Infant Insanity – The reality check about mixing motherhood with horses
As I mooch around Eventing based Facebook pages on the Internet, I frequently encounter posts from mums-to-be. Mostly these poor women are trawling the event calendar, doing some sort of advanced reverse mathematics and trying to preserve their sanity by having an Eventing comeback date in the calendar. This return to competition date is usually about two days after giving birth, and is fuelled by the complete denial that life will change in any way. I always feel a mixture of sadness and hilarious cynicism when I encounter these posts, and I tend to refrain from commenting – mainly out of kindness because the reality that’s coming for these women is so enormous and difficult that I feel it’s a kindness to let them carry on with their naivety. Truth is, juggling kids and horses with limited manpower and resources is EASY!! It’s FUN!! It’s NO BIGGIE! Ha. Hahaha.
So there they are these mummies, in their little bubbles of other-worldliness. They have NO IDEA of the shit show that’s coming. Which is probably a good thing for men’s testicles everywhere, as otherwise, they’d all be gelded at the alter. Men are just as bad as their female counterparts. Fond images of their wives and partners putting the horses on the back burner (and maybe even GIVING THEM UP to have MANY MORE children), family picnics, joyous scenes straight out of ‘Modern Parenting’ magazine… The happy couple go shopping together for ‘things for the baby’ and it is all very lovely indeed. Partners of horsey women do tend to cope a bit better than your average civilian with the purchasing of supplies and are sometimes even pleasantly surprised at babies being cheaper to buy for than horses. To adequately train your partner in this regard, I suggest any women in serious relationships that might lead to babies get street smart asap. This is how…
Your horse is now suddenly allergic to any tack that isn’t Devoucoux, he refuses to perform unless rugged by Horseware and he simply cannot and will not (probably literally as well as figuratively) live without an annual membership to Rood And Riddle. You can thank me later.
Anyway, the miracle occurs and the new arrival is somehow dragged from the poor unsuspecting woman, with her birth plan and her whale music and a Badminton thrills and spills 2006 DVD on replay in the room. She will spend a few days in the blissful cocoon that is the hospital trying to get over the baby removal method, and then she will be desperate to get home to see her horse(s). And that’s when reality begins to dawn. It is likely that one part or another of her is now full of stitches. So the event next Wednesday is starting to look a little less probable. The horse was meant to be going away for schooling for the last few weeks of the pregnancy but no one could catch the bastard-he was far too busy rejoicing in the happiness of being a feral gnu again-as nature intended-and frankly wasn’t interested in returning to captivity against his will. He has seen that Monty Roberts programme where the stupid moron wild horse refuses to leave the farm and go with the herd. He won’t be making that mistake…
The baby, it turns out, is EVEN MORE DEMANDING than the sodding horse. Who knew? No one is sleeping. The partner returns to work. The stitches heal. The horse is shot with a tranquilliser dart, winched into a crate and returned to his stable. Now what? Now how are you going to run the house, ride the horse, grant the baby its every desire and make it back out eventing? Looking at the wreckage of your pre-baby life is too frightening, so you just sort of…….wing it. You find a way. You make it work, because here’s the thing-there is no other way to do this. As time goes by, you will sort out a routine or a methodology that mostly works, and on the days that it goes well and you can provide all things to all people, you will feel like you are winning at life. On a lot of other days it will feel like you are failing everyone, but it is important to remember that YOU ARENT. It’s ok to want to get back into the saddle and to reclaim your identity, but it’s also ok to take your time and give it a minute to all settle and sink in. There’s always next season, another event, even another horse but there isn’t always this time with your baby.
Now, go get your Devoucoux catalogue. You have just had a baby. Soft French calfskin saddles are from this point forward a prescribed medicinal requirement AND you get a free key ring with everyone you buy. BARGAIN…….!