Friday, May. 24, 2024

COTH Staff Blog – Sara Lieser

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While cleaning out my purse recently, I came upon a note I’d written to myself on New Year’s Eve 2014. It contained intentions for the new year. Be brave. Be confident. Be joyful. Say, “Yes and…” Lean into discomfort.

I began 2015 determined to challenge myself. I had goals to accomplish and boundaries to push. This was going to be the year when Joshua and I successfully moved up to intermediate!

Ask me a tack or horse equipment-related question. Go ahead. Try it. I own everything necessary for eventing, and yet I’m always perusing catalogs and websites to see if there’s anything new or different I might need for my horses. I own more breeches than pairs of pants, more horse blankets than jackets.

Another example of my obsession? When I got married, my bridal shower was actually a bridle shower, and I asked my friends to buy me horse stuff instead of the normal housewares. Because seriously, what was I going to do with domestic stuff for my house?

The day of my final ride while pregnant has come and gone. For the last several rides I tried to deny it, but it turns out that everyone who told me I’d know when it was time to quit was right. My body informed me in pretty adamant terms that riding is no longer an option.

Back when this baby-to-be was a bit smaller, I found myself in the doctor’s office discussing options for early screening and diagnostic tests. As a “woman of advanced maternal age,” (I’m 35), there are some increased risks. So my regular ob/gyn packed me off to a specialist to have a routine but slightly scary conversation about what I did and did not want to find out about my baby.

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If “nesting” means I suddenly have the energy to clean all the things, organize like a madwoman, and tackle projects that have been on the “to do” list for years, then it very well may be one of the best parts of pregnancy so far.

I’ve heard other women talk about how the nesting instinct took over, and they began baking casseroles or painting the baby’s bedroom. Nurseries can wait as far as this horsewoman is concerned! I’ve got loads of farm prep to do, since I know that once baby arrives, the horses will move down the priority list for a spell.

Before becoming pregnant, I like, many horse people, could be accused of making some questionable health choices. How long has that yogurt been sitting out in the hot truck? I’m sure it’s still fine, and I’m starving! Can’t feel my arm after a fall? Just take ibuprofen. It will get better.

However, now that my health decisions are impacting someone far more fragile than me, I am at least trying to be more cautious.

People decide to have or not to have children for 10 million reasons, but for every horsewoman I’ve spoken to, that decision has an extra complication. There’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to take some time off from riding in order to birth a child.

Also, like many horsewomen I know, I’m not someone who always wanted a baby. I know exactly what to do with a poop-stained tail or a colicky horse. Try handing me a toddler with a tummy ache and a dirty diaper, and I’ll probably just laugh at you.

My first morning in Ocala did a lot to ease my fears and doubts about the usefulness of this trip.

As I walked to the barn at 6:45, warm air tickled my face. I quickly shed my jacket and gloves. After spending the last several months adding layer after layer before facing the cold, I felt renewed, reborn in the gentle, humid air.

When my trainer and friend Sara Kozumplik Murphy first suggested I come to Ocala, Fla., in 2014, I thanked her but figured it was just one of those things people say to be conversational.

“Oh, when are you going south this winter? Where are you going and how long are you staying?” I’d gotten used to letting them know that I’d be braving the cold in Virginia. I mean, I’m from Maine. I’ve got winter riding gear. I’ll manage, and I’m not trying to get to the Olympics anyway.

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