50/ JULY 2017 THE RIDER Fitness For Riders: Summer Edition

you plan your training to maxi- mize your focus on riding. When it gets busy, I tell

By Heather Sansom. This month’s column is

about how to have endurance, in a way. It’s summer here in North

America, and that means activity season- competition for some, maximizing trail time for others. Whatever moves you, it’s likely that you and your horse are sweating and taking advantage of the long daylight hours. It’s easy to get dehydrated or to run out of steam. When those happen, you are less able to perform at your best AND more at risk for injury. We want you to have a safe,

fun, rewarding summer ride. To help, there are two significant health and fitness behaviours that you have control over, other than your riding itself. One category is your physical training. The other is what is going into your mouth (nutrition and hydration). Physical training is what I

talk about most of the time: what you can do in your workout to get a better position, body usage and more stamina in the saddle. Today I want to talk to you

about the bigger picture. If you are a rider who is riding more than other times of the year, and has a lot on your plate, then there are some rules of thumb to help

clients to really narrow down their workout time to those ele- ments that are going to have the biggest impact on their riding. It’s not the time to embark on a new workout that might leave you sore the day you need to compete at a show. Ask yourself which element

is MOST important right now, and set yourself up to do some- thing about it ‘small and often’ with a more intense session once a week. It’s ok to slack on work- outs when you are in the busy season. You’re supposed to train the rest of the year in a way that gives you more capacity than you need, BECAUSE there is sup- posed to be a more slack time in your body training schedule. That cycle is a normal athletic tapering that happens as you transition from the training season, to the performance season. Recovering from the effects of the slacking in some areas will be part of your post-busy-season agenda. Whether your target is flex-

ibility for tight areas, stress re- duction, keeping your cardio capacity up, body awareness- pick one key area and work on that. For example, if you are were working on my Fit to Ride in Nine Weeks workout plan, gear it down. Cut out or minimize sec- tions that are not your target when you are busy. Focus on the key area that balances the de- mands on your body in the busy season. More is not always better.

Remember that your body is not just riding. It might also be get-

ting up early and driving dis- tances for events, or doing sea- sonal farm work. Those extra demands have to be taken into consideration when calculating how much you can ask of your- self in your workout before it starts breaking you down instead of building you up. Once you have picked your

focus, schedule it. Take it seri- ously enough to actually write or type it in. It could be a physical calendar, or on your phone. Whatever works for you, make and appointment with yourself, even if it’s for 5 or 15 minutes. If you are tempted to skip it, visu- alize yourself executing that flawless activity with your horse, and remind yourself that you are doing your part of making things easier for your horse. Nutrition and Hydration: I

end up working with a lot of clients on aspects of nutrition to help with weight loss, energy or other goals. The short story on nutrition

for riders, is that even if you are not an endurance rider, you are an endurance athlete in the sense that you are on the go over long periods of time. So, riders can benefit from nutrition tips for en- durance athletes. Keep your hy- dration and fuel constant. When it comes to food, the

biggest difference is that you

don’t burn nearly the amount of calories a triathlete, ultra-runner or serious backpacker burn. If you tried to eat the number of calories their eating plans call for, you’d feel like a lump in the saddle.

One of the biggest mistakes

that riders make- especially women- is not to eat enough. If you don’t have sufficient blood sugar, your brain isn’t as sharp and your core muscles become flacid and less able to support you (and your bladder). So you need to eat. I find

that a good strategy is to eat like a hiker. You aren’t a triathlete, and you’re not hiking Kiliman- jaro or even an Adirondack peak. So, you don’t need the calorie volume. However, the foods sug- gested for hikers are very practi- cal for riders:

1. A little carbohydrate loading the night before (pasta- in your case, not nearly as much as they recommend),

2. Good quality complex carbo- hydrate in the morning (oats: set- tles the stomach which helps with show jitters, provides energy for hours, mix with natural yogurt for some good gut-healthy pro- biotics),

3. Proteins and sugar energy grazed on throughout the day (fruits, dried fruits and nuts, dry meat if you like that stuff). Aim for small quantities you can get in your system even when you claim you’re too jittery to be able

The Road to Enlightenment How being a student Instructor of the Philippe Karl School of Légèreté has transported me to the next level

enough Why … and the How will follow”. This took a while to brew for me. Not

that I

By: Muriel Chestnut, Enlight- ened Dressage, Ethical Con- sciousness in all Horsemanship

We are all seekers. An-

thony Robbins, Life Coach Guru Extrodinaire, describes our Pri- mary Needs as human beings as Growth and Contribution. We can exist, as long as our Funda- mental needs for Certainty, Un- certainty, Significance


Love/connection are met, but only truly live a life of fulfillment if our Primary Needs are met as well. So why am I telling you all this? Because ultimately, we are all seeking fulfillment, whether we realize it or not! Riding is no exception … Anthony has another tru-

ism that says, “Have a good

didn’t understand the meaning of it, but that I needed to put it in context. Then it dawned on me! Of course! For all of my adult equestrian life I had been searching for a “How” that would meet my needs for Growth and Contribution! I had been teaching for years, having

had a solid background in dres- sage based on the coaching of various well respected individu- als within the equestrian commu- nity. I had competed, done some low level judging, ridden some fabulous horses as well as bred some very nice ones of my own. I certainly had put in my time, both in the saddle and in my fold- ing chair, riding with and audit- ing as many high profile clinicians as I could. Yet I felt there was some-

thing I was missing. I had de- cided to explore the realm of alternates! This was exciting! To go where no dressage rider had gone before …. (or at least not many). I dove head first into Nat- ural Horsemanship. Yep, rope halter, carrot stick and all! My

peers thought I was having a mid-life crisis, which I may have been … but that’s a bit off topic, so I’ll stick to the theme, and had my eyes opened to an entirely new perspective on how to see my horses. This was fascinating to me! Why had no one taught me any of the all too important fundamentals of equine psychol- ogy before now?? I felt I had stumbled on “The Missing Link” in my equestrian education! I had imported a beautiful

