As soon as I found out I was pregnant my husband wanted me to stop riding. I was torn because horses have been such a big part of my life. Aside from God, horses have always given me a sense of comfort, purpose, and drive.
I have been riding with hardly any breaks since I was a young girl. From lessons to working student positions to being on a college dressage team to being a resident student and working on a huge eventing farm to training green horses and ottbs, to become a riding instructor.
So the prospect of stopping riding for 9 months and probably more really bothered me.
I decided to do some research on riding while being pregnant. To find out if it is possibly safe to do so. What I realized and found out was that there are risks associated with riding while pregnant and you should stop after a certain point, but there are also some benefits to riding while pregnant.
I did decide to stop riding until after my pregnancy. But I had been riding for the first two months or more because I didn’t know I was pregnant.
Benefits Of Horse Riding While Pregnant
It made me really happy to find out that there are benefits of horse riding while pregnant, despite only riding the first two months of my pregnancy.
Horse riding while pregnant like other forms of exercise helps with a reduction in fluid build-up and varicose veins. Exercise helps build and maintain the stamina needed for labor and delivery.
Riding horses is especially beneficial for strengthening kegel or pelvic floor muscles. Check out this article by Pampers about the benefits of strengthening your kegels and pelvic floor muscles.
With so many changes you need to make during pregnancy, sticking with horse riding can help keep a sense of your identity. Not only that but riding can help with your mental health, reducing stress and anxiety, depression. Doing something you love like riding can help you sleep better at night because you are less stressed.
A less stressed out mama with lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone) will help your baby’s wellness also.
… this study showed that late pregnancy anxiety and cortisol was associated with children’s respiratory and digestive illnesses till the age of 3.0–3.5 years. Additionally, more daily hassles were related to more prescribed antibiotics between one and six years.
Taylor and Francis Report- Original Research Report- Maternal late pregnancy anxiety and stress is associated with children’s health: a longitudinal study
Can You Horse Ride In Early Pregnancy?
I rode in my early pregnancy and my baby is well developed, and healthy. Granted I didn’t know I was pregnant when I was still riding.
If you know you are pregnant check with your doctor first to get their opinion. Every pregnancy is different, sometimes you may need bed rest and sometimes they recommend exercising.
Early in pregnancy; the first trimester, your baby is in your pelvic girdle, which is low in your belly and would provide some level of protection if you were to fall. As your baby gets bigger and moves up higher in your abdominal wall the risks increase immensely if you were to fall.
Should You Ride Horses When You Are Pregnant?
Doctors recommend avoiding activities where there is a high risk of abdominal injuries or falling. Even though riding during the first trimester will probably be fine, you have to keep in mind you are still taking a risk.
Aside from falling off, getting bumped in the stomach by the horse’s head, your horse tripping or getting kicked, there is also the problem of the placenta detaching from the uterus from all the bouncing and movement in the saddle.
Then further along in your pregnancy as your baby grows, your balance will be affected as well as your comfort. As you know your balance affects your horse’s balance and movement. So keep this in mind if you are thinking of continuing to ride.
If you still desire to ride during your pregnancy, make sure you take it easy, on a calm reliable horse that has smooth gaits. Fast work and jumping definitely not recommended.
If you want peace of mind and less risk and decide not to ride. That is okay. You don’t have to totally miss out on horses during that time. You can spend your would-be riding time learning by watching other riding lessons. If you have your own horse you can work on strengthening your bond and communication with your horse.
I did still work at the barn doing the feeding, turn out, mucking stalls and all the normal chores until I was 10 months pregnant. I think it actually helped me when it came time to labor and delivery because it kept me in shape and I still got some sort of horse fix.
When Should I Stop Riding When I Am Pregnant?
You should stop riding if your doctor thinks it’s unsafe for you or your baby.
You should stop riding if your balance is being affected, as you could be more at risk of falling off or bouncing around and detaching the placenta.
There is much less protection for your baby after the first trimester. So you should really consider stopping riding towards the end of the first trimester.
Stop if your horse is not calm or reliable enough to be trusted for you and your baby to be safe. Of course, to some extent, no horse can be 100% reliable.
When you do stop riding, as long as your doctor gives you the go-ahead, keep exercising. Staying in shape and flexible during your pregnancy will give you the strength and stamina for the labor and delivery, it will help you recover faster and you will be back on a horse quicker.
Workout Video For Pregnant Mamas To Get Back In Saddle
Here’s a video I found on YouTube similar to what I followed and found helpful during my pregnancy. So you can get in shape for baby delivery, recover faster postpartum and get back in the saddle faster.
Can Riding A Horse Cause A Miscarriage?
Riding horses during pregnancy is something you definitely want to consider with caution.
If you have a history of miscarriage its best that you wait to ride after the baby is born. It’s not worth the risk.
If you fall, get kicked, or the placenta detaches the risk for miscarriage is very high.
Will You Horseback Ride During Your Pregnancy?
Ultimately it is up to you and your doctors if you want to ride during your pregnancy. There are some benefits to doing so. But you gotta weigh the risks versus the benefits and if you want to take on that responsibility. And if you do decide to ride it’s best you stop before the end of the first trimester. Remember there are other horsey things you can do besides riding during your pregnancy.
Check out Savvy Horsewoman’s 10 Tips For Horseback Riding During Pregnancy.
Personally, I chose to forgo riding during my pregnancy, after I found out I was pregnant because I didn’t want to take any risks. I felt like I couldn’t forgive myself if something did happen and I would be worrying about all the what if’s.
The next time, however, If I am still leasing Chip I may ride him in my first trimester. He is a steady eddy, very smooth and I feel comfortable enough to do some easy-going walk-trot on him. If there was any day I felt doubt though I wouldn’t ride and probably just hang out with him or hand walk him.
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Let me know in the comments if you rode during your pregnancy or if you are planning to ride during your pregnancy or not.