Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Riding After Kids - 2 Years Later

I've seen a lot of questions on COTH with people wondering how having kids will affect your riding habit.  Of course it's different for everyone depending on your personal circumstances, but I thought I would share my experience if anyone is interested (or feel free to skip this entry if you're not.)  I previously wrote about riding while pregnant about midway through my pregnancy.  Then I didn't really address it specifically because it was pretty much business as usual; I was fortunate to have a very easy pregnancy and was able to ride normally up until delivery, and then started back up 3 weeks later.  I rode in my last rated show at 6 months and last schooling show 8 months pregnant.  That was the last show of the season anyhow, as my son was born in mid-November.

As you can see from my blog, I remain very active now 2 years later.  I am very fortunate to have a very supportive partner, and also my parents live about half an hour away (or half an hour from the barn) and will occasionally watch my son on the weekends while I ride.  And I'm also fortunate to have a very healthy and happy, easy to manage baby / now child!

I consider riding part of my self-care so for the most part I don't feel guilty about taking personal time to do it.  I know that can be really hard, sometimes even if you have the support just getting over the mental hurdle.  But it's good for your partner to spend one on one time with their child too!  (Even though I breastfed my son was also equally good taking a bottle from a young age.)  Yes sometimes I feel guilty, especially if I'm gone at a horse show or trail riding most of the day or miss bedtime or something.  But then I tell myself it is a good example I want my son to follow to work hard and pursue his passion.  As an adult now sometimes I look back and feel kind of sad for my mom who seemingly didn't do much for herself and was always dedicated to taking care of her 4 (!!!!) daughters.  

For the past year I feel like I've had less time than ever - somehow that hour I'm supposedly saving by not commuting to work never materialized.  Last spring to early summer our daycare was closed, which posed an additional challenge but again my very supportive partner did his best to make sure I had time to ride most days.  (I usually ride Cupid about 5 days / week.)  

I used to go to the barn very early (with my partner taking our son to daycare), then to work from there, work out at the company gym at lunch, pick up from daycare around 5, and finish work in the evening after my son goes to bed.  Now I usually spend mornings with the family and take my son to daycare around 8 (which is about 3 minutes from our house), and if I have no morning meeting I go to the barn from there, go home and work, work out late in the afternoon, pick my son up and have dinner and family time until he goes to bed around 8, and then either relax and watch tv or finish up work if needed.

Plus now I bring him to the barn with me usually one weekend day each week.  He has always been comfortable around horses, and enjoys his barn time.  I started sitting him on Cupid when he was about 1.5 years old.  Initially I would lead Cupid while my partner walked alongside - but luckily we've never had any sort of near miss as he seems to sit well balanced.  I use my jumping saddle and put a grab strap on the d-rings, although Cupid's chiropractor offered to bring a kid saddle her sons outgrew next time she comes.  We walk around the property, and if we pass by anyone my son tells them "I'm riding Cupid!!"  As soon as my son says he wants off (which is usually after anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, his attention span is not very long!) we are done.  It's not worth pushing it.  

I also tell him he can't ride unless he helps groom Cupid before, and feed him after - teaching responsibility!  He is not super into grooming but loves taking Cupid's bucket to the feed room and scooping up the grain and measuring supplements.  And then tries to eat it himself, lol. 

Now my partner is not a horse person and is a lot more nervous having our son around horses.  I know things can happen even with the most laid back horse, and we talked about the risks.  I try to demonstrate good habits and make sure my child is paying attention, but yeah sometimes he walks between Cupid's legs under his belly, or pulls on his tail or pokes his face.  Cupid is very tolerant (it probably doesn't help that my son gives him about 10x more carrots than I usually do!) 

If my son wants to continue riding, I'll be very happy to give him that opportunity.  But if he decides it's not for him that will be fine too.  For now I will continue enjoying both my alone and family time at the barn. =)

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