Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Horse Life Post-Baby

My life is so different now.

My life used to revolve around, well, me: my job, my horse, my exercise routine.  You get the idea.

My life now revolves around Sweet Pea. I have had to streamline my life to meet the needs of this adorable little person.  This means that I do not have hours of time to dedicate to myself, which also means that my horse life has taken a serious hit.  I cannot visit Harley everyday.  I cannot spend four hours straight at the barn.  Hour-long grooming sessions are out.  My schedule is so tight that I do not have the patience for most groundwork.  There really isn't time for "training" my horse or preparing for the next level or goal or what have you.  I AM riding, but my riding activities are so different.

Years ago, the idea of having to give up or reduce so much horse time would have been completely abhorrent to me.  Even last year, when I first returned to work and Sweet Pea was barely out of the newborn stage, I thought that I could get it back.

But then I realized that being a Mommy and parenting the way I want to parent is very important to me.  I realized that being there for Sweet Pea and watching her grow and change is as wonderful and amazing as my passion for horses.

I know what some horse girls will be thinking right now.  Oh, that could never be me.  But what you have to understand is that I was that girl, too.

I have a friendly piece of advice that you might not want to hear.  If you are thinking of starting a family and there is something that you want to do with your horse, do it now.

If you decide to have children, you will have to make choices and you might not be able to fit it all in.  That is okay.  You might just surprise yourself.

For example, you want to know what I love the most about riding right now?  The creak of the saddle leather when I first get on and the contented way Harley marches past the riding ring and towards the woods and field.

We have given up the ring for the time being.  I don't have the time to ride consistently enough to train in the arena and Harley does much better away from the dust. I have discovered that the grassy area next to the paddocks is level enough for riding, so we walk, trot, and canter out there.  Once the ticks die, we will hit the trails some more, too.

I ride Harley once or twice a week. I still trim his feet, which can be a challenge to keep up with, and I manage his allergies as best I can. I am very grateful for any ride that we have together, because last year he was not rideable for many months.

So my horse life is not just different because of Sweet Pea. It is also different because Harley is different; he cannot work as hard as he used to.  He wants to move forward, but sucking up his own dust while practicing on a circle is not good for him (he coughs).  He still loves to canter and listen for little cues to change bend or step sideways.  He is 16 and a half years old, but I cannot detect any stiffness or soreness in his body.  Our years of dressage work are paying dividends now as we ride without fences and with the unpredictability of nature (we see deer, squirrels, turtles, hawks, snakes, and other horses).  I ask Harley to stay balanced, on my aids, and off his forehand not because it is the proper way to ride, but because there could be uneven ground under our feet or the need to slow down or move over without much notice.

I am over the moon that I have a horse who can chill in the paddock all week and then go out for a ride on Saturday with no fuss.  My lifestyle and my horse's health have changed, but Harley has found himself a new niche.

And don't get me wrong, I am still a horse girl.  I still get the impossible-to-ignore itch to go ride, but nowadays, I will be home before dinner.


P.S. If you know of a user-friendly blogging app for the andriod tablet, please share.

29 comments:

  1. Life changes, horse goals change, and priorities change. As long as you're having fun, that's what matters most.

    Hugs to you, Harley, and Sweet Pea!

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    1. Thanks, Jen!
      We are having fun! I have not posted in a while, but I have been having a great time with Sweet Pea and still getting some saddle time with Harley. I appreciate him so much these days.

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  2. All that matters is that you still love and enjoy your horse! When I see bloggers who don't seem to change post baby, I don't know how they do it. There simply aren't enough hours in the day it seems.

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    1. That will never change! I love Harley and every minute that I spend with him. I do miss him sometimes and often wish that I could stay longer at the barn, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't.

      If I didn't work full-time, I might be able to get closer to the horse life that I had before, BUT then I couldn't afford my horse, so go figure. The really aren't enough hours in the day. If I were spending more time with Harley after work, Sweet Pea would be in daycare longer, which I do not want. Plus you can only stretch family members so far to step in so you can go have fun.

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  3. As long as you are having fun with your horse, it doesn't matter what you do. And before you know it, Sweet Pea can be having fun with him too!

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    1. I would love for Harley to teach Sweet Pea how to ride. :)

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  4. It seems like the new schedule post baby is not hurting Harley at all. Great to hear from you Val. :D

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    1. Ironically, I might be more frustrated with Harley's health issues if I didn't have Sweet Pea to keep me busy, which also puts Harley off the hook.

      I couldn't let another day go without posting something!

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  5. Everything changes when you have a little one at home to care for. It seems between your work schedule and taking care of Sweet Pea you are organizing your time as well as you can. Harley understands and still loves you and most likely appreciates some time off between rides now that he's older.

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    1. Thanks for the support. It seems to be working out.

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  6. Because I had a "spontaneous conception" (makes me giggle every time I read that) I had a lot of emotions to work through in early pregnancy about what I thought I was "loosing". I've been someone who gets what she wants now, not because I'm a brat, but because I work for it.

