Ok, one of the first things I had to do when I found out I was pregnant was to see how much longer I could ride. I started online - most every site I saw said "no riding" what so ever. Then I got some books and same thing... "too risky". Crap! But why?? At the time the little peanut was no bigger than, well, a peanut. Riding didn't feel uncomfortable or jarring so what's the deal?
Well every site/book usually just had one line or sentence regarding horseback riding and the response was something along the lines of "The risks of falling off or getting kicked while riding a horse is too great to risk. It is not recommended." Well I'm sorry, I need some more information than that. Lets assume I've changed my riding routine so that I'm in a small controlled arena, with a horse I know and can read. In addition I've been riding for over 20 years, and can handle most spooks. I also can read my horse and only ride on days he's mellow and in control. Lets say I've done all these things, weighed the risk of falling or getting kicked and decided I'm willing to take those risks... now what??
I need information on what is going on inside, what kind of forces can the baby/placenta take? I know when I ride I don't feel uncomfortable or jarred, is that enough? I feel like all the advice being dished out is being given by people who don't know a thing about horses or what it means to be a life long equestrian. Its not something we can cast aside so quickly. Give me some options. To simply say I might fall isn't enough, I might get in a car accident too. Does that mean I can't drive? And I trip over my own feet more often than I ever fall off a horse. Can I walk? I know I'm being a smart ass, but its frustrating the lack of knowledgeable advice out there about horses and pregnancy.
I ended up relying on the "expert" comments from life long riders that responded to the advice on some of the sites. And while some decided to stop riding all together, most continued to ride their regular trust worthy mounts. Those who stopped said they stopped due to energy, being uncomfortable, or loss of balance. All sound like reasonable reasons to me. No one said "I stopped when I fell off." Some even said they rode up to 9 months. While I'm not sure I'll be able to make it that far (especially since I understand your abs basically disintegrate) its a little encouraging.
I also talked to my OB-GYN, since I live in a rural area I figured she's dealt with this before. Her advice, keep doing whatever it is I usually do. And if its uncomfortable for me, its uncomfortable for the baby.
So my plan as of now: Keep riding, no sitting trot for a while though. Ride until I feel uncomfortable or not secure. Once we stop riding I'll take that time to work on my long lining skills (currently non-existent) and maybe use the time to introduce Dexter over some jumps via the lunge. But I still plan on working with my horse for as long as I can. Its a stress reliever and I feel that my time with Dexter is good for my mental state which in turn will be good for the baby.
But someone seriously needs to take the time and really explain the potential risk of riding a horse while pregnant, beyond falling off. I think there are enough of us out there to warrant it. And we all want to keep the baby safe, but also know that to not ride for 9 months (plus how every many after) isn't an option. There are enough professional women out there who make this their job, give us some factual medical advice, so we don't have to rely on wives tales and "just do what I did". It would also help to have some facts so I can deal with all the non-horse people in my life looking down on me for putting my un-born child's "life at risk".
As a side observation, I've never bought totally into the fact that horses can read minds and such. But I have to admit, Dexter has become more mellow the more pregnant I get. Maybe he can smell the hormones or something. But even when he does get tense he listens to me a lot better. And when the horses in the pasture act stupid and go galloping across our ring, where he used to spin and join them, he now just turns to see where they are going and stops and picks his head up. He's still nervous, but has a head about him. I don't know why the change, but I certainly do appreciate it. And as I said, as I get bigger the more precautions I'll take, even if it means I have to stay in the small arena for a while.