Hey Baby! - How Tammy Patch Combines Competition Riding & Motherhood
14TH Jan, 2020
What a year 2019 has been and what an adventure 2020 is going to be!
On the 20th June 2019 a beautiful little girl, Madison Ann Patch, came into the world. Both Todd, my husband, and I were so in love with our newest member of the family. But with a new baby came a lot of changes and working out how to be a mother and parent. Reading horses when they’re hungry, grumpy, cold, hot or sick is no drama. But a baby was, well… I honestly had no idea what I was doing and tried this and that and learnt along the way. So far so good!
I finished up riding and went on ‘maternity leave’ 2 months prior to giving birth. I then started getting the horses back into work at 3 weeks, back in the saddle at 4 weeks and was at my first comp 9 weeks post bub. I was not rushing or trying to race to get back out competing, for me it was a great way to get a positive mentality. So much changes when you have a baby. Firstly, your body. That baby belly doesn’t just go when you give birth. Secondly, your ability to just get up and do that job. It now takes planning and organising to go outside and do a chore or duck into town. Thirdly, your time. Things that may have only taken 5 minutes now take 30 mins. Lastly and most predominantly, your freedom. You can’t do the things you used to do because you have this amazing baby that relies on you 24/7. With all of the above it is mentally challenging at times; you struggle, have breakdowns and meltdowns, feel tired and drained, no time for social life or don’t feel the want to socialize, the stress of everything and changes are crazy but wonderful all at the same time. But sitting around on the couch feeding, changing nappies, burping, playing and putting to sleep is very ummm… monotonous. Therefore, I needed to have some ‘me time’ to make ‘mummy time’ more enjoyable.
After all my checks and physicals, it was a great feeling to be back in the saddle. Yes, I was nervous how it was going to feel. Was it going to hurt? Will I be uncoordinated, weak or feel like I am just learning how to ride? How long will it take me to get back to ‘how I was before’? Will I pee a little? How sore will I be when I get off after not riding for 3 months? But I felt great in the saddle. However, it is important to remember that everyone is different, so don’t compare yourself to others.
Working out your baby’s routine is the most important thing I have found - when they need feeding, when they sleep, how long they sleep for and how long they are awake before getting grumpy. With this it allowed me the chance to start working my horses again. However, things never go as planned with a newborn! There were many a day we went out for a ride and well, getting on the horse was impossible so you unsaddled and tried again the next day.
The invention of the ‘Kanga Pouch’ is a godsend! I was able to do everything with her either asleep or happy. Coaching, feeding up, cleaning gear, tacking and untacking my horses became easier. The horses became very familiar with the pram and the little alien that was nestled inside. The days when she became unsettled I could ride up to the pram and lean over and check her. If she needed the dummy or rocking I could do it, even if it meant riding circles right in front of her making shooshing noises or creating a mini me out of a post and blankets. My arena/work area is open so I could have her in the shade next to the stables or parked up on the arena fence where she was always in my sight and safe. The time I spent with my horses was fabulous! I didn't care if it was only five minutes in the saddle or thirty minutes, a breath of fresh air left me revitalised. It just made me feel positive and happy!
As many will know I like a routine! So, when it came to competitions I wanted to be organised. I packed enough bottles with measured formula inside ready to go. Boiled hot, warm and cold water ready in thermoses, time sheet of her feed times, when she slept and for how long, plenty of nappies, toys, dummies, sunscreen and a spare pair of clothes. I wanted my mum (who helped me look after her while I rode) to feel comfortable and not be worried what Madison will do or why she is crying. Also, when you are riding it’s amazing how you can hear your own child cry! It was good to not be distracted so I could focus on my riding. I went to seven competitions, mainly dressage, due to the horses and my own fitness. Also, to just switch the brain back on. At not one of those competitions did I have a screaming baby or get the feeling like I needed to pack up and go quickly. I felt relaxed, organised and happy.
As many mums will know, you can’t just slip into the pair of jods that you once wore before giving birth. I have been lucky enough to have PWRA to help me feel more comfortable and confident. With their ribbed show breeches and high waisted dressage breech I was able to be back out in public feeling pretty good with wearing the tight whites! It did take me some time to come to the realisation that it is ok to be a size 12/14 and not the 8/10 that I was before. I JUST GREW A HUMAN INSIDE MY BELLY FOR 9 MONTHS! Saying that I did have a good spring clean and don’t feel bad about buying a new wardrobe.
I’ve had a break from riding over Christmas and am happy to spend a little time just being a mummy. I want to enjoy the little moments with my new bundle of joy and spend time with my husband, Todd. He takes holidays for a few weeks and we can have time together as one big family. Time does fly when you are having fun and I can’t believe how quickly the past 6 months have gone. I’m looking forward to starting the horses again! I have a great team of horses - some newcomers and others more experienced. The 2020 season looks exciting with the aim to be back out in the eventing scene and to dabble in some dressage, hacking and jumping. We currently have just purchased a new block of land where we hope to build a new home and I am able to restart my equestrian business. It is currently 80 acres of black dirt, so we have a lot of work ahead of us.
So, here’s to 2020 and the next chapter of our lives!