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Lived Experiences: Sally

Since having a baby I have loved connecting with and listening to other mothers. It is such a special experience being a mum and I believe the shared experience brings us closer together as women. Another powerful thing that has united me with countless others is a love of horses. Combining the two seemed a no-brainer.

As I have gathered these answers from different ladies I feel so privileged to be allowed a little glimpse into their lives. Their words of wisdom and authenticity have been so encouraging to me, and I hope they are to you too. Here is Sally.


Q1: Please tell us about your family – both human and horse 

My human family consist of myself Sally, husband Andrew, daughter Kloe 13 years and son Luke 7 years.  

My horse family consists of a total of 7!  Starting with our Quarter Horses we have Sammi, an 8 year old chestnut Mare, Nigel 6 year old Chestnut gelding (both have previously been a Western Performance Horses) and Gem a 3 year old Bay Roan Mare whom we bred.  Sammi had a foal who we named Mack, he is now just turning 2 and his daddy is a stockhorse.  We then go to Kloe’s Welsh Cremello Galloway Yuki who is also 6 years old.  Kloe takes him off to Pony Club and events and then we have Kloe’s little grey Welsh A pony mare who she has well and truly grown out of, but we couldn’t part with named Dali.  Luke now rides her a little but primarily he rides his gorgeous Shetland Goldie.  

Q2: How did you manage returning to riding after having a baby? What were the main challenges you faced? How have you been able to indulge your horse passion in your life since having children? Has the picture changed much? Have there been any compromises or new opportunities?

The truth is I have only just pottered with my riding since having the kids.  Prior to having the kids my husband and I were heavily involved in the Western Performance Industry, hence the number of Quarter Horses we have.  After the kids were born the importance of the show industry and ‘achieving results’ really changed big time for us.  When I was pregnant with Kloe we actually visited a stud that we’d always wanted to purchase one of their progeny from and the majority of their stock all went as youngsters (or at least the ones in our budget) and we picked (or she picked us) the most glorious little mousey brown filly.  Considering that we were going up for a chestnut gelding it was quite the surprise to be purchasing her.  We named her Megs as she had the most gorgeous brown speckles throughout a glorious blaze on her face.  Megs was weaned and made the trip interstate to come to live with us when Kloe was just 7 weeks old.  This doesn’t sound an ideal combination, but I effectively had a new baby and a weanling to play with at the same time!  

Megs was the most divine natured horse and we had so much fun just hanging out.  It was so lovely to just go and hang out with her to get a sanity break, she listened intently to all my stories and became so quiet she’d walk along with me pushing the stroller and I felt totally safe to be doing so.  I showed Megs a few times and another older gelding we had in ridden events but was surprised to find that I really didn’t enjoy it like I used to.  I was far more focused on what was going on with Kloe in the stands or thinking about what time it was in relation to her next feed, nappy change, sleep ect and have I got everything organised, what have I forgotten and left at home!  I felt like I was half-arsing both my horses and mum duties so I kind of just petered out with it and preferred to just go along to support Andrew.  Although once Megs was old enough to ride, she did spark my interest again and I enjoyed showing her at some smaller events, but Andrew would go as Kloe’s carer and not ride.  I could feel ok if Andrew had Kloe but if he wasn’t able to care for her, I was terrible at letting anyone else do it.     

Luke was a totally different experience, born premature at just 28 weeks and spent 5&1/2 months in hospital 1 hour away from home.  During this time horses where just on basic maintenance, fed, check water, no-one’s bleeding, no-one’s lame, rugs are ok…have a good day pony’s, I best describe it as being in survival mode!  I was missing time with my beloved Megs and once Luke came home, I was keen to get back to making time in my week to be with her.  I had kept riding Megs throughout my shortened pregnancy with Luke which I found some folk to be quite judgemental of, it’s a topic that really divides opinions, most supported my riding but I did receive a bit of a shaming about it from someone I considered a close friend at the time that really took me by surprise.  Megs was an extremely quiet horse and sometimes I’d just go for a walk, I honestly felt safer riding her than driving my car on a busy road!  

Tragically only a couple of months after Luke came home, Megs got extremely sick and developed laminitis.  I could barely breathe at times throughout the ordeal, it’s such a horrendous condition and she was affected badly.  I couldn’t understand how after enduring what we’d gone through with Luke that life could be this unkind?  Megs valiantly stayed with us for just over 12months and in that time we successfully got an embryo transfer which resulted in Gem.  Her condition deteriorated and I had to say goodbye to my horse soul mate which was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I was then so grateful for the rides I’d had during my pregnancy.    

Kloe has been a very keen rider from about 6 years of age which has kept me busy and being around her little mare Dali helped me to deal with loosing Megs.  I had thoughts of perhaps it’s time that I grew up and gave my own horse aspirations away, after all they cost a lot to keep and I’d had my turn!  But I found the more I distanced myself from my own horse aspirations the sadder I felt.  There was something inside me that just couldn’t give them up.  Sammi just came out of the blue, advertised on her breading value, she’d been trained for Western Performance but not shown but was bred by the stud that we had purchased Megs from, and she was by the same sire.  Although Sammi looks quite different to Megs, there were some similarities in a gorgeous disposition.  Sammi hadn’t enjoyed her training and I wasn’t looking to show so I have explored my love of horsemanship with her which has led me on this current journey of self-discovery and a new level of awareness of ‘horsekind’.  Kloe also inspired me to get back into it as I realised it was far more important for me to be a good role model to her than be telling her how to ride and what to do all the time.  

I am really happy to be getting back into it and I currently ride both Nigel who is incredibly sweet and Sammi and my mission is to join both the local Working Equitation (with Kloe) and Western Dressage Clubs.  

Q4: What is your number one piece of advice for managing having a young family and your equine goals, dreams and aspirations?

# 1 piece of advice is to not try to take on the world with our horsing endeavours as we get back into it!  I don’t believe it’s a good time to be stretching ourselves even further at a time that we are already quite emotionally stretched.  Be kind to yourself and enjoy the time you have with your kids, spend time just hanging out with your horses and take the expectations out of the equation.  I believe if we go coincidingly putting crazy expectations on ourselves with our parenting and equine achievements, then we risk taking our emotional states into our horse interactions and challenging parenting times which isn’t healthy for either relationships.  Ease back into it as it is doable and ask trusted others to help with the kids.  If you don’t have that help available, just enjoy what you can do without judging yourself as not doing enough.  You’re growing an adult, a hugely important job so you are doing more than enough already!   


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