Returning to riding after having children

Mrs_T

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Hi everyone! I'm new on here and wondered if anyone else is in a similar position to me...

I used to ride as a kid/teen and had a riding school loan. At 18 I went off to uni and couldn't afford to ride. Since then I've rode on and off for the last 10 years, stopping twice to have kids. Well my second, and last, child is now nearly 8 months and I'm desperate to get back into my hobby.

I've been for a couple of hacks and a lesson at a different stables (moved house a year ago), and love it there- so friendly and relaxed (only downfall is no indoor school so outdoor school is pretty much out of action at the mo. My lesson was great- a real confidence boost as I seem to have remembered lots. But I'm not so confident on the ground and with the care of horses as I've really not done any of this in the last 10 years. I'd love to get back into it all properly with the view to own my own horse (perhaps to share with my daughter if she gets into riding) eventually. But I also feel this huge guilt in leaving my kids to go off and invest the time to relearn what I'd need to in order to eventually own a horse! Can anyone relate?
 

Kite_Rider

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Hello and welcome :) can't help you with your question as mine were all grown up when I got back into horses, but what I will say is don't feel guilty about doing what you love, we all need a bit of 'me' time and in the end a happy mum/wife has to be better than a frustrated one.
 
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Mrs_T

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Thanks for your reply Kite_Rider. I think I know deep down it's silly to feel guilty, and my husband is very supportive. I think I'll start by just having lessons more regularly, perhaps fortnightly and maybe in a year or so I could start volunteering my help a morning a week or something?

I've just spent the best part of an hour reading some of the threads in here and I'm in my element :)
 

LindaAd

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I'd echo Kite Rider: don't feel guilty! You need the time for yourself (mothers need to recharge their batteries too) and kids need to be left from time to time - otherwise how do they ever learn that they're not actually the centre of the universe, and how do they learn to amuse themselves? Ok, maybe 8 months is a bit young to start, but it's not too young to understand that mum going off and doing something of her own for a while is perfectly normal.
 
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Mrs_T

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Thanks LindaAd, you're are both right!!

Do you think local stables would welcome help if I were to go down that route? Or any other advise how I can rekindle my knowledge of horse care?

I've just updated my avatar - this was my old stable loan, Magnum... He was a shire cross thoroughbred (probably something else in there too) and was a big softie!

Here's another photo too... FB_IMG_1419781873264.jpg
 

KP nut

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I had horses before I had children. With a single baby it was no problem, and I just took the baby with me to the yard all the time. But then I became pregnant with twins and it was a very complicated pregnancy so my pony went on loan as there was no way I could look after him. 2 weeks before the birth the loaner contacted me wanting to buy or return the pony as she wanted a pony of her own. At the time it was a no-brainer really, as there was no way I could have him back at that time, and so he was sold. I bought another pony when the twins were 3 and at first it was fine. They did whatever I did, so if I was up at the yard they just came with me and played with other kids etc. But once they got to 7 or 8 they started losing interest and it seemed unfair to make them spend all their time at the yard when they did not want to be there. Although I had bought the pony with a view to a mother-daughter share at some stage, one of the problems was that my pony was unsuitable for novices and they were scared to ride him off the lead rein, as he was a bit too sharp and enthusiastic for young kids. So I sold him and got myself a youngster and got them a been there done that older loan pony. That helped a lot for a few months. But in the end they lost interest in the loan pony too.

I spent ages wondering what to do, but in the end I decided that my hobby could not dominate family life to such an extent that the kids a) could not do what they wanted to do and b) They were forced to spend hours each week doing something they DIDN'T want to do. And it was too expensive to justify too if it was purely for my benefit. So my horse was sold and the loan pony went back.

There were several factors that made me make that choice:

1) I could not afford full livery
2) My kids had no interest at all in being up at the yard
3) I had tried very hard to make it work for a very long time - taking the kids to shows and pony parties etc to keep it fun
4) My kids had developed lots of other hobbies that they could not do because there was no time or money left.

It could have turned out very different: They could have loved it. I could have earned enough. They could have enjoyed just playing outdoors even if they did not want to ride. But as it was, I am convinced I made the right choice in giving it all up.

