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Early pregnancy and Eventing

So I am very happy to be 8 weeks pregnant, so far no one except for baby daddy knows, and we want to keep it that way for at least another month.

But this is where I need advice from you riding mommies out there. Especially those who make a living off horses.
How did you do it? How long did you ride? Jump? Go xc? And how the heck did you handle non stop nausea and general fatigue?!

I can barely get through a day of barn work and teaching. Luckily most of my students ride their own horses so I don’t have to school theirs on a daily basis. Riding my own is HARD when I feel like fainting and puking simultaneously.
And I still have 2 Horse Trials left to go this season.
Today went from a planned xc school to laying on the couch eating ginger chews…

I wasn’t riding hard at all, just very light hacking and dressage twice a week in my semi-retiree. We stopped at about the 25 week mark, mostly because I couldn’t reach my girth and the bottom of my belly started to bump the pommel! On the other hand, I kept working in the barn until yesterday, just shy of 38 weeks. I moved my horse today to a place I won’t be working off board (about 2 hours a day, setting stalls, feeding, bringing in). Moving was not easy after 7+ years at my old barn :sadsmile:

However, the new place is great and much closer to home.

On top of it, I was VERY lucky in the nausea department and was very seldom sick. Mostly just constantly run down. If you can keep your activity level up, it can help but you really, really have to listen to your body.

I was lucky and never really sick. Had some nausea but not terrible. I did feel exhausted all the time and had to really make an effort to continue to ride. I worked full time as a nurse so not the same as barn work but on my feet all day! I competed at novice level until 20 weeks. Then it was July in Georgia and so I decided to stop riding. I did get on for the occasional hack until about 28 weeks but it became very difficult to dismount from my 17h horse! I had a c-section and was back riding the day after my 6 week check up and competing 3 months out.

I rode my last HT at 10 weeks along & it was the first time I’ve ever felt like I needed a breather midway through a course. I took it, no need to win Novice Olympics :wink: Nice trot break & back to it. Interestingly schooling XC for a solid 45min was not tiring at that point, but, I truly think it’s day by day and certainly heat & sun & weather takes a toll rather quickly. I had no desire to warmup for dressage (4pm in 90f/humid/blazing sun is not a pregnant ladies friend) & basically didn’t (some pleasant hacking was all I could muster). Worst dressage score ever but oh well. I was very happy so that’s all that matters - I’m a non pro & wouldn’t suggest racking up time penalties & a Dressage score 10 points higher than normal on a client horse. I have no desire to ride right now, but I’m hoping as the weather cools I will feel differently. Though not a horse pro I do work +50 hrs a week & it’s exhausting. Apparently the exhaustion fades but I’m in my 2nd trimester now & still tired, waiting to get zapped by the energy bug. I did one other HT while pregnant & had the same unfortunate D time in the heat & sun, those things are just wretched & the only time I start to feel icky. In hindsight I probably should’ve lunged the horse for some stretching but each time I was sure I was fine to properly warmup the horse for dressage.

Anyways, there’s a great thread on the h/j forum.

At five months I fell off - had not compensated for change of balance. I felt better and better as pregnancy progressed so you may be like that - hope so.

Congrats! I am 21 weeks right now and did my last horse trials (prelim) at 12-13 weeks. I am not a pro rider but work in the industry (eq vet) so can totally relate to the fatigue and nausea being terrible, especially when you have to spend the day on your feet and out in the heat. My last event I made it around, but it was a 1 day and I was totally exhausted by about fence 10 on xc- my saint of a horse helped me finish and we did well, but I took it as a sign because I didn’t want to keep going if I couldn’t do it well or safely. I am still riding, but have done an on-farm lease with my horse to a local college student, so mostly I just do hacks/trot sets when his leasee can’t make it out. I am still going to barre class and “running” (ok, mostly jogging/walking, but I think of them as my old running routine in my head :P) - just trying to stay as active as possible, although with work as busy as it is I am definitely more tired at the end of the day than pre-pregnancy. I didn’t believe people who said it would get better in the second trimester in terms of the energy and nausea, but it definitely does! I am still tired and some food still makes me gag, but in general I do feel MUCH better than I did! Now it’s dealing with the physical limitations of this weird growth (like, bending over to put on my boots and half chaps shouldn’t be so uncomfortable already, should it?!) but everyone carries differently and I know plenty of people at my stage who hardly feel pregnant at all (I secretly hate those people- they are usually the ones who also didn’t have morning sickness or fatigue, either! Life is so unfair sometimes).

