Riding After Kids

Alright parents new and old. DH and I are thinking it’s getting time to start our family. We both see our future with a kiddo in it. We moved into our new build on our 20 acres last year. We’re approaching our 5 year anniversary. We both have decent jobs and are doing ok financially.

I’m a planner, so all of the unknowns freak me out a little (or a lot some days). If I think about a couple years from now, we’re happy with a young kid. But when I think about actually being pregnant and taking care of an infant…I think pushing it off sounds better. But I’ve felt that way for a long time. A big part of us putting it off is me not wanting to give up riding. Both during the later stages of pregnancy, and when taking care of an infant. So many people have told me that I’ll want to give up riding and/or not have the time to ride. And talking about this with family and friends is hard because unless you’re a horse person, I’m just viewed as selfish (and maybe I am but whatever). And of the women I know who ride and have kids, a lot of them did take a couple years off.

Am I crazy and overthinking it all? Any advice or words of wisdom? How much time off did you take from riding when having kids? Would you have done anything differently?

FWIW we keep two geldings at home. One is a semi-retired trail horse who is the epitome of beginner friendly and calm (perfect future kid horse). One is my OTTB who I ride/train/show in dressage.

I’ll share my experience but with the disclaimer that I have only one kid and he’s only 15 months old…so I’m still early in this “post-children” lifestyle. I stressed A LOT about how it was going to work and honestly the answer is, if it’s important to you you make it happen.

I stopped “real” riding around 5 months pregnant. I had SPD so riding was causing crippling hip / pelvis pain. However I would still go out and walk (occasionally trot) around on my mare when I really needed the mental health boost – I just paid for it physically afterwards. 3-4 weeks before my due date I had my mare started back into work by a trainer. She’s green and I wanted at least one of us to be tuned up before we started back up again together.

I had an incredibly straightforward delivery and was back riding at 3 weeks. Trainer would warm her up, I would walk / trot for ~15 minutes and slowly built up from there. Back fully riding around 6-8 weeks post-partum but honestly didn’t feel 100% myself again until 7-8 months post-partum. I was secure and competent in the saddle but 7-8 months was when I felt like my old self again.

Currently I get out to the barn to ride 4-5 x a week and I’m back doing weeky lessons with my trainer. Planning to get my mare out competing this season and to attend a few clinics (including a 3-day off-site ‘bootcamp’ at the end of April). I’m able to do this because my husband is a fully engage co-parent and I have a flexible enough job that I can fit in a ride during work hours (when child is at daycare) and then just work a couple hours in the evening after child is in bed.

What my set-up has that makes it easier to still fit in barn time:

  • Fully engaged husband as well as parents in the vicinity who will watch child for a couple hours some weekends (so SO and I can both fit in our hobbies without playing hot-potato with the baby)
  • Flexible job that is 100% WFH right now (no commute time is a godsend)
  • Horse at full service boarding facility 5 minutes down the road that I trust completely to care for her (so I just need to show up, ride, leave)
  • Very easy delivery and relatively easy child
  • Selfishness to prioritize my hobbies…

Yeah, I’m selfish. I own it. I need my “me” time and I prefer that me time at the barn. Honestly I think it makes me a better parent that demonstrates to my child (once he’s older) to set healthy boundaries in relationships and to prioritize things that are important to him.

I feel like I have a great rhythm to balance work, relationship, child, and horse right now.

But what keeps me up at night? Figuring out how I’m going to make it work when #2 arrives (which we’re hoping for next year)…


I rode with my first one until I was about six months along. At that point it was just not as comfortable, mostly due to not fitting my saddle well.

Didn’t ride at all with my second one due to my horse being injured and by the time he was better I did not feel safe getting on a barrel horse that had not been ridden is six months. Six weeks after giving birth I did ride my oldest son’s pony a few times to get him back to respecting his rider. DH was always good to if nothing else let me ride during nap time on a Sunday afternoon.

The older you are the more difficult it will be to get back in riding shape.


But this is not being selfish, though. Being selfish would be doing something that knowingly had a negative impact on someone else. E.g. If you did not have a supportive spouse and/or if your hobby meant that your spouse couldn’t have one of his own (but wanted one.) There is nothing selfish AT ALL about having interests other than your children. I think more people need to remember that!