I don't regret buying any of the horses though. All of them taught me loads. And the kids did learn to ride and are now very keen again (after 2 years of not going near a horse!) And I loved them all while I had them. Inbfact the kids are so keen that we are planning to buy another one now!! (I have made them wait almost a year after asking for lessons again). But I do think that if you buy with young kids you need to think through the possibility of the family having to take priority one day. I was and am fine with that, but some people could not cope with saying goodbye to any pony.

Having riding lessons is a totally different ball-game though. Everyone needs a hobby, so there is no need to give up riding or helping out at the yard. It's just that ownership on DIY livery is a bit all encompassing!
 
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Mrs_T

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Thanks Krissie, it's really interesting heating real experiences of people in a similar position!

I probably wouldn't look to buy til maybe even 10 years time, then my eldest will be 12 and by then I'd hopefully gauge her interest and she'd have hopefully learnt the basics by then. It's hard, cos I don't want to feel like I've missed out on anything while I'm still young enough, but I don't want my family to compromise!
 
Dec 17, 2014
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Hi, I wouldn't of had the time when my kids were young or the money tbh. I've only just got back into it and brought my own pony. My kids are older and don't rely on me. My husband is very supportive and loves cooking, bonus!! I can afford lessons as well as him being in a livery. It takes a lot of my time but I really love it and it's defiantly the right time for me. Enjoy whatever you decide is best for you and your family, enjoy your horse time. :)
 
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Mrs_T

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So maybe, from others' experiences, it'd be most realistic to just do fortnightly (or less if necessary) lessons.

Then maybe when they are bigger, look at volunteering and maybe eventually owning (although, I can't help but think by that point I might have uni bills to pay and otd never happen!!!!). Oh, if only to be rich!
 

KP nut

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It works out fine for some people: their kids love it, or at least don't mind it. Or you can get a sharer, or keep horses at home or on working livery - all of which reduces the costs/time commitment or impact on the family. None of those options were right for me, so I opted for a break from horses. But it was still worth having them while I could. And it might have worked out long term anyway. So do whatever you like! But go into it with your eyes open!!
 
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Skib

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My friend didnt own horses when her kids were very little but she did help with riding for the disabled - if you can handle horses and are prepared to do the training? That's an idea for involvement with horses and a worthy cause too.
 
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Mrs_T

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Actually Skin, it's funny you say that are the place I've started riding at does riding for the disabled so that is a good option :)

I just really miss it all, so getting back into it in any way would be great, even if ownership isn't an option for me just yet, I can definitely find some time for the odd ride and perhaps help out here and there :)
 
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juliecwuk

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I owned my own horses so rode during pregnancy and only had a two month gap where I didn't ride. I started back 5 weeks after the birth. I find it easier I suppose because i wasn't going to give up my horses.

My only advice would be follow your heart...don't feel guilty about doing something that enriches your life, it keeps you happy and with a supportive husband there's no reason that you can't have your hobby and enjoy being a parent.
 
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Mrs_T

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That's encouraging juliecwuk! And go you riding for so long in pregnancy! I used to ride a 'bucker' and as soon as my instructor found out I was pregnant, she wanted me to stop! But I accept that, when it's not your own horse it's not your decision really.
 

Mary Poppins

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I think that when you become a wife and a mother it's easy to devote yourself entirely to your family and forget about yourself. I have had the whole dilemma about horses vs family and sometimes the juggle is difficult, but having my hobby and my time away from my family makes me a better mother and I can honestly say that I am completely content with my life.

I have always ridden (apart from a break at uni when I was skint), but loaned horses until I had my family because I knew that I would never want to sell my horse during the pregnancy/early stages of motherhood. When my youngest was 18 months old and my eldest was 4, I became the very proud owner of Ben. I am lucky enough to keep him on a lovely supportive yard on part livery, so I don't have to do all the jobs myself - but I still go up every single day anyway and find that my day just isn't complete if I haven't seen it.

It's not easy to juggle the time, and for the first 2 years I didn't get to the yard until at least 7pm every night. I would often ride at gone 9pm all alone under the floodlights, and at weekends during the summer (when we have the light mornings) I am often riding at 6am before my family get up. I can go ages not seeing anyone else on my yard because of the odd hours that I ride, but I actually quite like it - feels like I own the whole yard!