I was comfortable jumping until I started to show. Many Drs aren’t comfortable with riding at all in pregnancy, mine was very pragmatic (her kids both ride so she is fairly horse savvy) but did agree it really would be better to not jump after the first trimester/when I started showing. That said, I know plenty of professionals who rode and competed up until their 7th month (!!). Kudos to them, I will for sure be a whale by that point and can’t see myself doing any riding well at that point. I plan to keep going as long as I feel safe, both with riding and work. I have had to temporarily “fire” only one patient so far (I do a lot of chiropractic so climbing up over horses and putting myself in generally vulnerable positions) for repeatedly kicking my blocks out from under me, and I won’t ride my husband’s baby horse anymore, but otherwise I’ve continued with business as usual as much as possible.

You’ll figure out what works for you and what you’re comfortable with, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how well people respond once you announce- I was scared I would lose a lot of business because people wouldn’t want the liability of a pregnant person working on their animal, but people have been great about it and I am very up front about what I feel safe doing or not doing with a patient depending on the scenario, which seems to make people more comfortable with the situation. Your students can still get lessons, and there’s plenty you can do from the ground once you no longer feel comfortable riding, and, as I have to remind myself on the regular, it’s a very temporary condition (thank goodness!).

So it looks like I’m in the minority here, but I coincidentally I found out I was pregnant during the 1st winter in 7 years that I did not own or full lease a horse. I also was terribly sick & dizzy everyday, so I just took it as a sign that I shouldn’t ride. Lo and behold at one of my 1st US we found I had a complete placenta previa (which persisted until I was way to big to ride) & I was put on modified bedrest… My point is just listen to your body & the signs the world is giving you. I love riding so much that I felt the need to protect it, & put it away for a while, because I had this (correct) nagging feeling that in my specific situation, it wouldn’t be safe. Congrats and seriously the second trimester is wonderful!!! It gets better!

I rode until 24 weeks with my first one and 32 weeks with my second (who is now 3 months old)…for me it was definitely about how my body felt but more importantly the horses I had to ride at the time! With my first one, I had only very green and slightly unpredictable youngsters in cold weather! I had one incident where my mare tried a little bucking and I ended up in front of the saddle because my body couldnt react fast enough. .I took that as my warning and stopped wven though in the saddle was the most comfortable I was all day!

For this most recent one, I had the same mare but now more predictable and better trained! And her little sister, very green and reactive…I stopped riding the greenie at about 6 months for the same reason…slower reaction time. But I was able to keep doing good dressage on my other mare til 32 weeks and then my pelvis started loosening up too much abd I was losing stability in my seat.

I didn’t jump much with either one but that was more due to life logistics (moving state to state) in the first half, I didn’t feel comfortable jumping much past 4 or 5 months due to changing balance. If I had different horses, I might have done it no problem!

I did barn work until 38ish weeks…I got to where I was so short of breath that it was taking forever to do stalls so I let my barn help take over :slight_smile:

I was absolutely exhausted the first trimester plus but it got better around week 15 or so…hang in there!

I was in grad school and paying for my riding by schooling horses while I was pregnant. I stopped jumping when the saddle hit my stomach, and I stopped riding when we found out it was twins at 18 weeks. At that point, I was the size of someone 7 months pregnant, so I guess I would have ridden till about 7 months if not twins. Listen to your body and do what feels right.

I had to eat lots of very small meals to avoid nausea.

I rode until 34 weeks with the first pregnancy, no jumping,just flat work.

I rode until 36 weeks with the second pregnancy, no jumping after about 12 weeks, and really just plunked around after 32 weeks.

I was riding almost daily during both pregnancies and I never got a really huge belly. I think both of those things helped to keep my balance from changing too much and to be able to keep up with the change.

I rode through the end of my 7th month, and that went okay, as at that point I wasn’t working towards a particular goal so could just do what felt right each day. My doctor was fine with me riding and put no restrictions on me. He said “stop when you feel unbalanced or uncomfortable.” At the end of month 7, I still felt okay in the saddle, but my hips felt awful once I dismounted. My stomach was also beginning to touch the pommel, so I decided the time was right.

I went to my last event when I was about 8 weeks pregnant. It was a hot day, and I was totally wiped out from it, way more than I ever had been while not pregnant (or since). Be careful and know your limits as far as exhaustion and balance go.

I took my horse to her first xc schooling the day I turned 24 weeks - we had a blast :). Honestly you should ride as much as you can and are comfortable with. I haven’t yet had a problem with nausea but the fatigue is awful. Its hard, but have to drag myself out of the house to go for a ride. But I will say after rising or just being at the barn I feel much more refreshed. I’m currently not riding because my horse decided to slice her leg open, but I’ll definitley be climbing back
On as soon as she’s healed and see how it goes (Im almost 28 weeks at this point, for a reference).

