Being pregnant you may have decided to wait on riding your horse until after your baby is born. As you wait for your new addition to enter the world, you might be wondering what fun things you can do with your horse as well as what you can do to prepare yourself as a horse owner and a soon to be mom.
So What To Do With Your Horse While You Are Pregnant? While you are pregnant and a horse owner it is important to get ready and prepared for your soon coming baby. Find help and backup, put plans in place for your horse’s care and expenses. You can take this time before baby to work on bonding and training from the ground.
This is also the time to prepare your horse for your baby. Once the baby gets here let me tell you it is not as easy as you think, if this is your first child. I can’t say I know what it’s like to be having more than one yet. I am going to share ways you can prepare yourself and your horse for the upcoming life changes.
When I was pregnant I didn’t own a horse but I was working as a barn manager and instructing here and there. I actually was considering buying a horse while I was pregnant but decided to wait. There is still a lot you can do with your horse despite not riding. I am going to share some ideas so you can get started and hopefully develop a better relationship with your horse and end up with a better trained horse.
What To Do To Prepare For Your Baby As A Horse Owner
Having a baby can be a happy exciting time but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time. When you add a horse into the picture that makes things even more overwhelming and stressful. So the best thing you can do is make a plan and maybe a back up plan for your horse sooner than later, so you are not scrambling on what to do when the time comes and the baby is born.
You will find you don’t have a lot of energy, time, or patience in the beginning and all your attention is going to be on the baby, so it is so important you think of your horse now and prepare.
Consider Full Board
If you are not already doing full board with your horse consider it. Of course you need to have the finances to be able to afford having your horse go on full board. If you are changing to full board from keeping your horse at home that financial cost goes up quite a bit. However, if you can afford it, full board may be worth the cost for you.
You won’t have to worry if you can’t make it to the barn, or if you are physically unable to do the barn work. Your horse will be fed and given fresh water. Stall will be cleaned and your horse will get a daily turnout. Blankets will be changed if need be or fly spray put on when it’s buggy. Your horse will be getting all the basic care.
Aside from the problem of cost another challenge is finding the right barn to board at. Not all boarding barns are equal. Some are better than others, some provide more services, some have better turnout, some have more qualified stable hands, some buy better quality feed and grain, some barns are better kept than others. You want to take the time to evaluate the barn and make sure it is acceptable and it is going to be a good fit for your horse.
Finding Barn Help For Keeping Horse Home
If you decide that you don’t want to full board your horse or you can’t because you can’t afford the extra costs, you are still going to want to put aside some money for barn help. While you’re pregnant it is still okay for you to work at the barn that is not a problem unless your doctor thinks you’re at high risk and says otherwise.
Check out my article: Working On A Horse Farm During Pregnancy: Is It Safe To Work At The Barn When Pregnant?
However even though you are okay working at the barn right now. There may come a time when you need to stop. You want to have a back up plan in place so that you don’t have extra stress and you know your horse will be taken care of and okay. If you have family living at home you don’t have to pay that can take over that is great. But not everyone has that.
Start looking for barn help as soon as you can and preferably have back up people in case something happens with the person you hire. Do you have horsey friends or family you can ask to be back up just in case? Figure all this out and write down the names and numbers.
You will definitely need someone to take care of the horses when you go into labor and delivery and are at the hospital or wherever you are planning to have your baby. And then you need time to let your body recover after having your baby as well as figure out a rhythm and schedule with your baby between breastfeeding, pumping, burping, diaper changes, getting baby to fall asleep and putting baby down for sleep. So you will still want to have help for a while. It can be especially draining in the first couple weeks.
It may be a good idea to have the new barn help work before they are needed a couple times a week so they can get used to the routine that you have at your barn. Then you can feel comfortable that they know what to do when you are not able to be there.
Keep Horse Ridden Or Let Horse Take A Vacation?
It can take quite a bit of time and effort to recondition a horse after having an extended amount of time off. Of course if you decide to let your horse just have a break from being ridden that is totally fine. If you do you just want to make sure when you start riding again you need to realize your horse will not have the same fitness level and ability and will need to slowly work back to that level. Proper reconditioning is important in order to prevent injuries. Another thing you should know if you let your horse take a break is that the saddle fit may change. This is because your saddle is currently fitted to how your horses muscles and back confirmation are right now. In 3-10 months of not riding your horse’s back muscles are going to change and so will the fit of the saddle.
So you will want to refit the saddle before starting the reconditioning program.
If you decide you want your horse to keep being ridden you have several options:
- Allow your horse be used in a lesson program at the barn you board at.
- Allow an experienced rider that can improve or maintain your horse ride for free.
- Pay a trainer to keep your horse conditioned.
- Lease your horse out to a competent rider or rider working with an instructor
- Keep riding during your pregnancy (Although it comes to a point where you stop because your balance starts to get affected and it gets uncomfortable.)
