Pregnancy and Horses

In late September 2022 I found out I was pregnant. This wasn’t thrilling news as I had not planned on giving birth past the age of forty. Many aspects of my life would have to rearrange to make room for the new addition, and some plans had to be put on hold at least for nine months. I’ve learned from Offspring that I enjoy children more than I ever thought I would so even though I’m not at what I consider an ideal age to do this, our new cowgirl is eagerly anticipated. I’m an active person, and didn’t plan on letting the pregnancy change much of my lifestyle at least until I started to get big and everything became uncomfortable. I experienced the normal fatigue in the first trimester, but still managed to keep up my lifestyle.

I sought advice from a few female horse professionals that had children while maintaining their training and lesson programs. I had avidly followed Camille McCutcheon continue to gentle, back, and show her green mustangs throughout her pregnancy (never mind she’s at least 15 years my junior). Thoughts on how far into the pregnancy I could ride varied, but the consensus seemed to be I could at least continue through the second trimester unless there was a medical condition preventing it. One professional reported riding up until month eight with one pregnancy but not being able to ride at all with a proceeding pregnancy due to bleeding issues. My doctor didn’t expressly forbid riding initially, and I let him know that I was still riding during the first trimester.

In 2020 Jackie Crawford at 6 months pregnant cut the horn off her western saddle and laid down the fastest breakaway roping time (1.9 seconds) at the Wrangler National Finals in the first round of competition. I figured if she could do that, surely I’d be fine working on low level dressage in my pasture. The funny thing about being pregnant is the old fashioned thinking I encounter from people that A) know me, and B) should realize this isn’t the middle ages where women were locked away in confinement for months until they delivered. Don’t even get me started on the people asking if I was quitting my day job after the 2nd child…What is this the 1930’s? Uh no! I have a very expensive hobby/passion/lifestyle and now an extra mouth to feed with no intentions of giving any of it up. If anything I need the job more than ever before.

I get it, riding while pregnant may be controversial, but I’m surprised at the people who are shocked to find out I’m still slinging haybales, unloading 800 lbs of feed at a time, continuing farrier work on 12 of our animals on the usual 6 week schedule, and averaging 25,000 steps a day according to my fitbit. Yes hauling my a$$ in the saddle is getting more difficult, and while I can still mount Johnny Cash at 14.1 hh from the ground, there’s no way I’m attempting it on the 15 plus handers. I’ll go straight to a mounting block with them. I’m just too awkward right now.

The thing is I usually feel a thousand times better post ride, physically and mentally. I can’t imagine a world where I would stop riding for nine months when all my health checks say all systems are go. So I’m paying attention to my body. If I’m dragging butt from a mentally rough day at work or worn out from running a million errands, maintaining the house, and feeding, then I don’t ride. If I’m bouncing off the walls with energy and its a beautiful day, you better believe I’m getting my horse time in.

The ponies are my saving grace, since no one seems to freak out when I talk about driving them. Also, on days when I’m not feeling like heaving myself onto a full size horse, I can still hitch them up and enjoy a fun little jaunt around the neighborhood and submerse myself in that therapeutic horse smell. It’s also fun to think I will soon have a valid excuse to do all the fun unicorn pony shoots I’ve always wanted and dye their manes rainbow colors without seeming like the crazy pony lady.

Horses supposedly can hear a human heartbeat from four feet away and synchronize their heartbeats to other horses. I’ve wondered if they can sense I have another tiny human inside of me. In the case of Johnny Cash, I think he’s slightly freaked out that there’s something different. In the case of Odessa and the pony mares, I think they’re like, yeah we feel for ya. All in all this pregnancy has been vastly different from the last considering I’m not suffering through the entirety of a Texas summer. There seemed to be a little more fatigue this time around, or maybe its been so long I forgot some of those details.

One thing is for sure, my mounted days until delivery are definitely numbered, but at least I have alternatives!

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