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Fitness Tip of the Month for Riders: Stay in the Game: Hydration for Summer Training & Show Days

ing hot dogs and cola- if they take time at all to refuel.

water. Your body uses it to digest food, facilitate chemical reactions and respiration, carry oxygen through your blood, regulate your body tempera- ture, lubricate joints and remove waste. In hot weather and long competitive days or days riding out, dehydration can become a real problem. Show days in particular can be grueling with long distances to travel between amenities, food and ringside which make it easy to forget to drink enough, or to eat to sustain energy levels. Symptoms of de-hydration include fatigue, lack of co-ordination or ability to concentrate, constipation, physical weakness, headaches and even irritability. Another indication of dehydra- tion is darker urine.

Approximately 60% of your body weight is

us think about our horse’s electrolyte replacement and hydration before we think of ourselves. Riders who brought supple- ments and water to the show can be seen munch-

Most of

ourselves- not realizing that our own hydration can seriously affect our horse’s performance as well. Equestrian sport is an endurance event for your body because of the physical demands required from early morning until late in the afternoon, in the hot summer sun. Fatiguing muscles and lack of concentration will cause you to lose your self-carriage in the saddle, and make costly errors in judgement.

In addition to water, exercise depletes your carbohydrate and electrolyte levels, namely sodi- um and potassium. You can lose several pounds in water weight if you are training in hot weather, and riders who are doing endurance sport or are working hard in the saddle for 3 hours or more have similar requirements to long-distance run- ners. Yet, how many riders do you see wolfing down high-fat, low-fibre foods and diuretic drinks that contribute directly to de-hydration and muscle fatigue.

Dehydration isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s counter-productive to good riding. We are often so busy thinking about our horse’s water intake and electrolyte replacement, that we forget about

Since dehydration and electrolyte loss are cumulative, it’s important to plan in advance. Normally, people need 8-10 glasses of water a day. However, if you are training, you need more. Some rules of thumb to stay hydrated dur- ing training are to drink 1-2 cups of liquid in the hour before you train, and then half to one cup every 15 minutes. You can stretch the time frame out as long as you are drinking regularly. Doing so will maintain your hydration levels at about 80%, and you can bring yourself back to full levels by drinking 2 glasses per pound of weight lost in a training session.

or water before you get to the show grounds, con- tinually drinking throughout the day and making sure you also replenish water lost at the end of the day.

On a show day, this would mean starting your day with a glass or two of fluid such as juice

thirsty. Thirst indicates that you are already depleted. Staying hydrated during training will help you perform longer. Dehydration will cause premature fatigue, and you may start making poorer judgement calls, or sloppier aids dulling your competitive edge, or simple ability to respond properly to your horse. What about electrolytes? Your first priority is to replace fluids. Replacing electrolytes is eas- ier. You can use sport drinks, but you do not have to. Fruit juices and fruits will not only pro- vide you with all the potassium you need, but also provide vitamins and even fibre which will help your digestive system. One litre of orange juice contains 3x the potassium a long distance runner would need to replenish. It also replaces carbohydrates needed to fuel muscles. In most cases fruit juices will be adequate. Drinking water with lemons or limes squeezed into it is another great option for hydration, but fruit juice will give you added energy through the day when it is not so convenient to actually eat. You do not want your blood sugar levels to drop or spike through the day. Eating high-fibre foods in small amounts such as whole grain bread or fruits will help keep your stomach steady and minimize stomach jitters, while keeping you reg- ular and keeping your blood sugar levels con- stant. It’s very difficult to concentrate or perform properly when your blood sugar is on a roller

In fact, drink before you feel you are

coaster, or you have eaten too much at one sitting and slowed your whole metabolism down. Eating salty foods in the days prior to a competition day can help build up sodium in your body. Eating salty snacks throughout the compe- tition day can also help maintain sodium levels, particularly when you will be exercising or com- peting over a period longer than four hours. You do not need to resort to salt tablets unless your diet in general has been low in salt, or particular- ly low leading up to competition.

It is possible to overhydrate, diluting the sodium levels in your body. If you know you are drinking lots of water, and you are experiencing headaches or muscle cramping, you may be over- hydrating. Stop drinking if you feel water slosh- ing in your stomach.

Avoid or minimize consumption of diuret- ics such as alcohol, coffee or cola prior to or dur- ing the show day. If you do have them, drink a couple of glasses of water for each glass of alco- hol, coffee or cola. The dehydrating effect of coffee outweighs the slight boost provided by the caffeine, and it’s diuretic effect will cause you to run for the portapotty.

By Heather Sansom, Owner, Equestrian Fitness offers personalized fitness coach- ing through clinics and convenient online coach- ing available anywhere. You don’t have to be near a gym to get in shape. Sign up for a free subscription to monthly rider fittips or download the rider fitness ebooks: Complete Core Workout for Riders and Handy Stretching Guide for Rid- ers at .

