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Do you take your baby with you to do your horse? If so, I need your advice!

17 replies

Cydonia · 24/02/2013 19:19

Hi, I have a 9 month old DS and an Arab gelding who is kept with 2 other ponies and mainly lives out. I share 'duties' with the other 2 owners so only have to go to the stables 4/5 times a week. Because of this I've managed to keep my horse, as my dad or MIL will mind DS for an hour or so while I go to the horses.

However I'm going back to work soon, just 2 days but MIL is having DS while I'm at work so I don't feel I can ask her to have him when I have to do the horses too. Now the weather is improving slightly I thought I may be able to take DS with me and just wondered if anyone does this or if it's a ridiculous idea?!

I think I'll need some sort of carrier that's easy to put on with DS on my back too, not sure if such a thing exists? I have a sling for him but as I'll be bending down a lot I think he'll either fall out or at least get in the way if he's on my front. Also a bit worried about filling haynets with him attached to me. We have some fairly rich haylage at the moment which smells awful ( as in that awful sweet haylage smell, its not off!) and I don't think I want him breathing it in. Also worried he might freeze, or get butted by one of the horses!

I'm not sure if I'm being a bit precious and should just strap him on and get on with it, or of its a ridiculous/impractical/dangerous ide

OP posts:
Cydonia · 24/02/2013 19:20

Whoops posted too soon! That should say....idea.
So, just wondering if anyone has any experience of this, good or bad, that they'd care to share? Thanks!

OP posts:
pooka · 24/02/2013 19:23

Could you up a cheap all terrain buggy to keep at the stables? eBay?

Just thinking that if you pop him in the buggy with some attached pram toys ou could be n control of is proximity to horses/hay?

NB. Not horse owner and know f all. But mil had a horse and at the livery the owner had dcs and would do similar.

Flojobunny · 24/02/2013 21:20

Can you not leave him in the car with the windows down if you can park next to the yard or put him in a buggy?

snowpo · 24/02/2013 23:52

I did it when my 2 were little. I tried the front carrier but not very practical filling hay etc and I remember covering DS in mud & dust when I was brushing mane!
I got an old pram and basically took them round in that but my horse was stable/field so I didn't really have to take the buggy in the field which is difficult if its muddy or rutted.
On the odd occasion silly mare wouldn't come to gate when called I remember shoving the buggy through mud and being on the edge of tears cos the damn thing was stuck, freezing cold and horses getting a bit too interested. Mind you that was with 2 of them in buggy so bit heavier.
It kind of depends how happy yours is to sit quietly and watch or if he wants to get out and move around. The crawling/cruising stage was difficult cos they want to move but wobble/fall etc so need constant watching.
And then they start climbing things they shouldn't, sticking their arms in freezing water, dropping things in piles of poo & trying to eat them etc.
Oh its all fun!!

Ranthambore · 25/02/2013 00:06

I've carried DD in a carrier on my back fairly often although it takes twice as long to get anything done as I'm more careful. I've also been known to make a playpen in the yard with a few hay bales, rug in the middle and pop the small person in the middle with something to play with.

Booboostoo · 25/02/2013 09:16

I think you need to make your own mind up on this one as it depends on at least three things:

  • how chilled out is your baby? DD was clingey and difficult at that age. She would not stay in a pram on her own, bfed constantly and had to have full body contact so it was impossible to do anything with her. However, I have heard of people whose angelic babies sleep in the car or pram with no trouble.

  • how safe are your horses?
  • what is your attitude to risk?

These two are related. I have heard all sorts of stories including people parking the pram in the middle of the field and riding round it. Not for me I am afraid!

My horses are flighty and silly. Over the years I have had loads of accidents handling, from being knocked over to having a horse hit me on the head while rearing. I am also quite PFB about DD so there is no way I would handle horses with her strapped to me or with a pram in one hand. For me yards are dangerous places, at any moment you can have a loose horse wrecking havoc, so DD is always with an adult who is 100% focused on her (we have the horses at home).
Pixel · 25/02/2013 10:07

I wouldn't try to do horses with a 9 month old strapped to me. I tried taking dd to the cash and carry once and really struggled to bend and lift things on to the trolley, can't imagine being able to do hay/poo pick very easily! I tried a back carrier with ds but he was constantly trying to climb out which wasn't much fun (yours might not be such a Houdini). There is also the danger aspect. When ds was tiny something frightened our ponies while I was by the gate and I was knocked down and trampled. Thankfully I was fine (lost my glasses!) but I was so glad I hadn't had the children with me or still been pregnant. We'd had our boys 20 years by then and that was the nearest I'd ever come to being injured by them so you really never know.

