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My wife rode horses while pregnant without any issues, but that was over 15 years ago. Now our older daughter is pregnant, and more than one friend has warned her that she shouldn’t ride her horse. I decided to research the issue so she can make an informed decision.
You can ride a horse while pregnant, but you must consider your doctor’s advice, your horse’s temperament, and your riding experience, along with many other factors. Your doctor may advise against riding if you have a high-risk pregnancy, and it’s best to be cautious.
Horse owners want and often need to ride their horses for various reasons. But you and your baby’s safety and health are most important so let’s look at the pros and cons of riding horses when pregnant.
Can you ride a horse pregnant?
Over the years, “whether horse-riding during pregnancy is good or not” has been a common question—expectant mothers that typically ride debate whether they should continue riding.
However, we know it is vital to stay physically active during pregnancy. But some concerns and questions are associated with riding while pregnant. Here are a few common questions that come to mind:
- Will my baby be healthy?
- Will I be a good mom if I’m riding while pregnant?
- Is it OK to exercise and horse ride during pregnancy?
- Can I safely ride while I’m pregnant?
Apart from this, some concerns and questions surround new mothers. So, today we will try to answer all those questions that can help pregnant women.
Is it safe to ride a horse during pregnancy?
I know many mothers out there love riding, and it’s not only part of their routine; it’s their physical workout for the day. But how safe it is to keep riding during pregnancy.
So, the answer to this question is that women can do horse riding while pregnant but with caution. However, it varies from case to case, and you should keep yourself prepared for the worst outcomes.
Be careful while riding:
Pregnant women who ride daily must be aware of their bodies and sensitive to changes. Riding can cause a miscarriage or premature birth.
Experienced female equestrians are typically in touch with their bodies and notice the slightest changes in riding ability, so they should take precautions to ensure their safety.
Above all, most professional riders are aware of the risk, and they work to build pelvic muscle strength. As a result of this strength, they can deal with the motion of moving horses while pregnant.
However, not all riders are at their level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to ride. It would be best to decide based on your personal medical history because every woman’s health, skills, strengths, and weaknesses are different.
So, many factors make every pregnancy unique and different. Thus, before getting into this, the first thing to do is get approval from your doctor. If he clears you to ride, the ball is strictly in your court, and you need to weigh the risks and benefits of riding pregnant.
Risks involved with horse riding.
If your doctor isn’t satisfied and doesn’t give you the green light to ride, you should heed his advice and quit riding until you have the baby. The doctor has the training and experience to make this decision.
You should stop riding if your doctor thinks it is unsafe for you. However, If your doctor clears you to ride, you should consider a few risks before making a final decision because every person’s horse and body are different.
Here are some risks you need to consider that are associated with riding:
- The danger of falling off
- Risk of being kicked in the stomach
- If you have a history of miscarriages, you should reconsider your decision.
Moreover, there is much less protection for the baby after the first trimester, which we will get into in more detail below. But this is something to consider if you’ve already passed the first trimester.
Don’t begin riding horses for the first time when you’re pregnant.
We mentioned earlier that it’s recommended to watch pregnant women closely if they are riding. But if it’s your first time and you want to try it, stop yourself.
We all know that horse riding is a sport that works many different muscles and requires skills. So, it would be best to think again before taking a horse’s reins in your hands.
According to the experts’ advice, a pregnant woman should avoid activities that can cause abdominal injuries. According to research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, trauma is the number one cause of non-obstetrical maternal deaths in the United States.
Also, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warn women should avoid activities with a high risk of falling and specifically list horseback riding along with snow skiing, surfing, and off-road cycling.
But if you are an accomplished and professional rider, you can understand the risk and are not likely to put yourself in a dangerous position on a horse, so the risks involved in low.
It is vital to keep yourself physically active during pregnancy, and there is nothing better than horse riding. Moreover, a pregnant lady can control the stress and take care of her emotional well-being through riding.
There are still many other perspectives on this issue, so let’s dive in a little deeper.
Horse riding during pregnancy
I covered some aspects of riding while pregnant, but I thought examining horse riding risks during each trimester would be beneficial.
