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Riding while pregnant?

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  • #21
    This is a very personal choice. I will just share my experience with you, which is vastly different from yours.

    I got pregnant after the very first try and it has been smooth sailing, no sickness at all. I basically feel exactly the same as pre-pregnancy, except I am getting larger. I have never had a miscarriage or trouble conceiving and personality wise, I am not a "mom type".

    I am 24 weeks pregnant and until this past week, I was riding every day and continued to jump, I showed in the jumpers on my horse who is not quiet, but at the same time I feel very comfortable on her, she is very much my ride and I never ever felt at risk (or any moreso than any other ride of my life). As an aside, my horse is also much easier and relaxed when jumps are involved, flatting seems to allow for mind wandering and spooks, while jumping or work over poles really gets her focus, she is also much better at the shows than at home. Before this pregnancy, my goal was to end the year with her in the 1.15-1.20 meter, we had been successful over the winter in the 1.05 and I moved her up to 1.10 in the spring and was successful. The original goal for last week's show was to be in the High Adult Jumpers (1.10-1.15), however, due to the pregnancy, we dropped back and did the Low Adult Jumpers (1-1.05) and had a successful show. I admit, I am bummed about not reaching the horse goals this year, but I also think a move up at this time would have been a bit foolhardy. My husband was as supportive as he could have been, he is not a horse person and in general sees horses as money pits. My trainer and other immediate family members also were supportive but cautious. Everyone agreed that this weekend's show would be the last. So, that was my plan and I stuck with it and never felt at risk, we were well within our comfort level and the venue was a familiar one for us.

    My doctor was not enthusiastic about my riding, but she really felt that after viability (24 weeks) it was time to stop. So, while I feel that continuing to ride would be less risky than walking through the sketchy parking garage after work, I have stopped, because on the off chance something were to occur, I would feel pretty terrible.

    For the rest of my pregnancy, I will be heading over to the barn 4 times/week and doing lunging and ground work, try to fill in some little gaps in her training if I can, and hope to get back to business over the winter, so no more riding for me, but I plan on keeping her going as I can, and also for my sanity.

    My approach has been pretty cavalier compared to a lot of women and I think that may be because everything has been very easy for me, if I had suffered a loss of a much hoped for child, I may not have continued as long as I did, or I may have stuck to mostly flatwork on quieter horses than my own.

    Whatever you decide, I encourage you to continue at the barn in general, lunging, grooming, just hanging out so you get some horse time and still feel connected. There are other goals you can work toward without being in the saddle and the barn family is a great one for general support, so either way, don't leave the horses completely!
    Impossible is nothing.


    • #22
      I played it by ear and did what felt right.
      During my first pregnancy I did not ride. I knew that if anything happened, I would have had a really hard time forgiving myself. So I decided not to.
      My second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks. I was still riding at that time. I started spotting in the evening after my lesson. It turned out that the timing was just coincidence, but for a few hours I had this fear that somehow it had been caused by the riding. It was irrational, I hadn't fallen or anything, but still... not a good feeling.
      During my third pregnancy I rode till 18 weeks. I had decided to take it day by day and ride as long as it felt right. I stopped in February when the snow started melting and sliding off the roof of the arena. My horse is not bombproof, he is sensitive and spooked a few times. Nothing I couldn't handle, but it just didn't feel safe and I had a hard time relaxing anymore. So I stopped.
      I am just about to get back on 4 weeks post c-section. So excited!!

      I totally agree with PMWjumper - once you stop consistent excercise it's almost impossible to pick it back up, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. So keeping a routine going is really important. I am also hitting the gym now and taking post-natal fitness classes to get back in shape.

      That being said, I ate sushi all through both of my successful pregnancies. I stopped at first, but developed such an intense craving for sushi that sometimes it was all I could think of. I even dreamt of pieces of raw tuna a couple of times . Then I read up on it a little bit and decided to take my chances.


