After a brilliant ride on Nonie yesterday afternoon I once again found myself musing an oft expressed sentiment in the horse world, ‘Winning on a made horse will never be as good as winning on a horse you’ve trained yourself’. I have to say this […]
I used to joke that top boots are the dressage riders equivalent of ballet pointe slippers, so I was delighted when I discovered Celeris Bespoke boots. In my opinion, these boots are the ultimate when it comes to style, elegance and comfort. I swore off […]
Fluids, not the sexiest of topics, but you know what is definitely not sexy? Dehydration. This week, as part of my series on nutrition and ‘The other equestrian athlete’ I want to talk about an often underrated topic – Hydration.
Due to the format of equestrian sports food and nutrition plays a lesser role than it does in sports such as triathalon or marathon, however hydration is of vital importance. If athletes who are getting around in the middle of the day in black leather boots, coats and helmets are not sweating large amounts, placing themselves at risk of dehydration, then I don’t know who is.
At it’s mildest dehydration is annoying. However, at its worst, it can be fatal. It is fairly well accepted that dehydration can impact upon athletic performance. Even a loss as small as 1% of body weight can lead to impaired performance. For someone my size (~70kg or 154 pounds) that’s a loss of just 700ml!
How does dehydration affect our body?
- Decreased ability to control the temperature of your body. Remember that we sweat primarily to help ourselves cool off, if we have lost fluid, we decrease our ability to cool off.
- Fatigue (tiring quickly)
- Feeling as though exercise is harder than it actually is
- Impaired cognitive function (thinking less clearly or the feeling of thinking slowly)
- Impaired nervous system function (dizziness, light headedbess)
- Increased heart rate
- Increased gastrointestinal distress (eg. nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea)
I was rudely reminded of the uncomfortable side effects of dehydration at my last dressage competition where Nonie and I debuted at medium. As if moving up a level wasn’t enough to deal with! I ended up with a nasty headache (which could only be fixed by codine) and very fatigued.
One of the problems with dehydration is that it also decreases the amount of fluid that the digestive system absorbs which means that once you are dehydrated it can be difficult to correct. As they say, prevention is better than a cure!
So what can we do to ensure we optimal hydration?
As a starting point to prevent dehydration you can aim to:
- Drink ~500ml of water with your breakfast
- Drink an extra cup of fluid for every hour of exercise
- Replace 125-150% of your fluid losses in the six hours following exercise. This information sheet produced by the Sports Dietitian’s Australia, explains how you can actually figure out how much sweat you loose during exercise
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeinated drinks during the day
- DON’T rely on your thirst as a reminder to drink adequate amounts of fluid. The colour of your urine is one indicator of your hydration status.
What about sports drinks?
In general water offers a cheap and easy way to replace fluid losses, particularly in sports which are low in intensity and duration (ie riding)However if the weather is particularly hot, or you are working a number of horses across the day or riding for longer periods of time, sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade (which contain salt and other electrolytes which are lost in sweat) can be beneficial for replacing fluid losses. Sports drinks are best consumed whilst you are actually exercising.
For more reading check out:
Please note, this post is informational only. It is not intended to diagnose and does not replace individual advice from a suitably qualified professional.
This week I was pretty excited to find out that I had been nominated by Bridle and Bone, Roosa’s Horsey Life and Team Tunnah Eventing for the Blogger Recognition Award – Pet Edition. These ladies have been blogging much longer than me and run […]
At nearly 29 some people may argue that I am far too old to be wearing cute equestrian themed clothing. These people are not my friends, because honestly who needs that kind of negativity in their life? I discovered the American based company ‘One Horse […]
I love a gallop just as much as the next person, ok maybe not as much as an eventer, as but I do genuinely love the feeling of thundering through the waves at the beach, the salt splashing up in my face. So why then do I ride dressage? Let’s assume that it isn’t because I am a glutten for punishment. Let’s also assume that it’s not because I have a type A personality.
As a young rider I participated in all disciplines (dressage, jumping, showing gymkhanas, I even tried my hand at team penning and camp drafting a few times) on my one horse. For the most part I enjoyed them all. But it was pretty clear back then that I wasn’t like the other kids who yearned for the thrill of the jump off or the all out speed involved in the gymkhana events. No my favourite event come gymkhana day was rider class. While I loved training cross country, my heart was never in it on competition day and show jumping could be fun when it all went to plan, but I knew that it wasn’t my jam. A few serious concussions and my fathers growing concern sealed the deal, my purpose in life was to be a dressage devotee.
I remember clearly when I made the decision to put all my focus on dressage. My horse at the time Sullivan was a super warmblood x Percheron gelding. He gave me my first taste of sitting on a powerful equine. Some time later I was offered the ride on my coaches super sensitive but exceptionally talented mare Selesta. This is an opportunity that I will be eternally grateful for because the chance to feel advanced movements like passage saw me fall in lust with dressage.
Life. It’s about a finding that thing that makes you feel alive that sets your soul on fire. And those rides on Selesta had lit a fire in my belly and set me down the centreline chasing the ultimate – Grand Prix. But it wasn’t until many years later this lust developed into a true love for the sport of dressage. This love came from feeling the multiple incremental improvements that result in the most spectacular feeling. It’s knowing that the success you and your horse have achieved is the result of your hard work. It’s the pride that swells in your chest when you start to ride advanced movements on a horse that you have brought along from the beginning. But most of all it’s the ability to communicate and connect with your equine partner without so much as a word.
‘I’ll be a good rider when…’ This is a game I used to play a few years ago and it’s about as useful as its companion game ‘If only…’ At that time the script in my head was ‘I’ll be a good rider when I am competing at elementary level’. For quite some time, on three horses, travers had been my Achilles heel and in my mind at least, being able to compete at this level represented overcoming this seemingly insurmountable challenge. But, when Nonie and I actually got to that level, something switched for me. It was as if someone had flicked a light on and I understood that it no longer meant as much to me as it had before. Not only did I realise that riding or competing at a particular level would never make me feel as though I had achieved the coveted status of being a ‘good rider’, I also learned something far more important about myself and my beloved sport.
I realised that what was more important to me as the love that I have developed for the sport of dressage and growing the bond with my treasured mare. Having embraced the feeling of discomfort that comes with learning a new skill, opened the door to something more. It enabled me to appreciate the brilliance that arises when a new movement clicks, or the feeling you get when you find that new gear within a pace. Best of all I now know that things only feel better as Nonie and I both gain strength and learn to relax within the work. Its been exciting to learn that as we continue to challenge ourselves, with a little patience and persistence these improvements we will continue unlocking bigger and better feelings. As I have let go of the stress of needing to be at a certain level in order to be ‘good enough’ it has created room for Nonie and I to develop a stronger relationship, the value of which cannot be underestimated.
Daring to suck… It’s a seemingly bizarre concept that resonated deeply with me. I was listening to one of my favourite podcast’s (check it out here http://summerinnanen.com/frr-37) when I stumbled across this idea. So what does ‘daring to suck’ actually mean? In a nutshell, […]