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The tack room

Reality of juggling horses

9 replies

Lemonpink88 · 21/01/2023 14:35

I’m looking for some advice please as unsure if I’m stretching myself too thin or not working my time effectively. How do mums of young children manage to keep their horses fit/ competition ready?
For context I have two preschool aged children and I work part time in a stressful role. I have a limited support network with my DH generally working a 6 day week of leaving early/back late. Iv my horse & a pony who I’m lucky enough to live in the field next to our home however iv no sandschool/limited facilities.
Now my children are a little older I’m ready to get my lovley little horse competition fit again for this coming season but I just don’t know how people do it? Any time I seem to be able to ride iv got the children or I’m working. I muck out & do my yard chores early before they wake up or gone to bed. i just keep feeling so rubbish attending clinics and others horses are beautifully turned out & theyv been at x y z over the winter. So how do do people do it? I used to be able to when I worked full time but is it possible to compete at not even a high level but say BE 90 & solo parent/work? Any tips? Or shall I just just wait and ride when I’m a little less needed and enjoy the horses for the gorgeous animals they are rather than chasing ribbons like I did pre-kids?

OP posts:
Greatly · 21/01/2023 14:41

If it helps I chucked mine out in the field for nearly 5 months last year while dd had an operation. She got on and hacked for 2 weeks then went straight out and did a Be90 and was placed. Don't worry just do what you can

Floralnomad · 21/01/2023 14:43

I put all of ours except the Shetland on full livery when I was pregnant ( difficult pregnancy ) and my late mother could deal with the Shetland .

Forthelast · 21/01/2023 14:48

You will probably have to enjoy riding for its own sake for a season. Realistically, you would need full livery so all you have to do is turn up and ride - or employ separate childcare while riding, same as if you were working.

Unless you ride at the crack of dawn once the lighter mornings come?

Competitive riders with small children tend to have a very supportive mum in the wings, a groom or a nanny. Maybe there is a teenager who would help you out for a couple of nights a week, again when the lighter evenings come. I'm confused about where you'll school, though. It doesn't sound like there's time to travel somewhere.

ToddlerTerror · 21/01/2023 14:56

I event at BE novice/2* level, have a 2.5 year old and work full time, and have no facilities bar stables and field at home.
It is hard but things have been made easier by my job allowing me to work from home so I can ride in my lunch break while my DD is at nursery. My DH works long days but is around on the weekend to give me an hour or two to quickly hack.
Events are a bit trickier and I have to book my mum for my events for the year in January to make sure I have cover for my DD.
Just remember, they don't have to be super fit to do BE90, most have enough fitness just from hacking and occasional schooling.

Lemonpink88 · 21/01/2023 18:53

Thanks guys, some good food for thought! I like the teenager idea! @ToddlerTerror you sound very hard working, I struggle with not having a school, can you school in your field when weather/ground allows?

OP posts:
ToddlerTerror · 21/01/2023 19:39

Lemonpink88 · 21/01/2023 18:53

Thanks guys, some good food for thought! I like the teenager idea! @ToddlerTerror you sound very hard working, I struggle with not having a school, can you school in your field when weather/ground allows?

My field is on the side of the hill so can't ride it in. I am lucky in that I can hire an arena down the road so I try to do that as much as I can. I probably should school mine more than I do but funds don't always allow that and we seem to be managing okay so far.

CountryCob · 22/01/2023 16:46

Like @ToddlerTerror I have a 7 year old and steep field, have just hopefully managed to rent some flat land to ride in nearby aa hard to get to a school. I have 3 which are my own horse, pony and a youngster who is starting in hand education. In reality my time is stretched across them and especially the school day in terms of drop off and pick up and holidays I am usually sole childcare. I go to about a competition or so a year but what I really like to go to is camps with my horse. Eland Lodge do one if that is anywhere near you. Please don't compare yourself with others I used to try to keep up with my friends who have more help at home and not feel good enough but now I realise that even if I am just grooming my horse that is OK. I do love to ride still though, thankfully the hacking is good and I love hacking. In the future I hope to return to more routine training and competing but not right now. That said if you want to that is great, just make sure you set yourself realistic aims. For me the struggle is to schedule enough riding in for fitness to be there for both of us and time to learn tests/ plait etc although love it when I do. That is why clinics work well for me and I have a few I do regularly. Good luck and enjoy your horse

CountryCob · 22/01/2023 18:46

Would also add that I work three days a week in a busy job, child and pony do pony club, all three of mine are grey and land is a little inaccessible and has been in depth renovated to a yard in the last couple of years. I used to think that after the baby and toddler stage things would get easier and in a lot of ways they have but school hours are much shorter and there is more to do with homework/ packed lunch and fitting in activities like swimming around the school day - after it and at the weekend, when I used to do them during the day when I was off.

maxelly · 23/01/2023 14:10

I don't think there's a magic formula or trick you're missing, IMO to make competitive riding + job + being a parent to small children work you need help with the children, the horse or both. TBH I'm impressed you're managing to keep on top of just looking after the horse on DIY without your DH around unless you only work really part-time and have the kids in full-time childcare?

The pre-school/toddler age is the most difficult to have around horses IMO, smaller than that and they could be carried around in a sling or parked in a buggy whilst you do at least some jobs, older they can be trusted to sit somewhere warm/sheltered with a screen or a book without having your eyes on them 100% of the time for a little while, but at the pre-school age, no chance. But it will get easier as they get older, for sure.

But it isn't a binary 'ride competitively and win loads of rosettes' or 'don't ride at all and just enjoy them as animals' thing, how many hours can you spare for the horse a week? I'd prioritize what gives you most enjoyment within your time budget, whether that's hacking or competing or socialising or just spending time around the horse. Personally I do like to compete but turnout and looking good is the least important to me so I'll happily turn up at the yard at the last possible minute, bung pony on the box and roll off to a clinic or local comp, he's clean enough for the tack to be comfortable and we don't trail straw/poo/mud all over the lovely fancy venue or anything but spending hours bathing and plaiting and polishing just for an unaffiliated SJ or a fun ride or clinic ain't for me I'm afraid (helps if your horse is dark coloured, of course mine is grey so my slovenly ways are out there for all to see). But I know some people find all that very therapeutic so if that's you then fair, but if that means an outing turns from a 2-3 hour thing to taking all day than you might need to do it less often. Nor am I as competitive as I was when younger, I have a less expensive horse, less prep time and not as much professional help as others so not winning doesn't bother me (although it's nice to see scores/results improve with practice). Getting the horse (and yourself!) fit enough to do occasional fun rides or unaffiliated hunter trials or XC schooling where you can set your own pace and pull up when it's too much without having wasted £££ or got an affiliated non-completion on your record might be a more achievable aim than doing a full season BE. Riding clubs often have friendly, low key dressage and SJ leagues which often are more suitable and affordable for people with other commitments than the same at affiliated venues - it's all about managing your expectations and priorities. That being said if you are serious about competing you might need to look at moving to a livery yard with facilities - you can do a lot towards fitness and schooling out hacking so it's not that per se but getting help with the horse and/or a sharer is a lot easier on livery than DIY IME...

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