      • #23
        I rode while pregnant. Had to get a girdle to do it because I got so big and I'm pretty sure I scarred some of the teenagers who watched us truck around, but hey, these things happen. My doctor was horrified. My nurses were horrified. BUT they loved how fit it kept me. Not to mention it helped me with morning sickness and anxiety.

        You might want to pop an antacid before hopping on too. All the jiggling around used to give me terrible heartburn.

        Anyway, use your best judgment. I rode until two weeks before I delivered, but riding at that point was mostly walking on hills and asking her to stretch. I have a very safe mare. Not to say stuff doesn't happen, but for the most part, she's extremely sensible. The mares I rode before her? No way. It wouldn't have been safe.

        You know you best. I encourage people to keep going until they feel like they can't. You'll know when that is


        • #24
          There is also a thread on the Hunter/Jumper Forum called Pregnant Riders Support Group. It is an old thread that has been going for a long time and is still active, there are a lot of other pregnant and recent mothers' experiences there. It might be worth a look for the OP.
          Impossible is nothing.


          • #25
            I had my baby December 11th, 2016. I bought my then 4 year old TB straight off the track at the beginning of April 2016. So...I was pregnant when I bought a green bean track horse. I didn't know I was pregnant at the time. I was the first one to sit on her and start riding her. Luckily for me, my mare is a saint and I trusted her.....well as much as you can trust a horse anyway. I took her over her first jump, jumped up until 7 months pregnant (very small stuff), took her to her first XC school the day I turned 6 months pregnant. I am by no means a trainer or a professional, I just trusted my horse and my ability to stay in the tack. Looking back was it a little reckless? Probably. Did I need it for my mental sanity? Absolutely. I think it just all depends on what you are comfortable with - do not push yourself outside of your comfort zone, is my recommendation. When I went in for my first prenatal check up (at 16 weeks because I was in denial and it took me that long to figure out i was pregnant!) I basically told my doctor I ride horses, I'm going to continue to ride. I didn't ask. She just looked at me and said "ok" and laughed. I did stop riding 2 weeks before my due date, mostly because it was SO HARD to get OFF the dang horse.

            I ended up having a horrendous labor which resulted in a C-section anyway. Although the labor was bad, the recovery from the c-section was not bad at all, and I realize I'm probably lucky for this. I have heard some pretty awful stories about recovery. I got back on my horse 3 weeks after that. Mostly at the walk. Started trotting and cantering about 6 weeks after, and then I started back in a training program in March ..... so about 3 months after. I will say that having a C-section has REALLY negatively affected my core strength. It's something I still am struggling with currently.

            Long story short - just do what you are comfortable with. Since It's something I just went through not too long ago, if you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to send me a PM....I'm happy to provide advice and more experiences if you'd like
            I just started a blog!
            Another Adult Amature and her OTTB:


            • #26
              This is a hugely personal decision that it ultimately up to you, with the advice of your doctor and input of your husband.

              I don't have kids. A BO and friend from several years ago did not ride the first trimester because that is the most delicate time, then she rode basically up until she gave birth. She didn't get extremely huge. I've known women that didn't change a thing about their riding level, some that just flatted and didn't jump anymore during the pregnancy, some that forewent trails and stuck to arenas, some that completely stopped riding the moment they found out they were pregnant. It's all about what YOU are comfortable with safety-wise, and later on comfort-wise.
              Custom tack racks!


              • #27
                I had two second trimester miscarriages and some first trimester misses. Like you, I did everything by the book and it didn't matter. We were finally pregnant with my daughter after fertility treatments and I realized pregnancy isn't a promise, only a hope. I started riding again after dd was born and we bought a farm. We thought we were finished with pregnancies when we became pregnant with twins.
                At that point, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not prevent a miscarriage and a womb is the safest place for a baby. At about 27 weeks when we were well into the viability range, my Dr. asked that I quit riding (it was also getting uncomfortable for me) given the chances of premature labor associated with twins.

                Do what you're comfortable doing.


