Feel like giving up...(16 Posts)
Currently feeling super crap and debating whether to give up horses... Just had a baby (well, she's 3.5 months) and frankly not coping at all well. I have 3 horses, well 1 old retired pony who we've had for 24 years, plus 2 horses. Before baby I was always riding, plus doing things at yard; I've rented a small private yard for past 7 years so it's DIY and then some!
Currently have a to-do list as long as my arm of things that need doing. Managing to squeeze a few rides in, DH meets me at yard on his way home from work so we can swap the baby, I then ride. But then feel guilt at being out for a couple of hours in the evening. I can live with that, but I will have to go back to work next year and frankly can't see how it will be possible to ride after work AND see daughter awake.
I'm just feeling totally overwhelmed right now. DH has said he'll help with the chores (he already does one end of the day, feeds, turnout or bring in) and that I should go and ride, but it's more than that. I feel like it's all very well now but once I am back at work how on earth can I manage even looking after them. Plus riding wise, I want more than being a happy hacker! Pre pregnancy my focus was dressage; I have an ex racer and we were training with a list 1 judge.... Let's just say he can go very nicely and she thought he was more than capable of at least Medium level, but (and she's ridden him, so her words here) he is very very strong when he wants to be and can be impossible and could easily dent your (my) confidence. I've put my all into him and had just about got him to a point of being able to take him out to compete without him freaking out, and then I got pregnant! He needs regular work and certainly isn't a horse that you could take out competing without a huge amount of effort. He's also a bit of a shit on the ground, so frankly I could never sell him on as I'd worry what would happen to him. I've always said he'd be pts rather than sell. I am riding him again now but after 6 months off an just doing walking work at present. I also have a 14.2hh mare who has niggling lameness issues so again candidate for pts rather than selling. Most of the time sound and I have hunted her (she's fab!) but occasionally unlevel and so needs managing. And then of course one of my old ponies whose in his late 20's, has cushings and no teeth and again can't exactly go anywhere.
So what on earth do I do!? The prospect of having any of them pts reduces me to tears and my DH thinks I'm callous for even suggesting it. I can't move them to part livery as on mat leave and Cannot (!) afford it; even once back at work I can't afford part livery for 3 anyway (not with childcare costs!).
I hate going to do them currently as my otherwise Angel baby sees it as the one time she can be a monster. I simply cannot get anything done. This morning I was hysterical in tears as its just got to a point where I simply want to give up but cannot for the life of me see how.
Could you try advertising for sharers? You could offer free shares in return for help with jobs? The ex-racer would need someone experienced but there are people out there who have had to sell up due to starting uni or having a family who are decent riders. If you had someone to share the load you might be able to enjoy the time you do have with the horses.
Should have said; we don't have a manège, only a 20x40 on grass... Hence I boxed to a school twice a week! So any potential sharer would have to be ok with that; fine in the summer as the field is useable but not so attractive in the winter (I used to box to the school before work during the winter 😳). Or someone just happy to hack. Honestly, I tried to find a sharer for my mare a few years back and had nothing but weirdos, or totally unreliable. I know there are decent sharers out there but it was an eye opening experience! Even if I could find one person that would want to enjoy all of them that would be a help!
And I'm not deliberately putting obstacles in the way, but as no one lives on site I don't leave tack at the yard (wooden buildings, easy to break into!). So for a sharer I'd need someone to either keep the tack or would need to meet them there to give it to them...
Could you affront retirement livery for two of them and then move the third to a yard with facilities? It's a lot easier to ride if there is a floodlit manège.
Alternatively do you have space for another horse? You could offer free livery to someone in exchange for help with doing yours some of the time.
I would say you probably need to find a way to simplify things, and compromise on some things - like only riding 3 times per week - though I realise with an ex racer that is not ideal- he probably needs work everyday.......
I think it's really normal to feel overwhelmed, but I would hold on to what you can, so some riding as it seems that it is probably a really huge part of your identity- and I think it's really impt that you don't lose things like that when you have kids , which is easier said than done.
In terms of the physicality required riding and working with horses - don't under estimate what is required and how much your body changed and the time it takes to get back to where you were - 3 1/2 months and your back riding is amazing .
I was watching Zara Phillips at badminton- and I said to my husband I think it's incredible where she is now , how close she has got back to her original fitness etc - and how old is hers 18months? 2 years? It's seems an age - but women's bodies just don pop back after having a baby (for most people) the way the media would have us all believe.
I don't know if I have helped much....... I hope I have a little
booboostwo goodness just looked at prices for retirement livery and it's a lot! So probably not!! Putting one on livery and keeping the other two 'at home' (which it isn't!) is potentially an option once back at work, but wouldn't mean much less work. Sadly I have no spare stable and as we are on clay the fields get trashed in winter as it is!
mrslaughan thanks you have helped 😊 It's good to put a different perspective on things. I think in my mind I thought everything with the horses would carry on as it had before, just with a baby in tow. I had visions of her sleeping in her pram whilst I lunged or schooled a couple of times a week. Reality is she's now got to a point where she's awake most of the time and wants to be picked up. She doesn't at home though, which is just slightly frustrating!
Posted too soon.... DH doesn't think I should get rid of them, probably because he likes getting rid of me for a few hours. He's been down tonight to fix a stable wall that had been kicked, and is going to help with the other bits (I have a field that has been invaded with bloody ragwort!). I think if I don't ride every day it's not the end of the world... On reflection, even if I don't compete him again, he's taught me a heck of a lot.
And I was feeling shamed at the 8 weeks it took me to get back on, when my friend rode a week after having hers!!!!! 😳
That's really positive - the thing is it won't be the same as before you had children, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just different.