    Now I'm pregnant, I have to wait. Wait wait wait. To trim again, to ride seriously again, to study more, yadda yadda yadda.

    But those little thumps in my belly make me think about what I stand to gain. Plus, they're only babies temporarily. What's to say I won't make my triumphant eventing debut in a couple of years time? I'm so so lucky with my situation, and I've come to realise that.

    And I'm more than OK with it. :)

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    1. That is a lot of stuff to have on hold. Believe me, I understand. We are young enough for a comeback!

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  7. I love this post! The positive attitude is refreshing. :D I'm glad you and Harley are enjoying your rides outside the arena. Enjoy your baby while she's a baby because they grow up so fast it's crazy!

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    1. Thank you! That's what they say about babies.

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  8. I'm so in the same boat(or saddle!). We're on hold, but not forever... That's the way I see it. I try to make each precious, limited ride all about quality, rather than quantity. It still can so frustrating with the lack of progress, but hey - I still enjoy it, and so does my horse and that's all that matters for now!

    Sounds like Harley and yourself are going a'ok, so that's great too! Glad to hear you are able to enjoy you boy even with the less rides. It can so hard to adjust to the limited time, but I think you've got the key; have fun. :D

    bonita of A Riding Habit

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Enjoy your horse and being a Mom!

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  9. When I was a teenager, my life revolved around horses although I didn't have one of my own. I dreamed of having my own; it was my goal. Then I had children and something in me shifted. I didn't need horses in the same way; I was engrossed, fulfilled and happy being a mom. Once the kids were older, I came back to horses with full passion. Enjoy this time with Sweet Pea -- and with Harley. You are lucky to have him at the perfect age for you to step back.

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    1. Thank you for the insights. It is a nice time for him and me to take it easy on the saddle.

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  10. I am looking at it from the other side- my children are all grown and moved out. I enjoyed my time with them and, yes it cut down on the riding. However, there's lots of time now to immerse myself in the riding. :) So hang on, with children it's constantly changing. If Sweet Pea is like her momma, she will be hanging out with you at the barn soon enough. :)

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    1. It is so difficult to imagine having lots of time again! At least I made the most of it when I had it. You are right. It will come around again.

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  11. Speaking from the other end of life...
    I gave up on my riding goals when my kids were small. I don't regret it one bit. We had such fun when they were Pony Kids! Now it's ME time again... it'll come round for you, too, quicker than you think. Most likely, not with Harley, but it sounds like you've reached a really good place with Harley where you can both just BE.
    Enjoy your horse and your daughter! Before you know it, she'll be trotting along beside you on a lead rein! And then you'll blink and she'll be gone to college!

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    1. A horse life where Harley is not the focus makes me sad. I don't like to think about that part. Like we already had the best of times...

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    2. You & Harley are just having different times now... it should be no less rewarding. There's something about the smell of a horse and the feel of a horse and the gentle clop of the hooves that's always uplifting, no matter what you're doing.

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  12. Sounds like everyone is doing well and everyone is happy. Sounds great to me! Glad you're finding time for it all. I don't know how you do it.

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    1. I am learning to streamline most things in my life. I do wish that I didn't have to rush as much as I do.

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  13. Yup, I second all of this. If my horses didn't live at home with me I'd barely see them at all, when I can climb on for 5-10 minutes I feel like I've accomplished something.

    Enjoy your trail rides for now, I'm sure Harley does. It won't be too long before you're getting that sweet little girl her own pony and then you'll have tons of horse time again :)

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    1. Having your horses close by is a wonderful thing, although their daily care adds a lot of work. I wish that I could see Harley more often, so if I had to feed him everyday that would be nice EXCEPT that there is zero extra time in my daily schedule so I know that it would probably just cause me more stress. Thankfully I have a great boarding situation.

      Good to hear from you. I hope you are enjoying your little one!

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  14. Wow, I can so relate...and I'm just still in the pregnancy phase of 27 wks. I actually have a lot of worry, sadness that my time will be gone for Laz, being he lives an hour away from me one way, I work full time, etc etc...how will it work out when baby comes/and our new ever changing schedules? All I know is I hope to find balance, time and that Laz is sound for a few hacks when we can fit them in. There is contentment in just grooming, or quick kisses while I watch him graze, and I try not to pressure myself of 'today's weather was perfect for a trail ride and I'm missing out...' It's tough. I think you show that the balance/timing/activity is OK to change as your life does too. Enjoying life. (deep inhale/exhale)

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    1. Congratulations!
      The good news is that you are going to love your little one so much that you will not mind all the schedule changes and time that he or she requires.

      Working full-time does make things very challenging. Take as much time off with your baby as you can. If you can find a way to move Laz closer that may be a relief to you. Your life will certainly change but some things never do; you will still love your horse and your time spent with him will be all that much sweeter. I love every moment that I spend with Harley and I am so glad that he was a solid feature in my life before we got on the baby train. You will figure it out. Give yourself time to adjust and know that Laz will be happy with his pasture mates even when you cannot be there at the moment.

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