By Jenny Mills.
British Eventing with babies! As any serious horse rider will understand, the fear of not being able to continue riding at the same level after a baby is not a welcoming prospect. But is possible to keep riding at the same level after a baby?
British Eventing with babies is a challenge, but it is possible!
Coping With Training and Eventing With Kids
I was pregnant with my first baby, running my digital marketing agency, and caring for my 4 horses, 4 cats and 3 dogs whilst living mostly alone. My husband is in the navy and as any armed forces wife will know, this means long periods alone. Or at best weekend visits once or twice per month. I desperately wanted a family but was terrified if I would cope.
Can You Horse Ride Pregnant?
Horse riding whilst pregnant is not advised by the professionals. But as an avid rider, professionals don’t understand the importance of riding for our mental and physical wellbeing. I had finished off my last eventing season in the 100’s and didn’t want to miss more than one season (the season I was pregnant) if at all possible. In fact, I had fully intended to Event for the beginning of my pregnancy. Turns out I suffer from terrible morning sickness in trimester one, so I had to ask a friend to take my ride. But I did still continue to ride and train. At 27 weeks I was really beginning to show, and the wobbles set in. I was still having regular lessons and jumping 1.10m at home. I went on holiday for a week, and after a week off, I decided it was time for me to stop. You have to listen to your head. I cannot condone riding at all during pregnancy. But I can condone doing what is right for you and your own personal wellbeing. But, if you do decide to continue riding, don’t put yourself out of your own comfort zone. Don’t put your horse or self in any challenging circumstance. And most of all, listen! When you don’t feel comfortable, it is time to stop! Give your horse a holiday, or find someone to help. For me, my sister was on hand to step in.
Does Having A Baby Knock Your Confidence?
It turns out that once you are pregnant you begin to experience fear. Even if you have never experienced this before, a baby is sure to teach you this feeling! I had always been too gutsy! So this was not an easy feeling for me to comprehend! After the baby, my confidence came straight back. I waited the advised 4 weeks of the midwife before getting on and I took things at my own pace. It took months before I could jump without a little wee!! How do you strengthen your pelvic floor again? Rising canter helps, but any horseriding will bring this back quickly.
3 months after having Millie, my sister bought a new horse and lost confidence. She bought a very lovely and talented horse, but by now she had fallen in love with my Showjumper and built her confidence with him. Plus he didn’t seem to want to be an eventer and struggled with water combinations! So we swapped. This really challenged me. She had more talent than I had ever been able to enjoy. But was quirky, had an enormous and needed a lot of work. She jumped big, but like a swan. had no idea how to use her body to its potential and was behind the bridle. I spent months crying, thinking I would never have the confidence to event again. I missed the next season.
By the following January, I had reached breaking point. I had to give myself an ultimatum. Fix things with Echo by Spring and find my confidence again or find her a good home.
Be Kind To Yourself, Forget The Haters
Take your time and set an action plan. You have to decide if you really want to break your fears, or if this will take you too far. Do what is right for you. With the support of my husband (travelling 12 hours north then south each weekend to babysit) I started booking in for one to ones. By June I had the confidence to book a little 80 One Day Event. This was a huge step for me and if we hadn’t had a stop at the water (my fault), we would have won the class. With this under my belt, the hunger hit and I started back training with my serious event coach, Fiona Pearson (now Stuart).
British Eventing With Babies
We started small at the 80’s, after three events and three placings, we went up to the 90’s. We were placed in all events bar one in our first season.
Is Your Second Pregnancy Different?
And now, here I am, missing another season – this time due to coronavirus! Plus being pregnant with my second. And guess what! I’m facing the same fears as last time! Can I still event once I have two babies to cope with? So concerned with my fear of being unable to Event with two kids, I moved house! I repositioned myself closer to my family (and my international eventing coach Fiona Stuart. But one thing I do know this time is that if I really want it, and if I put my mind to it, I will get there.