I was messaging a friend today about horses and her pregnancy and talking about my life pre babies and horses. I evented and show jumped on a string of horses until I was packed off to university at 21. I then had a massive break of 16 years before returning back to riding when my second son was 4mths old.
So today’s chat over Facebook made me think about my return to riding, three and a half years ago.
Before I had Henry, who is just 6, I really struggled with pregnancy. I lost 5 babies over a relatively short period of time and then had a difficult pregnancy with him. He was born a healthy baby but I really found it hard being a first time mum. It was difficult to adapt to having no career and after longing for a baby for so long I found the reality quite a shock. Add to this awful post natal depression and I was really in a bit of a mess.
My second son, Piers, followed quite soon after. A straight forward pregnancy and easy birth but again the depression returned. I piled on weight and felt pretty miserable. Although I had two lovely kids it was really hard for me to adapt to not working in a busy teaching job. Four months after Piers was born my Mum suggested that we went looking for a horse to get me back into riding. My marriage was starting to fail and I think she was desperate to try anything just to get the old me back. We already had some kid’s ponies on the farm for my kids and their cousins. So we set about looking for a nice ‘mums hack’ and ended up buying a former field masters horse who had also team chased and evented a bit.
With the help of Val Gingell my trainer we set about trying to get me fit, core muscles back and confidence built. Clio was a beautifully bred horse. Out of Puissance, bred at Coolmore in Ireland and a quality horse. Sadly, although I really developed her flatwork she really was quite full on to compete. It was quite disappointing as some days I would have great dressage scores in the 20s and other days I would barely be in the 50’s – depending on where the cross country was situated. She was one of those very gifted horses who sadly didn’t have the right temperament to be a super amateur event horse.
Despite my setbacks with her I really did see an improvement in my mood. My self esteem retuned as I lost weight, a horse driven routine gave me a focus and my competitive drive returned. Sadly I decided to part with Clio as I felt I needed a horse that I could improve my riding on. Horses need to be placed where they can do the best job and she has now gone off to be a whips horse with a local hunt. She loves her job and is doing what she does best. I think she will be making some appearances in some Hunt races which she will adore.
Thinking back I can’t believe it’s only been three and a half years since I’ve been back in the saddle. It seems like much longer. My little chat with my friend today has made me feel quite proud. So many big life changes and challenges I’ve got through. Life has not always been easy but I haven’t given up yet and I have a lot to thank for my horses who have given me my positivity and tenacity back again. For that I truly am blessed.