When Mark King, a well-known female rider who has won six-team World and European Championship golds, four British Open titles, and been a part of five Olympic Games, was competing at European Championships in October 1995, nobody knew her little-big secret—she was five and a half months pregnant.
She kept fit and wore a jacket so that no one finds out about her pregnancy. She won a gold and an individual bronze medal in the event.
If you are an equine lover who enjoys horse riding and prefers trotting on a horseback over running on your own feet, here is what you should know about riding during pregnancy.
Many female professional riders continue to ride during their pregnancy—they may prefer slowing down from a fast run to a simple walk, but can’t let go of their passion. Aren’t they conscious about their babies health?
Meghan Michaels, a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)-level Dressage competitor, started riding as soon as she learned how to walk. When she was carrying her baby boy, she consulted three doctors and all of them told her to continue riding but with precautionary measures.
She was advised to maintain her distance from green horses (horses that haven’t been trained). She said that exercising throughout the pregnancy made her feel better. However, she stopped sitting while the horse would trot. What is surprising is that by the 8th month, she could easily dismount the horse with utmost grace.
While some women are pretty clear about riding during pregnancy, others feel it is worthless to put their and baby’s life at risk by riding during those critical months. It is always advised to take your doctor’s recommendation.
Marnye Langer who serves as a judge in the United States Equestrian Federation judge in hunters, equitation, and jumpers said that during her pregnancy, her obstetrician told her that it is okay for a woman to participate in a sports event if she was practicing it way before her pregnancy. Until the first trimester, it is completely safe for the mother and the baby.
In the first trimester, the baby is still tiny is protected by the pelvic bones in case there is a fall. However, as the pregnancy proceeds, there is a risk of getting off balance, falling, getting thrown, or kicked by the horse. If the rider is an experienced one and the horse is simply walking and hasn’t broken into a trot or a run, it is less likely to harm the mother or the baby.
If the mother experiences these symptoms—dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, pain in the abdominal area, vaginal bleeding, leakage of the amniotic fluid, swelling in feet, reduced fetal movement, headache or weakness in muscles, she should report it to the doctor immediately. Riding in such a condition could prove to be hazardous to her and baby’s health.
It is always advised to consult your doctor before you continue to ride. The history or previous miscarriages or pregnancy complications need to be looked at before arriving at the decision.
According to the FEI’s General regulations, the sportsperson should inform about the pregnancy before taking part in the events. If during the competition, the rider suffers a fall, the medical team should be informed immediately and it’s only after their consultation that the rider should be allowed to continue or excluded from the competition. The rider should also be responsible enough to inform about the fall to their obstetrician even if she hasn’t suffered any injury.
One can’t tell the mother when should they stop riding in pregnancy. Mothers who ride too often must weigh the risks involved in riding and discuss it with their doctors. It is always better to take a second opinion whether to keep your foot in the saddle or on the ground.