Ah, menstruation. The monthly. Mother nature's unwanted visit. Aunt Flo. The dreaded period. No matter what you call "that time of the month", we all can agree that it sucks. Ruined white pants. Ruined cute undies. Unexpected bathroom breaks. Lots and lots of chocolate (or whatever you crave!). It happens, once a month, every month (typically), until we hit menopause.
So why am I writing about this? Well, it was brought to my attention that perhaps there is more to this "monthly"... such as the effects it has on horseback riding. After talking to several people, the resounding conclusion is:
A) It helps with cramps/flow/irritation
B) It hinders more than it helps. Actually causes pain
C) It has no effect whatsoever/ride no matter what
If you chose, C, than you're absolutely right! Out of all the people asked how their periods effect their riding, almost 60% said that they ride no matter what or it doesn't really effect them. Of course, the time of the month effects every individual horseback rider differently, but there are some tips and advice that go for everyone across the board.
1) Working with "green", "touchy", or "grouchy" horses while on your period is never a good idea. It can go from 0 to 100 very quickly. A lot of us can be quite grouchy on our periods and it's not fair to our neigh-whinnies to bring that to the table whilst training them! Ride an old schoolmaster or make sure you don't become nitpicky towards your horse.
2) Always bring extra pads or tampons! You can never have enough! Using "thicker" or "heavier" style pad/tampons may be the best option. A little bit of uncomfortable is better than a little bit of spillage. Of course it depends on your flow, but take into account that exercise does help "move the flow" along. Keep some extras in your grooming tote!
3) Always keep Midol or Tylenol on hand in case cramps get too bad! Whatever pain medicine works best for you, keep it in your grooming tote!
4) Don't do "too much" while riding. Try to stick to the basics. Sometimes, too much activity can make your monthly flow faster which can lead to spillage. Of course, if you're riding in a saddle, it will usually clean right off, but if it doesn't you can use dish soap (make lots of bubbles!).
5) It is OKAY if you don't ride during your period! 100%!! It's okay to admit that you are too tired physically or mentally to ride! It's 100% okay! Your horse will enjoy the few days off. You can always groom, bathe, or hand-graze your horses if you need some "horsey time" or don't want to risk being too "grouchy" around your horse.
6) Explore different options! There are SEVERAL new products that I learned about while doing this! Nuva ring, menstruation cups (including the diva cup and moon cup), period panties (Thinx)... and so many more! Research, research, research and try things until you find what suits you the best!
7) This may be a given to some, but don't wear too light of clothing. Darks, darks, darks!! Especially blacks are the best way to go. Keep those white breeches at home! Always keep an extra set of clothes just in case spillage does happen.
8) Make sure you drink lots and lots of water. Keep hydrated! Periods can be rough on your body and you want to make sure that you're on top of the matter. Oh, and don't forget the occasional treat too ;)
9) Don't ever be embarrassed. This is a 100% natural occurrence. If you bleed through, it's okay! If you can't ride because of the cramps, it's okay! If your flow is light or heavy, it's okay! Don't ever be embarrassed for the lovely 'ol gift mother nature gives you! Just remember periods effect every woman differently!