Diapers & Dressage

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By Erin Tupper

Here we are with another horse girl blog.  There are so many horse girl blogs out there, I sat for a long time contemplating whether or not it was really worth doing this.  There are blogs on training, grooming, theory, management, and style.  I love those blogs but kept thinking… where are the “real life” blogs?  Where are the blogs for the average rider?  I love reading the pros’ blogs; living vicariously through them brings me great joy.  It’s like I too own a 20 stall barn in Wellington and have to worry whether my $3,000 custom tack trunk perfectly matches my curtains.  Again, fun to read, yet that’s not my life.  And I don’t think it’s the life of the majority of the other riders out there who are incredibly dedicated to our sport.  Who count down the minutes until they’re in the saddle, struggling to push work thoughts or parent thoughts out of their heads enough to focus on making a 10m circle an ACTUAL 10m circle.  Who come to the barn some days too exhausted to ride, and find themselves simply feeding their horse handfuls of treats while lamenting with a friend.  That’s when I decided to go for it.  Because as a dressage devotee and new mom, I struggle.  I am obsessed with this discipline; if I could eat, sleep, and breathe it, I would die happy.  Then I remember there are other things that bring me joy.  I love my little family.  I love my job most days.  I love traveling.  There have to be other people out there going through this life trying to juggle it all, right?  I guess my thought was, why not talk about it?

I believe being a dressage-obsessed parent may be even more difficult than being a parent who believes riding horses means racing or jumping things.  Perhaps I’m a bit biased.  Here’s why.  It’s in our nature to be a perfectionist.  The whole damn sport is centered around perfection!  We train tirelessly to develop our horses perfectly, so they can carry themselves in a perfect frame.  We take countless lessons to develop perfect timing, a perfect position, perfect geometry in our exercises.  When we compete, the entire goal is to earn a perfect “10” on each movement.  Do you think that just fades into the background as we parent?  No way!  First lesson I learned in parenting, well before I even had my baby.  That desire to be perfect, to have control (you know most of us fall somewhere on the scale of control freak) over our situation, to have structure throughout our day, it doesn’t just stop when we leave the barn.  

At the GMO’s end of the season awards banquet. Grace and I finished 5th in our division. One of my proudest moments!

My question is this: Who do you go to to talk about the realness of this?  Because what I am finding is that, as I struggle to juggle everything, I often feel overwhelmed.  Sometimes, it gets me down.  I love my baby with every fiber of my being.  I love my time with her, and most days are filled with happiness. There’s also the flip side. I miss the days when I could go to the barn and really embrace “barn time”, knowing that when barn time translates into coming home an hour late, my husband would roll his eyes, but it wouldn’t stop him from being able to do what he wants.  I miss being able to go for a last minute trail ride.  No, I wouldn’t trade anything for the life I am living with my baby.  Yes, I do miss some of my life pre-baby.  I can tell you I’m eternally thankful for my friends, and yes, my husband.  My friends that have gone through this, that offered kind words and support, and most importantly, brutal honesty as I went through my pregnancy and now navigate parenthood.  You see, that’s the other beautiful part of this sport.  When you have your core group, we become a tribe.  We are forever supportive of each other because we’re going through it together!  We know the struggle is real.  So hang in there, my friends, and know you’re not alone in your struggle to juggle!  Until next time, happy riding!

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