Whether you are pregnant, planning to have kids, or are just plain curious, as an equestrian mom I can tell you from experience, it does change your life but it is worth it! I wasn’t planning on having a baby that’s just how things worked out and I am happy it worked out that way.
So what should you expect returning to riding after having a baby? Returning to horse riding after a baby is not always easy. What you may experience:
- Extreme tiredness
- 4-12 weeks to fully heal
- Loose pelvic ligaments
- Weak core strength
- Full breasts
- Frustration with riding
- Loss of bladder control
- Weight gain
- Losing breath while riding
These are some of the things you may experience coming back in the saddle. You may be wondering how this will affect your riding, what else can you expect and what things can you do to make your transition back to riding as smooth as you possibly can.
What It’s Like Getting Back In The Saddle As A New Mom
Here is a scenario you may experience as a new mom getting back in the saddle. This is done in a joking way, but most of it is realistic for some of us new moms.
When you get on a horse for the first time after months and months of not riding it is like the heavens have opened up and the angels are singing.
“Finally I get to ride again. I feel so complete!” “What a beautiful day, perfect for my first ride back in the saddle.”
UNTIL you start to trot.
You realize, “Crap I’m all over the place and keep losing my balance.” “Are my toes sticking out?” “I think my legs are swinging.” “Okay yup, just got left behind, sorry buddy.” “I thought it was like riding a bike!” “Come on body stop acting like you don’t know what to do.”
“Ouch, my crotch is starting to hurt.” “Oh no, I think I just peed my pants.” “Oh boy, my legs are feeling the burn!” “These boobs are way too big they need to get out of the way.”
“What if I fall off and get hurt and then I can’t take care of my baby.” “Am I being selfish riding right now instead of being home with my baby?” “What if my baby thinks I abandoned her?” “Will she forget who I am?”
“Why am I so tired…? Oh yeah, I was up every 3-4 hours the last 6 weeks almost every night.”
“Will we be able to keep affording this horse lease?” “What would I do if I couldn’t ride anymore?” “ Would I lose my mind?” “Am I even me anymore.”
I hope that gives you a basic idea of some of the thoughts and challenges when you get back in the saddle, after having a baby.
The Challenges Of Coming Back To Riding After Child Birth
Having a baby is one of the happiest and most challenging things that has ever happened to me. Let’s go over the challenges that you are going to face as an equestrian mom and mom in general.
Taking Time To Let Your Body Heal– I know you might want to hop right back in the saddle but sometimes you need to wait a little longer. Not only do your lady parts need time to heal, or your belly if you got a c-section, but the ligaments in your pelvis need time to tighten again as well. Hormones in your body loosened up your pelvic ligaments in preparation to stretch for childbirth. It takes about 6 weeks to tighten back up.
Related Content: How Soon You Can Horseback Ride After Having A Baby
Weak Core- Your abs will not be as strong as they were before and you will find not only is it harder to move smoothly at the sitting trot, canter, and while jumping but also be stable and balanced at all. You might feel pain in your lower back, pelvis or hips after riding because of the weak core muscles.
Loss Of Riding Skills- Some new moms feel like complete beginners coming back into riding. It is frustrating to lose the flexibility, strength, and ability you had before the baby. You may feel like a hot mess.
Guilty About Leaving Your Baby- You may feel guilty about being at the barn instead of with your baby. You feel like you constantly have to justify why you are going to the barn to your spouse or family. You may feel like you don’t know what the right thing to do is.
Sleep Deprivation- This is common among parents with a new baby. There is a period with a major lack of sleep that makes it hard to focus on anything. There are some funny new-parent sleep deprivation stories that make me laugh out loud. You can find them if you just search that term.
Out Of Shape And Tired- Just trotting around the arena a couple of times will cause you to huff and puff and feel tired. You might feel like an unfit potato puff.
Loss Of Bladder Control- It takes a while to regain your bladder control. Get ready for lots of accidents, especially when riding horses or sneezing.
Large Boobs and Breastfeeding- If you are breastfeeding your breasts will constantly get full of milk and need nursing or to be pumped. Larger boobs will put you more off balance and it is just annoying and uncomfortable when they are bouncing around as you try to ride, especially the sitting trot.
Lack of Independence- You are not your own person anymore. You are yourself plus one. And maybe another if you count your husband. It can feel like you have a lack of freedom. You can’t just do what you want when you want in your free time anymore. You always have to consider your baby.
Finding Child Care- In order to be able to ride you need to find someone to watch your baby or figure out a safe way to have your baby at the barn with you, which is not as ideal, due to dust, flies, the dirtiness of the barn, potential safety hazards. Not saying you can’t bring your baby to the barn. Just pointing out the potential problems there.
Finding Time- With a young baby on a regular schedule and everything you feel like you need to do and get done. It constantly feels like there is no time. Always feeling like you don’t have enough time can be super overwhelming.
Fear- You become more fearful of getting hurt while riding and become more cautious. It’s not just about yourself getting hurt but in case you weren’t able to care for your baby. This makes you more cautious and potentially develop fears with riding you didn’t have before.
Lack of Funds- There are costs to having a baby that drain your horsey funds. Like hospital expenses, baby supplies, furniture, clothes, diapers, pediatrician appointments, new health insurance premiums, being on maternity leave if you are a working mom and then child care if you are going back to work.
