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!