I need some tips please! I need to be out competing 2/3 times per week as of early April. I had LO 9 weeks ago and have only managed to ride about 3 times, let alone actually leave the yard! Any tips on schooling with a baby? Going to competitions..? I've got no help other than groom.
Are you a professional rider? If you are, you need to get yourself some professional childcare that is flexible enough to fit around your competition schedule, and accept that you will be leaving your baby behind when you go to competitions. If you are not a professional rider, why do you need to be competing 2-3 times a week?
I used to compete at county level. I sent in my last county show entry form before my first baby was born, and took the horse out competing when DD was 5 weeks old. We narrowly missed out on a RIHS place (got the qualifier, but lost it again in the prize giving.) I decided to give up competing there and then, and took up hunting instead - you can make your mind up on the day if you really want to do it. I found it really hard to fit in 2 children, a complex (albeit part time) job, and a horse who could be really top level if prepared properly or drop me in the ring if he felt I wasn't paying him the right kind of attention!
I sold the competition horse and bought a 3 year old just off the ferry from Ireland (as you do!) and he has turned into the most fabulous hunter. Plus he is only little and very gentle, whereas the competition horse was nearly 18hh with a big sense of humour - it is much easier to get help with a little mild-mannered horse than a gigantic snorting fabulous beast, and with kids help is essential.
Some people do manage to keep competing with small kids in tow. But for the most part they are either wealthy and have very good paid help, or lucky and have a lot of unpaid help and an easy horse. Sorry if this is not the news you want to hear. After nearly 6 years away from the scene, I am finally considering how I am going to get back into it. I did working hunters before, and was always very proud of my standings against the pros when I held down a full time job and produced the horse myself. I will be happy with the next horse to send it to a producer, and be less involved in the schooling myself.
It might be tough news to you, but it's what often happens. If you manage to compete full time without childcare, bloody well done!
Ouch...yes I am a professional. If I can't compete, I can't sell the horses, and wont make any money! I lost a shed load while pregnant.... I can't afford full time help, and even p/t adds up. I'm going to have to ask the father to help me....
I'm lucky as my Dh loves the times he gets to spend with Dd when I'm out competing, if she has to come my mum looks after her whilst I'm in the ring. She has been all over the country with us and has been to the Ri and Hoys. Can you find a friend to take or someone who wants to experience completions that could help you with child care and the horses? Good luck sorting something out.
It's an unfortunate fact of life that whatever you do for a living, you are one lucky person if you have a job that you can focus on properly with a child hanging off your leg. If competing is your job, you need childcare, or a different job. I'm sorry if this sounds blunt, but it's the way it is. If you had come on MN and asked "how do I hold down my job as a shelf stacker/teacher/brain surgeon/receptionist/etc with a baby in tow, you'd be recommended to get good childcare. There are jobs you can do with a small child around, but they don't involve training large animals!
Fwiw, I've tried riding while the baby is sleeping (wait around all day for that to happen!) Having lessons while my instructor friend holds onto a pony with baby in basket saddle on it's back and shouts stuff at me, XC schooling - also with baby in basket saddle with instructor friend, waiting till my mum comes to visit (a fraught act!) riding while my friend looks after my kids and then she rides while I look after hers, and paying someone to look after the kids. Paying someone is the only reliable method. It took me 4 years to realise this.
I doubt it's possible tbh, even a childminder will struggle with the early starts etc. possibly an au pair might work if she is horsey and all you need is an extra pair of hands to look after baby whilst you ride or are actually in the ring. I'm in a similar situation, dd is 9wo, horse is away at producers and all I have to do is turn up and ride and even then I'm struggling with someone to look after pipsqueak whilst I do it. She is also ebf which makes it harder as she needs to be wherever the boobs are most of the time.
I feel for you I do! When I was about 15 iI used to look after my friends baby while she competed thenshe would have the baby back & i' look after the horse. In exchange I could ride as much as I wanted & basically have the horses as my own without the expense! Worked perfectly for us! Now with 3 kids of my own & a loan pony- no chance of me ever getting a ride! However I do childmind and fit in with a lot of funny requirements Inc early starts/late finishes. Taking kids to meet parents etc so there is hope if you find the right person. Problem is you will have to pay!
I second what others have said - if you are professional, then this is your job and you need to organise proper childcare. Most people don't take their children to work with them, particularly to a manual job with safety implications.
My DH has a client who tries to do what you are doing. She brings the toddler to her lessons and parks her in her buggy at the side of the arena. She works as a carer and sometimes she brings her client with her and leaves her (elderly disabled lady) sitting in the car at the side of the arena. DH thinks she shouldn't do either of these things and knows her well enough to tell her so, but she doesn't get it. She doesn't concentrate properly on her riding because she's got half an eye on her DD or client, which is a safety issue.
She has a couple of horses to bring on and sell for other people and doesn't realise that she is short-changing these people by not doing any of what she does properly. There's too much of this in the horse world IMO.