When to stop riding
Q & A:
Questions on Pregnancy and Riding are very common, they must come up at least every other day when we are out to different barns treating both equines and their equestrian partners.
How long I can ride my horse during my pregnancy?
At what month should I stop riding?
When can I get back on riding post delivery?
First off, thank you for all of the questions. I love how important your body is to you!
There are many variables to consider for all types of riders, and really any athlete, who want to remain active during pregnancy. The most important thing for you to monitor is whether or not you have any symptoms, NOT which week of pregnancy you are in. If you are experiencing ANY signs of intolerance (pain, incontinence, heaviness) due to riding that do not respond to activity modifications you should STOP RIDING NOW. DO NOT wait for the 16th or 20th week to stop just because that is the ‘standard’ timeframe. For example if pain doesn’t settle quickly post riding (in any joint), heaviness in the pelvis or vagina, pressure, leaking urine or stool, increased urgency and/or painful intercourse. If any of those symptoms escalate during or after riding something needs to be changed. Therefore, this is the signal to move on to something with less impact. If possible, try to modify what you are doing (riding posture, decreased intensity, decreased duration, saddle change) to ease the negative symptoms. If the symptoms don’t improve to 100% resolution then one should switch to lunging or hand walking your horse as an alternative. In general, most women tend to no longer feel awesome riding around the half way mark (20 weeks) when they can no longer modify their riding to negate their negative symptoms.
I apologize, there is not a hard and fast rule of when to cease riding. Instead, it is best to look at function, movement and symptoms as your personal guide. Therefore, more into self monitoring of your signs and symptoms. Halfway is usually the point when individuals need to make changes, give or take a few weeks for the first pregnancy. Subsequent pregnancies usually require modifications sooner than the first one. Also note you can still stay very active while being pregnant. It is simply the impact piece which gets harder to accommodate as you and the baby grow.
What Equus is certain of is that every pregnant rider should have a pelvic floor assessment. The majority of horse riders have tight pelvic floor muscles from riding, which can increase your chance of 'tearing' during birth and therefore complicating your return to riding.