A lot depends on the layout of your place. Can you get the car right in there? Would it be in view of passing public or quite private if left parked? I think a pram is definitely the way to go, especially if it's the sort where baby can sit up and play with toys rather than be strapped in tightly lying down (we added an old-fashioned type harness so that ours could sit up/lie down as they wished rather than using the built-in straps which were very restrictive. They were much happier to sit and play then), as long as you have somewhere safe to put it and you won't need to go out of sight for too long at a time. We are on grass livery and a friend has a fenced-off corner of the field so the pram is safe from horses but always in her full view while she poo-picks. She has a bit of a walk to her paddock so she's got one of those four-wheeled trolleys like you get at the garden centre rather than a wheelbarrow. She puts hay and feeds on it and pulls it behind her while pushing twins in a buggy. Another girl had one baby so she'd put him in the wheelbarrow in his car seat, along with the hay! If you are thinking of the car as the better option don't forget you will need somewhere shady to park it if we ever get a summer. Don't underestimate how stressful it feels leaving the baby in the car if you have to go out of earshot/sight for a few minutes, that was the worst bit for me, my imagination went into overdrive!

Cydonia · 25/02/2013 22:06

Thanks for the replies everyone, definitely some food for thought there. I think it will depend on the weather and what kind of mood DS is in. I can park fairly close if I can get my car into the driveway ( field and stables are at the house of the lady who owns them ) but that's not always possible. Plus I don't think DS will sit in his car seat for long enough, though I have tried it once and he stayed asleep. But it was a bit of a pain as I had to keep going to check on him.

I might try taking the pram down, he is generally quite happy in it. I would be able to leave it outside the gate until I've got the horses secured, then push him in and could leave it in an empty stable so he's out of the way.

I think I'd be too nervous of a carrier for now, the horses are a bit flighty as one is an 8 month old colt ( though only a pony ) and the other two are very greedy so there does tend to be a bit of a scuffle at feeding time.

I guess it will be a bit of trial and error, but I think I'll try and find a baby sitter first if I can!

OP posts:
pandaptogether · 26/02/2013 13:41

It depends on your baby and locality to fields and stables.

I wouldn't lead a horse with baby strapped onto me. I used to put mine in the buggy

and muck out with buggy outside the stable as quickly as possible.

I wouldn't ride with the baby unattended, i had a very sicky baby and worry if I couldnt see him
.It was very stressful and i relied a lot on my family to watch the baby for me.

Could you muck out on your return from work before you collect baby?

discobeaver · 27/02/2013 08:46

If you would feel happy with someone else riding your horse perhaps you could see if there is anyone willing to swap a few hours babysitting for riding?
I think the reality of horse plus baby will be too much, you won't be able to give enough attention to either.
Maybe ask around local livery yards/pony club/riding club for a suitable person?

discobeaver · 27/02/2013 08:51

I can't imagine riding around the baby in a pram. What if you fell off and the horse kicked/knocked the pram over? Madness.

NotGoodNotBad · 27/02/2013 20:12

A woman at our yard does this - rides round her baby in a pram, even jumps - and her horse is pretty big and not entirely predictable Shock). One time I was talking to her in the school (I was sitting on my pony, she was standing on the ground, and she had her buggy with child in it). My pony, for no apparent reason, suddenly leapt a couple of feet sideways! (Not into the buggy, luckily.) Don't think I would have ridden around mine. DD1 was a big howler too, could never have left her in the car while I rode.

Cydonia · 28/02/2013 04:01

It is stressing me out to be honest! I've been trying to find someone to share or loan my horse for over a year but not had any luck. The trouble is that he's 19, and has had health and lameness problems so is not always sound. My MIL has said she doesn't mind having DS and my dad helps out too but I feel like I'm palming him off all the time!

Today I ended up taking DS to A&E after I managed to trip over the dog and fall while carrying him in the sling. Thankfully I managed to roll as I landed so I didn't squash him but he did bang his head a bit, though he got the all clear from the doctor. So that's definitely put me off baby wearing for a bit!

I can't imagine riding with DS in his pram either, it's maybe ok if your horse and baby are both very placid but definitely not for me!

OP posts:
Booboostoo · 28/02/2013 11:54

Oh dear you are having a tough time! I am so glad DS wasn't hurt but I imagine you are quite shook up from the experience so everything is going to feel more difficult and more negative. I recently let DD fall out of the bed, while standing right next to her, she landed on a headstand with all her body pushing against her neck...DP found both of us crying! Luckily she was fine but accidents do shake your confidence!

Is it possible to move your horse to assisted grass livery where he will live out but the YO will keep an eye on him so you don't have to go up everyday? Or is it possible for the people you keep your horse with to look after him as well for a small fee?

The weather is getting better and everything will feel easier! Also DCs change a lot at this age so you may find that by next winter things are easier.

equiliteral · 07/03/2013 22:48

Sorry, coming to this v late but I do this almost every day. Usually I have DS2 (22 months) with me as DS1 (4) is at nursery; sometimes (school holidays) I have both boys.

