Tips for managing horses and toddlers

NikNak1

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7 October 2012
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Hi! My horse has been on loan while I had my baby who is nearly 16 months old. She is soon to be coming back from loan and I was wondering how people managed with a horse and toddler? Both in terms of time and practically with doing stable jobs with a toddler about!
Any experiences much appreciated!
 

Julia0803

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11 January 2012
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Following with interest. I've just moved to grass livery as I was struggling to pay part livery and afford lessons. My son wants to progress with his dressage so one lesson every other month wasn't cutting it and I knew I couldn't manage DIY with three kids and all the extra curricular stuff they do plus having my 15m old constantly wanting to get out of the pram and run around at our old large and busy yard.
 

NikNak1

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That's one of my concerns that my little one gets fed up pretty quickly in her pram these days so will want to be running round getting under people and horses feet!!
 

MagicMelon

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I think it very much depends on the facilities / layout of where you are. Are you on a livery yard OP? In which case I imagine its far harder... Mine have always been kept at home so when I moved to my current house with my then baby, I had my stables and tackroom built right beside my back garden fence (my horses are right beside my house, I walk through my garden to get to them). So now my son is 5, basically I can leave him playing on the trampoline or slide etc. (whatevers in the garden) while I poo pick / lunge etc. It keeps him seperate away from them which is the biggest worry. When he was younger and say I had the farrier, I'd pop my son in the tackroom with an ipad or some toys and I'd literally be in the stable next door so I could hear and keep a close eye but again he was out of the way in a safe place. Riding was/is more difficult as I dont do that while he's around in case I fell off. I normally ride in evenings once he's in bed (with a monitor) or when he's at nursery (now school - woo hoo!). I also make sure I keep the horses as simple as possible, like mine all live out 24/7 so although I poo pick their open stables and field I dont have to do a proper muck out every morning for example which makes life easier.

You basically want to set up a little play secure plan pen somewhere or just accept their "help" with certain safe jobs like they can sometimes help fill water buckets or do haynets - things just take 10 times as long...! I'm 6 months pregnant now so am wondering how I'll cope with a 5yo, a newborn who is going to be born in December so depths of winter whilst walking the dog twice a day and looking after 3 horses (whose water tends to freeze if its too cold so involves lots of water bucket lugging from the house!).
 
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Antw23uk

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If your on a livery yard dont take your kid. Not everyone likes brats running around! I think you need to realistically look at what you need to do daily and what riding you want to achieve and then source child care to suit. I hate kids at yards ... actually I just hate children and cannot understand why people want them when there are so many nice horses around! ;)
 

meleeka

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It's doable you just have to make sure horse is in field when you muck out stables and in stables when you do field. Agree a secure area where little one can play. Keep toys just for yard and plenty of snacks for when you are busy. You don't say whether you are on a yard, but it's harder if you are I think. Getting up early and doing everything in the morning so evenings are a quick trip worked for me.
 

abbijay

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I have 4 yo twins and have selected my livery yard on the basis that it suits my needs best. I am not in the main barn, my stable is in another block with only one other stable and a covered foyer area. My field is a long walk from my stable so I have to get all my turn out and bring ins done by the yard. It wouldn't work for me any other way. I only ride at night once the kids are in bed. I know others who can juggle it better but for me it is the only way and I can only afford childcare while I'm at work so I couldn't afford the luxury of putting the kids in nursery a couple of mornings a week while I go to ride.
From very early on my kids were taught that you don't go near any horse without a grown up and that there are certain rules you follow. If you don't follow them I will shout! For example; if the horse is in the stable you can play in the barn but if you take a step off the concrete onto the drive then there are repercussions. If the horse is tied up in the barn then they must stay in the stable. If there are other horses tied up in the barn I have to just write off what I was planning and come back again later.
My kids are happy to help with mucking out but are usually more of a hindrance. They use mini brushes and poo scoop forks and mostly just throw bedding around.
I think it is also worth being conscious that most people don't want to deal with your kids (or their noise) when at the yard. My rules are pretty tough on my kids. In my barn when it's just us my kids can play games and have fun but the rest of the time they have to be very well behaved. I also insist on massive manners when they see the yard staff or YO - it pays to make sure they're on your side. I recently had another family in the stable next to me and found it very troubling watching their 5yo running round my (very reliable) horse's back end with brushes, whips and throwing teddies and shouting. I'd come down for a break from that kind of chaos and didn't appreciate having to put up with someone else's child doing it!
 

supsup

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My friend has a 2.5yo and a 6month old. She did/does a lot of sling-carrying, and often carries one on her back while doing stuff around the yard. Even the older one is amazingly content when carried - always in the middle of things and with a good view. Our horses live out 24/7 and are very well-behaved, so feeding/poo picking and checking horses works with one on the back. When she has two, she can't really do much beyond checking on the horses and feeding, as the older one will be walking about and needs constant supervision. She only rides when either her OH can look after the kids at home, or when one is in daycare and she has a lesson before/after her mother. Granny will then watch the remaining kid while she rides. She usually manages one lesson and one hack per week.
 

stencilface

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I do the bare minimum if I have my 3yo and 4 month old with me. Get the 3 year old to do little jobs but that's it. Have the baby in the sling if she's awake/crying and have minimum contact with the horses, other than mine who I'll happily lunge with her in the sling. If she's asleep in the car I leave her there and the car is parked on the yard (own stables) and ill run round doing stuff, even a quick dash across to their current paddock a few hundred metres away.