My husband is amazingly supportive with both the cost and the time that it takes up, but he says that he can see how happy I am and that is what life is all about - living. Things are easier for me in the school term times now that my youngest is at school and I have a few mornings a week for daytime riding, and I only work 16 hours per week which also helps. There are sacrifices that I have made - I never spend money on clothes, hair, make-up , nights out etc. I don't really go out with friends anymore because all my spare time is spent with Ben.

If you really want to pursue horses there is no reason why you can't have both a family and a horse. There are lots of options to make it easier - working livery, sharers, having a horse who can live out 24/7 etc. If you really want it, you can find a way. x
 
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Mrs_T

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Thanks for that! Really useful information! Since posting this thread I've not stopped thinking about all the possibilities! I'm beginning to think a wise thing to do (and again, I'll point out that this won't be for at least a couple of years) is try a loan or share to see how I cope and go from there.
 
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Tiny rider

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Hello! I'm new here too, and 6 months ago I decided to take up riding again after a break of 7 years, and two children.

And after six lessons I took the plunge...and bought my own horse.

It helped that I was already looking after my daughter's 11.2 hh pony - Candy - on our farm. It took a lot of thinking about exactly the horse I wanted, and going to see various different horses for sale. I took my riding instructor and had a full vetting, and bought Nemo - a 13.2 hh piebald 11 year old gelding. I'm only 4 foot 11, so he's just the right height for me!

He's very safe, as I'm still very novice...we do hacks - in fact I'm VERY nervous, and just had a super 30 mins hack round the block, which helped me no end. He had been a pony for a disabled boy and his 12 year old sister.

My husband is a farmer so it's fairly easy for me to keep my horses at home, but it was still a massive thing for me to do. I spent many hours stressing about feeding, vetting, tack, turnout etcetera. It helped that I have a very friendly vet on speed dial, and good support at home.

I tried to get a loan but the horses were too sharp for me, and when I saw Nemo and rode him, I was prepared to buy him, as he seemed so safe.

It's taken him a while to settle in, but he's so gentle and great with a rather flabby mum of 2 who has NO core strength and little balance.

Good luck - and let me know how you get on!
 

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Mrs_T

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Hi Tiny rider! I remember seeing your photo post a couple of days ago! It's nice to hear another encouraging story! How old are your kids, if you don't mind me asking? Nemo is gorgeous by the way, and seems perfect for your needs and wants! And living on a farm must be very handy! If I saw the perfect horse, and I was in a position to, I'd definitely buy...you wouldnt want any 'what if' type regrets!

I have decided I definitely want to own/loan/share at some point in the future (even if I have to wait 20 years til the time is right!). But have come to the conclusion that for now I'm going to have regular lessons (fortnightly while I'm still on maternity leave and having no money coming in, then hopefully weekly). That way, I figure by the time I'm ready to buy, I'll have even more experience and my riding instructor will know me better to help me when finding a horse (I've started riding at a different stables).
 

Tiny rider

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Hey Mrs_T - my kids are 4 and 7 and are now both at school which means I get a bit more time to ride on school days. I also work at home as a self employed virtual marketing bod, so it means I can go out, muck out and work in my haylage scented clothes all day if I want!

I think loaning/sharing is a great time - and lessons - good for you starting up again. How is your core strength? Right after having kids mine was dreadful as I had a C section with my last baby - I was very wobbly!.

It's pretty tricky working around the kids sometimes - it helps that my husband is on the farm 3 days a week (the other 2 he works away) so that he can always pick the kids up from the school bus if I'm running late with stuff. At the moment, I have to muck out, and get the horses back in by 3.00 pm so then I can get back to the house for the bus drop off.

And for some reason, as soon as I got Nemo, work started to get REALLY busy, so I spent a lot of time running around, desperately doing work in the evenings to catch up. All I want is a day off, with the housework and work done so I can faff around with Nemo!

I love the skewbald in your picture - who is he? Beautiful horse :)
 

Mrs_T

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The horse in my photo is Magnum...he was my loan horse up until I went to uni! A gentle giant!

That's handy that you work from home! That's another of my concerns... how I'd balance work, the kids and a horse! I'm a teacher in a very good, but very demanding school, so I'm often still working after I've put the kids to bed. But have considered supply teaching if needed in the future (less money, but much less responsibilities!).

My core strength isnt too bad, but I have had problems with my coccyx since having my babies, and I can definitely feel it more after riding! Keep meaning to go to the docs, but never get around to it!
 
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