Pregnant Zara saddles up
Equestrian medallist Zara Phillips continues riding despite pregnancy.
Zara Phillips, the second-eldest grandchild to Queen Elizabeth II, was spotted playing polo recently; this would have been considered uneventful had she not been three months pregnant. Zara, who does not hold an official royal title, is the daughter of Princess Royal Princess Anne, and is also a former Olympic silver medallist as an equestrian. According to the Express, the avid horse rider will give up her saddle while pregnant after competing in an event next month when she will be four months pregnant.

She’s pregnant with her first child, so the media has noted with interest her choice to continue riding, prompting a debate on whether or not there are risks associated with the pastime.

*Update: Zara's spokesperson has announced that she will no longer be participating in events while pregnant.

Is it safe to ride a horse while pregnant?

There are differing views on whether or not it is safe to ride a horse while pregnant. Here are some key points to consider:
  • Medical specialists agree that the main risk to a pregnancy is a fall from a horse. Even usually calm horses may be unpredictable, and being thrown from a horse or falling could injure both the expectant mom and the baby.
  • Some recommend a “no riding after 12 weeks” rule, while others suggest that riding should be suspended during pregnancy. Others say that riding in predictable, flat terrain is fine up until 12 weeks or even later but suggest that trail riding should be stopped immediately as an uneven surface increases the possibility of a fall.
  • One risk to a pregnancy is placental abruption. Riding at speed (as opposed to a gentle walk) creates a jostling motion which, in very extreme cases, could lead to the placenta separating from the walls of the uterus, according to one ObGyn.
  • Changes to a woman’s body while pregnant may also influence her riding: Changes to the breasts may cause them to feel sensitive or sore and a bigger belly may make riding less comfortable.
  • If you decide to continue riding, you may need assistance in saddling your horse, as some saddles are very heavy.
  • Although it isn’t related to riding a horse, a kick from a horse could also lead to injury.

(via: babycenter and

What about your pregnancy?

Of course, a horse riding enthusiast will be extremely loathe to give up riding- There are also women who have ridden throughout the entire pregnancy without incident. Women who have struggled to become pregnant or had a miscarriage may choose not to ride at all. Related: Even male fertility may be compromised by many hours spent in a hard saddle.

Note: It’s always advisable to consult a medical professional for the best advice when it comes to your own pregnancy or even when considering getting pregnant.

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