I have 2 ways of doing this. One is to time it for DS2's nap; he will sleep in the car and let me get on with things. I can't get the car particularly close to the field / box, but it is always within sight (and in a lane off the road), and my monitor works at that distance, which I would estimate is about 30/40m (it can run off batteries as well as the mains - a BT one).

The other option (the one I usually have to do, as I tend to go up when DS1 is at nursery in the morning and therefore it's not nap time) is to use a buggy / buggy & sling combo. Basically I either let DS2 walk if the ground is reasonably dry and weather OK, or I pop him in the sling, and sort all of the bits I need in the tack / feed room. At this point I've not done anything actually with horses. Then I head over to the field / box (box is in the field) with all of the stuff I need (in a big blue IKEA bag!), at which point I have a cheap buggy that stays in a bunker over there. I park DS2 in the buggy, catch and tie up my horse, and deal with him. DS2 is close by but out of horse-reach (if wet I tend to pop DS2 in the box with the door open and deal with my horse outdoors; if dry I'll usually take my horse in and have DS2 outside looking in). Once I'm done, DS2 gets to pat and cuddle some ponies, then the buggy goes away, and it's back in the sling or just a toddle over to sort out whatever we need to.

I don't fill haynets on the whole, I use a hay bar or just pop it in the field.

If I have DS1 he just tags along with me and is pretty sensible - he has been reliable and able to keep out of horses way etc since about 3.5. I just have to remember to turn the electric fence off.

As a proviso though my DS2 is fairly happy to sit in a buggy (with a snack and my singing to him!), and my horse is as trustworthy as you'll find and in a field on his own, and I'm not riding at the moment (have never really managed to get in any decent riding with a baby in tow).

Good luck - you will find your routine. It has been fairly grim this winter; full wind and waterproof baby / toddler clothing a must. But on the few spring-like days we've had lately it's been positively pleasant.

karenski · 12/03/2013 20:56

I used to do this with DS from birth to about age 2. He was a v chilled out baby though, and I got some lovely ladies on my yard to turn out and bring in in winter so I could just go down at my leisure during the day to muck out and do feeds etc. I used to do on of the following depending on age, weather, etc;

Time visits to coincide with nap time, do as much as possible when baby asleep in car (used to park right on yard by my box though)
Catch horse first thing on arrival with baby still in car, then baby in pram. Keep horse tied on yard and baby in stable, or vice versa. When DS was older he used to toddle around 'helping' with water buckets, mixing feed etc, he loved it although was v slow and messy!
Or go down in the dark at around 8pm after bedtime when DH around to look after DS - my least favourite as then had to bring in DHorse and his field mate in dark and mud, but had to be done once I was back at work.

It is tricky and you will need some help on days when weather is atrocious or baby is sick. I also trained DH up in basic horse care so he could (and did) step in if need be. I never took DS into the field, or anywhere any horses were loose, although I did lead my horse while pushing the pram (was saintly horse and v sturdy pram) I also don't think a sling would work, sorry, too much bending over.

But saying that although it can be stressful it can also work out and on the whole I think DS loved it and it was good for both of us to get outside and do stuff. Agree with previous poster re good clothing, also mini mucking out forks, broom and wheelbarrow for toddlers are great. Plus i found the yard biscuit tin a great help too! I used to fill dozens of Haynets on the weekend when I had more time, and did a semi deep litter on rubber mats with skipping out only on. Weekdays. Good luck am sure you will make it work!

Elansofar · 16/03/2013 17:00

Hi there's some really good advice here and I've been through it myself and I had no one at all to help apart from neighbours or paid childminders.

Prepare to be extremely frustrated at times. Try to coincide yard activity with nap times. Be prepared to have baby in a back pack sometimes. Be prepared not to get much done at times when baby ill or teething. Accept that your horses are not going to be best turned out anymore and your yard and tack will be unkempt.

Find a safe area for parking buggy or prams. Remember that the safest place on a farm or stable yard for baby is the car, strapped in the car seat. In bad weather try to park the car where you can keep regular eyes on baby. Have good baby nursery music playing in car. Have snacks on hand when they get older, and by the time they are a toddler give them an iPad!

Never leave baby close to stock no matter how safe or predictable you think they are. Just don't do it. Be aware that toddlers can easily tip into water troughs to so don't let your toddler out to toddle unless you can keep eyes on them. Consider locking them in a tractor cab to play where they can pretend to drive and watch you frantically feeding stock or riding around a manage from a safe position.

Don't be hard on yourself when things aren't going well and things aren't getting done, and be prepared to ask favours off friends if you need someone to attend for vets etc, you will repay them in time! I am frustrated all the time, but I will never give up my horses and my ds will defo be an outdoor child!

Good luck.

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