Mar 16, 2022

Nine Eventing Parents Share their Secrets to Balancing Barn and Baby Time

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Taylor Pence

One thing that eventing and parenthood share in common is the amount of dedication required to get it right. Aiming for excellence in horse showing and child-rearing is taxing enough on its own, but combining the two and things can get a little more challenging. For many, eventing truly can be a family affair. We reached out to USEA members to share some of their favorite eventing parenting tips, tricks, and hacks to make juggling all of the pieces just a little easier the next time you head out to the barn to ride or make your way to the start box.

Jordan B.: “Start training them young. Playpens at the barn, amazing supportive clients, and lots of truck naps! Eventually, it gets easier and then before you know it the littlest one is begging to bring her pony to the events too!”

Lisa S.: “Get ready to cry. A lot. For no apparent reason, In front of your trainer and barn mates. Know that not everyone is the same rider they were before they had kids. I sure wasn't and it was a shock to me and I wish I knew that was pretty normal.”

Audrey M.: “I have two young children. Sometimes I have to ride at 7:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. (after they go to bed) if I want to ride at all. Listen to your kids and show up for them if they need you. Show up for your partner if he/she/they need you. It’s okay if you can’t do it all. Stop comparing yourself to the 20 something who has all the time in the world.”

Stephanie C.: “The biggest thing that has helped make it all possible is my village of wonderful clients and parents! At shows, they hang out with my kids while I ride. At home, the kids find crazy ways to entertain themselves while I teach and ride. They lunge each other, play with the miniature ponies, dig in the dirt, and play like kids used to back before iPhones and tablets. We don’t keep toys at the barn, and it’s a screen-free zone. I love how the barn is raising my kids to use their imagination, not be afraid to get dirty, and never shy from hard work. My girls love cheering on all of our horses and riders!”

Olivia H.: “Backpack carrier while grooming/tacking/untacking and stroller while riding (with a snack of course)!”

Melissa W.: “Two things: if you ask, most people will help. They are inspired by parents balancing life and family, plus who can say no to a muddy kiddo with big eyes and a desperate mom? Secondly, your child will survive and flourish because of the life you lead. They will see your determination and think that is perfectly normal, so they will be determined in whatever it is they do in life. You are demonstrating valuable skills in time management, social skills, and that life does not stop as a parent.”

Deanna T.: “Setting up a trailer tack room as a playroom works out great for show days. Lots of snacks and activity books are a must.”

Clare M.: “Coolers full of snacks are key, along with whatever interests your kiddos. Our goal was to never make barn time miserable or scary, so we kept them with safe animals and made sure they could get out of the heat or cold. We have awesome kids, and they’re good, helpful, tough partners!”

Christian: “Make the kids work around your schedule, so you can always find time to ride. Organize play dates at the barn with other mothers. Then one can watch while the others ride, and you can take turns. Remember that nearly anyone is able to babysit if you are literally 20 feet away. Grandmas, aunts, uncles, dads, older kids. They're often really excited to hold the baby for an hour or two. Just buy the pony. You know you need one.”

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Fast Facts: EA21 Regional Clinics

One of the best parts of summer is the return of the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program (EA21) Regional Clinics! This will be the third year that the USEA is offering these two-day educational sessions for the chosen applicants. There are five clinics taking place across the U.S. over the course of the summer. A USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) certified instructor will guide 12 hand-selected applicants at each clinic.

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USEA Podcast #363: Team Talk | Paris, Here We Come!

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