Baby on Board
Does pregnancy mean nine months of going cold turkey from horses? Talk about a topic that gets people fired up! How do we decide when it’s safe to keep riding or to hang up our spurs for the duration?
I was emailing with a friend this morning who just found out she’s pregnant. She’s really excited, but she’s getting lots of advice from well meaning friends and family on whether she should continue riding or not.
Personally, I’ve known people at both sides of the fence as far as to ride or not to ride when there’s a “baby on board”. There are good friends of mine – amateurs and trainers – who kept riding throughout their entire pregnancy. These people were confident in their abilities and felt they really knew the horses they chose to carry them. I’ve known others, again both pro and non-pro, who completely curtailed all horse activity. Some of these ladies wouldn’t even go into a stall on the off chance they could be kicked.
Bottom line, horses are animals and there’s no way to predict just what they will or will not do which is why there are so many conflicting opinions out there. So how do we make an educated decision and navigate the horse world we love while carrying a future horse person? Here are a few of my thoughts that seem to make sense; keeping in mind I’m not a physician but rather a friend who’s into horses that, like you, is trying to figure this all out.
First and foremost, you have to take your individual situation into consideration. Ask yourself if you’re in good physical health. Asking the question is not enough; you then need to answer it honestly. Most of us figure out we’re pregnant long before seeing a doctor. If you’re into horses or any other potentially risky physical activity, it’s a good idea to select a physician right away and make a call to see if they’d like to see you early since you’d like to continue riding. Your medical professional can tell you if you personally could experience any additional risk from riding as you would from any other form of exercise (running, swimming, biking, etc.).
Second, if you’re riding at a stable and/or riding a horse not owned by you, it’s important to let the right people know you’re pregnant. There can be some liability issues involved and you may be asked to sign a waiver in case anything happens.
Third, and this is just my opinion, I don’t think exercise in general is harmful to mother or child. There are so many old wives tales out there about causing harm to a preterm baby especially when it comes to physical activity. There are women that run throughout their pregnancy for heaven’s sake. Again, though, this is my personal take. A lot of people don’t understand the role horses have in our lives. Horses not only provide us with physical exercise, they have an enormous psychological impact on our overall well being.
Fourth, when deciding what to do it’s important to remember that it’s your baby and your decision. You’re going to do everything you can to make an educated, informed plan on how to keep horses in your life throughout your pregnancy. Yes, you could be thrown from a horse. That is a risk. That’s why you’re taking the time to think things through now. Do what you can to talk to the professional people in your life (medical, equine), weigh their words and then do what you think is right.
One final word. I remember my well meaning family and friends offering advice when I was pregnant sometimes solicited, but most often not, and it almost always became more about them than me. Others stories aren’t yours. We’ve all heard more horror labor tales than we care to and really what’s the point of sharing those? When I’m around people who start to share their experiences with a well-meaning pregnant friend, I usually chime in and say something like “Gosh, sounds like you had a tough time, but we’re really interested to hear how your babies are doing now.” It’s a good redirect in my experience.
Speaking of redirect, there’s a great series of books out there by Vicki Iovine. If you’re pregnant or know someone that is, check out The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy. It’s hilarious and a fun, helpful read. She has The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood, The Girlfriends Guide to Toddlers, The Girlfriends Guide to Getting Your Groove Back – well, you get the idea. Check her out!