You’ll be happy to know there are some benefits of riding while pregnant. So, let’s start to learn about these:
1st trimester: You are good to go
So far, we’ve discussed the dangers of riding, primarily because of the risk of falling. But in the first trimester, you are all set to go because the baby is protected inside the bony pelvic girdle.
In simple words, your body provides an extra level of protection if you fall. In the first trimester, your helmet should be your first friend. However, if you aren’t wearing a helmet, you are still putting your baby at risk.
So, the crux is that you can ride in the first trimester (with permission from your doctor), but you have to act responsibly. It’s vital to keep your child protected, wear a helmet, and only ride a safe horse.
Horse riding: 2nd trimester
Now we head towards the 2nd trimester, where pregnant women’s bodies continually change. However, in this pregnancy period, many things affect the body’s stability. We are going to elaborate on these situations in-depth in the following sub-headings:
In the 2nd trimester, the baby starts growing, and you need to change your lifestyle. However, at this time baby weighs around 2 pounds. It would be best if you were extra cautious during this time because it’s easy to lose your balance because of the extra weight you carry.
As you approach the end of the second trimester, your baby bump is likely pretty substantial, making it hard and uncomfortable to ride. It may be time to hang up the spurs.
In the 2nd trimester, your body releases high doses of hormones that help pelvic, hip joints, and muscles. As a result, it is easier for the body to stabilize the baby bump.
However, it doesn’t only work on your pelvic area. But it works on all the joints and muscles of the body, and it affects the balance that makes horse riding difficult and uncomfortable.
Seasonal risks of horse riding.
Seasonal and environmental risks are also essential, and you must consider them while making the decision. By seasonal risks, we mean mud, snow, or other challenging situations.
Rough terrain and severe weather may give you more challenges than usual. So, your decision to ride or not should take into consideration these factors.
For instance, if snow and slippery conditions exist, you need to cancel your ride or make necessary adjustments. If you begin to find riding difficult, you may end up with complications such as:
- Joint pain
- Back pain
- Less protection for the baby
- The threat of falling due to bumpy rides
There are risks associated with horse riding in the second trimester beyond just falling from the horse. So if the weather or conditions aren’t ideal, it would be best to avoid riding.
Horse riding: 3rd trimester:
The third trimester is crucial, and you need to take proper care of yourself. Thus, most women stop riding during this period, and physicians recommend women avoid horse riding.
During the third trimester, the risk of falling and damage increases. As a result of severe injuries, you may lose your child. But it doesn’t mean that you have to pause all equine activities, and you can’t touch your horse, but you do need to stay out of the saddle.
However, professional riders spend most of their time with other trainers to improve their skills. It is the best time to observe and learn; later, you can practice all those skills.
Moreover, you can remain in touch with your horse; it may improve your relationship with your favorite animal. Above all, spending time with your horse doing groundwork and relaxing has a calm and soothing effect.
As a result, it will give your child a warmth that a baby can feel inside the womb.
|1st Trimester||2nd Trimester||3rd trimester|
|Condition||Immense physiological changes where blood vessels and uterus enlarge||Mother and child both experience dramatic changes, and weight gain affects balance and center of gravity||Baby starts growing that, affects the body’s stability, and adds the risk of injury|
|Horse riding precautions||You can do horse riding if your doctor recommends||Body changes, so you should avoid riding||Time to stop horse riding|
Now, you need to remember that you are making decisions for two. So, it would help if you consider the pros and cons before making any decision. But you don’t need to worry if you can’t return to the saddle for some time.
Because you will have an opportunity to get involved in other activities; as a result, you will build a better relationship with your horse and stay calm and focused on what’s important, your baby’s health and well-being.
Non-riding options for pregnant women
Women can indulge themselves in horse riding in the first and 2nd trimesters. But things start changing at the start of 3rd trimester. So, in this period, you must decide how you want to interact with your animal.
Here are some activities that allow you to spend quality time with your horse when you can’t ride:
- Teach your horse some tricks: You can use this time to teach some cool tricks to your horse. For instance, teach your horse how to give a pose to the camera, sit or stand on your command. I know you would love to see these incredible changes in your horse.
- Lunge your horse: When you lunge a horse, you move it around you in a circle on the end of a long lead rope, called a lunge line. Lunge training helps your horse burn off energy and teaches obedience. It will help you understand the horse better, and later it will benefit you once you are back in the saddle.
