Saturday, January 4, 2014

Confidence for Mommies

Everyone writes about riding confidence at some point, right?

One of my goals is to get back in the saddle, and to rebuild my confidence.

I use the word rebuild lightly. It's not like I was ever the most confident rider.

But since having a baby, I'm probably less confident. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I created and birthed a new little human and the most important thing to me is to love and protect him.  That mothering instinct is strong. And it does not involve getting myself maimed or killed by a 1200 pound animal.

When I found out I was pregnant (actually, even just suspected) I stopped riding completely.

I think some people thought I was being worrisome and over-protective. I didn't even want to ride the most gentle horse on the ranch. We call her "the couch." She's short, wide, comfy, steady as they go. Probably as close to bomb-proof as you get. This 4 year can ride her on a trail ride without a lead line.

I knew she wouldn't kill me, but what if I fell off and broke my leg or my neck? How fun would it be to be pregnant and have a broken bone?

After baby came, I wanted to ride. I wanted to even just groom or scoop poop. But as a breastfeeding mama, I hardly had two minutes to rub together to use the restroom, let alone get out and see my horses. One time I took the baby monitor to the pasture (which is like 50 feet from our house) during Ranch Boy Jr.'s nap and I swear I just got Luna haltered and he woke up. So I just gave up.

Over time, it has all become easier and now I can get 4-5 hour stretches away from Jr. and I can get in some horsey time. I had Luna in training but didn't get to ride, but felt motivated by watching her training sessions and I learned a lot.

This photo is from 2009, when for fun I slapped a friend's english saddle on My Boy and rode one day. I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear at how different it felt. I think I was afraid to canter him, we just trotted. It had been years since I'd ridden English.

I know, my stirrups are way too short!

That is the reason I want to take some kind of riding lessons, even though I consider myself an intermediate to experienced rider. I want to challenge myself, and my confidence. It's harder to just chicken out when you are being held accountable by someone else, who is encouraging and guiding and pushing you. I am hoping to just have fun and enjoy horses again, knowing I can balance being a mommy and having a hobby that I am passionate about.

Have any of you ever encountered this post-baby confidence stuff?

Ranch Girl


Kara said...

Yes, big time! But I found that all of it was in my head. If I thought too much about all the terrible things that can happen when you ride, I really was not interested. However, if I just ran out and started messing with my horses whenever I had time to do it, I could saddle up my steady partners and forget all those worrying thoughts. I never really had anything to worry about. It was all in my head. And it is totally normal after such an important little being who only depends on you enters your life. And like you just keeps getting easier the older that baby gets! Just wait, some day he'll be 3 and will want to go with you when you ride! And then you'll have a whole other set of things to worry about with horses! I won't ride with Wren yet. She's just too little. Sure, we've ridden around the yard with Daddy leading us, but not "real" riding. Next summer we are hoping to bring an old seasoned pony home that I know about and then I might let her ride with me...or maybe we'll just lead her around the yard on her pony. I'm so overprotective!

baystatebrumby said...

Ranch Girl, I think it is only natural for you to not want to put yourself in harm's way. After all, you are in charge of a little person now. Have you ever read Honeysuckle's Faire's writings on confidence in the saddle? She has quite a lot to say about it, all of it good and positive and taking into account fully how the horse thinks and feels too. You may find what she has to say is one more important tool in your riding-with-confidence toolkit. Another thing I have found OH SO HELPFUL when it comes to riding confidence is Mindfulness Meditation, as written about by Jon Kabat Zinn. I have learned a lot about confronting fear from him. It is not related to riding per se, but can be applied overall to everything. I can honestly say that in many ways this approach to sorting things out has been a gamechanger for me. I also think that you just can't go wrong with lessons with a riding instructor you really admire. And finally, remember this: being a mom does not mean you can't be other things too! Like a rodeo-lovin', fast gallopin', horse lovin' cowgirrrrrl. I look forward to reading about your thoughts and new experiences in your blog. As usual!!

Kara said...

BTW, I also did not ride when I was pregnant. I just felt too vulnerable. I went for a motorcycle ride ONCE with my husband, and I never did it again (and I'm sure he was glad too since I was so paranoid, tense and constantly telling him to slow down!). I will ride motorcycles now that I'm not pregnant! You are just so vulnerable with that big ole belly hanging out there waiting to get bumped, or landed on or something!

Crystal said...

I am not a momso different perspective here, but I think getting into lessons is a great idea for you, what a way to bring up your confidence level no matter your level there is always something to learn (or relearn) and it will be good for the ponies too. Go for it! I think you will be a better mommy if you can do something else as well, more balanced.

fernvalley01 said...

I am not a mom but I think I understand, age and time out of the saddle has a way of stripping us of confidence, I think lessons for a time to help you find your center on the horse again is a great idea!

Brianna Bowling said...

As far as confidence goes - I found a regular baby step process works best. Don't push too far past your comfortable and safe limits but do it often. Too often we have a great ride but dont' follow it up with another for a few weeks so then you are starting over. Do it again the NEXT day and again and again. Eventually the confidence will come back.

I wrote a posting about a funny experience I had while riding pregnant (I chose to ride during my pregnancies but I know that is a personal choice) --

Ranch Girl Diaries said...

Ha ha- cute story, Brianna! :) I wish I could convert all my maternity jeans into cute riding breeches or something. .... they are just collecting dust until I decide if I might have baby no. 2......

juliette said...

Just saw this post - thanks baystatebrumby for the kind words!
Ranch Girl, after Maizie was born I remember being less confident to do anything. I usually ran on a local lighted track in the evenings and at night but after Maizie was born, I felt scared to be there alone at night. It was so weird! It was perfectly safe, but at the dark end of the track I was all wigged out. I am sure it is our mothering gene keeping us safe to raise our little ones.
Riding is something all together different though. Confidence comes with horses as you work with them alone at your own pace and only do what doesn't send any adrenaline through your body. Trainers propel us forward too fast. Even if it is just a baby step, when you work alone, you will keep the process going at your pace. That is how to become confident. Believe me - I know. I had more fear of horses than anyone! I used to vomit with fear - no kidding! You can do this, but you have to do it alone.