there. Thanks!

  • #2
    I still haven't *really* gotten back in the saddle (I hop on here and there but nothing consistent or frequent), but that's more a budgetary issue than anything (keeping horse quite far out to save money), and a horse soundness issue. I think if you have places to ride close by, it can be a lot easier.

    One of the things that's helped is the other horse stuff I'm involved in. I'm not riding much but I still take care of a lot of the listing updates for CANTER, and stuff. One thing that was really nice for my brain last spring and summer was taking baby to horse shows and events, which gave me a chance to get outside and get some horse time, and reconnect with people, and feel involved. If you find you don't really have a way to ride, at least do that Events in particular are really easy things to take babies too, especially if you have a good carrier. Loved taking kiddo to Fair Hill and a couple other places last year

    A lot of people do manage to get back to riding really quickly, so there's definitely hope But do be prepared for your perspective to shift a little bit. The whole experience really can redefine what's important and change how you feel about things that used to be essential parts of your life.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.


    • #3
      There are so many ways to stay involved. I had my horses (14 at the time) mostly young horses at home when I got pregnant. I didn't ride during my pregnancies as all I had here were green horses. It was not worth it to me to take a fall. I spent a lot of time doing things I would never get to, like organizing the barn, etc. I took care of my horses up to the day I went into labor and only took about 2 weeks off after having my kids (c-sections) and then went back to doing the barn work. I got back on as soon as the doctor cleared me although your balance may be a little out of whack, it will come back. I would put my kids in the backpack and do everything I needed to do. I did count on many neighborhood kids to help me with the kids when I really needed to ride and my husband was not available. Aside from those 2 weeks after each of my children's births I have been at it 365 days a year. I wasn't able to compete as much due to other expenses and time but now that the kids are 8 & 9 I am finally getting back into it. It helps that both of them ride as well. I work full time as well so it can be done but you just need to prioritize your time. And it is also okay to give it up for awhile. Everyone needs to do what is best for them and their families.


      • #4
        I rode through my pregnancy on a horse I trust implicitly, but I also scaled further and further back the more pregnant I got, until "riding" constituted hacking one loop around the field (by that point, I wasn't really comfortable riding for long anyways). My baby is 5 months old today and I haven't been able to find a ton of time to ride yet, mostly just hacking a couple of times a week, but I am the volunteer coordinator for a series of events.
        Volunteering -- for a horsey competition, cause or a nonprofit -- is a great way to stay involved both before and after the baby comes, and you can determine just how much time you really want to commit.
        I wouldn't judge your "identity-losing" friends too harshly, though. That baby becomes part of your identity, so if you talk baby stuff for a while, it's not because you are losing your identity; it's because you are expanding it.
        I evented just for the Halibut.


        • #5
          I don't have any kids yet, but both my parents ride. When my mom was pregnant with me, she rode until it became uncomfortable and then she and my dad both sold their horses. This was due to time and financial constrants with having a new born. When I was two they got me a pony, and my parents were borrowing friends horses. At 3 my parents got their own horses again and I was to the point that I could follow along on easy trail rides. They don't compete or do much ring work so this worked out well. I grew up trail riding every weekend and all of our vacations were riding vacations. Riding is a high priority for them, so they made it work. It also helps that both of them ride and that I wanted to ride, also.

          Congratulations! I thoroughly believe if the passion is there and you have a supportive partner you can make it work


          • #6
            Originally posted by blame_the_champagne View Post
            A tiny part of me is tempted to buy a horse now so we are forced to keep that part of the budget intact, but I'm not sure how wise that is. Probably the hormones talking. I'd love to hear from the moms out there. Thanks!
            Congratulations on the upcoming baby

            For the baby budget - don't buy anything new: there are fabulous "like new" everything baby out there (prices range from "almost new" to absurdly inexpensive, if you have savvy baby shopper friends, ask to tag along). Exception: car seats, you have no way to know if they have been in an accident (like helmets, the damage may be completely hidden).

            If you want to still get that horse, there is a lot of non-riding stuff you can do: look at horse agility or liberty games (such as Jonathan Field he'll be at the Cal Expo Jun 7-9), ground work (such as Doug Mills Training Through Trust - you can likely find the DVD series used, though it's worth it to watch Doug or any of his kids handling the horses), In-Hand showing, walking/trotting out with your horse (once ground work skills are intact) ... I don't know if you still have the lease horse but he would likely benefit from the Doug Mills program

            Definitely maintain your fitness throughout your pregnancy


            • #7
              I rode 6 weeks after the first, and two weeks after the second. I was also back eventing within 6 months post-baby, but I did have a very experienced and reliable horse that I rode until about the sixth month of pregnancy. The biggest thing is whether you have a supportive spouse, DH and I talked about it before we even decided to start a family. I did move down to a lower level and competed at training level for several years, and finally made the jump back to prelim last year (daughter was nine then).


