It is not particularly hard to look after two children and two horses, but you do have to be prepared for some juggling. An average day looks like this:
6.30am(ish) DS wakes up for his morning milk
7am - our alarm goes off, everyone starts getting up, dressed, breakfast etc.
8.40am - leave the house to get DD to preschool, back home just before 9am
DS and I usually try to go to some toddler groups, the market, town or wherever, and try to get some housework done. Fortunately one of the other liveries feeds the horses in the morning and another turns the horses out. Without this help, life would be a damn sight harder!
11.45am - pick DD up from preschool, back home for lunch.
1.30/2pm - we load up into the car and go to the yard.
DS sleeps at this time. I park the car on the yard and he sleeps in his carseat. Sometimes DD will sit and read in the car, but mostly she comes out to 'help' me muck out. She has her own mini wheelbarrow, shovel and broom, so she can play at helping if she wants to, or just fill the barrow with mud (another favourite game!)
I put the sugarbeet on when I first get to the yard (it is KwikBeet, so only takes 10mins to soak) then muck out. Both of mine are on rubber matting and straw. Unlike many people who use rubber matting, I still put a full bed on top.I then refill their water buckets.Then I do the haynets. I hate this job, it is possibly the worst job to do with horses. Unfortunately, with hay being the price it is, I cannot afford for them to waste any, so the nets are non negotiable.
After the nets, I sweep up, do the feeds, then get the horses in. All 7 of them some days. This is the downside to having someone feeding and turning out, I return the favour by getting them in.
I pick out both of my two's feet, straighten rugs and on a good day try to get one of them exercised.
At the moment they are going out onto woodchip turnout due to the mud, so poo picking is not on the list of jobs, but when on the grass this is another job to be done, daily if possible.
I usually get home around 4pm, put on Cbeebies, make everyone a drink and a snack and try to have a 15min sit down, then I start dinner, do more laundry, try to play with the children for while, and write my list for the next day. We usually have dinner around 6pm(ish) then kids bath, stories, teeth brushing etc then kids in bed for around 7/7.30pm
Then DH and I try to clear up the sitting room of toys, light a fire, clear up all the mess from dinner (believe me there is a lot of mess!) load up the dishy, more laundry, any other jobs that need doing (birthday cards, forms, credit card bills etc) and then we slump in front of the telly.
We are usually in bed by 10pm
This is an average day, and it seems to work ok, but there is not a lot of room for manouvre. For example, the other day DD went to a friends after preschool, the mum had to be back at the school for 3pm to pick up her older children so could drop DD off then. For this to be possible I either had to go to the horses early (getting them all in earlier than they are used to and one of them can be a bugger to catch!) or go later than usual and risk DS falling asleep at home and running out of daylight. In the end I agreed to to pick DD up at 2.15pm which was fine but meant the girls got very little time to play after having their lunch. Another example is if you have been up all night with the children, you cannot sleep when they have their nap, the horses cannot be put off. Not big things, nor important things, but things other people seem to take for granted, if you see what I mean? I imagine it is similar to people who work a couple of hours a week - no one else realises how important it is that things run to routine just so you can fit these hours in.
Of course, if really needed, the horses can wait til someone else can do them, but I'm talking about car breakdowns, hospital trips or planned in advance things.
I will often tell people who are thinking of getting a horse the bad bits, not that I am trying to put them off or give them a negative view, but because if they are thinking of getting a horse then they are already aware of all the good bits. Someone on Mumsnet recently told a poster who was thinking of getting their own horse, something like "Try going outside early every morning in the cold to sweep up leaves or something for an hour before even thinking about getting breakfast, properly dressed etc, then see if you are ready"
Says it all really, we must be mad