Most physicians (and family members, I’ve found), aren’t thrilled about pregnant people riding. My doctor asked me what sort of exercise I did and I told her horse back riding. She just gave me this look and I told her I would be riding as long as i was comfortable with it and it wasn’t painful…she just said OK. So I took that to mean I had the doctors OK ;). But seriously though, it’s your body and you know what you’re comfortable with.

The first trimester royally sucked for me. I didn’t have nausea but I was so constantly tired that I often fell asleep at my desk and had to take naps at lunch time to function. I was still riding through the first trimester when I had the energy but it was seriously hard. Near the end of the first trimester my gelding had a brainless moment, off the farm where he is usually at his most well behaved (He’s a total brat at home), so I stopped riding. By the time the second trimester rolled around so did the heat and it was just too much to try and ride.

I am at 35 weeks today and still doing daily care(my three live at home) on my horses and things like holding for the vet and farrier. I’m too big at this point to get comfortably back on so I make do with lunging and grooming. I’m hoping to be back in the saddle by the end of November or the beginning of December.

DH is fine with me riding (the in-laws not so much but I could care less about their opinion) but I just don’t have the energy. Third Trimester is almost the worst because the exhaustion comes back and you feel so much like a whale that all you want to do is lay on the couch and eat.

Ride as long as you feel safe and comfortable. Do what makes you happy because a lot of your body and your life will be out of your control. So do what you can for yourself.

I rode till the end of my first trimester, no jumping. The theory is that in the first 12-15 weeks, the embryo is so small that the uterus fits inside and in protected by the bony pelvis.
My horse is reliable, and I did not expect to fall, but I could have never forgiven myself if something had happened.

I am just now 7 weeks pregnant also. I was teaching and riding with my last pregnancy up until 8 months and stopped only because we moved. I ran a horse trial at 6 months pregnant but it was an easy level for me ( not to say its ever guaranteed to be safe ) and we’ll within my comfort zone on a horse that had run a level up with me. It truly comes down to your comfort zone. I stopped jumping around 7 months when I noticed my leg wasn’t as steady over fences which meant I could no longer balance my position. I am planning to ride the whole time with this pregnancy also but I would absolutely stop at any time when I feel it’s necessary. The last pregnancy I also stopped taking New training horses at 4 months. I continued riding my long standing training horses though since I knew them well.
I am much more nauseated and fatigued with this pregnancy by a long shot but I tend to forget how I feel once I am at the barn. Not riding anything but my own horse right now and not teaching since we just moved again ??so that helps for sure.
Have you tried munching on granola bars through the day?

Everyone’s experience is different. I was all about peppermint tea for nausea for my first and this time around the thought of it makes me queasy. I stumbled upon Tazo chai latte mix and it was a lifesaver. Has lots of ginger, tastes great and makes my nausea disappear.

As for riding, I gave it up for the last month. Between the heat and fatigue I couldn’t do it. I’ve started feeling better now at 12 weeks and will start again leisurely but there’s not much use in training hard when I’ll have to quit again in 3 months when I start getting huge.

I had relatively easy pregnancies (no nausea, no complications). And I’m built fairly “sturdy” so I carried “in” and never felt like my balance was compromised in any way. I rode throughout my pregnancy with my first, though I cut out jumping in the 20-week range. With that pregnancy I tore fairly significantly, and ended up out of the saddle for about 6 months on the back end.

With my second pregnancy I did the same, but had more green horses at that time, and cut those out when I was maybe 5 months along. I did my last show (doing the 1.30m jumpers) at 21 weeks, but continued to ride that mare daily through the end. Physically I handled my 2nd’s birth better and was back in the saddle a couple of days after giving birth. Oh, I did have a lot more in the way of nausea and exhaustion with my second (a girl) compared to my first (a boy). But I broke my ankle in the very beginning of that pregnancy, so it was hard to say if the nausea was pregnancy or painkiller/ankle-related. I did push crazy hard to get back in the saddle after the ankle because I was so desperate to get to at least one more show before I was too pregnant to do so (hence the 1.30m jumper show at 21 weeks).

I found that if I rode every single day I felt great. If I took a few days off it was really hard the next time I rode (lots of round ligament pain). So after doing that a few times in the 21-24 week time frame I made a point of staying more consistent through the rest and rode 7 days a week (or as close to it as I could).

But I agree with gypsymare - everyone’s experience is totally different. So YMMV based on your pregnancy, your horse(s), your environment, and a million other factors. At the end of the day, what’s really important is how comfortable YOU are.