              • #8

                Being a mom totally adds to your identity, not engulfs it. Not gonna lie, the first year can be tough but it gets easier.

                You can find fab baby stuff used, my horse totally costs more then my baby. Enjoy the first year, seems like it takes forever but it really flies by. I tried not to stress about not riding as much as I would have liked by keeping the perspective that they are only babies for such a short time.

                At risk of sounding really crunchy, babywearing is amazing, I get so much done with my mini-me because of it. http://babywearinginternational.org/ I have my horses at home and my little guy :helps" me feed every day.
                for more Joy then you can handle


                • #9
                  Regarding baby wearing and feeding: I do the same but learned quickly that you can't just bend over and scoop grain without risking dropping your baby head first into sweet feed! Instead, lots of squatting down to scoop, so a bonus leg workout! I don't, however, feel comfortable changing blankets with the baby on -- I'd hate for a horse to crowd, kick or headbutt me with her there -- so I end up putting her back in the car seat before all is done.
                  OP: just re-read your part about wanting to get a horse now. My advice is not to. Perhaps you'll have plenty of time to ride in that first year, but I know I haven't so far. My horse is 20 and retired, and I feel stress and guilt about how little I'm riding him. I, too, was tempted to buy something last fall and I'm SO GLAD now that I didn't -- the stress would be far greater with a horse that needed training and work (especially considering I'd be paying bills for that extra mouth to feed and not being able to ride it) and being a new mom has plenty of its own stress. Particularly if you are worried about budget, don't buy a horse now who may have to sit for months not being ridden, costing you $$ and potentially getting hurt. Wait til you know you can dedicate time to riding again.
                  I evented just for the Halibut.


                  • #10
                    Babies do take a lot of time and money and you're right that it may consume you and your budget. On the other hand, it's okay if you're okay with it. Don't let fear or 's'pposed-tas' overwhelm you either.

                    For the budget, I would suggest creating a separate savings account labeled 'horse' that is kind of hard to access, and putting the horse money in it every month. You'll find out soon enough if you can, and then you can try to use that money only for horsey things - maybe lessons for you, maybe horsey trips or outings.

                    I went to a lot of clinics when I was pregnant and also when my baby was an infant. I wore her in a Baby Bjorn and just always stayed enough out of the thick of things so I could exit without distressing anyone if she fussed. When she got to toddler stage I still managed some clinics and took her to shows at LAEC (with hand firmly grasped of course). I will never forget kind of hovering on the sidelines, watching my friend ride x-c with Jimmy Wofford, and having him go out of his way to be kind to her when she was 3 or so, and making me feel welcome.

                    Bonus: carrying your baby everywhere in one of those is great for your core muscles.

                    There's books to read and videos to watch and COTH to read (COTH saved my sanity during the baby period no question). Treat yourself to a complete set of the 2010 WEG DVDs. You'd never have time to sit and watch all that footage in your normal busy schedule: now you will. Get a kindle or tablet or smartphone to make lots of reading access easy.

                    I would not buy a horse now. Let your life settle out a bit. If all goes well, that year of board will net you a nice nest egg for shopping. If it doesn't, then you're not stressed about trying to get the horse exercised when you cannot get to the barn.

                    When I started riding again, I was a better rider than when I left off, and it was a good time to fix some bad muscle habits.

                    Life is a journey and so is riding. The addition of a kid will take you someplace different, but it doesn't mean it will be bad. I probably wouldn't have a backyard with ponies in it if not for my daughter... for better or worse!
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dangerbunny View Post

                      Being a mom totally adds to your identity, not engulfs it. Not gonna lie, the first year can be tough but it gets easier.

                      You can find fab baby stuff used, my horse totally costs more then my baby. Enjoy the first year, seems like it takes forever but it really flies by. I tried not to stress about not riding as much as I would have liked by keeping the perspective that they are only babies for such a short time.

