Whether you’ve ridden right through your pregnancy or you gave up the moment you found out you were expecting, getting back into the saddle is a big step. I’m going to tell you my story of getting back into riding after children and a few tips that will hopefully help you get back in the saddle yourself.
I rode up until I was 5 months pregnant with Freya (my first baby) and got back into the saddle about 5 months after having her (via emergency c section). I felt ready to get back into it and it was very handy that we were living opposite the yard where my pony was kept at the time.
I lunged Lucky a few times before getting on to get the ‘fizz’ out of him then took the plunge to hop on. Well actually Ben (my husband) got on him first as I was so nervous, I’m not afraid to admit it as he was a little bugger of a pony! He would try every trick in the book and after time off you can just imagine how he was. However of course he was lovely for Ben, they had a gentle walk round the school and I thought “well if he can do it I can too!” so I grabbed my hat and Ben legged me up. All was going fine, we were walking round the school both ways, we even had a trot. Changed the rein again, went to go into trot and he exploded, big time! After about the 3rd buck and drop of the shoulder I hit the deck, not ideal for my first time back onboard. My core strength and balance had gone, but my determination had not. I shouted to my husband to “PASS ME A WHIP!”, got legged up and started again. As I predicted, Lucky tried it on again but I was ready for the little bugger this time! Reins in one hand, whip in the other we had a little ‘to do’ and then all was well and he never tried it again. I was so pleased with myself that I got straight back on, could ride his bucks and we ended the ride on a good note. And yes I did ache the next day!
After Freya I didn’t manage to get much riding in as I wanted as we soon moved house and Lucky to a yard which wasn’t as ideal to have a baby around so once again riding was on the back burner and then I fell pregnant again. Toby was about a year old before I got back in the saddle again properly. Unfortunately I lost Lucky before I was back in the saddle after Toby. However we moved Conker to a lovely yard where a lady was looking for someone to help her exercise her horses. A BIG hunter called Wonk, he’s a bit of a plonker. Spooky, scared of his own shadow but he is lovely to ride. So thats how I really got back into the saddle properly after children. Twice a week I would ride out with her and it was lovely. From there I have taken on a part time job at the yard working with hunters and liveries. When I’m there it feels like I have never been away from horses and its fantastic. I’m hoping to get a couple of days out hunting this season and the plan is for next year once Freya is at school to look in to getting another horse for myself.
Here are a of my few tips about getting back in the saddle after children:
- Do it when its right for you. Whether that be 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years. Whenever you feel ready is the right time. Don’t feel pressured by others or put pressure on yourself to be back in the saddle by a certain time.
- Try and choose a day when the weather will be kind to you. No one really wants to be getting back on a horse after a break in wind and rain. Nicer weather will make it much more pleasurable.
- If your horse is a bit on the ‘wild side’ or has been turned away for ‘maternity leave’ don’t be afraid to ask someone to exercise them for you the first few times. Or like I did, a spin on the lunge (not that it helped me haha).
- If you can, sit on a horse that you know and trust for the first few times. Whether you’ve ridden through your pregnancy or not everything changes after having a baby, two words – core strength! Even though I’m a fairly competent rider I’m not afraid to admit I was quite nervous about getting back on after a bit of a break and 2 children. It was actually more the thought of getting on and what could happen. Once I was in the saddle and moving about I was fine.
- Listen to your body. Don’t try and do to much to soon. It really takes it out of you growing, having and looking after small people (it’s bloody exhausting). Even if for the first few times you get back on is just 15 minutes walking round the school or a pootle down the lane and back its all steps in the right direction.
- Don’t feel guilty for having time to yourself. Time away from “mummy duties” will do you the world of good. You have to make the time to do something for yourself and enjoy it!
- Don’t feel disappointed if you’ve “lost your nerve” it happens to a lot of mummy riders. So what if you can’t get on all the crazy beasts you used to without batting a eyelid or you used to not give jumping the biggest of fences a second thought. Having children does change you and if that means you aren’t as brave as you were before so what?! The more you do the better it becomes, you’ll get there again it just may take some time.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my getting back in the saddle story and found some of these tips useful for your journey back into the saddle. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not there yet. It took me pretty much a year after Toby to feel ready to really want to get back into it.