Guest post by Anna Sierra:
I will never forget the first time I got back in the saddle
after having my son. He was one week old, and a crabby little ball of cuteness. I snuck out
to the barn hoping no one else would be out there. I had all intentions of just “sitting” on my
horse that day. I didn’t exactly tell anyone, but I hadn’t promised anything to my husband so I couldn’t
break my word or anything. I was just going to put my tush in my saddle….while that saddle so
happened to be on my horse.
I very well knew that my barn peers may pass judgement upon
my quick “back in the saddle” postpartum ride. Naturally when I arrived that day,
everyone and their mother was out at the barn riding. I definitely had an audience that day, and
more than one jaw was dropped. I pretended it was just like any other day (even though I was
shaking with excitement). The labor process had not been kind, and I was stitched up and sore as
most of us girls are after such an extreme workout.But my determination and desire outweighed
everything else that day. I slowly sank into my saddle, inched my right foot into the stirrup,
and walked around the ring. After a few minutes of indescribable bliss, I was trotting around.
I’m sure my body was hurting, but the endorphins must have dulled the pain because in that moment,
I was me again.
Physically, it only took a few weeks for me to get back to
riding like I had post pregnancy. Mentally, I fell right back into it. Having my
son had given me a new sense of power and determination. I was learning to push past exhaustion
and fear for something that I loved. The few months I spent forced out of the saddle had
certainly given me more passion to get back to it than I knew I had.
The emotional aspects were much more complicated than any of
the physical obstacles. I found myself often dreading going home from the barn,
fantasizing about the days when I didn’t have to play “cow” to a new colicky human. I would be
home with my new baby and be dreaming of the barn, like a little girl. How I wished I
could just be with my horse, just jump a few more fences. These thoughts made me feel immensely guilty.
Dirty, even. How could I be so selfish as to want time away from this new miracle in my
arms??? For quite some time, the only time I felt a small resemblance to my old self was either
when I was on my horse, with my horse, or thinking about my horse.
I had underestimated the effects that having a baby could
bring. I had no idea I could feel so blissful and happy about my perfect new son, and
also resentful and sad. Hormones and exhaustion really do have a lot to do with the intense
roller coaster emotions after having our bambino. I had to learn to cut myself a lot of slack . I had
to force myself to not overthink things. I had to accept help from friends and family. Most
importantly, I had to LET GO OF THE GUILT.
I think a lot of riders out there experience these feelings
after having a baby. Unfortunately, I noticed that these “feelings” were not
often talked about and often when they were it was with very negative connotation. Being
horsewomen, we have an incredibly powerful tool right within our reach. I’m not naively saying that
“horses cure all” ( we can only wish!). I want any woman experiencing these issues to seek
professional help right away. You are not alone. Make an appointment with your doctor right away.
But while you are waiting, go to your horse. No expectations
or grand gestures. Just go. Be with him. BRING THE BABY WITH YOU! Take some deep body
breaths. Close your eyes if even for a moment and breath in that one in a million smell
that is YOUR horse. Feel his warmth. And as silly as you may think it is, tell him how
you are feeling. Just say it out loud. I promise you this is one of the safest places in the
universe. You will likely find your horse starts sniffing you longer, licking and chewing, maybe nibbling
slowly on hay beside you. Horses listen. And they never, ever judge you. It’s hard to wrap
our minds around, but these beautiful, powerful creatures have no preconceived notions about our
emotions. They are fluid. And they accept all thoughts and feelings without pressure, without
any sort of rebuttal or debate. They won’t coddle you. They will just teach you to “BE”.
When you can learn to be more fluid and accepting, you will
start to feel more like yourself again. Accept your emotions, whatever they are.
Remember that your baby can also be your barn buddy, your confidant. You can enjoy them both at
the same time.
It takes time so give yourself that. You will feel
frustrated and crazy. Often. Let yourself feel that way but only for a moment. Then, just like a
horse, let it go and move on. Much like mucking out a stall, it won’t always be pleasant. Don’t just
take it a day at a time, take it an HOUR at a time. With a generous amount of patience for
yourself and your feelings, things will slowly start to fall back into place—even out of the saddle.
You CAN be a stable mom, even when you aren’t at the barn.
Born in the south, Anna was in fact practically raised in a
barn. The horse bug bit her early on and never let go. Dating only boys her
horses approved of, she finally met the right man and settled down. Before long
she and her husband welcomed their first two legged (human) son into the world.
Now, Anna focuses on balancing and blending her hectic new life as a wife and
mother with her lifelong passion of staying in the saddle.