Consider Leasing Your Horse Out
You may want to think about leasing your horse. This will bring in some extra money to help cover your horse’s expenses, keep your horse exercised and make sure your horse is being looked over and getting attention. You have a lot of different options for the kinds of horse leases you can choose from. It may be a bit of a process finding the right rider for your horse. You don’t want to lease your horse to a rider that is too inexperienced that could teach your horse bad habits or potentially be put in a dangerous situation.
With the exception your horse is beginner safe, your horse is boarded at a barn with an instructor and the beginner lessor is willing to take regular lessons with your horse.
Selling Your Horse
You may decide that the best thing to do is sell your horse. It can be a very hard decision to sell a horse. Especially if your plan was to give the horse a long term home. I have read stories of many equestrians that sold their horses after becoming pregnant and they totally regretted their decision after having their baby and getting settled into parenthood. A couple of these equestrians were actually able to buy their horses back.
This is not something to take lightly. So seriously consider if this is something you want to do that you won’t regret. If you want to keep your horse but feel like there aren’t many options just remember where there’s a will there’s a way!
Here Are Some Reasons You May Consider Selling Your Horse
- You plan to have your baby at the barn and your horse is the kind of horse that needs your complete focus in order to be safe.
- You want a quieter horse since your baby will be growing up around the horse you own.
- You are struggling with money or worried about the costs of having a baby and managing to pay for a horse.
- You are worried about not having enough time for your horse.
- You are unsure of what the future brings and think it will be easier without the responsibility of owning a horse.
If you decide to sell your horse, make sure it is something you really want to do. Horses are not like cats and dogs they are a lot more responsibility and cost a heck of a lot more. The most important thing to do if you decide it is best to sell your horse, is to find the right match and suitable home for your horse.
Swapping Out Your Horse Products
When you become pregnant it is important to swap out all your cleaning products, personal care products and make-up to pregnancy safe ones.
Certain horse products can be harmful during pregnancy and you should avoid them. You can either stop using them, have someone else use them for you or swap them out for pregnancy safe options.
Horse Products To Avoid While Pregnant
I mentioned these products in my blog post about working at a horse farm during pregnancy.
- Fly Spray
- Shine and Detangler Sprays
- Bug Repellent
- Paste Dewormer
- Other Horse Pharmaceuticals
- Hoof Polish
- Thrush treatments
- Kitty Litter Boxes
- Moth Balls
To Ride Or Not To Ride While Pregnant
Deciding whether riding is right for you during your pregnancy is a personal choice. There are many people that may look down on you if you decide to ride.
But if your doctor clears you to ride, you really want to continue to ride and you are taking the right precautions, it may benefit you to keep riding.
Just be prepared people usually won’t keep comments to themselves and may have some things to say. Brush it off and do what you think is best.
If you are not sure you want to ride or not and you are afraid that you could fall and the baby could get hurt. Then follow your gut and don’t ride. You will have a better piece of mind and your risk for getting hurt will be greatly reduced, because you won’t be falling off a horse.
There are other things you can do with your horse rather than ride, that will improve your horse’s training and your relationship with your horse.
14 Ideas For Training Your Horse From The Ground
This is a list of things you can teach your horse from the ground if you decide you would rather not ride during your pregnancy, but still want to work with your horse. Of course these are great to do with your horse even if you still ride because groundwork is fundamental in establishing respect, cooperation, understanding, trust, and it’s fun.
Here is an article by thehorse.com for more on why groundwork is important.
1. Comfortable With Being Touched All Over
Teach your horse to accept being touched everywhere with different items. This helps to desensitize your horse. You can use:
- Your hands
- A crop or dressage whip
- A lunge whip
- Saddle pad
- Plastic bag tied on the end of your dressage whip
- Be creative… what else could you get your horse comfortable with
2. Comfortable With Ropes Being Thrown Around And Over
Teach your horse to stay calm when ropes are being thrown over their neck and back. This also helps to desensitize your horse.
3. Ground Tying
Teach your horse to stand still in one spot while the horse is not tied to anything. This is a good training exercise for helping to develop respect, calmness, and trust.
4. Backs Up With A Small Wiggle Of Rope
Teach your horse to back up with just a small wiggle of the lead rope. This helps to make your horse more attentive, responsive, and respectful.
5. Picks Up Feet With Voice Command And Touch
No more struggling to get your horse to lift their feet for picking out. Teach your horse to respond to “hoof” and touch the leg you want your horse to pick up.
6. Horse Drops Head From Pressure
This is a great skill for horses that are tall or difficult to halter or bridle. But when a horse lowers their head it also releases a calming chemical in their brain. It can be beneficial to help calm your horse.
7. Leading Your Horse From Both Sides
We were taught to do most everything on the left side, due to tradition and what the horses we work with are used to. But this causes us and the horses to become more one-sided. Lead your horse from both sides to help you and your horse become less one-sided.
8. Responsive To Voice Commands
Brush up on voice commands while leading and lunging. Voice commands can help reinforce your aids and help to get the horse’s attention when they are distracted.
