How To Ride With Kids
- May 13, 2020
- Jolyn Young
I agonized over how to ride my horse when my first baby was born. Finding the time to catch, saddle, and ride a horse with a baby (or toddler) in tow proved to be one of the most difficult aspects of ranch motherhood for me. I loved to ride and wanted to continue that aspect of my life, but swinging a leg over my gelding’s back and trying to ride off when the baby was screaming in her stroller just outside the arena wasn’t quite how I pictured it.
We went to brandings where I set my daughter’s car seat on the back of a pickup near the branding pot. I made sure she had a sippy cup and sunscreen, then roped a set when the boss told me to. I was constantly looking toward the fire, though, because I felt that nobody would care for my baby as diligently as I would. I was so distracted that roping was barely even fun.
I eventually settled for riding whenever my husband was available to watch our child. It was great father/daughter bonding for them and Mama got to sneak in a quick ride, but he was busy with his full time cowboy job, so those rides were few and far between. Fast forward to 2020, when we have three kids under the age of seven and my husband is gone a lot for the spring day work season.
I established a system that allows me and the kids to all ride three days a week. I decided we regularly ride that many times because pulling off the whole procedure by myself requires a lot of patience, and three days a week is about what I can mentally handle. The biggest factors in our horseback success are my gentle gelding Teaks and the kids’ pony rock solid pony, Crow.
When we set out to ride, I strap the toddler into his stroller and pour Cheez-Its into his tray while my 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son grab halters and a grain bucket to catch our mounts. I keep the youngest strapped in for safety while we brush and saddle up.
Sometimes Teaks tries to sneak a few Cheez-Its, too.
When we are ready to ride, one of my older kids hops on Crow and heads for the arena. I park the stroller by the fence and bridle Teaks. I try to ride him around by myself for a while, but if my littlest son is super fussy and won’t allow himself to be distracted by an older sibling playing peek-a-boo, I put him on the saddle in front of me. Teaks is a 14-year-old retired ranch horse, and he is trustworthy to ride double with a tiny person any time.
If I need to step off Teaks and take care of my toddler away from the arena, I throw an older child up into the saddle, tie a knot in the split reins, and send him or her off to ride around. The kids are happy as long as they are horseback, so he is a great family horse we can all enjoy. We usually ride for about an hour total each time.
I offer a breakdown of my riding system because the question of “How do you manage to ride with kids?!” comes up quite a bit in ranch wife circles. So, here’s a little glimpse into how this ranch wife pulls it off unassisted.
Well, actually I have an invaluable assistant, and his name is Teaks.
About Jolyn Young
Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....