السبت 22 يونيو 2024

Hydration & Nutrition for Competition & Hot Weather Riding

موقع أيام نيوز

At this time of the year, I am often asked questions such as what to eat on or before a show day, how much water is too much, and all too often, whether coffee counts. Whether you’re showing or just riding long hours in the heat, hydration and nutrition can be a challenge.

Water and food consumption will have a significant effect on your performance, stamina, and risk of injury. Most of us think about our horses before we think of ourselves, not realizing that our lack of attention to ourselves can seriously affect our horses’ performance. Riders who brought feed, hay, supplements, and water to the show for their equine athletes can often be seen munching hot dogs and drinking cola - if they take time to refuel at all. 

Hydration

Approximately 60 percent of your body weight is water. Your body uses water to digest food, facilitate chemical reactions and respiration, carry oxygen throughout the blood, regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, and remove waste. Hot weather, days spent riding out, and long competition days can all cause dehydration, a formidable problem. Show days in particular can be grueling, with long distances to travel between food amenities and ringside, making it easy to forget to drink or eat enough to sustain energy levels.

Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, lack of coordination or ability to concentrate, constipation, physical weakness, headaches, cramps and irritability. Even if you do not notice these symptoms, your horse will definitely be aware. Fatiguing muscles and lack of concentration will cause you to lose your self-carriage in the saddle, make costly errors in judgement, and throw your horse’s balance off. If you compete in eventing, competitive trail or endurance, just imagine the impact that your lack of balance and stamina is having on your horse’s soundness over time.

Dehydration isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s unsafe. This is particularly true if you compete in higher risk events such as eventing or jumping. Equestrian sports are an endurance event for your body because of the physical demands often required from the early morning on until late afternoon, and usually in the hot summer sun.

In addition to water, exercise depletes your carbohydrate and electrolyte levels, namely sodium and potassium. You can lose several pounds in water weight if you are training in hot weather, and riders who are doing endurance sports or are working hard in the saddle for three hours or more have similar requirements to long-distance runners. Yet, how many riders do you see wolfing down high fat, low fibre foods and diuretic drinks that contribute directly to dehydration and muscle fatigue?

Since dehydration and electrolyte loss are cumulative, it’s important to plan in advance. A good rule of thumb to stay hydrated is to drink one to two cups of liquid in the hour before you train or compete. Have a drink as soon as you wake up and another one prior to competition.