Lunging can be beneficial and harmful. Make sure you change gaits and directions often. Endless circles at the same gaits become mindless to the horse and lunging can cause wear and tear on the horse’s legs over time. Try ground poles, changing circle sizes, making ovals, and taking walk breaks around the arena.
10. Accepting Dewormer
I am not saying to use actual dewormer because it is one of the items to avoid. But you can get your horse more comfortable with the worming process and provide a positive experience by using a thick syringe and filling it with water and applesauce. This is good for horses that hate being dewormed.
11. Accepting Shots
For horses that hate getting shots, you can use a syringe about the same side as a shot without a needle of course. And get your horse used to pretend shots. You’ll be surprised if your horse hates shots they may be wary of the “fake” shot. I used a pen with a cap as my pretend shot and my mare thought it was a real shot. I got her used to the fake shot and she was much better with the real thing when the time came, but of course, the real thing hurts more.
12. Moving Hindquarters And Forehand
Teach your horse to do a turn on the forehand and a turn on the hindquarters from the ground. This works on their responsiveness to pressure and can help translate when under saddle. This exercise also gets the horse more aware of their feet and where they are placing their feet.
13. Move Your Horse Sideways
This is another good exercise to work on controlling the horse’s legs and body, getting the horse more responsive, more supple, more aware of where their feet are.
14. Flexing Neck
Teach your horse to give to pressure in the halter and flex their neck on both sides of their body. This helps with suppleness, responsiveness, trust, and softness which can translate into the saddle. This exercise is helping the horse to understand how to respond to pressure.
Fun Things To Improve Your Bond With Your Horse
Part of the joy of being with horses aside from riding and training, is the bond and relationship that can be created between horse and human. Here are different things you can do that can help strengthen your bond with your horse.
Horses enjoy hanging out with their herd. Pull up a chair or find a nice big rock and just hang out with your horse. They are used to seeing you and then being taken in to be groomed and ridden. It would be a nice change for them to just hang out with you, be a horse, and enjoy the company. Your horse may even come over to sniff and check you out. They will be wondering what you are doing.
Have A Picnic
Similar to hanging out with your horse but with food. Get your horse some nice fresh hay, and some horse-friendly snacks. Don’t forget to pack yourself a yummy lunch to enjoy with your furry bud and eat together. Just expect your horse may try to sneak some of your lunch.
This is something you do often but this time let’s make a twist. No grooming tools, just your hands. Horses groom each other with their lips and tend to groom around the withers neck and back area. Let your fingers get dirty and give your horse a good scratch. Make it a game and try to find your horse’s sweet spots.
Pregnancy Photo Shoot
Many women during pregnancy like to have pregnancy photos taken. Why not include your horse in the photo action. You will have some sweet memories to look back on. Dress up and make it a fairy tale photoshoot, or whatever theme you want.
Bob For Apples
It’s fun to watch your horse eagerly try to get the apples bobbing in the water. Cheer your horse on as they try to grab one. Will your horse be a champion apple bobber or struggle and have them keep slipping away. In that case just give them an apple before they get too frustrated, at least they tried.
This will be your horse’s favorite way to stretch. You can work on flexing on each side. How far back can your horse bring their nose? Carrot between their front legs into a bow. At carrot at your horse’s chest.
Giant Horse Ball Toys
Want to have some fun playing with your horse? Get a giant horse ball toy (on horse.com) that your horse can bite, kick, and push around. Some horses aren’t all that interested but some horses love these things and can spend hours throughout the day playing with these balls.
Teach Your Horse Tricks- Kiss, Yes, No.
These are just fun. I taught my mare to kiss and say yes. However, I never figured out how to teach her to say no. She was very agreeable and always said yes when I asked for her opinion.
Maybe you take your horse out to a lush area of grass and just hand graze. This is another way to hang out with your horse. Helping your horse to associate you with good things.
Go For Walks
Walk around the property and go for a walk. A good way to get exercise, let your horse get out of their paddock and explore. Help your horse to see you as the herd leader and gain trust in you.
Learn how to give your horse a basic massage. Massage can help relax your horse, help loosen tight areas, and relieve pain, improve circulation, help even out your horse’s body, and increase your horse’s trust in you.
You may not be able to do acupuncture with needles but you can do acupressure. Acupressure is said to relieve tension, help relax, improve the immune system, help with pain and muscle spasms.
There are essential horses that help with different issues. However, make sure you learn about essential oils first. Some are not safe for horses and some are not safe during pregnancy. Plus you must properly dilute the essential oils.
Like This Article? Check Out More!
- How Soon You Can Horseback Ride After Having A Baby
- Can Horses Sense When A Woman Is Pregnant?
- Riding A Horse While I Am Pregnant: Can It Cause A Miscarriage
- Returning To Riding Horses After A Baby: What To Expect
- Working On A Horse Farm During Pregnancy: Is It Safe To Work At The Barn When Pregnant?