Hi, I’m Jodine, I’m 37 and an owner of a grey roan mare called Minty, who have I owned a little over two years and am obsessed with. Oh, and I’m pregnant.
Pregnancy comes as a shock to most – even if you’ve been trying there is still that moment of disbelief when you see those little blue lines coming together. But, for a horserider, I think things are different. It’s hard to put into words to those non-horsey folk, but the realisation that your pet and sporting passion is shortly to be taken away from you is a hard sugar lump to swallow.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not my first pregnancy; I am the proud mam of the non-equine sort too, to my little boy Blake, who is five and wholly uninterested in horses (which, on the quiet, suits me fine, because it gives me valuable alone time at the stables).
The difference this time is that I am experiencing being pregnant alongside owning that elusive “horse in a million.” You know the one, that perfect partner that you dream about when jumping round your grandparents’ front garden. When I picked Minty up that day in Harrogate I never imagined that I could have a bond like that with a horse but, over the last two years, we have developed a relationship of infinite belief, love and understanding. I would trust her with my life and she with mine – something I’ve realised is pretty important if you are to do well with your horse. In fact, don’t spread this about, but I have made enquiries into having her stuffed when the fateful day comes, so that I can keep her in the hall and continue to hop on when I feel the need (don’t snort now, it’s true).
After a previous bad experience I'd deliberately gone out to find something of the “been there, done that” sort, and it certainly paid dividends. We do a little bit of everything – just unaffiliated – and we are out and about most weekends at dressage, showjumping or eventing. And the thing is, not only is this 11 year old, 15.1 mare an absolute sweetheart, she’s also pretty good at stuff. I can’t think of a time we haven’t come back with a rosette and a smile on our faces (except for showing, let’s not talk about showing).
When we’re not out and about at competitions or schooling, I will be found obsessing over her hooves (there’s nothing wrong with them, I’m just a firm believer in the old “no hoof no horse” adage) or spending our time on her favourite hobby, which is getting me to scratch her for hours in various places that she will indicate with her nose. I once said to someone, “Hey, look how well I’ve trained her!” and they quickly replied, “I think you’ll find it’s she that has trained you.”
Our plans for 2016 were to finish off with our first BE event and to affiliate both BSJA and BD. Ah well…
I found out that I was pregnant at the end of May, right as we were coming into form and with a long summer stretch of competitions ahead of us. As well as the excitement of having a new baby, there also came the realisation that I was going to lose my partner, my sport and my hobby, all at the same time. I knew that the next nine months were going to bring many compromises, decisions to make and mixed feelings to deal with, and imagined that this must be the same for female riders in foal everywhere so, I thought, why not help a sister out and document and share my experience in the hope it might be useful to someone else out there going through the same thing. After all x% riders are typically female so there must be someone out there feeling the same!
So welcome to my horsey/pregnancy blog! Each month I’ll cover the different decisions, emotions and events that you may go through as a pregnant horserider, sharing my own experience and offering any advice I think may be useful. Covering topics like, “How long to ride?”, “Where to keep my horse?” and “How to stay connected to my partner?” I’m not saying that our posts won’t have their fair share of hormones (I am also dealing with a seasonal mare at the moment!) but they will certainly give you an honest and in-depth account of how to cope with pregnancy and horses.
So, if you're pregnant, or thinking about it, or maybe just want to know more before deciding, you can check in here at www.youhorse.co.uk (in the Blogs section) for regular updates from me. I'll be packing my Your Horse blogs with my experiences as an expectant mum/horse rider, dealing with the choices that you have to make, the emotions and physical changes you deal with and the ways that I try and test to stay connected with my trusty steed during the nine-month process.
My next blog post will cover the whole first trimester, leading up to a change of home for Minty – you can imagine there are a lot of emotions in that one! Until then, I’m off to see how long it takes me not to fit into yet another pair of jodhpurs and to do some mild hoof obsessing.