OP - I learned to ride after I had horses, so I’m not really any help. But there is no right/wrong answer to this question. If you want to ride and have the supports in place to make it happen - you will find the time and you will enjoy it! But it’s also totally normal to not want to keep up with all your interests to the same extent after you have children. That can be temporary or permanent. But it’s your choice.

I was a runner when we adopted our kids and it was hard to find the time to pick it back up again. I did, but sporadically. But I could have made it work if I really wanted to; I just didn’t. Now my kids are late teens, early 20s…and I am a competitive endurance athlete. Things worked out for me. I might not have predicted how, but I like the way it turned out.


I watch the young moms at the barn.

When the baby is small he can sleep in his carrier. When the baby is 5 she can ride Semi independently. But toddlers are very hard to manage in a barn.

If you have someone to watch the baby 2 hours a day you will be fine.


Gosh it just grinds my gears when women are called selfish for actually considering all of the consequences of pregnancy and having a child. It is no small feat, and the mature thing to do is consider all angles and arrive at your decision. Jumping in and popping out babies because mom wants a grandchild, or people keep asking, or you think they’re so cute and people must be exaggerating the difficulties, then being a neglectful or emotionally abusive parent because you’re in over your head - that’s what is selfish.

The actual physical requirements of being pregnant and giving birth are enormous, and it is NOT selfish to be wary of taking on that burden. My twin sister prepped and prepped and prepped, and still the birthing was so much (a normal, complication-free birth) that she strongly considered if she wanted to do it a second time as they had planned.

I think that feeling 100% ready with zero trepidations is extremely rare, and at some point you just have to bite the bullet, accept the possible negatives, and just go for it.

As far as what people are telling you about riding - are they you? Do they have direct knowledge of how your mind and your heart work? Who cares if they think you will (or rather, think you should) give up riding. Plenty of parents have hobbies. It takes a village to raise a child, and if you have a working support system (I.e. spouse that actually parents, other family that helps, friends that help, etc.) then you’ll have no problem finding time to ride.


I am not a parent.

Now that’s out of the way.

What I see amongst my horse peers that have kids is that there are four factors that have the most impact on moms that want to ride.

  1. Supportive partner
  2. Finances
  3. Access to quality child care
  4. Health of child(ren)

I fully agree - and I don’t actually think of myself as selfish, but if other people accuse me of it or (more commonly) imply it with semi-subtle commentary, I embrace it – “yup, I am selfish and I’m OK with that”. That way their digs and comments don’t send me into a spiral of self-doubt and self-criticism.

OP I want to re-iterate what other posters are saying here: If riding is a priority to you and you have in place (or put in place) support systems, it’s relatively straightforward to keep on riding under most circumstances. Maybe not throughout the entire pregnancy and maybe not immediately postpartum…but relatively soon into parenthood it’s possible to be riding.
However - if you rind post-child that your priorities have shifted and time with your kid(s) ranks higher than the barn and your horses…that is a perfectly normal and healthy outcome as well. Don’t feel like you ‘couldn’t hack it’ or ‘couldn’t do it all’. Becoming a mother creates a dramatic shift in your identity and your priorities and that’s 100% normal. Give yourself a grace period post-baby’s arrival to let the dust settle and decide where horses fit into your life right now. Not forever…but right now. And go with that. But don’t let others dictate to you or pressure you into a certain set of priorities.

One last thing - your emotions and priorities shift a lot even in those early months. Yes I started riding at 3 weeks postpartum and it was a sense of relief to get into the car and drive to the barn. But something biological hits and at 60 / 90 / 120 minutes away (got longer as baby got older) from my baby there was a physical NEED to hold / smell / kiss them again. When that switch flipped I was a one track mind to get home again - horse suddenly felt like an obstacle in my way rather than a loved pet.

So give yourself a lot of grace in the early months to just listen to your body / emotions and go with the flow.


This is reality right here, and the things to consider. It bugs me a little when people say things like ‘if it’s important enough you will make it happen’ (sorry EventingMaff!). That is highly dependent on your circumstances, not all of which you can control.

