Riding pregnant

Experiences riding while pregnant? How long did you ride? Did you ride in the beginning as well? What factors played into your decision? Did you do ground work with your horse when you stopped riding?

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I rode until I was 6 months pregnant. I would have ridden later into my pregnancy but I switched jobs and went from horses I knew and whose training methods were similar to my own, to working for a rider whose horses were…just less good and less predictable. I was still lunging, jogging horses at vettings, etc up to 8.5 months, again, mainly cause that’s when I had to fly back to the US. Otherwise I probably would have given birth at a show :joy::joy:

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I don’t find the new search feature at all accurate but somewhere there is a really long thread on this topic that you may enjoy reading. Perhaps someone else will have more luck finding it.

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This is a very personal topic and you’ll find different experiences with different women. I’ve known women who quit immediately when they found out and others who rode until they delivered. There was a long thread on this a while back with a lot of shared experiences.

I rode until about 28 weeks with my first. I evented through about 14 weeks then tapered down until I was basically just walk trotting at the end. I thought I’d ride longer but I carry very compact and I’ve got a short torso, so my center of balance shifted and I suddenly had painful pressure around 7 months. It was late December anyway, we don’t have an indoor and my horses typically get 6 weeks off in early winter. My goal was 30 weeks but I took it day by day and told myself I could stop at any point if I got too nervous or just didn’t want to anymore.

My doctors had differing opinions- my Ob said she didn’t want me riding (we agreed to just not talk about it) but my MFM specialist said he was fine with it as long as I made good choices and didn’t ride anything crazy. I had 3 rules: I stopped eventing after I ran champs at 14 weeks, I only rode my horses and if they were stupid I got off immediately.

I remained very active-running and lifting weights until right before I had my son. I did the barn work and stalls most days until we sent my horses to my trainers the day before my induction. I think all of that helped my recovery (but my n =1 so who knows if that’s true or not).

I did 100% listen to my Ob and I did not get back on until I was cleared 6 wks pp. The risk of doing more damage by rushing was not worth it. I was back evening at about 10 wks but took much longer to feel like “me” in the saddle again.

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I rode for a bit after I found out, but then it was winter and I don’t have an indoor, so I tapered off. I probably would have ridden longer if it was spring or summer. At that point I didn’t feel very comfortable anyway, was tired AF and my beach ball belly was throwing off my balance. :joy: I stayed physically active off the horse, did ground and in hand work, but I couldn’t have ridden through to the end anyway - I was HUGE. Big (tall and heavy!) babies are common in DH’s family, and I carry way out in front. By the 40 weeks I’d gained 60lb.

Conversely, I have several friends who rode through numerous pregnancies and were fine and happy. It all boils down to what you feel comfortable with!

I rode until end of first trimester and then stopped for a combination of reasons. Green OTTB that I’d only got that spring and didn’t fully know and trust yet, could only ride on weekends due to lack of light, ground was frozen but no snow cover so footing was crappy. I did a lot of groundwork and did a lot of walking beside my horse. My horses live at home so I did all their related chores and a lot of yard work. I was fit and healthy right until I delivered and had a really easy recovery. The doctor who delivered my son told me I had one of the strongest core and pelvic floors she’d ever seen.

It’s a very personal decision between you and your husband. It depends so much on your horse and riding situation. Next time, I’m hoping to get pregnant in spring and if that happens, I’ll probably ride longer because I’ll be able to keep my horse in more consistent work.

Thanks, everyone. This has been helpful. I was also able to find a thread from a while back about this topic. Seems most people ride at least through their 1st trimester–many up to 5 or 6 months and some even up to delivery! I think the main point is you have to have a safe horse and you need to feel secure in the saddle. groundwork is always an option.

I have actually been looking for a horse to purchase. I just found out I’m likely pregnant…husband and I have been trying for two years and underwent treatments, so I am so thrilled (pending confirmation).

Now I need to decide whether to put off the horse search. There is a decent horse I can lease but I wouldn’t feel comfortable riding him too much into pregnancy as he can have the occasional spook. Also a very quiet lesson horse but wouldn’t be able to ride more than a few times a month. I know I definitely want a horse within the year, but I’m having a hard time deciding what to do. Maybe if the perfect, quiet horse came along? Any advice?

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Wait. Have baby. Heal. Ride something quiet. Get riding fit again. Then horse shop.

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While I support (safe) riding in pregnancy, I personally would not take on a new horse while pregnant. In my opinion, it’s not a time to get on new horses you don’t know. Especially if you have spent several years trying to get pregnant.

I would see if you could ride the quiet lesson horse a couple times a week and look after you have the baby.

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I just had my first baby and rode up until 39 weeks. My balance still felt pretty good, but by that point I was having trouble mounting and dismounting even with a tall mounting block. I made a few changes to my riding during pregnancy - I only rode my horses, I did all grooming and tacking in my horses stalls (trying to be more socially distant due to COVID), and in my last trimester I only cantered when absolutely comfortable rather than feeling like I needed to every ride. In the last 6 weeks or so my rides greatly reduced to 15-25 minutes as that’s all my lungs could take, and in the last two weeks I did mostly posting trot as I had no core left for sitting trot. My horses became quieter and quieter with me as I got bigger - I think they knew that they needed to be careful.

I’m currently 10 days postpartum and am only about 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and had a relatively quick and easy labor, so I think continuing riding throughout helped a ton. I had full support of my husband and doctor to continue riding, and promised myself that I would stop if I was ever uncomfortable or off balance. Everyone’s situation is different, so do what feels best for you and don’t feel any pressure to do more than you’re comfortable with.

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I rode through my first trimester when pregnant in 2019, early 2020. I may have ridden longer, but my horse injured herself and needed a few weeks off. By the time she was sound, I had grown enough that I was nervous my balance would be off.

