Lived experiences: Jo

Well, I’m finally back into things after Christmas holidaying. I can now say I’ve travelled 2000km with a baby and 2 dogs and have breastfed with my baby in his car seat as we travelled along…it was ridiculous. Feel free to comment if you’ve also done this to make travelling more efficient!

We’ve got another interview from my lovely JoyRide friend Jo who was kind enough to share with me. I really love reading these responses and finding out how other mum’s have made life work with little ones and horses.

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

My family: I’m English and married a Kiwi. I’ve lived in NZ for last 12 years near Rotorua. We have 2 girls – 10 year old Abbie and 7 year old Holly. I bought my 2 horses over with me (expensive baggage…family). I worked out that it cost 2 years of care in UK so not that much really! My husband did A lot of overtime. 
Molly was a new forest pony and I had her for 20yrs until she died nearly 5 yrs ago. Finn, Anglo Arab, I had rescued really as he was headed for the meat van and was with me for 19yrs. Both Molly and Finn died with the vet at 24yrs old – laminitis and cancer. I miss them, especially Mols every day. Finn only went a few weeks ago and was the first pony the girls rode. 4yrs ago I retired him and 3 yrs ago I bought Mac. We did not do each other any favours and I had a few nasty falls and lost a lot of confidence…hence I joined JoyRide. I then sold him – something I never thought I’d do and he’s going great with a young girl. 

I then bought Blonds October 2018. A Te WaeWae if you’re a kiwi. Blonds is 4, 15.2hh and fab. Also we have a little Welshie called Angel for the girls (she’s nearly 7 and we’ve had her for 4yrs) my neighbour’s pony Summer. 
So, the short story is there’s 4 of us and 3 ponies, a dog, cat, sheep, 2 cows and 2 guinea pigs. 

Q2: How did you manage returning to riding after having a baby? What were the main challenges you faced?

It was slow and not that easy. Mike works 40hrs a week away from home, sometimes more, so I don’t have anyone around really. I was tired and probably didn’t push enough that I have time to ride. I just flagged it often for the ease of family life. No one probably appreciated that it would have done me good to have gone out to ride. Sometimes I would take them all, kids and ponies. Mike’s not horsey which doesn’t help. 

It was harder when I had 2 kids. I didn’t really have the kids who could just be left somewhere in a buggy while I did stuff, so it took me a long time to get back into it. Really so long that Finn was closer to retirement by the time I did. 

I don’t have an arena or anything so I had to have Mike home to hack out. I tried riding with Abbie in the front pack and felt too unsafe so hate to admit I sort of gave up a bit. It went in the too hard pile often in the early days. 

But I did get back out and since having Blondie I have pushed ‘my’ time much more. I really feel I’ve done giving and it’s my time more now. But I do enjoy the girls riding too. They’ve been fun times…mostly! 

Q3: 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? 

Really, I didn’t indulge in many ways for a while. My ponies are at home though so I did see them every day at some point and the girls have grown up knowing we have to do the horses no matter what! 

I have enjoyed being a Mum too and do feel they are small for such a little time I mostly was happy to have it that way. I wouldn’t want them to be with someone else heaps while I rode. I wanted to prioritise the girls. Now they’re older we share the time more. I get my time and they get theirs. I love seeing them ride Angel. The joy when it works is fab. The successes are so cool. Angel was unstarted when we got her and we really just hopped on and went. She’s been fab but is also learning to be from a lead rein to ridden pony. Sometimes it works. We went to our first show in June. I couldn’t have been prouder and I love the horsewomen they are turning into. 

I’m looking forward to them having more fun and another pony coming one day soon I hope. Sharing is getting harder! 

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

Advice…. remember babies are tiny for a short time. It’s not long to sacrifice really. But also balance that with time for you to stay sane. Set lower expectations so there is joy in seeing your horse. Turn them out over winter, whatever makes life easier. Don’t burn out trying to be it all. You’re no good to anyone like that. Being a Mum is tiring, be kind to yourself. Keep the goals, take away the time to achieve them. I’m still working on mine. I will do that cross-country one day.

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