Horseback riding is an activity that is not only a great workout but an adrenaline rush. This is because as much as the rider likes to think they are in control of the situation; they can never truly control a horse. Riding is built upon trust. If the horse and rider are not comfortable with one another, the ride can be uncomfortable at best and life-threatening at worst. That is why it is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional after discovering women are going to be mothers-to-be to determine if it is safe to ride a horse while pregnant.
The personality a horse has determines what type of rider should participate in getting in the saddle. The main traits, according to Charlie’s Acres include being social, aloof, challenging, and fearful.
When not pregnant and a trained horsewoman, any of these horses could be ridden or worked with to eventually be ridden.
But when expecting, any horse other than one that is social is a potential accident waiting to happen. And this is why it is necessary for those who are experienced riders to only be the ones considering riding as mothers-to-be rather than those who are novice and unsteady holding the reins.
Here is why it all depends on who is riding the horse whether it is safe to ride during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Is Not Ideal For Starting Horseback Riding
For those who have some spare time while they are expecting, taking on a new hobby sounds like an ideal thing to do. But when it comes to horseback riding, pregnancy is not the time to take up the sport.
Regardless of whether the desire is to take up dressage, a form of jumping, trail riding, or just long slow walks with a steed, none are appropriate to try when pregnant.
This is because, according to Equestrian Stylist, new riders do not understand how to sit firmly in their seat. Bumping in the saddle can cause women already suffering from morning sickness, lightheadedness, or edema to have worse pregnancy symptoms. And when those are being focused on rather than the horse, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Activities With Risk Of Falling Are Recommended Against
Any and all activities that can cause pregnant women to fall and hit their heads or midsections are strongly recommended against by healthcare professionals. And with equestrian activities falling square into those categories, it is clear to see why horseback riding is not the safest of sports to participate in when expecting.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, horseback riding should be avoided during pregnancy given that there is an inherent risk of falling. Even wearing a helmet, there can be trauma to the head. Falling on the baby bump can cause miscarriage during the first trimester and premature labor later in pregnancy.
Therefore, if women are considering riding while pregnant, there is a lot to take into consideration before choosing to get in the saddle.
Riding Safely During Pregnancy
While there are risks to riding during pregnancy, those who are avid horsewomen cannot just stop working with their horses when they become pregnant. As such, there may be safer ways to ride for those who are experienced and later on, exercise horses when riding is no longer an option.
According to BabyCenter, riding during the first trimester may be one of the safest times for experienced horse riders to take to the saddle. This is because the pelvic girdle protects the fetus during this time making it far less likely to become injured if things do not go according to plan when riding.
With that being said, however, according to Horses & Foals, if women are going to continue to ride during pregnancy, there are modifications they should make. This means not participating in horse riding activities such as barrel racing, calf roping, jumping, long trail rides, and more. It could also mean riding a horse that is more mellow and slow.
Staying safe during pregnancy is the most important thing for women and their unborn babies. And if women ever feel uncomfortable in the saddle, that is a clear indication that it is time to stop riding until after delivery.
When Center Of Gravity Changes, Step Back
As the baby bump continues to grow, the center of gravity dramatically changes. And when this happens, stepping back from horseback riding may be the smart thing to do.
According to Noelle Floydas the “shape and center of gravity” changes over the course of pregnancy, women are not able to move in the saddle as they would when not pregnant. This puts expecting women at risk, per publication, because they are not able to move, react, or correct horses in the same manner that they would when babies were not on the way.
Therefore, once it is clear that riding is no longer an option, it is time to step away from riding and find activities to do with horses that will still get them exercise, give them the attention and care that they need. Then, once given the green light to return to riding after delivery, women can ride without the fear of injuring themselves or their babies waiting to be born.
Source: Charlie’s Acres, Equestrian Stylist, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Horses & Foals, BabyCenter, Noelle Floyd
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