                • #28
                  I am currently 23 weeks pregnant and rode up until 12 weeks. At 12 weeks, they say the baby moves out of your pelvis area; which would then provide it with little to no protection should you fall. That being said, I've know both types of women; women who rode their whole pregnancy and were completely fine, and women who quit the minute they found out they were pregnant. I know that my husband trusted my instinct on riding up to that point but yours may have a stronger opinion and it's understandable.

                  It is definitely a personal preference.

                  I don't know anyone, personally, who has lost a baby due to a horse related incident but I, personally, am just not willing to take the chance with my little guy. In fact, I was judged by some for riding up until 12 weeks! Everyone has an opinion about everything these days! Also, my baby bump is growing, causing all sorts of issues; climbing on my mare right now sounds like way too much work! So, after working all day, you just may be too tired to jump on a horse, like me.

                  Bottom line is: do what you feel is safe and comfortable. If you have a horse, like mine, that you've been riding for 15 years and feel safe on, I'd say go for it until you don't feel safe! I know that when I'm on my mare's back, I am completely relaxed and happy. It's been hard to give that up for 6 months but I still go out a few times a week to lunge and love on my mare. Not the same as being on her back, but relaxing none the less. I'm sure she's not complaining about getting a well-deserved break from her work outs. Plus, should the delivery go well, you could be back on that horse in a month or so post-delivery. I'm certainly hoping that is the case for me!

                  I wish you luck in conceiving; and hope you have a healthy pregnancy and baby once you do.


                  • #29
                    Better safe than sorry after what you have been through.

                    But, regarding balance - I always know best - so I evented at five months, and fell off - not hard, but the extra weight made me unbalanced. So, after the baby was born, I fell off again - for the same reason - I was not used to the loss of weight and became off balance. That makes me sound like I spend my time falling off - I don't - my whole life has been spent hunting, eventing, jumping ---- but it is not smart to be stubborn, that's my point.
                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                    • #30
                      I rode during both of my viable pregnancies. My first pregnancy, I was riding someone else's horse and it fell with me when I was 8 weeks pregnant. That was pretty sobering! The doctor told me that at that point in the pregnancy the fetus is very well protected and there was no harm. I continued to ride, but only on my own, steady horse, until a week before my son was born. I didn't DO much more than walk at the end, but I liked being at the barn. My trainer also taught me to long line and we did work in hand so i could stay active without being on the horse. I had two miscarriages before my daughter was born. Neither was related to riding, but it very much spooked my husband. While pregnant with my daughter, I stopped jumping the moment I found out and only rode in the ring. I also stopped when I was about 6 1/2 months pregnant because my balance had changed and my horse was not 100% reliable.

                      If I were to do it again, I would probably stop earlier. At the time, taking the time away from the barn seemed a sacrifice. Now that I have my kids, it wouldn't be such a big deal. I did really enjoy the long lining and the work in hand. I did more of it during my last pregnancy and it really benefited my horse.

                      FWIW, my doctors were fine as long as I was careful. My husband was much more worried.
                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                      • #31
                        I have too many friends with children born prematurely, born with disabilities, autism, etc... that I would do whatever it would take to minimize any risk. It's just not worth it. I stopped at 6 weeks with first pregnancy, and stopped immediately with second, but did get kicked by a foal at 7 months. Though I had internal bleeding, my daughter was unharmed. I was lucky.


                        • #32
                          My doctor recommends staying on the ground after 12 weeks. And he is a horseman. The reasoning is that early on the embryo/fetus is small and well protected, but later on as the fetus grows there is less of you between it and the outside world. Fitness of the rider and chillness of the horse didn't play into his recommendation. He said "even the best horses trip sometimes."

                          I think a lot of it is a personal decision. My old coach was competing in eventing at 7 months pregnant. A local girl had a fall at training level when 5 months pregnant and the EMTs freaked out. She stopped riding soon after.