I leave both home with the oh 1 or sometimes 2 days at the weekend and get out, try to take less than 1.5hours.
 

abbijay

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Oh, the other one I used to do when they were smaller was tie it in with nap time and park right next to my stable so I could get jobs done while they slept but still in earshot of them and would check every few minutes what they were doing.
 

buddylove

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Lol, it doesn't get a great deal easier as they get older! I have had a saddle fitting today accompanied by 5 year old twins who can talk the hind legs off a donkey and a 9 year old who is extremely allergic to horses!!
Lots of snacks and things to play with in the car when they're older and try to leave them at home with someone else as much as possible.
Mine were at home when the kids were very small, it is really much more convenient that way 😊
 

Nudibranch

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Give them to OH or a family member to mind while you do the horses. Mine comes down the field in the pushchair for a visual check/feed but that's it. Not fair on them to expect them to cooperate for longer than that and I personally don't like to have to split my attention that much.
 

stencilface

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Give them to OH or a family member to mind while you do the horses. Mine comes down the field in the pushchair for a visual check/feed but that's it. Not fair on them to expect them to cooperate for longer than that and I personally don't like to have to split my attention that much.
This too really, unless they love it and can play safely it's not fair for them to wait around hours. I'm hoping I can find a safe lr pony soon for mini sf so she can play and enjoy herself too
 

NikNak1

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Thanks everyone, that gives me some ideas. At the moment the stable next door is empty so may be a temporary play area! There are a few people with young kids on the yard and the owner has a 3 yr old grandchild so hopefully they'll be understanding!
 
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I'm very lucky that I share fields with a good friend. I used to put mine (the kids) in a spare field and gave them a ball to play with. My eldest rides anyway he used to love to poo pick. The youngest is allergic (by the time I realised it was too late to send him back :p) so when I was short of time and wanted to fit in a quick schooling session I'd park the car in the track, give him some toys and food. My husband works from home quite a bit so I am able to leave the youngest with him.

To be honest when they were really young my riding was restricted to when daddy was home. It got easier when they went to pre-school so could fit in more then. You have to become smart with your time and organise oneself.
 

Limbo1

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Babies with horses is easy compared with toddlers. It all gets harder when they are mobile. I gave up riding till mine went to school as it was too hard.

I now have older kids 7 &9 and horses at home. Kids ride but still get in the way/bored. Snacks& ipads work when out say at a show etc and at least at home they can do their own things.
 

pippixox

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you mange, I think it works depending on both the horses and child temperament and the yard set up.
In hindsight (baby about to turn 1!) babies are a bit easier as they nap more- over the winter I did my 4 and I mucked out my friends 5! even in -6,baby had to come with me as husband works long hours and I needed to do mucking out to subsidies my maternity pay. He would lie on a changing mat with toys, or later got a jumperoo and a bouncy chair. my baby has always been a bad sleeper though so only had short naps to do everything at speed!

A travel cot is a useful play pen- but it needs to be exciting with the best toys reserved for it or it becomes a prison and they hate it!

I use to carry him in a sling to the field- now I just use a good 3 wheel buggy- the horses are very used to being turned out with the buggy!

my field is a good 10 minute walk at fast pace from the barn and much heap. But I have got hold of a cheap little trailer and have a 4x4 so I can drive hay to the field and also use it as a much trailer- as one of the biggest challenges for me is getting a baby and wheel barrow to and from the field! We have stock fencing and I pooh pick while horses are in- plus my 1yo is not that fast yet- so he can't get into a field with any other horses!

snacks always help
 

Ilovemywelshie

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I have a horsey mum so she is amazing and helps me out no end I really don't think I could do it on my own as we are on DIY. My hubby is out the house at 6.45 and not back till 6pm so in summer I make sure an easy T is ready and have my boots on ready to go for riding I have to make the most of the light.
Field is only up the road, both my children are at school now , holidays are the most tricky. I drive mine up and have iPads and snacks at the ready. As toddlers I didn't have much "contact" with my horse when children were there I used to see too much danger in everything so it was always the essentials that got done no bathing or lunging or riding literally turn out , bring in, poo pick , rug change , feed. I sometimes felt guilty on both parties but it does get easier as they get older.
I often remember walking back from school to find a snack and drink waiting and a note saying riding be back soon.
I really think my pony keeps me sane so although it can be difficult it's worth it.
If for whatever reason my mum could no longer help I would seriously have to think about assisted livery or getting someone in over school holidays.
 

noblesteed

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I trained mine to have their naps at bringing in time. I used to drive up with them falling asleep in the car, park the car outside the stable, muck out and get horse (field only 15m from stables) while they slept. Now they are mobile I have mini tools for them to sweep and do a little mucking out, they mix feeds etc. They enjoy coming up. In summer the horses live out so I tend not to bring them with me if at all possible. Weekends they stay at home with daddy. Now they both will be at school we will go to the yard straight from school.
I chose my yard carefully. There is very little mud, a garden with swings and slide they are allowed to play in, easy parking and everything is close together. And friendly liveries who are also working parents so are happy for my boys to be around.
Now littlest has started riding lessons the thing I am now struggling with is AFFORDING to keep my horse!
 
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