5 Surprising ways life with horses changes after having a baby!

As equestrians we are often better equipped to cope with newborns than most. The reality of having someone relatively helpless rely on us for their survival isn’t new and doesn’t come as quite as much of a shock. For years our horses safety and well being have been a priority. They rely on us to feed them, clean up after them, make sure they have a constant supply of forage and water, and be responsible for their general health. So for a first time parent how hard can a baby be right?

That’s the theory and it’s certainly true but juggling a baby and our horses is hard! It takes quite a bit of adjusting and planning. Certainly in the early days our standards of creating a perfectly symmetrical bed for our equine partners will slip. Significantly!

We have a master plan. We are determined that we will still get time to ride, compete and enjoy time with our “first babies”. Mostly we manage (because that’s how we are built) but not without encountering some quite surprising life changes along the way.

Weird and wonderful feeding situations

Whether feeding by breast or bottle, (that’s a whole other conversation) when the baby needs feeding the baby needs feeding.

Personally I have fed in the field while poo picking. At the side of the school in the middle of a lesson while my horse stood patiently and the instructor looked on uncomfortably.  In the back of the lorry, at the side of the

showring between classes. In the stable. In the front of the lorry driving to a show (I was the passenger!) At the meet of a hunt before setting off, and again as soon as we returned. Thankfully I was just about spared having to get off and feed between lines – I have friends who weren’t quite as lucky!

One of the funniest blogs I remember reading was of a woman who came-to in the back of an ambulance breastfeeding her baby. Her last memory was of being in the middle of the cross country phase of a Novice Event. She had suffered concussion from a fall!

A good sense of humor is key here. If you can’t laugh you may well cry!

You can do almost anything with a baby carrier

If you are one of the many horsey women who didn’t particularly enjoy having a great big bump disrupting your center of gravity, particularly towards the end of your pregnancy wearing the baby afterwards will seem unthinkable.

However you will quickly find that if your baby is refusing to sleep or sit quietly in their pushchair a baby carrier is the only way you will get anything done. Mucking out. Poo Picking. Filling haynets – can be tricky but not impossible. Clipping. Rugging, lunging the list really is endless.

Invest in a good supportive carrier and get a back carrier also for when they are older. Trust me, you will thank me for this!

Your riding confidence will disappear.

So many friends warned me about this one and I laughed it off but it’s so true. Things you wouldn’t have thought twice about before the baby arrived (even while pregnant) will suddenly seem terrifying. I went from being almost completely fearless to having sleepless nights at the thought of jumping a cross pole!

It’s completely natural and just our brains way of ensuring our (and therefore our babies) survival. There are many ways to overcome this fear. Personally I found self-hypnosis really helpful. I would listen to the tracks going to sleep for a few nights before an event and found when it came to actually doing it I was calm and confident and jumped pretty much as normal. Stubbornness also helps!

The Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club has great self-hypnosis tracks for riding confidence, among other tools available for members to avail of at anytime.

Check out the Saddle Club here:

Saddle Club

Pelvic Floor!

After having a baby things change. As equestrians our core and stomach muscles are very strong but this does not necessarily translate to our pelvic floor muscles.

My advice – do your exercises, pack some tenna lady – particularly when doing jumping or fast work, when in doubt wear dark flexars, and if you are having difficulty see a women’s health physio sooner rather than later.

Travelling to lessons just doesn’t really happen anymore

When you have a baby precious baby free time can no longer be wasted on the road. One of the biggest realisations for me was that suddenly there was no way I could justify a 2 hour round trip, on top of loading and unloading time for a 45 minute lesson.

 

 

This is where live video lessons are an absolute lifesaver. You can train with a coach anywhere in the world, in real time just using your phone and a set of wireless headphones.  Check out the Wise Owl Equitation’s wide range of top international trainers across all disciplines here.

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Having a baby changes your life that’s for sure but despite your mother in law telling you there will be no more time for horses, it doesn’t change things that drastically.

You will need to make some adaptations, relax your standards a little and accept some indignities (feeding/pelvis floor). But one day you will chat to a newly pregnant friend and be able to reassure her that’s its all manageable, temporary and everything  will be just fine!