                          • #33
                            Update from my last post, since it was more than a year ago: I rode right up until the end, adjusting what I did (no sitting trot there at the end for sure!) so I stayed comfortable. There were some days I didn't ride if I felt my balance was off or if I didn't feel 100% (ok, let's be real, 90%, you never feel 100% when you're pregnant!) but I never got huge and carried him pretty high until the last month or so, it really didn't affect my balance as much as I thought it might, though obviously that's different for every pregnancy. Again though, this is a horse I know exceptionally well and is not prone to spooking. I felt (and still feel) very confident my likelihood of a car accident driving to the barn was greater than the likelihood of a fall off him. I would definitely have chosen differently had that not been the case.



                            • #34
                              I was insistent on riding. However, the first time my belly touched the pommel of saddle, I hoped down and did not ride again until 6 weeks to the day after I delivered. I never wanted to after I felt that until I delivered. I'm not really sure why that was such a "moment" for me but that was the exact moment I knew I was done. Your body will tell you when enough is enough.


                              • #35
                                I always figured I would ride through until I was too big but ended up stopping at about 18-20 weeks. It wasn't so much that I was afraid or worried but that I was so uncomfortable and sick. I also knew I was going to stop at some point and the difference between 2-6 months off wasn't going to that big of a difference for my horses. Also it was winter so ideal time to give them a break anyways.

                                I had 2 OBs. My first felt very strongly that I needed to stop riding. My 2nd was of the opinion that my normal activities would be good for me but try to be smart and reduce my risk as much as I could (stop jumping etc). I didn't feel like doing that anyways so I mostly did light riding before I stopped.

                                Trust your gut.


                                • #36
                                  I did my last event at 14 weeks, and stopping jumping more than tiny things at home after that. I continued to ride until about 28 weeks and tried to minimize my risk as much as I could-I only rode my two horses (broke this rule once on a friends horse I trusted), I stopped jumping (that one was harder to follow) and I didn't ride off the property as much. I also had no issue getting off and calling it a day if either of mine acted stupid.

                                  I stopped because between 25 and 30 weeks I went from looking a little chubby to full blown no mistake I am pregnant. I carried all of my weight in my stomach and it just got too uncomfortable. I would make it barely 5 minutes before i was out of breathe and feeling like I would pee myself every step.

                                  I started back around 5 weeks PP and did my first event back at 10 weeks PP.

                                  My doctor did not want me riding, but my husband was fine with it as long as I agreed to the above terms.
                                  "I can't help but wonder,what would Jimmy Buffett do?"



                                  • #37
                                    I rode throughout my 2 pregrancies. Did dressage up to 19/20 weeks with both. Then I could no longer comfortably sit trot, so just plodded at home on well known, reliable horses. I coached, judged, pencilled etc to fill the competition void.

                                    I have never heard of anyone suffering a loss from falling off. However, I have heard of someone losing a child after being knocked over by a horse when heavily pregnant. That made me re-think handling green/unreliable horses on the ground when more obviously pregnant, as you are certainly more vulnerable to a kick and less able to move out of the way quickly. I think we all get a bit complacent as to just how big and strong horses are...and that even a quiet horse is capable of getting a fright!

                                    Sorry to hear of your loss, OP.

                                    There are pros and cons either way. Only you can decide what is right for you. I do think it is good to keep active and still involved in activities you enjoy during pregnancy - but obviously with some risk management in place.


                                    • #38
                                      I would wait to have the baby, anything can happen


                                      • #39
                                        I will tell you from personal experience, you will know when it's time to stop. I was told I could ride and I remember the day when the bottom of my stomach touched the pommel of my saddle and I got down. I was finished and I was ok with it until I had my daughter. 6 weeks later, to the day I was back in the saddle.


                                        • #40
                                          I rode until I found out that I was pregnant with twins at 19 weeks, then I was grounded. That said, if I were doing fertility treatments, I might have a different attitude. Once I knew that I was pregnant, I might consider stopping. I would also discuss with your doctor to see if there is any reason that riding might impeded implantation. Fertility treatments are expensive and invasive. No reason to repeat the experience.