After my daughter was born I felt like a huge part of me was missing. I really struggled with letting go of who I used to be and embracing my new role as my tiny humans live in slave. I was simultaneously celebrating my new role as a mum, and grieving the loss of who I used to be. Melodramatic? Maybe. But, as a mum, I am sure that you understand how the arrival of a baby can also bring on the arrival of a MAJOR identity crisis. Fast forward 16 months, and I’m now back doing the sport I love. But let me tell y’all now that it is not without its challenges. Learning to ride the first time was a difficult enough, learning to re-ride after having a baby, well that takes the cake. That’s why today I wanted to get a little bit personal and talk about the things that no one tells you about returning to horse riding after babies…
Riding is harder
Like, a lot.
When I started riding lessons again recently I had been out of the saddle for a good 2-3 years, and everything I did before that was pleasure riding. I’m not even going to count the two lessons I had last year because they seem pretty insignificant compared to now riding every week.
I found returning to riding very difficult physically. I’m attributing part of it to the fact that my daughter was delivered by emergency c-section and that my core strength (and as a result, my balance) was, and is still, pretty poor.
Aside from being physically difficult, it’s also harder in a lot of other ways. There are time constraints, having to justify to your spouse or family why you want to ride, finding someone to mind the kids, the lack of funds that having a baby and being on maternity leave bring… I could go on. Being a mum and having a child throws a whole other level of difficulty into the equation.
Riding is scarier
For me, this was definitely a big one. I struggled with confidence issues before I had my daughter and they didn’t disappear after she was born. If anything they were something I thought about even more. Having this tiny human rely solely on me was scary, because what would happen to her and how would her life be impacted if I got injured or hurt whilst riding.
I must admit I still get nervous before each ride but what I’ve found has really helped is taking structured lessons and having a coach who pushes me outside my comfort zone in a safe and secure space. I’m able to celebrate little wins, and each little win feels like a step to overcoming that nervousness.
Riding can still be fun
It’s true y’all horse riding after babies is WAY more enjoyable.
As a mum, you are constantly on the go. You are constantly attending to someone else’s needs and wants. You are very rarely taking some time for yourself. And that is exactly why horse riding after babies (or BC, before children) is way more fun.
It’s time where you can unwind, forget about the ever-growing pile of baby clothes, or nappy changes, or bed and bath routines. It’s time for you to switch off and just enjoy the hobby you love.
I don’t know about you, but I totally took my horse time BC for granted… and the fact that I get to slot one child-free hour into my week to play horse is just pure bliss. It’s true, you appreciate the things you love more after you have kids!
Horse riding after babies makes you a better mum
They say that you can’t take care of others unless you first take care of yourself. To me, horse riding is a form of self-care. It’s allowing myself some time away from the daily grind of being a mama to recharge my batteries.
I don’t know about you but I (nearly) always leave a riding lesson on a high. Those happy endorphins just flow right through me after a lesson and I always come home to my family with a smile on my face.
I like to think that many of the skills I’m learning in the arena can also be transferred over to being a mum. When we work with horses we have to be patient, we have to be steady, we need to think things through and make informed decisions. These aren’t things we are inherently born knowing, they are learned skills… and what’s more, they’re transferable skills. You can take them and apply them elsewhere… even to being a mum!
Finally, I believe that in pursuing my passion, in showing dedication to lessons and in proving my want and need to develop my skills as a rider that I am setting a good example for my daughter.
What was the hardest part about returning to horse riding after babies for you? Let me know in the comments below!
Read our blog on preparing for a riding lesson as an adult here.