6 Confessions of a Post Partum Horseback Rider

Mar 28, 2014 6 Comments by

Just like no one really volunteers information about the crazy things that happen in a labor and delivery room, no one gave me the heads up on what it was really going to be like getting back in the saddle after having a baby. Two years, two pregnancies, and two deliveries later, I’m still learning the impact motherhood has on my riding life.

I’m sure managing a horse life with babies looks different for the professional and super serious amateur competitor. (You know, the ones who were still showing half-way through pregnancy, riding at eight months pregnant, and have a schedule and childcare that allows for plenty of barn time). But I would guess that the majority of horse-loving women are a little more like me: the casual rider fitting a horse into an already too-full lifestyle of husband, kids, work, home, and ministry.

Here are some of my confessions and lessons learned about what it’s really been like getting back in the saddle after having two babies.

Confession 1: Ouch!

My post-baby body doesn’t react to getting back in the saddle as easily as in my younger, leaner, fitter, less physically traumatized years. Duh. What I didn’t expect, though, was how much harder it was going to be after the second baby. I was back riding three weeks after I delivered my oldest, and despite the expected lack of fitness did pretty well.

However, six weeks after welcoming my second baby and three weeks after just one short ride, I’m still in pain (and going to the chiropractor three times a week). I developed faciitis  in my hip (a chronic tightness of the muscle) that, in addition to pain, compresses my sciatic nerve and shoots pain and tingling all the way to my foot. Lovely. 

I’m healthy and pretty fit, but two pregnancies in two years made me quite prone to injury and pain when I got back in the saddle – even when I take it easy. Ouch!

Confession 2: No Trot Warm Up

Please don’t tell the warm up police, but when I finally got to ride for the first time in six months, I didn’t do a trot warm up. Lets just say that when you are riding three weeks after a vaginal delivery, a hunter/jumper background and well-honed two-point come in really handy. Ace and I walked and cantered. I quickly ditched any attempts at trotting, posting or otherwise.

Confession 3: The Value of a Sports Bra

I’m not particularly well-endowed, so sitting trot has never been uncomfortable no matter how well supported I was. Until I had a baby. And nursed that baby for a year. I very quickly learned the importance of wearing good support. I’m sure many of you already knew that – but lesson learned for this small-chested rider.

Confession 4: The 2.5 Hour Time Limit

With a nursing baby at home, I’m on the clock when I head to the barn. I pretty much have 2.5 hours from the time I walk out the door until the time I need to walk back through it. That includes driving, grooming, tacking, riding, talking, and getting distracted. A hungry baby isn’t as understanding as my husband if my “I’ll be home at 4″ is more like 4:30 or 5:00. (My hubby knows perfectly well that I never get home from the barn when I say I’m going to).

Confession 5: My Tack is Dirty

It kills me, oh it kills me. But I don’t have time to wipe down my tack every time I ride. Ok, let’s be honest. These days I’m happy if I get to clean it a few times a year. This morning, I even forgot to rinse off Ace’s bit. Refer to Confession #4.

Confession 6: I Question “Is It Worth It?”

Every day I wonder if it’s really worth having a horse that I only see a few times a month, ride even less, can barely afford, and that puts my out-of-shape post pregnancy body in constant pain.

The answer is yes. Yes, it absolutely is. Despite the time restraints, fitness issues, and financial strain that horse is my happy place. Even if I only make it out once every few weeks to be reminded of that. 

 Can you riding mothers relate to any of these confessions? Do you have confessions of your own to add to this list?

For more like this, see Confessions of a Working Mother, Wife, and Horse Woman written after I had my first child. 

Babies & Horses, Women and Horses, Wynsome Ace

6 Responses to “6 Confessions of a Post Partum Horseback Rider”

  1. Dr. M says:

    This is perfect timing. I just had my first baby 12 days ago and I haven’t seen my horse in 2 weeks. My plans of getting back in the saddle 2-3 weeks post partum have been shattered by the aftermath of a traumatic delivery. It now looks like it will be a minimum of 6 weeks. I stopped riding him at 12 weeks pregnant and although I’ve sat on him a few times since, it’s killing me that it’s taking so long. And I didn’t even think about the nursing dilemma until the last few days when I started feeling better enough to even think about going to the barn. I know it will get better as my body heals and my baby gets on more of a predictable schedule, but right now it looks bleak. :/

  2. Melinda says:

    Have to admit this is really discouraging. Appreciate the real life look. But yeah. Very discouraging.

  3. Jackie says:

    Dr. M – congrats on the new baby! I didn’t see my horse for a month around when I had this baby. Torture for me, but the horse survived just fine. I’ve discovered that his time off has actually been really good for him physically. These first couple months are the hardest as everyone adjusts, but before you know it you will have baby, nursing, and schedules worked out, including horse time. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and some good riding between nursing!

    Melinda – it’s not my intent to discourage! Refer to Confession 6: it really is all worth it. Having a baby certainly changes what life with horses looks like…but even the limitations are better than no horse at all. I suppose I should do a follow up post on that topic. :) Every person, horse, and situation is different. Best wishes to you for a happy healthy baby and horse!

  4. Bonita says:

    I so feel you on this – my second little one will be 1 on Friday, but I am still on a 2 1/2 hour time limit every time I visit my horse, and I’m lucky if I get to see him twice a week – let alone the three-four rides per week schedule I have been aiming for the last oh? Three years since my eldest was born?

    Its hard, but like you said, so worth it, because that one time I do get to ride a week just reminds me why I love it so, and why I could never give my pony up – no matter how hard it gets.

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  5. Val says:

    One of my most painful riding experiences came when my baby was almost 1 yrs old; my ever-supportive folks had accompanied me to a competitive event in SW TX, volunteering to babysit so I could RIDE…
    When I came in from my next-to-last loop, my baby boy had fallen ASLEEP just as I was reaching maximum engorgement! I pumped briefly but didn’t get a great letdown (in a tent, in the heat!) so I rode my last loop mostly at a walk – it was SO PAINFUL to trot even if I crossed my arms across my chest. A true endurance test ;-)

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