Kimberly “KC” Compton DiCostanzo, a New York-based eventer and doting owner of ex-racehorse Zeus, recently welcomed her first child, Lyra, into her growing family, that now includes, husband Matt, several horses, and a gaggle of lesson riders.
In this week’s Clubhouse Q&A, DiCostanzo answers questions about how she juggles the demands of motherhood with the daily feeding and cleaning chores necessary to keep her barnyard family happy.
Q: What has been the most surprising part about adapting to motherhood while running a horse farm?
I’m surprised how much you can do with a baby attached to you!
In all seriousness, there have been many occasions where I’ve had to load Lyra up into a sling or the Baby Bjorn and do barn chores or even teach. I’ve lost more than one pacifier in the field.
If the baby is awake and I’ve got to feed the horses, she comes out in her stroller and camps outside the fence while I work. Time management is also a necessary skill, between the barn schedule and the baby’s. But I’ve also been fortunate that I have such a great support network of family, friends, clients and students that not only want to help with the horses, but also want to spend some quality time with our daughter.
Q: You rode at the beginning of the pregnancy, and got back into the saddle mere weeks after giving birth. Were there physical issues to deal with? And, how did you know it was okay to ride so soon after having a baby?
I was very fortunate that my physical limitations were minimal, even though I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and therefore had a more challenging labor and delivery.
Fortunately, the cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby, so once Lyra was born, my symptoms abated quickly. About two and a half weeks after having Lyra, it was a beautiful day, she was sleeping and I just couldn’t help myself—I needed to get outside and have some “me” time with my horse after adjusting to being a new mom.
It was a wonderful moment of Zen for me, and while it was a mellow ride, it was a start. Over the next two weeks, I began making my rides more challenging with light trot and canter sets, and lots of ground poles and small gymnastics.
More than anything, I was afraid that I would lose my nerve after having a baby—that I would fear serious injury since I am now responsible for someone other than myself.
I’m happy to say I’m still galloping at solid fences!
Q: How do you balance your time between your beautiful daughter, Lyra, and your gorgeous horse, Zeus?
It’s a challenge, as both are demanding of my time! It takes a village. Literally.
My husband works from home several days per week, so I get out to ride Zeus and my client horses before he begins his workday.
My mom also plays a huge role in Lyra’s care, coming to our home at least once a week (many times with pre-made dinners, cake and cookies!) to watch Lyra while I ride or teach. At shows where I’m riding and coaching, my husband Matt is on hand, as well as my mom and one of my teen students acts as a groom.
Meanwhile, I’ll tap another student to muck stalls at home that day so it’s one less thing I have to do.
It sounds chaotic, and it is – but it all comes together! I could not do this— any of this —without all the wonderful people in my life, especially Matt.
Q: What advice would you give other expectant equestrians?
Can you have it all … motherhood and your equestrian passion? Yes!
Everyone figures out what system or schedule (or lack of a schedule) works for them, and new parents should always go with their gut instincts.
I’m not even sure how qualified I am to give advice, since I’ve only been a mother for three months! However, be prepared to alter expectations and plans.
I originally intended to be back competing six weeks after giving birth, but realized that wasn’t in the best interests of my horse or myself in the long run, and devised a more mellow competitive season this year, focusing on lessons, schooling and education instead.
But while becoming a mother can be all consuming, don’t forget to take some time and do what you love, too. You’ll come back refreshed and once your child is older, they’ll be able to see their parent do something they love, which will encourage them to do the same.