Getting back into riding postpartum hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve ridden once in the 8 months since my son was born. I had great intentions of riding on many occasions, I just can’t seem to make it a priority.

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I rode as much as I could in between morning sickness until I was about 5 months pregnant. After that the last time I sat in a horse was around 7 months pregnant… I was huge and it was hard to dismount off of a horse. Plus I rode alone at home mostly and just wasnt comfortable riding unaccompanied. I tried to stay physically active but really fell off the wagon during my second tri. By the time I was in the third tri I was just gianormous and miserable… :confused:
Now my son is a year old and I’ve only started riding regularly again recently.
The first three months postpartum it was just too painful to do much of anything besides short walks. Then scheduling life lol. But my horses patiently waited for me and now I say we’re all in fat camp together!

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My advice? The type of horse you want now may not be the horse you need in a year, so as much as I say buy all the horses!!, I would wait and see how you feel after. Taking lessons right now is great.

For some people, they just keep on truckin’ and don’t lose much in terms of fitness or confidence with a little time off. Others (me!) lose both, and it can be slow to get back. The right horse can make that go faster, and you will want something you can enjoy your time with!

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Congratulations! I rode through 2 pregnancies. In fact, over the weekend I happened to come across a picture of me during my last ride of my first pregnancy. It was a week before I delivered! I was able to school through most of the PSG stuff. However, I took a lot of breaks as I found I had the most difficulty with getting easily out of breath. I went in to each pregnancy saying that I would continue to ride until I felt I couldn’t anymore. That was a week before delivery with my first and probably 3 weeks before delivery with my 2nd, although some of that was just life getting busy more than a physical thing.

FWIW, my OB gave me permission and told me simply to not fall off. Of course we never attempt that anyway, but I felt comfortable continuing as long as I felt safe and balanced.

I don’t know that I’d buy a brand new horse during pregnancy though, unless you can put it in training? I’d stick to leasing or very regular lessons on horses you trust. Life changes… a lot… after a baby.

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I would also wait. Especially if you have access to lesson horse.

It didn’t happen to me but from replies on other threads, a lot of women lose (some) of their nerve after having baby. A horse you might want right now might not be as appealing postpartum. There’s also so many uncertainties - what will baby be like, will you have any complications, what will recovery be like, etc. You may physically be unable to ride for 6 months and then you’ll just be wasting money on board.

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I’m also pregnant, currently 27 weeks. I have only been riding my own horse (who I trust after helping me come back from multiple ankle surgeries). I do find that I need to take more walk breaks, I do much less cantering and kind of take each ride as it comes - no expectations. Some days I only walk! I promised myself I would listen to my body and stop riding when it is no longer comfortable.

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I purchased my horse in February 2019 and became pregnant in March 2019 (after nearly a year of trying). She was a 3 year old, lightly started WB. By the time I’d done the groundwork, reintroduced the tack, and sat on her… I was ~4 months pregnant. We did baby work through 6 months then she basically got put on vacation except for the odd day I’d go to the barn to hop on her for a short bareback walk around the indoor.

I got incredibly lucky that she has SUCH a good brain. In the latest months, I could only get off of her by leaning forward to put my arms around her neck then just slowly fell sideways to slide down to the ground. I suffered from SPD all through pregnancy so riding was pretty crippling by the end. I’d just hang off her neck until my hips unlocked enough to get my legs underneath me to hobble back to the stall with pony trailing behind me. She’d feel me lean forward to start dismounting and would spread her legs and brace her neck until I was on the ground and able to stand…total saint.

I’m planning on getting pregnant again next year and intend to put her into training rather than ride myself. Even though I was able to ride for the first ~6 months or so, I developed so many bad habits to compensate for stretched ligaments / change in balance / muscle weakness that took MONTHS to fix post-partum.

For me personally, having the horse was a godsend during maternity leave as it was an excuse to hand off baby to my husband so I could have an hour or two of peace at the barn.

ETA: She got put into training with a friend of mine a week before I delivered and I started riding again at 3 weeks post partum (I had an incredibly straightforward birth with fast recovery and had midwife approval). She stayed in training for another 6 weeks and my early rides post-partum had the trainer warm her up for me and then I’d finish the ride (for however long I could go). That allowed me to focus more on me since my horse was so young and green.

Also, I’d say it took 7-8 months before I truly felt like me in the saddle again. Much much longer than I expected. It wasn’t that I couldn’t ride or rode very badly…I just didn’t feel like me. Hard to explain.

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Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

Seems the general consensus is it’s best to wait and horse shop after baby (my pregnancy is confirmed-- : D )

If I DID get a horse, I could put it in full time training and potentially even lend it out as a lesson horse or lease. I have a horse I can continue to lease, but I’m uncomfortable with the fact that he’s been naughty with me before and I don’t want to put myself in a fall risk scenario. There is a lesson horse but I could only ride him once a week at most–so I don’t have many options to keep riding unless I’m OK with once weekly.

I thought about getting a less expensive youngster to put in full time training to be ready for the future, but it does make sense that my priorities may change. I’ve always wanted a bombproof horse regardless, which I’m sure is just less common in young horses. Also thought about getting a mature, solid citizen but again–can’t predict how long I may ride and then could be wasting money on board.

Lots of great points on this thread. Thanks for everyone’s input!

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I completely understand this, being 8 months postpartum myself.

It has taken me a long time to start feeling like myself in every aspect. Physically, mentally, etc.

Having the horses at home was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gave me an outlet to start feeling myself. A curse because juggling farm responsibilities on top of the baby left me feeling inadequate and stressed. Riding wasn’t even on the table for me because there were soooo many other chores left undone.

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