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Staying involved in horse's training when you're grounded (pregnant)?

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  • Staying involved in horse's training when you're grounded (pregnant)?

    Hi all,
    I'm pretty early in my pregnancy and was hoping to ride through most of it, but last night had an experience that made me realize I probably need to let it go once I lose all that first trimester padding or at least majorly cut back, perhaps to walking only after 12 weeks. Although I'm excited about the pregnancy the idea of being grounded for over 6 months seems like torture. I don't think I've been off a horse that long since I started 26 years ago : (

    How do I stay involved and feel like I'm actually contributing something to my horse's training? Currently he's 5 and has shown training and is schooling all of first and some of second. Was hoping to debut at 1st this Winter/Spring which is now off the table. He normally gets 2 training rides weekly and I do a lesson once a week and am on my own other days. I'm thinking step him up to 4 training rides per week and figure out alternative activities with me the other days?

    I'd like to minimize tons of lunging on his young joints, especially since he's already on a walker for 45minutes 4 days a week while turnout in a soggy mess. He seems to like it but I worry about so many circles...

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I'm grounded for different reasons (severe injury) - I have found it is helpful to just come and watch the riding, and sometimes ask questions. You can also be a ground person if the trainer is open to that. And of course, you can groom and tack up your horse. You could also do some ground work such as lateral work from the ground, or even introduce half steps from the ground, as long as you are mobile enough (sadly, I wasn't, and am just getting to the point where I can some of that - it has been 10 months). My guy was off work for almost 6 months, although on the Eurocizer for the last of those 6 months, then I put him in 4 day/week training. If you can afford it, do that.

    Walker/Eurocizer is not going to cause wear and tear - trotting and cantering on a circle will, so keep doing the walker - that is a great walk to keep him moving.

    On the plus side - you also have a very joyous, exciting reason to NOT be riding, so you can also talk to your baby about horses - make sure he/she is born loving them

    Comment


    • #3
      My first advice would be to take it week by week with the riding. I had a couple spooks and and misbehaviors on my young horse early in my pregnancy and I really worried about riding beyond the first trimester too, initially. I made some adjustments to training (we stopped schooling the changes, which were getting him quite fired up) and I would pop him on the lunge before getting on if I felt he might be a goon.

      I decided that I'd have no guilt whenever my body told me to stop. However, even though I had little cramps in the side of my belly at times or some pelvic soreness, I was able to keep riding through 36 weeks. I showed in dressage through about 4 months and continued riding in clinics through 33 weeks. The key was to not take more than 2-3 days between rides. I skipped 4 days for an out-of-town wedding, and the couple rides after that definitely left me more sore.

      At 36 weeks, I think the baby finally dropped and about 20 minutes into the ride, I had a new pelvic pain and knew it was my last ride.

      However, if your body is telling you stop riding sooner, by all means, do it. I have really enjoyed doing some in hand work with my young horse to start the half steps. If you have a trainer that is experienced with in hand work, that is really helpful to get the timing. I only do about 10 minutes before the ride. Enjoy having someone else give your youngster some training rides. He will be in a great place when you are back in the saddle!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by DressageLin View Post
        My first advice would be to take it week by week with the riding. I had a couple spooks and and misbehaviors on my young horse early in my pregnancy and I really worried about riding beyond the first trimester too, initially. I made some adjustments to training (we stopped schooling the changes, which were getting him quite fired up) and I would pop him on the lunge before getting on if I felt he might be a goon.

        I decided that I'd have no guilt whenever my body told me to stop. However, even though I had little cramps in the side of my belly at times or some pelvic soreness, I was able to keep riding through 36 weeks. I showed in dressage through about 4 months and continued riding in clinics through 33 weeks. The key was to not take more than 2-3 days between rides. I skipped 4 days for an out-of-town wedding, and the couple rides after that definitely left me more sore.