                      At risk of sounding really crunchy, babywearing is amazing, I get so much done with my mini-me because of it. http://babywearinginternational.org/ I have my horses at home and my little guy :helps" me feed every day.
                      My horse definitely costs more than my child, and my board is so low for my horse even! Def look into doing your own baby food. Most of the time, I would just put leftovers from dinners in my mini processor and freeze in an ice cube tray so I had a large stock of different things for her, never once bought a jar of baby food.

                      x4387587475 on babywearing! I had a Moby wrap but if I could do it again would probably get a BabyHawk. I didn't have a horse of my own at the time so it wasn't a huge deal when I was pregnant but I go my horse when DD was about 18mos old and started fitting riding in when DH got off work in the evening and could chase her around the barn. DD is totally into the pony thing and fearless to boot.

                      editing to add in x4365734 on breastfeeding as well! Seriously stick it out for those first 6 weeks and magically at the 6 week mark it will become SO much easier. I had to gain some weight to keep it up but I made it and BF exclusively for over a year. Baby was never sick (and I had Nov baby), and I never had to get up in the middle of the night and mix anything, she could just lay with me. (write this on a sticky note and put it in your laundry room: for bmilk poopy stains, spray it with OxyClean, wash like normal, then hang it in the sun to dry and it will magically disappear)
                      Last edited by cottonXCblondie; Apr. 30, 2013, 10:23 AM.
                      Gracious "Gracie," 2002 TB mare
                      Facebook me!

                      I have Higher Standards ...do you?


                      • #12
                        In terms of babies and cost, my rule of thumb is that child care costs about the same as horse board (and for many of the same reasons). The real cost (typically) is in the way they eat your time and cause you to spend more on other services, like eating out, or driving around in your car until Little Muffin finally freaking falls asleep.

                        Enjoy your journey.
                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                        • #13
                          Having a kid definitely makes having horses more difficult, but it can be done. I rode through much of my pregnancy, and then after that I lunged her and had a great girl at my barn ride a couple days a week. Thankfully I had a relatively easy pregnancy and delivery, so I was back in the saddle within 2 weeks. BUT I wouldn't have ever done any of it had my horse not been totally sweet and sane.

                          Honestly it's much harder once the baby is here. I had visions of putting my daughter in the car seat and setting her on the rail of the ring while I rode, and that happened exactly two times, and for no longer than about 15 minutes! Thankfully I had a great babysitter at the barn who lovingly cared for her a couple times a week so I could ride without a baby screaming the whole time.

                          My daughter is 2 1/2 now, and she's still too small to trust to be on her own while I ride, so I have to have child care to ride, which is kind of a pain. A lot will depend on your partner; my husband has always been super supportive, but he travels for work, so it's not like I can plan on being able to ride every morning or every afternoon. Add in the facts that kids and babysitters get sick, bad weather happens, or things don't go to plan, and you quickly have days that riding just isn't in the cards.

                          If budgeting is a serious issue, I'd keep a separate horse account and start squirreling away now. My husband and I have been married for nearly ten years and to this day I have a separate horse account that he knows nothing about...if he had any iota what a horse really costs, he would die. It may seem sneaky, but it has really helped keep marital harmony. Plus he has seen just how much nicer I am when I'm riding, so I don't think he even wants to know what I spend. But I do think it's cheaper than psychotherapy.

                          Regardless, having a baby is the best thing you'll ever do. It is hard and tiring and frustrating at times, but it's just awesome! Moms most certainly do not lose their identity with their kids...they gain so much compassion, love, and appreciation that it's hard to consider a life without them once they're here, even if it means giving something up in exchange.


                          • #14
                            It has definitely been a struggle at times. I have a 4yr old and a 5yr old. With my 5yr old I had to stop riding almost immediately (and was on bedrest for about 6mo due to preterm labor issues) and didn't ride til she was about 4mo old, but with my son I rode til the day he was born (I was lucky to have a SUPER packer to tool around on, and by late pregnancy was happy just meandering around the barn area and short jaunts around the field), and was back on when my son was a week old (easiest pregnancy and delivery ever). The "new baby adjustment period" was really hard. At that point in time I was teaching, so staying involved wasn't a question, and my two kiddos came about everywhere with me, unless the weather was really nasty. A good stroller (jogging, gets around EVERYWHERE), sensible horses, and a strong desire to ride is about all that kept me going. I didn't have any support from their dad, he didn't want anything to do with the horses, or for me to, but it really was quite doable.

                            I know you're currently horseless, and thats hard, because kids DO eat up budgets, though you can definitely (as other posters said) find perfectly good stuff used which helps a lot. I would groom where I could and maybe find a calm sort of horse to love on and play with on the ground, etc. Or enjoy some time to focus just on you. Take your horse budget and set it aside every month until your little one is born and then be able to purchase that fun non greenie when you're ready to get back in the saddle.

