In an age when social media is awash with snaps of green smoothies and people are brandishing their #eatclean lives, healthy living is on everyone's radar. Sue Polley finds out what riders can do to give their bodies a boost
1. Think of yourself as an athlete
Take your own nutrition and exercise as seriously as you take your horses’. After all, you are a 50:50 partnership. Riding and managing horses is tough, physical work and if you want to perform well in your discipline you need to realise your body plays a key role in making this happen.
2. Increase your water intake
Nothing is more crucial to athletic performance than water. Without sufficient water you will become dehydrated, which will affect your ability to think straight and react quickly. Always have a bottle with you to sip from at home and at a competition.
3. Eat little and often
Professional and working riders’ busy lifestyles make it tempting to skip regular meals and then reach for high-fat, high-sugar pick-me-ups. To avoid peaks and troughs in your blood sugar levels and the resulting mood swings and fatigue, take a leaf out of your horse’s book and try to “graze” on low-fat and low-sugar foods throughout the day.
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4. Adopt an exercise routine to meet your needs
Equestrians don’t need to be gym fit, they need to be riding fit. Try a few sessions with a physio or personal trainer to identify which areas of your body you need to strengthen to minimise injury and increase strength, endurance and flexibility.
5. Get some sleep
This is easy to say but tricky to do when you’re facing a 3.30am start on a competition day and are juggling a full-time job with riding. That said, your mind needs to switch off and your body has to rest, recover and repair itself from the day’s hard work. Aim for an average of six to eight hours per night.
6. Avoid processed foods as far as possible
The convenience factor means we’re unlikely to avoid ready meals altogether, but cutting down and eating more foods as close to their natural state as possible will give you a boost.