My kid is fine and healthy, but my DH is gone to work 11+ hours of the day, my (outdoor) arena did not have lights until recently, we live in a small town in the country and it’s not financially reasonable to pay a babysitter $30-40 A DAY (yes, babysitters cost ~$15-$20/hour) to come to the house so I can ride. So, I wasn’t able to ride as much as I wanted for the first ~4 years of being a parent, but I did what I could and rode a lot in the evenings during summer. Now my kid is almost 5, and is getting to be responsible enough that she can play in the yard next to my arena. My horse now comes to a complete halt whenever I start hollering my kid’s name (bless him).

I thought I’d just ‘make it happen’, too :joy: but I couldn’t. And that’s OK. I don’t regret anything, I’m not a failure and it doesn’t mean that riding isn’t really important to me. For some people it DOES work out that they still get to ride as much as they want, and still others give it up completely until they have more time or money or help.


I fully agree that support systems in place are necessary to “make it happen” - as I’ve said in my posts and also outlined the necessary support systems that have allowed me to continue riding (I just didn’t happen to caveat that in the particular sentence you quoted Heinz_57)

I didn’t say continuing to ride would just happen easily with no external infrastructure in place to make it possible - and OP if I give that impression let me correct it now: It takes A LOT to make it happen even when you have access to those support systems. But if it’s a priority - it’s possible.


I rode my mare until 7ish months pregnant.

I had her with infant, toddler and sold her at early pre-school. It was too much in finances and time and we were new parents.

DD is turning 6 this May and I purchased an absolute dream horse in November. COVID actually helped us find a work-life balance. Hubby started really enjoying outside time at the barn instead of resenting the “me time” which was some post-baby struggles/adjusting. Now we are a whole equestrian loving family of 3.

I absolutely miss my first mare. I had her before marriage and children and raised her from yearling to 10 years, but she is thriving in her new life. And I don’t regret putting my human family first for a couple of years. I went back to weekly lessons so I had a “me” evening but our family relationship is stronger and we have approached horse ownership a bit differently this time around.


I was on a break from riding for various reasons during the time frame my 2 kids were born. When they were about 4 & 2, I bought my first big pulling team. (Temporary amnesia from lack of sleep or something. :rofl:) I was given an older, solid citizen of a TB after selling them, and have had some sort of horse around ever since. Now ex spouse was not one that pulled his own load in the parenting department. That made it hard. Otoh, I wasn’t attempting to compete when they were young & deliberately sought out low key horses. The toddler thru early elementary school ages are difficult ones because of the high mobility to low risk assessmentt ability /impulse control kids that age generally possess. Hard to leave them alone to amuse themselves in the car or ringside while you ride. And I read an article (maybe on COTH?) about a mom who took a bad fall & was knocked unconscious in front of her 7-8ish yo daughter, who was the only person around. Very traumatic for the child.

My latest issue personally is that one of my kids is now a very serious rider herself & it’s just too expensive for me to do much of my own on top of the cost of hers :scream:

This sounds about as close to ideal as one can hope for. Your motivation is to be commended.

It’s funny, that riding is viewed as selfish by coworkers and the like, but them having their nails done or getting dinner with friends (pre COVID) isn’t viewed as selfish. I think it just comes down to a fundamental lack of understanding the horse thing. I’ll just try to own my selfish in knowing that getting away for some me time isn’t a bad thing.

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Heck, I’m noticing my body getting old already. So I’m sure taking a few months (or longer) off won’t be easy. That’s a good reason to quit putting it off.

I’m also a runner! I know that will likely fall more to the wayside after a baby. I can’t imagine keeping up with running and riding 5 days a week each. Hoping I can ride 3-4 and run 1-3. But it’s all clearly very theoretical. And I like riding more than running so I can imagine which I’d quit first if I had to.

So glad that things worked out for you in a way you’re happy with.

This makes me feel better. Glad I’m not alone in my frustration or trepidation.

