Thursday, May 9, 2013

My First Ride Back After Having A Baby

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And it was great!

For all those new mothers who might be wondering about how/when to get back into horse riding; you can skip down to the end of the post where I put in the TMI details about my *ahem* condition when I went riding…  For the rest of you that might be squicked out by that kind of thing, feel free to skip those paragraphs!

Back to my ride: I ended up lunging Joey before I rode him as he seemed a little fresh when I pulled him out of the paddock, but it wasn’t long before I was up on his back.  Yay!

He felt pretty good – like I thought, a bit fresh and forward, but not stupid so that was actually ok.  

I warmed up at a walk and we did some outside track work (not a single spook – we’ve beaten that boogey side!  Double YAY!) and some serpentines, then we went to trot work because he kept asking to go forwards!

I was really excited by his trot because he was lifting up through his whither/shoulders, and I could feel his hind end rocking back.  He was actually off the forehand, and starting to move uphill!  I am sure that this is a result of keeping steady, consistent, and elastic contact with his mouth.  It’s allowed him to start working through his back, rather than jamming up his head and locking his neck and shoulders.

By lifting up through his shoulders he can work from his hind end, and activate the power there to eventually begin collection. Of course, at the moment his frame is still very open, and he still doesn’t like circles, so we have a long way to go as of yet. 

I am going to devise a new training routine for him though as I have bought a couple of books on the beginning stages of training for dressage.  I am itching to see how we get on from here and will definitely keep you updated as to how he goes!

See ya,


- Personal details below for postnatal women who want to know when to get back to riding after child birth -

I rode Joey at four weeks and two days after giving birth vaginally to my daughter.  I had had 2nd degree tearing of my perineum that was almost third degree, and as a result had a lot of stitches!  I think I had 7-8 stitches or more down there… 

It had taken about two weeks before the bruising and the swelling went down, but I didn’t have a long 3rd stage (pushing) in my labor, so it may take longer for that to subside if the 3rd stage is long.  Also, I didn’t end up with any hemorrhoids which are quite a common if you have a long 3rd stage.

Physically I still felt a little stiff and tender, so I definitely took it easy.  I think I only rode for 20-30 minutes.  Emotionally and mentally, I was fine – although tired, and that’s something to consider as well.  Particularly because if you are all over the place mentally, there’s an extremely good chance your horse is going to pick up on that.  It’ll only be a matter of your horse’s personality as to whether your emotional state will affect him a lot or not at all. 

In the end I just think you really have to listen to your body and follow your instincts.  Also, don’t let yourself get carried away.  I loved riding again, and it’s easy to get caught up in that, but I had to remember that it’s not just my downstairs that has to heal, but my abs as well. 

The abdominal muscles separate during the pregnancy, and now have to get back to together, as well as regain their strength and fitness! That means I just don’t have the core power that I need to ride, and yes, I was sore afterwards/the next day.

My pelvic floor and abs felt that 20-30 minute easy ride, I can tell you!  Keeping it short and sweet helped minimize the next day fall out.  This is also pertinent if you are not sure how well behaved your horse may be.

I would keep any long/difficult riding for a much later date – your body needs time to heal. 

Oh, and one last note – whether you are breastfeeding or not, make sure you wear a really good, supportive bra!  Wear two if you have too, but make sure those puppies don’t bounce around because that’s going to hurt…  ; )

If anyone has any further questions, feel free to email me/comment – I would love to help any new moms get back into the saddle!  : D


  1. I had a similar tear and also a short 3rd stage..less than 26 mins of pushing..I bought a new horse when I was pregnant and I'm just itching to ride her..but because I don't know her well yet I'm trying to make myself wait to get on her she hasn't been ridden in almost a long before you felt completely back to normal and confident in the saddle again?

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I know if I were in your shoes I would also be itching to ride as soon as possible; but it's a bit tricky isn't it?

    I personally feel like it's taken about 2 months for me to get my confidence back to a reasonable level, but in saying that I've only been able to ride a handful of times over that period. As for back to normal, I'm still not there yet. My little girl is 4 and a half months old at this stage, but I'm still not completely, totally recovered from being pregnant!

    My core power is not as strong as I would like it to be yet, and mentally it's more of a challenge for me to ride out difficult moments. I have heard that this is a common thing for new mothers coming back into riding because your brain likes to remind you that you have children to look after and can't afford to get tossed off!

    In your case, I'd be spending a lot of time on ground work, lunging and generally trying to get a feel for your mare's attitude and head space. Can you lead her on foot away from the barn/herd? How does she respond to you moving her feet around, or telling her to back up or stand still?

    I am also wondering if it is possible for you find someone to hop on her for you? Just for the first ride or two, so that you can see if any undesirable behaviours are there under saddle before you find out for yourself!

    Obviously you'd know about her anyway, 'coz you would have seen this before you bought her, but sometimes a change in environment and routine can bring back old habits that might not have been fully dealt with. Plus, the fact that she hasn't been ridden in a while might mean that her manners are a tad rusty!

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful for you Sarah, if you have any more questions, please let me know. And I'd love to hear back from you about how you and your mare get on!


  3. I had my baby on jan 20 and want to get back in the saddle feb. 20 ecactly a month after delivery. I also had a 2nd degree tear but stiches are gone now. After you rode did you have any complications after some time like in the hips or back ?

  4. Hi Edith,

    It's been three years, and I haven't any hip or back complications, but I should add that I had some Osetopath treatments leading up to the birth, and since then and that had helped my body to be in alignment. I haven't had any complications related to riding, but after the birth of my third baby I have found my stablizing muscles to be weaker. As these muscles keep your joints, etc in place I have started Pilates to strengthen them and counteract weaknesses before they cause injury. (I badly twisted my ankle before baby number 3 and it's still not healed properly.)

    If you are worried about that kind of thing, be gentle with you body as you ride, keep the rides short and work up to it. Also, I can highly recommend doing Pilates if you can - the full body workout is fantastic for helping a postpartum body regain posture and strength, and it's also great for you if you ride! I love Pilates for helping to strengthen and straighten my body for dressage! It's a fantastic cross training exercise to do.


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