“Ridden hard and put away wet!” This age old expression brings to mind an image of a horse that worked rigorously and was not properly cared for. You can picture the animal galloping along, doing her job, breathing heavily and working up a lather; then not getting the care that she needs and deserves. You know, kind of like many Equestrians who work hard to take care of their horses, their families, their homes and their work and when it comes to caring for themselves… well, they’re “put away wet”.
The reality is that this behavior is not only detrimental to your present and future health and well-being, but it is also affecting your quality life and of the work you produce. What would happen if you cared for your horses in this manner? They would certainly not look their best. Their performance would suffer. They wouldn’t feel good and they might start to pick up some bad habits to try to reduce their stress level. Cribbing and weaving come to mind – the horse’s version of wine and coffee. As an Equestrian, you know what it takes for a horse to perform to the best of her ability. She needs optimal feed, optimal rest, optimal work and optimal care. So do you.
The area where most Equestrians cut corners is in their nutrition. Fast food, snack food, and junk food comprise the average diet of many equine enthusiasts. Most of what they eat is beige, processed and lacks in everything but calories. Think of it like feeding your horses the brownest, coarsest hay you could find and topping it off with sugar cubes. It will fill them up and keep them alive (maybe) but they certainly could not perform to their potential. It’s just as easy to grab an apple, some baby carrots, and some nuts as it is to grab a bag of potato chips and some cookies. Raw, unsalted nuts are a tremendously healthy snack with a wide variety of nutrients and enough energy to keep you going. Transitioning from coffee and soft drinks to water will actually provide you with more energy by both hydrating and detoxifying your cells. Making good nutrition choices will help you to perform at the top of your game so that both you and your horses will be in peak form.
Beyond nutrition, rejuvenation is another area where Equestrians short-change themselves. Long hours, long days, long weeks and long seasons lead to short rest and recuperation for the equine enthusiast. Again, when you relate it to horses, it makes a lot of sense. When you ship horses a significant distance to a competition, do you ship them through the night and then compete the next day? No, you give them a day of rest and then at least a day of light work before they need to perform. Do you ask them to perform at their highest level every single day or do they have days where they are hand-walked or just work on fitness? You know that rest is important and not just for the horses. Your body rebuilds itself during deep sleep when hormones are produced to construct, repair and replace cells and tissues. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not repairing and eventually something will break. Schedule downtime for yourself and be sure to have some fun. Rest and laughter are instrumental in maintaining optimal health.
Equestrians are some of the hardest working people I know. The time commitment to participate in equestrian sports is substantial, and when you combine that with the rigors of daily life, it can be a bit intense. Compare your health routine to that of the animals in your care. Are you getting the right food and supplements? Are you taking proper care of injuries? Are you getting enough rest and downtime? Are you as healthy as your horses? If you know what it takes to get a horse to be in ideal health, you can apply the same concepts to yourself. When you achieve optimal health in body, mind and spirit, all areas of your life improve. What will you do for yourself today?
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