- Liberty training: Liberty training is a unique method of training your horse without using ropes or force; it takes patience. But there is nothing better than improving your relationship with the horse. So, use this time to enhance engagement through liberty training. As a result of this activity, you can keep yourself physically and mentally active.
Above all, you can spend the time of the 3d trimester by indulging yourself in yoga. I know it’s not related to horses. But yoga will help bring flexibility to the body, making it easy for you to resume riding.
Benefits of horse riding for body and mind during pregnancy.
The decision of the riding depends on the rider, preferably after a discussion with a doctor. But horse riding has many benefits that directly relate to mental and physical health. Here we are mentioning some:
Physical and psychological health benefits of horse riding
Like other forms of exercise, horse riding helps reduce fluids that build varicose veins. Moreover, it increases your strength and stamina for labor pain and delivery.
Many physical and mental benefits are associated with riding. Most importantly, a pregnant woman can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles with horse riding.
Apart from this, in pregnancy, a woman goes through different changes in her body. However, she needs flexibility and body strength to handle these changes in this situation. These are some of the benefits of riding horses:
- Staying with horse riding during pregnancy keeps you feeling normal and maintains your sense of identity.
- It has positive impacts on mental health.
- As a result of good mental health, you don’t feel stressed or depressed.
- Above all, a healthy mind gives you the strength to deal with anxiety and mood swings.
- If you keep yourself busy riding every day, it will help you get a good night’s sleep.
In short, if your mental health is good, it positively impacts your physical health as well. So, spending time with your horse is good for the body, brain, and emotional health. Apart from this, a less stressed mother has a low cortisol level, which is vital for the baby’s well-being and health.
If you are horse riding, you get the benefits of a workout—some physical trainers rate horseback riding equally as a 30-minute exercise routine.
This means that riding meets all the needs of intense workouts. For a pregnant woman, it is vital to stay balanced in the saddle. But for this, you are required to use your core muscles.
Horse riding is one exercise that works on the body to build core strength. I wrote an article on this topic you may find beneficial: The 7 Ways Horse Riding Is Amazing Exercise.
Moreover, you can involve yourself in exercises like walking, yoga, swimming, or any other activity vital for your well-being.
Guide to horse riding while pregnant.
After reading the above conversation, now you are well aware of the situation. So, the decision is yours based on your doctor’s recommendation and the risk you’re willing to accept.
If you decide to ride, here are some more things you need to consider.
I’ve already explained that seasonal risks could make horse riding dangerous for a pregnant rider. For instance, if the riding path is muddy or slippery, you skip riding that day because of the risk of your horse falling or you falling from your horse because it slips in the mud or on ice.
But regardless of the terrain or conditions, if you have a history of miscarriage, keep yourself away from all physical activities, including horse riding. But this advice should have been given to you by your doctor.
Choose to ride a proper horse.
People already in the horse riding world know horses have different personalities, abilities, training, and temperaments. Some horses are suitable for riding, but others aren’t.
However, while deciding on the horse, you should either know the horse well or only ride one that someone you trust recommends, don’t take chances riding a horse you don’t know.
If you know your horse well, then there would be fewer chances of accidents. But you should avoid riding if you don’t know anything about the horse.
How long after childbirth can you ride?
Every birth and body is different from another. So, if you want to return to horses, listen to your body to make a decision. Some women have C-sections or complications.
If you are one of those, you shouldn’t return to riding until you are ready for all this. Here are some tips that will help you learn when to return to riding.
- The first thing that you should do is listen to your body. If you can’t bear heavy exercise or face a lack of sleep, then it’s not a good sign. Horse riding demands proper focus and energy. So, give your body time and attention to recover. However, at this time, you involve yourself in moderate physical activities to build stamina.
- You are returning from pregnancy, and your body deserves praise for this. But you don’t need to push and mold your body a certain way. At first, there could be some challenges, and you must learn how to deal with them.
In short, it will take some time to develop patience, determination, and common sense to achieve the goals that you used to do. Also, rely on your doctor for advice. Be open and honest when describing how you feel and when a doctor thinks it’s safe, they will release you to start riding again.
Below is a YouTube video with tips for horse riding when you’re pregnant.
I love animals! Especially horses, I’ve been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn’t make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines.