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.