        At 36 weeks, I think the baby finally dropped and about 20 minutes into the ride, I had a new pelvic pain and knew it was my last ride.

        However, if your body is telling you stop riding sooner, by all means, do it. I have really enjoyed doing some in hand work with my young horse to start the half steps. If you have a trainer that is experienced with in hand work, that is really helpful to get the timing. I only do about 10 minutes before the ride. Enjoy having someone else give your youngster some training rides. He will be in a great place when you are back in the saddle!
        Thanks for the feedback. The incident was actually a fall. My young horse is generally a sensible sweetheart but does have a spook. What kills me is the situation felt very out of my control and random. Basically I was doing a chill warmup and he was listening and great and relaxed and then while cantering down the rail another boarder who had laid her blanket on the rail of the indoor whipped it off the rail as we were cantering by. So flaggy flap visual and windbreaker noise inches from his shoulder out of nowhere and cue a hard 90 degree spook that just happened too fast for me to keep up with. He stopped immediately to be caught and I got back on and did my full lesson and have felt physically totally fine last night and today.

        I think it just made me realize I can only control my surroundings so much and no matter how good a 5 year old is, if something really provocative happens it may not matter, especially with a spook so acrobatic.

        I have spent my entire riding career before this on schoolies and leases and just hit my 1 year anniversary with this horse (technically my first horse) who came to us with rudimentary walk-trot-canter-breaks and that's basically it. This year has been such a joy and everything I could have wished for in terms of his progress. Although I am immensely lucky to be able to afford full training, access to a eurocizer and have a great trainer, I really love the process and the idea that I'm going to miss out on helping add counter canter and maybe even changes and half pass kind of kills me. I know it's not logical and he'll probably get better faster without me, but I just can't help the feels : (


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        • #5
          Your head is in the right place. I had a fall when I was 14 weeks pregnant with my first -- totally stupid, horse played a little on the back side of a small jump, tripped and we both came down. I decided no more riding while pregnant! There was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent it except not get on the horse. We weren't going fast, doing anything risky (it was a tiny crossrail!), horse was just young but it could have happened on any age horse.

          While you are still pretty spry, work on long lining especially around the farm. It is good for the horse, good exercise for you, and you can avoid small circles. You can keep it slower and slower as you get bigger and less agile! Long lining can be great for lateral work, too, so you won't have to totally miss out on the fun stuff.

          Comment


          • #6
            If he has ro have a few months off it won't matter. Enjoy your life as well as the horses.
            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you have any access to trails, you can take him for trail walks. Especially with a young horse, the changes in footing, hills, sights, and sounds would be really good for him. Maybe start doing it after he's been ridden by the trainer so he's already burned off some energy. You can also long-line/ground drive on the trails to get him bolder about exploring without you directly by his side.

              Comment


              • #8
                He's your horse, you are totally within your rights to want to take part in those stages! You could choose to give him time off, or even ask your trainer to focus on mileage in different situations instead of training progression, because few people actually want more experience riding their horses in potentially spooky situations, and it would make him even more reliable for you when you get back on.
                I agree that with horses things just happen sometimes. I know one horse who might not have spooked at what you described, given she didn't spook when a transformer blew up. Every other horse I know would have spooked!

                The suggestion of in-hand work is also a good one. I do short rein work, and it is really quite easy to figure out basics. This is the book I have which I think is very good. https://www.amazon.com/Horse-Trainin.../dp/1570764093
                If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                -meupatdoes

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I love the idea of long lining around the property and on trails. We don't have an extensive trail network but do have some little hills and stuff that would work and sounds like a great way to build his confidence and desensitize too. I'm super limited in my in hand experience but my trainer does some and would be supportive. We also have a lot of visiting upper level clinicians and I was thinking maybe some would be open to doing an in hand work lesson?

