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Is it safe to ride horseback during pregnancy?

Experts Answers

Ogo Okpala


The general consensus is that horseback riding is unsafe during pregnancy.

Falling or being thrown from the horse is one danger for you and your baby. But even  more important is the jostling motion of horseback riding. Unless you're riding at a very slow walk, that motion creates a risk of placental abruption – a serious pregnancy complication in which the placenta separates from the uterus.

If a pregnant woman falls or is in a low-speed car collision, we monitor her for signs of placental abruption. I would equate this with the kind and level of sheer force you could be subjected to on horseback.

Have more questions about pregnancy safety? Get expert advice about more than 100 other common pregnancy concerns.

Kay Daniels


In general I tell people if they're excellent horseback riders and are just walking around on the horse, they can continue up to 12 weeks. But after 12 weeks, no riding. That's because by this time, the fetus has moved up above the pelvic girdle, a bony structure protects the baby during the first trimester, and now all that sits between the baby and any external force is skin and muscle. If you get kicked or are thrown off the horse at this point, you've got nothing protecting the baby from trauma. Even experienced riders get thrown off; that's part of the game. I just don't think it's worth the risk. I once saw a woman who got kicked in the stomach by a horse and the baby died. Maybe that's why I'm conservative on this.

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