Windrush Stable Therapeutic Riding Centre

Charlie* is a good example of a typical rider at Windrush Stable Thera- peutic Riding Centre (WTRC): challenged, chal- lenging, and yet, also, incredibly, rising to the challenge. Charlie is almost 60 years old, suffers with developmental, emo- tional, behavioral, and physical disabilities and has been shuffled around throughout his life to various institu- tions. The way he ver- balizes his past is so disturbing (“Do it or I’ll get the broom, Charlie” he mutters under his breath, or “It’ll be the shower for you if you don’t do it now”) because it tells the tale of misplaced trust, abuse of power, and a total lack of insight into Charlie’s needs and wants. Although he is a small, wiry man, he is not easily maneuvered around the “able-bod- ied world” by his case workers. But, ask him what Tuesday is, and this normally silent, withdrawn man immediately focuses. “Go see Scout” he says eagerly, wolfing down a breakfast that usually takes a painfully long time. Scout is Charlie’s therapy horse. Charlie is motivated by his therapeutic riding lessons as he is motivated by nothing else in his world. There has been such a dramatic change in his behaviour and manageabil- ity that his case workers are often moved to tears when asked about it. Even on days when he doesn’t ride, he is motivated to cooperate and participate with the assurance that “tomorrow is Scout day”, says Natalie, one of his

case workers. She has seen such a dramatic improve- ment in Charlie’s quality of life that she has become a passionate proponent of therapeutic riding lessons. Having long been used for children and adults with physical disabilities,

ever, at the age of 47. She said ‘Tuesday, horse, cof- fee’!” says Ms. Ridout- Gauer. “I think because I started my therapeutic teaching career after years of traditional teaching, my focus was always a bit dif- ferent than instructors whose goal from the beginning was to teach therapeutic riding.” Ms. Ridout-Gauer smiles and adds, “And yes, Shirley rode on Tues- days and was taken out for coffee after her lessons”.

therapeutic riding is now increasingly used to help those with emotional and developmental challenges, as well as people with autism. Lesley Ridout- Gauer, head instructor with WTRC, became a thera- peutic riding instructor after she had trained in England with the British Horse Society and taught able bodied riders for many years. “I was asked if I would teach Shirley*, a non-verbal woman who had shown an interest in horses after passing my farm on her way to other therapies. I agreed, and that was the beginning of my interest in therapeutic rid- ing. That woman, by the way, spoke her first words

Once she began to go through the certification process with CANTRA (Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association) she realized that her private lessons (one instructor, one rider, one horse) were not the norm. But she felt that with the students she taught and the goals she and the therapists had for those students, the individual- ized approach worked best. “The rider bonds with the horse and the volunteers, usually two or three per rider. They still get that social interaction that is so imperative because they just don’t always have the chance to make those relationships in their everyday lives”, she says. “It works both ways, too. I am totally focused on that student for the entire 30 minutes. We both have each other’s attention.” When dealing with stu- dents who have develop- mental or emotional chal- lenges, “they can be totally focused on what I am say- ing and what they are doing. There are no distrac- tions. So many of my stu- dents have attention deficit disorder anyhow so put them in a group setting and

States appears to be grow- ing by 10 to 17 per cent per year (Autism Society of America).

Therapeutic riding is proving to be an excellent modality in improving communication, attention, and interaction with autis- tic students. As increasing numbers of children are diagnosed with autism, the demands for therapeutic riding centres able to han- dle this particular disability will surely increase corre- spondingly.

on horses – they just don’t focus,” she adds.

“I think we’re going to see more individual lessons appearing as more therapeutic riding centres see an increase in clients with developmental and emotional disabilities. This holds true for autistic clients as well,” says Ms. Ridout-Gauer. Marie*, whose child has autism, is very enthusiastic about the improvements she sees in her daughter Rachel* since beginning riding at WTRC. “Her confidence, indepen- dence, and social skills have greatly improved”, she says. “She eagerly looks forward to her week- ly lesson. It is a relaxing time for her to be herself and enjoy the one on one attention.”

Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder. There can be many symptoms including deficits in learn- ing, attention, communica- tion, and sensory process- ing. This disorder seems to be occurring in more and more children, often being diagnosed before they are three years old. The Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report in December 2009 that autism has risen to

approximately “one in one hundred and ten births in the United States: (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). There is no known “cause” of autism and its affects can range greatly from person to per- son. One startling fact is that autism in the United

There are so many ways to help people with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities. Education is the first step. Maybe the second step should carry you into the barn of a therapeutic riding stable – to become a volun- teer.

• Names of students, par- ents, case workers, and vol- unteers have been changed for reasons of confidentiali- ty.

Works Cited

Centers for Disease Con- trol and Prevention.”Autism Spec- trum Disorders (ASDs).” Centers for Disease Con- trol and Prevention. 13 May 2010. Web. 18 May 2010. m/index.html

Autism Society of America. “What Are Autism Spec- trum Disorders?.” Autism Society of America. 05 Jun 2009. Web. 18 May 2010. /site/PageServer?page- name=about_whatis



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