                  Thanks for the book recommendation. I just ordered it. And thank you to everyone for the supportive words. This is just the type of stuff my non-horsey family and friends can't understand. I honestly was dreading telling the remainder of my family about the pregnancy because of the judgment that might come with me still riding. Luckily my husband is wonderfully supportive and agreed my mom and MIL don't need to know about this incident.

                  It's also nice to hear my boy wont fall apart if he just has the time off. Ultimately I think I'll go the full training route and maybe let some horseless people I trust ride him in supervised lessons, it's just a lot of emotional processing. I knew a baby would throw a wrench in the works but I've had horsey goals and dreams much longer than baby ones so they're hard to put on hold lol.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I am right there with you OP. Im at 13 weeks and still riding but I've cut down the jumping to small fences and crossrails and cutout the trail rides (too spooky). My mare is in full training, so I plan on embracing the tack up, untack, bathe, pamper, primp, brush, make shiny role that I will have.

                    I'm also planning on sending my mare to one of my bucket list horse shows while we are still living in Texas, just in case that I don't make it to that show before we move again. I plan on thoroughly embracing my owner role and I know I'll be just as excited to watch my trainer take her in some of the bigger classes. I also plan on being braider/groom as much as I can.

                    Congratulations and just have fun with this new and temporary role!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      With a young horse, just spending time with it will pay off by establishing trust and connection. Trail walking will help your fitness, too. But as you get bulkier, just going for hand grazing will let you spend time and connect.
                      if you want to keep riding, does your trainer have a school horse you could walk around on your own or a lunge? I remember Katie Prudent saying she walked in 2 point while pregnant.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by FatDinah View Post
                        With a young horse, just spending time with it will pay off by establishing trust and connection. Trail walking will help your fitness, too. But as you get bulkier, just going for hand grazing will let you spend time and connect.
                        if you want to keep riding, does your trainer have a school horse you could walk around on your own or a lunge? I remember Katie Prudent saying she walked in 2 point while pregnant.
                        Thanks. I do think it’ll be good bonding to graze and walk. He’s a very in your pocket guy and would enjoy it. I’m hoping to keep riding him at the walk longer and actually started him on quiescence yesterday since I had a bag sitting around (bought it when he was difficult last winter but ended up not needing to resort to it). It’s not so much that he’s changed as my tolerance for risk has. I’m just taking it day by day and seeing how I feel.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think you have a great plan. If he gets 4 training rides a week (which you can go watch, ask questions, takes notes, keep a training log, etc.), and one day off, that leaves you 2 days with him on your own.

                          There are so many beneficial things you can do: hand walk on the trails, hand walk over cavaletti, longe, learn to long-line (and eventually long-line outside the ring), start a groundwork program (I like Tristan Tucker), groom really well, learn equine massage or stretching. Really - as long as you stay involved, you'll end up ahead of where you are now.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would totally take advantage of watching training rides , if they are something you can do with your schedule. talk to your trainer about their schedule do they do training rides on the weekend? So educational if you can see and hear about what is going on. perhaps videoing, perhaps your trainer would like that

                            Agree with others, non-riding activities either in your barn or outside will also help keep your spirits up. Play with "in hand trail horse" things. It will keep his mind lively. How is your horse with show grooming, Does he tolerate braids or does he need a little more practice in patience . How about you? Do you scribe, if not now is the season for schooling shows and learning. It is a great look into the art of showing.

                            and really 4 training rides a week will have him fit and ready for you when you get back and he will probably be well into second level perhaps nudging third. Plus a young horse needs relax and recovery time, I think we over pound on them. there is a great gift in a long rein walk around the property or learning some low pressure tricks and behaviors. drill drill drill is not the way

                            Get with your trainer and get a good plan in place.

                            I went through 6 months of surgery rehab with my horse a slow recovery/ conditioning program. It went pretty darn quick in hindsight and he did not forget any of his training. He was the best groomed fellow in the barn
                            _\\]
                            -- * > hoopoe
                            Procrastinate NOW
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