                            As others have said, a baby doesn't steal your identity, it just becomes another facet. One thing that I swore I would never do is be one of those moms who does nothing for themselves. I *have* to ride and be around horses, my brain, body and spirit need it. So I make that happen. I'm lucky that my two kids love it as well, so its something the 3 of us share now. If they didn't enjoy it, I would still be as involved but it would definitely be more of a struggle. *hugs* HUGE Congrats on the little one, it is one of the most fun, challenging adventures I've ever set out on.


                            • #15
                              It can totally be done! I have a 2yr old and a greenie TB. I didn't ride while I was pregnant, but I hopped right back on six weeks after baby was born. The first year was horrible (colicy baby!), sleepless, but went by in a blur. I used to put munchkin in an Ergo (we liked it way better than the Moby), and she would sleep in it while I lunged. She would also sleep in her stroller when I was on rough board and had to do everything. My horse costs WAY more than my child does. I cloth diaper which is something I can't recommend enough. $300 upfront cost, and have never bought a disposible. Breastfeed if you can. I breastfed, and then switched straight to solids. Never bought baby food, and just made my own (whatever we were eating that night). Other than the essentials- stroller, crib, clothes, etc. we really didn't have any baby expenses. I didn't ride that much during the first year, but now I ride pretty consistently. Munchkin is content coming to the barn with me, sitting in a chair with toys and snacks and watching me ride. Luckily a super supportive hubby with a flexible work schedule helps too!
                              I know what you mean about girlfriends with babies and how all-consuming it is. I definitely didn't let that happen to me. I know that if I want to see my child grow up strong, confident, and goal-oriented, it's important to be able to look to her mother as someone who always followed her dreams.


                              • #16
                                You're on the eventing forum so there are lots of volunteering opportunities in eventing! Great way to make contacts and connections, and learn learn learn. Mommy time can allow you to help with some of the organizing that goes on behind the scenes. Great group of folks that may be your ticket to the right horse also!!

                                I can't forget the old woman who approached me once and said "enjoy them while they're little dear." I thought she was crazy .... turns out it was true!
                                Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                                  In terms of babies and cost, my rule of thumb is that child care costs about the same as horse board (and for many of the same reasons).
                                  Heh, for me daycare is running about twice what I was paying for board at a full care facility.
                                  "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                                  My CANTER blog.


                                  • #18
                                    I gave birth 2 weeks ago to my second child and can tell you what not to do. Don't go out and get on your green horse who sat around for six months doing nothing on a windy spring day, without longeing first. Then don't proceed to get bucked off less than 2 weeks after having a baby. It is not recommended.

                                    However, I have been back on that horse and my old horse since with no issues. If you have a pretty easy delivery recovery can be quick. It was more like a month with my first but I tore badly with him.

                                    During pregnancy, resist the urge to buy another horse. You don't really know how much time you will be able to spend post-baby and a green horse might not be a good fit postpartum. Save the horse expense and put it into your horse-buying fund which I recall was depleted by vet bills.


                                    • #19
                                      I had planned on riding throughout my pregnancy - doc said it was OK, but family had reservations. (Pregnancy was a total surprise - I was told I could not have children without medical intervention - but, that's a whole 'nother story!)

                                      I had a rather unpredictable mare at the time, but I couldn't imagine not riding. Did switch to a western saddle tho and was saddling up one night - I am very anal about my tack - I check it before every ride, it is cleaned after every ride. Mounted at the mounting block, had not even taken a step, and the girth broke!!
                                      Managed to dismount without taking the saddle with me - and acknowledged that "I got the message"! Spent lots of time grooming, etc. until baby came.

                                      After baby, back in the saddle as quickly as I could. Worked out a schedule with hubby - I rode Wed nights and Sun mornings without fail. He enjoyed the time with DD and he knew I'd be miserable without my riding time. It is totally workable, as long you make a plan and stick with it!

                                      Should have added - be prepared for a change in how you feel/approach riding after baby. Once you realize that there is someone else in this world, whose whole world revolves around you, the chances/risks you are willing to take change dramatically - at least it did for me. I had enjoyed my silly mare - after DD, I found I no longer wanted a challenge every.single.ride.
                                      Last edited by Tiger Horse; Apr. 30, 2013, 11:25 AM. Reason: addition

                                      "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy


                                      • #20
                                        Enjoy being a parent! Horses will be around in 10 months. 10 years. Think how much fun those ponies will for you and the kiddo.

                                        I have the advantage of keeping my horses at home. When I was pregnent I ws able to ride until I could not get on my 16.2 horse about 5 months and was able to get back riding when bb was about a month. All good

                                        Time flies. Daughter graduates university in 3 weeks. And I am NOT giving her back the horse she THOUGHT was hers. He is mine now!

                                        Enjoy the ride...it does not last long.