The Good Parts About Becoming An Equestrian Mom
You have already learned skills about being a mom from your experience with horses. Yes, there are skills we learn from working with horses that can transfer into motherhood.
Think about what horses teach us. Patience, consistency, kindness, firmness, clear communication, always trying to understand, staying calm under pressure, staying calm when our horses are scared or misbehaving.
If you have owned horses then you are even one step further. Owning a horse is a lot of responsibility and money which is similar to having a baby. Though owning a horse prepares us somewhat, having a baby includes even more responsibilities. But it’s hard to say if they are more or less expensive. I guess it might depend on your situation.
You will look forward to coming home after riding to see your baby that you miss so much. Laughing, tickles and cuddle times are the best.
Being an equestrian horse riding is a really great outlet as a mom. You will see horseback riding in a new way and appreciate it more than you ever did. It helps you to come back home refreshed and like yourself again.
If your child ends up liking horses you can watch their passion grow and happily feed that passion. They could be your future riding buddy. Horse riding can be a passion you can share together, which can draw you closer as they grow older.
Hey, it’s a reason to buy a miniature horse or pony, need I say more.
Just don’t force horses on them and make them resentful and less likely to want anything to do with horses. Let them make the choice for themselves as hard as that may be because you didn’t like being forced to do sports or hobbies you didn’t like.
Tips To Make The Transition Back To Riding As Smooth As Possible
Your baby is so worth it, but the truth is your life is going to become more challenging. So to help you out here is a list of 12 tips to help you transition back to riding and make it as smooth as possible.
- Don’t compare yourself with the other equestrian moms. Just because they get back on in a week or two doesn’t mean you have to as well. Go at your own pace and take your time. There is no reason for a mad dash to get back into riding, the horses will still be there. Enjoy the experience of being a mother and come back to riding when you are ready.
- Lower your expectations when you get back to riding. Your body is not the same as before you got pregnant. You had a baby, your ligaments are loose, you’re out of your normal riding fitness level, you’re out of riding practice for months and months. You won’t be as disappointed if you realize that your riding will be a lot worse than before baby in the beginning.
- Instead of using a chair to sit down. Use a Yoga, mobility or exercise ball… whatever you want to call it. This will keep you aware of your posture, work on your balance and your core a little bit as well.
- Let the barn and riding be your “me time.” As a mom, you need to refresh yourself to prevent getting burnt out. For equestrian moms that usually comes from being at the barn with horses and riding. Find someone you can trust that can watch your baby while you go to the barn and relax. This will help you be a better mom because you won’t be as stressed out.
- Find a damn good supportive bra. Those girls will be bouncing all over the place. Not only is it distracting and annoying but it can also be really uncomfortable. Pump or breastfeed before riding to reduce weight from your boobs, which means slightly less bouncing.
- Know that as a new mom your confidence may have gone down and you probably will have lost your nerve because of your amygdala getting activated. It basically makes you worry more so that you are looking out for your baby’s welfare. You may feel more anxious in general than before baby as well. Hence why moms are more worried about riding after they have a baby. They don’t want to get hurt and not be able to take care of their babies.
- Find an instructor that uses well-planned lessons, which pushes you outside of your comfort zone but also at the same time helps you to feel safe and secure.
- Get a professional assessment done by a chiropractor or a physiotherapist to get your body checked out and set back on the right path.
- When you get back into riding, start off with gentle riding. Walking and maybe an easy trot. Avoid the more intense work until after 6 weeks. The cartilage in your pelvic area remains soft for about 6 weeks and rushing can cause the joint to move and potentially separate bones.
- If you own a horse consider having a leaser, or an experienced rider to ride for free. If you have someone leasing your horse it will cut expenses and get your horse back in shape if your horse hasn’t been ridden much. If you have a younger, greener or fresher horse then try finding an experienced horseless rider that is interested in working with your horse for free to get him back in shape is an option. Then if you don’t have as much time as before to ride your horse will still be in, consistent work. You could always require the person to take lessons at least once or twice a month to make sure they are staying on track.
- When you go back to riding make sure that the weather is nice enough and that your horse’s energy level is calm. You want to make sure your first ride back in the saddle is at least a positive one.
- If you have to bring your baby to the barn and plan to ride. Good weather? Try a pack n play with netting over the top to keep bugs out. Keep in the shade and away from dust. Or keep your baby in the office or tack room with air conditioning or heat on whichever needed. Use a baby monitor so you can hear your baby. If it is not buggy and good weather you can try keeping your baby in the stroller. I wouldn’t keep the baby in the car. Not safe in hot and cold weather and you can’t hear your baby well if they start to cry if the windows are up. Use good judgment in any case.
Know that each ride you will get stronger and stronger, better and better. Ride because it is what makes you happy. It fulfills a horse-shaped hole in your soul. It is something you love so make it a priority. Don’t give up on your passion.
Being a mom is special and very rewarding and there is a lot to learn. Including how to manage your time with baby and horses. Finding time for horses with a new baby is doable; you just have to try things out and see what works for you.
Did you find this article helpful? Check out:
- How You Can Improve Your Riding Skills Without A Horse
- 9 Powerful Ways You Can Restore Your Confidence Riding Horses
- What Are The Benefits Of Horse Riding While Pregnant?
- How Soon You Can Horseback Ride After Having A Baby
- Working On A Horse Farm During Pregnancy: Is It Safe To Work At The Barn When Pregnant??