I have a much younger friend who has just had a baby, my advice to her was don't make to many plans about how's it's going to be - as you just don't know (did she listen - not really !) . Each baby is an individual as is each mother , cut yourself some slack and don't compare yourself to others - do what feels right for you.
You have a lot of time to work out how it's going to be- I am not sure if it's been suggested , but would a sharer work for the one that is ridden? They get to ride in exchange for mucking out? ....... I was loathe to suggest that as my experience of sharers is they can be unreliable - which is not what you need......
I really feel for you OP. I only have one and a toddler and it's hard enough. Luckily I don't know any different as my DD was 1 when I got back into horses and so I've always had to work it around her. I try to have a set routine - I try to ride same days, same times when I know DH is around or my Mum can have her. I always have snacks on me and she has an iPad holder on the head rest in front of her seat so she watches stuff during the winter when it's too cold for her to potter around.
Now that she's bigger I try to always let her "help" once my main jobs are done and to get her practicing being around them. You have to be super careful about little fingers but it's toughening her up and doesn't seem to put her off if she gets nibbled or pushed.
I'm probably not helping as your LO is so much younger but could you bundle her in pushchair and put her somewhere she can watch but is safely out of the way? I never ride when my DD is with me but I do groundwork.
The lack of a school and the tack isn't a total deal breaker for a sharer. When I I was a student I shared a horse (free just helped with jobs in return for rides ) there was no school unless you paid to use one a shirt hack away that was very expensive so I just hacked. I had to collect the tack from the owner beforehand too. I was just glad to be able to ride again at a time when I was too skint to pay for lessons.
Echoing the sentiment about a sharer, you may have to look to find one but there are good ones out there
And don't be so hard on yourself. Some people bounce back (v v few...), most of us take a little longer. I had to learn to accept help from the OH and not be such a control freak. I don't get to ride as much as I would like but it's enough - and the best bit is seeing my little boy grow up with horses. He loves them and has already started dropping hints about getting a pony for him to ride (oh help...).
Sure its tough some days, especially when had crappy winter like the last one. But do remember that there's always crap days when you have horses - when it's freezing cold, you're out with rain soaked knickers and your hairy beast has rolled in a bog then stood on your foot. then we all have to remember the good days of having wuffly cuddles, galloping across a lush field or having a happy neigh being shouted at you in the morning .
I was very similar to you. I had big plans of the baby fitting around my riding and I planned to be out competing that summer. Realistically it just couldn't happen. I went through stages of wanting to give up, being stressed trying to do it all and just doing bare minimum. It has been way harder than I thought. He is now 2 and this is the first year I'm back competing properly ( I say properly, I decide what classes to jump based on nap times ) I'm not doing as much as I could/should but I am so so much more grateful when I can ride or compete. I enjoy it more than I used to. I'm just trying to say it is so hard but I think you need to keep your own identity. What worked for me was working out realistic plans. My experiences horses that know their jobs only get worked 3 times a week now, I bought an equi ami so I can lunge a couple. I write a week plan and try and stick to it but you are still early days. Your horses just need to be an enjoyable extra for right now and plan for your comeback next summer. I would retire the one with soundness issues which will give you a bit more time.
My horses were a lifesaver when my children were small. Admittedly I didn't have them when the children were babies but with 4 year old twins & 1 year old it wasn't far off! They saved my sanity and I think you would really regret stopping unless it was absolutely necessary. Ask around, word of mouth is often a good way of making connections and be as flexible as you can. I hope you can resolve things, best of luck.
Ah thanks for all the replies guys :-) I'm finding things slightly easier now... I think a combination of trying to chill out about things (control freak, me!?), ticking some bits off of the mile long to do list and some good rides. But obviously it's not like before!! DD is being quite high maintenance at the moment, bless her. She's desperately trying to crawl, but gets frustrated that she can't. So sometimes it's nice to leave her with DH in the evenings and go and poo pick; I'd never found poo picking as relaxing as I do now!!!
I've started looking for a sharer for the mare. No joy getting any interest so far but need to start putting an ad elsewhere, maybe pre loved etc. She's best kept ticking over rather than completely retired, as it helps manage her weight, which in turn helps with the soundness. Tbh I'd be happy not riding her at all if I could find the right person. My TB is actually going quite nicely atm... He had an abscess a while back which was like, the Worst Thing Ever, for me mentally and he was naturally going to die from it.... Sigh. I do try and lunge him at least once a week with baby in the pram the other side of the fence! Waiting for someone from social services to knock on the door.... ;-)
And whoever said about the winter we've had.... Well I still have mud and pools of water on my fields...! Admittedly after the recent rain but the ground is saturated as it just isn't draining. Seriously depressing!!!
Keep looking for a sharer - it only takes one person to read it at the right time! Try local FB sites as well as Pre loved if you haven't already.
I also made the mistake of thinking once I'd had my daughter, everything would pretty much return to normal - riding both of mine every day, I'd just stick her in her pram while I rode. Obviously that didn't quite work out. The one day off I had when OH had her, I'd not be able to ride because I had to do all the other things I couldn't when she was with me (ragworting/pooh picking etc). After quite a short time, I almost resented my daughter because life just wasn't how it was before I had her and I'd unrealistically thought it would be!
I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be hard on yourself and don't think the worst of what will happen after you're back at work, you may cope better than you think!
(My daughter is now 8 and has a pony of her own, so my remaining horse now takes a backseat again!!)
Took me ages to find a sharer but one came along eventually, she does every morning and all weekends, it's been a massive help. Would you consider having the unsound mare out on loan as a companion until you're more able to do stuff with her? Or the oldie?
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