Can Pregnant Women Ride Horses – Safe Or Not?

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.

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