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Back from Baby: How New Mothers Balance Showing & Raising Young Children

As if showing at the top level isn't hard enough. We hear first-hand from new mothers on how they are able to balance showing, while raising a young child.

Undoubtedly, one of the most exciting things in the equine industry is watching the next generation and helping them grow into horsemen and women that our associations will be proud of. Often times, they are supported by parents that have their own involvement and dreams surrounding horses and it’s because of them that their children develop a passion of their own. Even if they don’t decide horses are what they want to be involved in, they have seen their parents work toward something they believe in and want for themselves.

Something that isn’t always talked about is the silent fear of missing out that comes with being a goal-driven, equestrian mom. Instinctually we know that our priorities shift from our personal aspirations, but the four women we talk to today are examples of balancing mom life and successful horse show exhibitors, proving that it is possible to do both, even if you’re doing things differently than before.

Samantha Foust

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Samantha Foust, a dedicated mom who also competes in horse shows, gracefully manages the challenges that come with balancing parenthood and pursuing her passion. For Samantha, having a strong support system is essential to successfully navigate the juggling act between being a parent and a competitive equestrian. She finds comfort in knowing her child is in caring hands, allowing her to focus on her love for showing horses with peace of mind.

“As a mom, it’s crucial to continue working towards your own dreams,” Samantha emphasizes. “Not only is it important, but it’s also incredibly empowering. While dedicating much of your time and energy to your family is immensely rewarding, nurturing your own passions and ambitions is equally vital. Pursuing your dreams sets a positive example for your children.”

To maintain a healthy mental outlook, Samantha firmly believes in setting realistic expectations for herself in both roles. Acknowledging that she may not always achieve the level of performance or meet all her parenting goals for the day, she reminds herself that doing her best in both areas is commendable and keeps her motivated and positive. This balance between self-compassion and ambition propels Samantha forward as she continues to thrive as both a loving mother and a passionate horse show competitor.

Mallory Wachob

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Mallory Wachob, another lifelong equestrian, finds joy in showing her horses and sharing her love for the sport with her daughter. “I have been riding since I was five, so horses have always been a huge part of my life,” Mallory says. Currently, she competes with Eyell Be The Rock in the Amateur Western Pleasure and plans to add trail and horsemanship events. Additionally, she enjoys ranch riding events, trail riding, and cow sorting with her horse TRR Lil Peppy Gin. Alongside her equestrian pursuits, Mallory is involved with Arbonne, a clean health and wellness company, and owns MW Equine Wellness, offering MagnaWave services to Northeast Ohio and AQHA shows.

For Mallory, the flexibility of her equestrian endeavors has been a tremendous blessing, especially now as a mom. “Family is super important to me, and they are truly the village that makes riding during my mom era even possible,” she acknowledges. Balancing horses and family can be challenging, but her family’s unwavering support has been essential in making it work. Though not horse enthusiasts themselves, Mallory’s family steps in to care for her daughter during quick trips for riding and showing.

In the midst of her excitement about her equestrian journey as a mom, Mallory confesses to struggling with the thought of losing her options to show during pregnancy. However, she has found a balance between being a dedicated mom and continuing her show career. “My number one priority is being a present mom,” Mallory says, expressing her desire to include her daughter in her equestrian adventures as she grows older. The journey has its challenges, but Mallory’s determination, family support, and love for horses are what drive her to thrive in both her role as a mother and as a competitive equestrian.

Hannah Wallender-Ehlig

Hannah Wallender-Ehling, an experienced equestrian, has been riding horses since she was a young child. Her family has always been incredibly supportive of her equine passion, and her mother’s influence as a Quarter Horse owner and exhibitor before Hannah’s birth played a significant role in shaping her love for horses. Currently, Hannah is an amateur all-around exhibitor, accompanied by her gelding, The White House. Alongside her dedication to the equestrian world, she works full time as an Export Analysis for UPS. Six months ago, Hannah and her husband, Russell welcomed their daughter Harper to their family.

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Like many equestrian moms, Hannah faced unique challenges while juggling her passion for horse showing and caring for her newborn. As an exclusive breastfeeding mother, ensuring that Harper had enough milk became a top priority during horse shows and riding sessions. Hannah adapted her schedule, incorporating extra pumping sessions throughout the week leading up to competitions to ensure a sufficient supply for Harper. On show days, she woke up an hour early to pump to meet Harper’s needs while she was away for her classes.

Reflecting on her experiences, Hannah offers valuable advice to future moms facing similar challenges. “The best advice I can give to future moms-to-be is not to be worried. You will find a way to make it work, even if that means less sleep or having to ask for help. There is not anything that you can’t do, and if you really love it, you will make it work. I would also suggest starting back with one class – show in your favorite event and be gracious with yourself. Your body has gone through so many changes in the past nine months, it is so incredibly difficult to bounce back and expect yourself to be able to get on your horse and show like the rider you were before your baby. Be adaptable and flexible. Lastly, enjoy every second, the best mom is a happy mom.”

Kelsey Keathly

Kelsey Keathly, a third-generation equestrian, is now proudly raising the fourth generation with the addition of her daughter, Kailee. Together, they share a deep love for horses, nurtured by Kelsey’s 19-year companion, Investers Norfleet, who holds a special place in their hearts. “Norman” has become an integral part of their family, shown not only by Kelsey, but also by her mother and young daughter, making their bond all the more meaningful.

As a full-time equestrian creative, Kelsey offers various services, including photography, graphic design, business coaching, media photography, and freelance writing. Juggling these roles alongside being a mom requires creativity and determination. “I want Kailee to view me as someone she can look up to and aspire to be like – someone who is able to manage a business, a show career, and be a mom,” affirms Kelsey.

During the shows, Kailee’s enthusiasm for the equestrian world shines through. She eagerly watches the trail pen and takes an interest in her mother’s work as a photographer. Kelsey actively involves Kailee, assigning the little tasks that keep her engaged and part of the action. With the help of her mom or sister, Kelsey ensures Kailee’s comfort and enjoyment, making the experience memorable for both of them.

Kelsey describes watching her daughter’s blossoming love for the equestrian world, “Getting to see her fall in love with the industry, experience it for the first time, and find joy in the things that I lost sight of brings it all back for me.” She also reminds us, “I am Kelsey the mom, Kelsey the professional, and Kelsey the equestrian. It’s about the skill of balance, being able to keep the priorities in the right order, and having an incredible village around you.

Note from the author – Morgan Jennings

This topic is personal to me to share with you because I have now been on both sides of this, wondering what would happen to my life as a horsewoman and exhibitor. In fact, I delayed this part of my life out of fear of what was to come.

While it looks different for everyone, what I want you to know is that the fear will fade as you naturally adjust to your new life as a mom. And, hopefully you will feel the love of the people around you and be able to lean on them for support. You will return the favor someday to someone else. None of it is easy but it is all worth it. You will learn more about yourself and your limits – and when to listen to them and when to push past them.

You will most likely fall even deeper in love with this sport and this animal because it becomes very clear how much space they take up in your identity. You will also love your people even more for seeing you at your best and worst and having your back no matter what.

About the Author – Morgan Jennings is a lifelong AQHA exhibitor from Michigan. She competes in the Amateur All-Around with her geldings Finely Asleep and Simply Presidential. Morgan is a full-time Natural Resources Specialist with USDA, farms with her husband as well as running Revitalized Saddles (tack dyeing), and most importantly is now a mom to her daughter Sawyer who has been attending horse shows since she was five weeks old.
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