  1. Definitely there
  2. Eh, we’re comfortable enough but not going to be dishing out money for babysitting every day (for the horse or the child lol).
  3. We do have in-laws in town for good babysitting. And will have kiddo in daycare
  4. Just got to hope for the best on this one
1 Like

I was very much like you, so I get it. DH and I had been married for 5 years and just kept putting the whole kids thing off. I pictured a future life with kids but was really not looking forward to the being pregnant and getting through the infant stage. We finally decided to take the plunge and my son is 2.5 now. It’s been a rollercoaster and my riding has not been consistent throughout but I’ve never really felt that I couldn’t find a way to ride more if I wanted to. Having a supportive spouse is very helpful.

I rode throughout my pregnancy and found that it helped me a lot physically. I’m convinced that it was a major contributing factor to completely straightforward labor and delivery. I even competed at 6 months, (dressage) but then we moved out of state and my motivation wavered. I kept riding casually for a little longer but summers can be brutal when you’re pregnant and it really wasn’t a whole lot of fun, so I just stopped riding altogether at about 7 or 8 months.

After delivering I waited the recommended full 6 weeks to ride again. I had a friend who had a baby a few weeks before me and was back to jumping and competing a couple weeks after delivery but she really regretted it. Having a newborn is exhausting and your body does take some time to get back to “normal”. Pregnancy hormones allow your ligaments to stretch and open to prepare for birth. That laxity remains for some time and can make you more susceptible to injury postpartum. Not to mention the pelvic floor. Just take it easy for a few weeks after. I was lucky in that we were about to move again and I just decided to give my gelding a break until we got settled anyway, so there was no pressure to get back into a training schedule.

The infant stages after newborn were pretty easy. And if you have your horses at home you’ll be golden! Just plan your riding to coincide with nap time and get a monitor with a good range. My son spent lots of time napping in the truck or stroller since I’ve always had to board my gelding.

The toddler stages are a little more tricky as I’m finding. My son is at that super fun age where he’s completely mobile, curious, and brave but had little understanding of how the world works and follows direction about only 30% of the time. And now he’s completely obsessed with horses and wants to be involved in everything I do, which is so cute and fun to be able to share with him, but at the same time, it complicates things. We are military, so no family to help out and it’s been hard to find occasional childcare with the pandemic. So he goes with me everywhere during the week. I make it work because I have to. I’m now back to weekly lessons and showing. I don’t get out to the barn 6 days a week anymore but that’s ok. Things absolutely do change when you have kids but so much of it is for the better.

Anyway, if you want kids and you’re in a good position for it, just go for it. It’s never going to be convenient. Your life with horses will change but that’s not a bad thing. So maybe you don’t get to spend all day at the barn anymore, but there’s nothing quite like the delighted squeel of a toddler who’s just been snuffled by a horse. Perhaps you have to go from weekly lessons to biweekly lessons, but it’s all worth it when your kid is eagerly waiting on the mounting block for his turn to ride. The point is, you’ll shape it to whatever works best. Just don’t let other people shame you into compromising. You’re not being selfish. It may seem overwhelming at first but I promise you can work it out. Good luck!


It’s whatever you want it to be. What you think you want now may or may not be what you actually want later. For me, I continued to ride through the end of my 7th month, and picked it back up after the baby was probably 2 months old (had some stitches down there). So, I never had a big break in riding, but I did have a big break in competing. This is because I didn’t have a whole lot of help with the baby. My husband worked a lot and had a long commute, so I was able to ride a few times a week, and kept working towards eventing things, but was never able to ride often enough to have a horse ready to compete, which for me, was pretty much okay.

Then, XH left when the kid was 3, so that extended things even more. I decided if I taught the kid to ride, I’d get to ride more. This was true, but I also signed the kid up for Pony Club, so I did a lot more trailering them out to lessons and rallies than trailering for myself. We did have a lot of nice trail rides, though.

Now the kid is 20. I have done some competing, but am really okay with working towards improvement at home, and some XC schooling and hunter paces. I might do an event or dressage show locally from time to time. At this point, I don’t really want to throw so much money into entry fees, nor do I need to prove anything.

1 Like

Heck, I’m starting to feel that way toward competing anyway after last year. I got so much satisfaction from progressing in our training at home and enjoyed hitting the trails a lot more than I expected. So if I don’t compete for a couple years that’s ok.

So neat that your kiddo enjoyed riding as well!