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Riding After Having a Baby: Physically and Mentally Different

Riding After Having a Baby: Physically and Mentally Different

Justine Griffin

Alex Welles got back in the saddle and in the show arena just five weeks postpartum.

But Alex, a 28-year-old adult amateur show jumper, said it took nearly nine months after she gave birth to her daughter, Anderson, to feel like herself again.

“Not just physically, but mentally. It changed me a bit,” said Alex, who is based in Wellington with her husband Andrew, a professional grand prix show jumper. “It took me a while to really enjoy it and not worry about it. I had thoughts all the time like, ‘I need to be so careful now.’ But if I have those thoughts in my mind, I’m not only not enjoying it, but I’m just not putting good vibes out there.”

Alex recently joined the hosts of the Heels Down Happy Hour Podcast, where she explained how she had every intention to not ride until at least seven weeks after giving birth, but her husband talked her into it.

Listen to Heels Down Happy Hour 67: How To Be A Supermom to Horses & Babies

“We were going on the road and headed to Spruce Meadows and he said ‘I don’t want to push you, but’,” Alex described. So she got on her trusty jumper of many years, a gelding named XM. “Nothing tragic happened. It’s a humbling experience to feel that your body isn’t where it needs to be and still be getting your bearings back.”

Alex rode just three times before she stepped into the show ring.

“I knew XM really well. He’s one of those horses that are just easier to ride in the show ring than at home. So I jumped him in the Classic on Sunday and used that as my ‘jump school’, like we were jumping at home,” Alex explained. “I’m fortunate that I have my husband who knows my strengths and respects what I’m comfortable with. When I was nervous he said, ‘no, you can do it.'”

By her third week showing at Spruce Meadows, Alex won a 1.30-meter class.

“No matter who you are, after you have a baby, you’re going to question yourself.”

“That was a big moment for me, because it showed me I can do it,” she said. “No matter who you are, after you have a baby, you’re going to question yourself.”

At the end of last year, Alex decided to retire her gelding. She describes where she’s at now as a “funny place” as she adjusts to being a mom to a now 11-month-old Anderson, supporting her husband and their business, and looking for her next horse to ride.

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“I haven’t been showing a whole lot because I don’t have anything else to show at the moment,” she said. “But it’s OK, because I’m able to be a mom. Anderson can come to the barn with me. She loves going to the horse show, it’s social hour for her.”

Alex’s advice for new moms who are getting back in the saddle is just to keep doing it.

“You have to keep at it, and one day you’ll feel like yourself pre-baby again,” she explained.

Alex still has competitive riding goals. She wants to get back in the show ring with another horse, and she wants to get back into the bigger show jumping classes.

“I strive to jump bigger classes again and feel like I’m one of the big kids,” Alex described.

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