Returning to riding after a baby

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Returning to riding
-  letter from Mary K - Nottingham
Dear Horse Answers Today I have been following your Enjoy Riding Campaign and hoped you could give me some advice.
I am heavily pregnant and looking forward to getting back in the saddle in a couple of months time. I was still riding for the first 4 months of my pregnancy which kept both me and my horse Jimmy well exercised. By the time I get back on him he will have had around five months off so have you got any advice on getting him and me back in shape.
Normally at this time of year, I'd do a lot of roadwork as it is an hours drive to my nearest indoor school. I would normally be out with him on a hack four days a week and school once or twice. I am guessing he won't be fit enough to do schooling in anything other than a walk.
Do you suggest roadwork and if so how much? I don't know how quickly I should build up the workload and when to introduce trot or canter. I have considered sending him to my instructor for a month but not only is this an expense that with a new baby I can ill afford but also I have been looking to riding him so much that, if possible, I would prefer to do it myself and we get fit together.
Mary K - Nottingham 
 
Horse Answers Today replies:
A.
Having recently returned to riding after giving birth to my second child I know how important it is for you to get back in the saddle, firstly get the all clear from your doctor's. You are right in thinking your horse should get back in to things slowly but then so should you. The first few times hacking out should be no longer than 15 minutes, perhaps alternating with leading in hand, as this will increase your own fitness at the same time. Continue to increase this over a week or so to half an hour keeping to a walk at this stage; do not be tempted to trot just yet.  Gradually build up over the following month to an hour and not until you are both really comfortable with this amount of exercise should you consider trotting. Both you and Jimmy need time to start using all those muscles that have been asleep for so long and generally improve both your fitness levels without rushing or creating potential problems for the future. Start including short bursts of trotting on level ground and, as he gets fitter, trot up some inclines to make him use his muscles. At the end of six weeks, you should both be ready to canter. Good Luck and Enjoy the Ride! I did. Horse Answers Today
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