Can Pregnant Women Ride Horses – Safe Or Not?

Last Updated on March 4, 2022

Expecting a child is, no doubt, one of the most exciting times in life, but it brings up an important question for equestrians, can pregnant women ride horses? This is not an easy question to answer and something you will get plenty of advice wanted or not, about what you should do. The answer comes with evaluating your personal circumstances and discussing them with your OBGYN.

Exercising While Pregnant

The general consensus is that women should continue to exercise during pregnancy unless they have specific risks that require its restriction. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises that pregnant women continue to exercise throughout their pregnancy. It is, in most cases, safe to engage in light to moderate exercise for 30-minutes a day.

Certain exercises are considered safe for beginners. But for higher intensity exercise, it is not advisable to start something new while pregnant. It is important to understand that some pregnancy complications are linked with certain types of strenuous exercise. In most cases, exercising while pregnant has both physical and emotional health benefits for the mother.

Exercising While Pregnant

Can Pregnant Women Ride Horses

Riding horses is a high-risk activity. The biggest worry for pregnant women is falling off. A fall puts the developing baby at high risk. For equestrians, this poses a difficult decision.

No mother wants to risk their unborn child. However, if you are a professional rider or someone who rides nearly every day, deciding whether to ride is stressful. While you will get plenty of well-meaning advice, it is best to stick to following your doctor’s guidelines.

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Pregnancy’s Effects On The Body

If pregnant can women ride horses, it will depend on how the physical changes your body is going through affects you. During pregnancy, tendons and ligaments lose their strength and stability. They also become softer.

As your pregnancy progresses, your center of gravity changes, balance becomes harder, and your body may not have the ability to react as quickly. All of this affects your ability to ride a horse in the safest possible way. It will increase the risk of falling off your horse, regardless of your experience.

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What Do Doctors Say About Horse Riding While Pregnant

Many doctors recommend stopping riding when you reach the 12-week mark. While some doctors will tell you not to take the risk of horse riding at all. Dr. Deena Kleinerman, a casual rider, and respected OBGYN has a broad opinion about getting on a horse while pregnant.

She does not specify a specific time to stop riding but says exercise should decrease in impact, going to zero as the pregnancy progresses. Some riders might still feel comfortable several months into the pregnancy, while others find their riding compromised early on.

The reason the 12-week mark is advised is due to the location of the baby. Up until this point, the baby is located in the pelvic girdle, which provides some protection. After this point, the baby moves above the pelvic girdle, where only muscle and skin protect it. 

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The FEI’s Riding While Pregnant Guidelines

The FEI is the governing body for several equestrian disciplines. While their rules do not impact the majority of amateur or pleasure riders, they provide sound advice on whether pregnant women can ride horses. The FEI diverts the decision to ride to the rider and her doctor.

The federation points out that in the case of a serious fall requiring surgery, a general anesthetic can increase miscarriage risk in the first trimester. It also lists some symptoms that should put a halt to your rider and seek the advice of your OBGYN.

These symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Calf swelling or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Conclusion – Riding Horses While Pregnant

Whether pregnant women ride horses is an individual decision. Only you and your doctor will know how you feel and the relevant risks for your pregnancy. The general thought is that if you are comfortable, you can keep riding until 12-weeks gestation. However, riding at any stage of pregnancy is a high risk due to the possibility that you could fall off. Professor Michael Rogers from the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong states that “In a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, horse riding per se does not cause any obstetric problems unless an accident occurs.” Even the most bombproof horse can have a moment that leads to an accident. 

Remember that there is nothing wrong with taking a break from riding to concentrate on a healthy pregnancy. You will soon find yourself back in the saddle. In the meantime, you can still enjoy spending time with your horse on the ground.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Are there any benefits of horse riding while pregnant?

Exercise during pregnancy can improve health and reduce pregnancy-related problems. Research has found that pregnant women who exercise regularly also tend to suffer less stress and anxiety. Women who keep horse riding during pregnancy may benefit physically and mentally in many ways. For example, they may experience reduction in fatigue, varicose veins, fluid retention and other symptoms. They may also experience fewer days of insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. However, riding a horse is considered high risk sport and is therefore not recommended during the pregnancy. Falling of a horse back can result in difficult injuries and even miscarriage. It’s better to find a different, less dangerous form of exercise during this sensitive period. You can always come back to horse riding once it’s safe again for you and your baby.

Can riding a horse induce labor?

The human body and its responses to stimuli can be studied in a variety of ways. One of the more interesting is the role of exercise in birth. We know that physical activity has many benefits for pregnant women and their children. But, what is the effect of riding horses? Do they induce labor? It turns out that it might, as any other form of intense physical activity. Riding a horse might induce labor in some cases, but the real question is whether or not a pregnant woman is physically able to ride. In most cases, a pregnant woman would not be able or even willing to ride a horse.

Can you go horse riding on your period?

Being on your period makes your entire intimate area more sensitive, but not all riders are affected the same way. The problem is that this is a very sensitive time and you may be prone to getting cramps, bloating, and discomfort. But you can go through life with little regard for your period, or you can prepare for it and make the experience more comfortable and still enjoy riding. You can make yourself a much more comfortable rider by wearing properly fitted, comfortable riding pants, especially for the times when your period is coming.

Can you horse ride in early pregnancy?

If you are in the first trimester, you should not ride a horse. It’s recommends to avoid activities that pose a high risk of abdominal trauma and injuries from a fall while pregnant as this might result in a miscarriage. In addition, hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause the bones and ligaments to become less strong and more prone to fractures and injuries. Riding on horseback is also not recommended if you are in the second or third trimesters because it can cause back pain, contractions, and premature labor. You should consult your gynecologist for a recommendation on when it’s safe to return to horse riding.