4 year old PRE (Pura Raza Es- pañol) stallion from Spain and I knew I had to be the best I could be for this horse. He was a game changer to say the least … more appropriately, he was a life changer! Now I had to get really serious about my riding and com- mit to becoming extraordinary. Since my twenties, I had

the amazing good fortune to have ridden with Classical Riding Master, Frank Grelo. As a native of Portugal and long time student of Nuno Oliveira, Frank was the real deal. He had become my mentor and friend and I had spent many hours riding his Lusitanos, Lippizan and other horses all trained to the Haute École. Frank is an inspiration to anyone seek- ing to understand the finer points of a more academic approach to equestrianism. His depth of knowledge of the teachings of the great masters of Classical Dres- sage is astounding! He is the con- summate Horseman, a genuine

humanitarian and beautiful human being. He exudes love for all things around him and it is ob- vious he lives a life of fulfill- ment. He had mastered growth and contribution, people and horses feel appreciated and un- derstood in his presence. Life is art to him… there is no separa- tion.

It was through Frank that I

was inspired to push myself to become more academically edu- cated and to further push the edge of the envelope. I knew this was what was necessary to become an artist on horseback. The concept of lightness was a reoccurring principle along this path, so it was natural that when an oppor- tunity to audit a clinic with Philippe Karl arose, I leapt at the prospect. In today’s world of modern

dressage, there are few modern masters who’s passion for the wellness and respect for the horse are paramount throughout their training. Philippe Karl is one of those men. He walks the talk. He is a vocal advocate for change within a system that seems to have strayed from the ideals and fundamentals of good horse training. He is not alone in his quest for a return to respect for the horse. Through his tireless work, Mr. Karl is developing In- structors based on a system of training horses that he has laid out, that stems directly from the methods and philosophies of the

great masters, Baucher, L’Hotte, de la Gueriniere and many others. He has even taken principles from Natural Horsemanship … including the rope halter and car- rot stick!! Go figure!! Imagine! Baucher and Par-

elli in the same breath!! This blew my mind! Now THAT was WAY outside the box! This was pure Utopia for me! Talk about fulfillment … this was the mother load! In 2012 I was accepted as

one of 8 riders for Philippe Karl’s School of Légèreté (Lightness) Instructor’s course, offered in Pennsylvania, starting in 2013, consisting of 3 sessions per year for 3 years, with our exams in the 4th year. The course is extremely theoretical, however, it is the practical application of the theory that counts. Fast forward to today,

2017. I am now entering my exam year! I can’t tell you how proud I am to be at this magnifi- cent point in my life and yet I feel as if I am only just beginning! Yes, I am proud of all the hours I have spent studying and riding and yet more studying and more riding … having challenges with horses for my classes and various other events including the death of my mother while I was away on course in Oct. 2015. But life is a journey and these challenges are there for a reason. Some to test how badly I really wanted what I thought I wanted. But its

all OK … I’ve come this far and I intend to finish what I started! Its too important to equestrianism as a whole. It’s not about me and it never was. It all about changing the paradigm of how we train horses. Our horses need us to be more conscious, and ethical. Its our obligation to them if we are to call ourselves “horse lovers”. “Love the horse on the horse’s terms!” - Charles de Kunffy. I will never forget him saying those words during a clinic I hosted at my facility in the ’90’s. Much of what we see

today, particularly in competi- tion, but not only, is not a reflec- tion of our “love for the horse on the horse’s terms” … we are straying and must be guided back. We are all stewards of the horse. It is our inherent responsi- bility to care for them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiri- tually, because this is what they do FOR US! We ask them to give so

much of themselves and sacrifice their needs for ours. Remember … history was literally made on the back of a horse!! We would be no where without them!! WE owe THEM! Today we treat them as ve-

hicles for the service of our egos, sports equipment, objects of fi- nancial success. So in the next few months

I will be writing about how I feel we can do a better job of meeting the needs of our horses.

to eat a full meal. Figs have pow- ered armies of horses (yes the horses ate them too) and people across deserts. They are a handy bundle of fibre, natural sugar, and protein-rich seeds. They handle heat well. Raisins and trail mix

a lake right before sitting trot in the ring. Hold the coffee and wine

until after you’re done in the sad- dle for the day. It will really mess with hydration, digestion and concentration. If you need a little caffeine boost, try making iced tea with green or black tea bags, augmented with lemon or lime and watered down. Most people do not need

work too. Eggs are handy little single serve protein bundles if you remembered to boil some up and take them with you. For hydration, you don’t

need to drink so much that you feel it sloshing. You do need fre- quent sips- more frequent than your feeling of thirst. Sipping small quantities throughout the day will prevent dehydration, and keep your mind sharp without making you feel you swallowed

sports drinks, and are better to avoid all the additives in those things. However, a few cucum- bers, mint leaves, citrus and a pinch of salt in your water con- tainer, or watered-down lemon- ade will be very refreshing. There is often enough salt in a handful of peanuts to meet your salt re- plenishing requirements. A ba- nana has the potassium you need, and comes in a handy single- serve biodegradable wrapper. Whatever you are doing this

summer, have fun! If you have personal ques-

tions about your training, fitness or other goals, or would like to get some help, both mounted rid- ing instruction and unmounted coaching are available. Check out the options at .

You have more potential

than you realise. Happy riding and training!

© Heather R. Sansom Equifitt offers coaching for riders that helps with fitness, posture and biomechanics to help you ride better. Most services including riding instruction are available by Skype. Equifitt:

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