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How Safe is Horseback Riding When Pregnant?

horse riding when pregnant

If you’re an equestrian who loves to ride horses, you’re definitely probably wondering how safe it is to ride a while pregnant. This is a controversial question, which many doctors and healthcare providers are mixed on their answers.

Some OB/GYNs will tell you that it’s safe for you to walk up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. (No trotting, cantering, or galloping – just a walk.) Others think you should avoid riding a horse while pregnancy completely. You should talk to your specific healthcare provider about what he or she recommends.

Obviously, the biggest danger to riding during pregnancy is falling off the horse or getting kicked off. Even if you are an experienced rider and you know the horse well, you can still get thrown off. Horses can be unpredictable, and they can be easily spooked. This is a danger that you don’t want to risk, especially when you’re pregnant.

No Horseback Riding After 12 Weeks of Pregnancy

If you choose to ride a horse while pregnant, you should stop after 12 weeks. All OB/GYNs and healthcare providers will tell you to stop after the first trimester. Horseback riding is not safe in the second and third trimesters.

By 12 weeks pregnant, the baby has moved up above your pelvic girdle. So, all that protects the growing baby from external pressure and force (like the jostling motion of riding) is skin and muscle. If you happen to fall or get thrown off while riding, there is nothing to protect the developing baby from trauma. Since you probably want to keep your baby safe and sound, you don’t want to risk this happening.

Horseback Riding – The Risk of Placental Abruption

Another reason that doctors warn against horse riding while pregnant is because the motion of jostling while you’re on a horse can potentially increase your risk of placental abruption – a pregnancy complication that occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterus too early. This can be a devastating and deadly complication for the unborn baby, especially if he/she has to be delivered too early.

Uncomfortable and Loss of Balance

If the potential health risks don’t deter you from riding your horse, you might avoid it for the sheer fact that it’s not very comfortable once you past a certain point in pregnancy. For some women, it’s three months in; others it’s seven months.

In addition to being uncomfortable on a horse, pregnant women often feel unbalanced. This typically occurs in the second trimester, when your center of gravity shifts as your belly gets larger. You don’t want to ride a horse if you’re feeling unbalanced or nauseated.

Horseback Riding When Pregnant is a Personal Choice

Horseback riding during pregnancy is a personal decision. You may love riding so much that you can’t go without it. But just keep in mind your baby’s health and safety.

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Kat January 14, 2018, 3:02 pm

    I’m 21 weeks pregnant now and my midwife is fine with me riding as long as I feel safe I have been ringing horses as long as I could walk and also rock climb and weight lift and since I have always done it was told she has no issue with me doing it as long as I listen to my body there is a risk with doing anything so not gonna stop living my life because of fear

  • Badic Daniela January 11, 2013, 11:28 am


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  • rachel August 10, 2012, 8:08 pm

    When I was pregnant with my second child, my OB told me not to ride after the first trimester. I asked if it was okay if I did other horse stuff as long as I didn’t ride. As a born and raised city boy, he answered, “What else do you do with horses?”
    I’m glad you thought to post this info. : )

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