During June I ran a couple of polls on social media to find out about the confidence of riding after having children and becoming a mother. As parents, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do our best and try to be a model parent and this also extends to activities outside of parenting. This can lead us to doubt ourselves and our ability to be as good as we once were and this can affect one’s confidence.
So let’s review the top reasons given, as to why we struggle with confidence after having children:
Fear of being hurt – I can relate to this, being older now I certainly don’t bounce like I use to.
Not being as good – Again it’s that pressure to be perfect and not fail or be seen to fail.
Guilt – This I think is a big one for most and we get this from all angles, from feeding choices to going back to work. However, it’s important that mums have some time for our emotional health.
One reason though that I expected to get more votes, was pain following childbirth, this got minimal votes but goes to show how great women are and how resilient we are after such a painful ordeal. However, becoming a mother can change
us in other ways and we lose the carefree attitude we once had. Having read lots of posts on social media regarding lack of confidence when returning to the saddle I decided to dedicate July to confidence and how we can share our experiences with each other.
For me, my confidence decreased as I continued to have more children and I became older. This caused my anxiety to raise its head and I would worry about every ride and the what if’s. I was at a loss to why I felt like I did, I mean my horse wasn’t even big compared to the 16hh giant I learnt to ride on all those years ago. So why I asked myself, did I have this sinking feeling in my stomach at the thought of riding, especially when I love it so much! I could only think that having children has turned me into a wuss, this wasn’t the person I knew, I was strong and loved a challenge. What I did know was that I wasn’t going to give up on the one thing I have ever truly enjoyed and I was not going to give up horse riding to do something placid like Yoga!
I am pleased to say that things have progressed since then and yes I won’t ride without all my safety equipment but I don’t have quite the same anxiety as I once did and my horse isn’t quite as green. Yes, that’s right after about 6 years off from riding, the first horse I owned was also a green, unbacked 3-year-old. Nearly 2 years on though and we have developed a special bond and we continue to educate each other together. He really is a special boy and I love spending time with him and not just riding but hanging out in the field together, something that I think has helped our connection.
When running my polls I spoke to a lady who also wanted to share her thoughts on her own confidence after having a baby. She has given me permission to share her thoughts with you all.
‘I never thought for one minute that getting on a horse would fill me with such fear but following the birth of my beautiful daughter, Matilda did just that. Even though I had had a C Section I still didn’t ride after Matilda was born for months. Riding was a massive part of my life but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. When you have a child your outlook on life changes, you suddenly have this little person who relies on you to look after them and keep them safe.
I remember I kept thinking what if I fell off and hurt myself badly, who was going to look after Matilda? My husband of course but you just don’t think like that. I just thought I would continue to carry on as normal, I knew my life would change to a certain extent as I was never one of these mothers that feels your child should rule your life, I was determined that I would continue to walk the dogs, feed and muck out and I did do that, I strapped Matilda to my back and carried on as normal, I walked in the rain, she had a canopy on her carrier, I fed my horses, I mucked out, I bought them in for the farrier but I just couldn’t bring myself to ride.
Through the month of July, I will continue to build on our progress and for the first time we managed to complete a schooling session by ourselves in the wind and he didn’t put a
foot hoof wrong! It was a great feeling and made all the hard work worthwhile. Until recently the thought of riding in the arena filled me with dread, why, I have no explanation for this. I had always enjoyed my riding lessons when I first began them but now having my own I did not enjoy the environment and I knew I was transferring this anxiety to my horse. Therefore, we did some basic schooling and did a lot of hacking out with others. Recently though we moved yards and our new schooling area has relaxed me and I have had a few enjoyable sessions leading up to our recent session alone. I am now looking forward to doing more. It’s a great feeling now to decide to ride without having to rely on someone coming with us to ride.