Equestrian Health & Wellness. Every equestrian is continuously looking for improvements for their horses, but do we sometimes overlook improvements that we can make with ourselves? Let’s review some easily accessible apps, websites, and books that will help improve your riding, including general riding and in the show ring. Yes, it’s true, we have our horses on countless supplements, the perfect nutrient ratios, spa days deluxe and an exercise program fit for J Lo. Our horses take a lot of work managing their care, but we may just need to make sure we are also managing our own care. Health and wellness incorporate factors such as exercise programs, smart balanced eating, and mental wellbeing. While it can be hard to juggle multiple aspects of a wellness program, small changes to everyday life can have a large impact. With all things, technology has helped to make it easier to manage your health and wellbeing with numerous apps and websites available to help; keep reading for reviews to improve your overall health and your riding!
The benefits of a incorporating a health and wellness program into your daily life has innumerable advantages:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Builds bone density
- Reduces risk of chronic disease
- Weight loss
- Combats disease
- Boosts energy
- Improves competitive edge
- Perform at full potential under stress
- Improved focus
EXERCISING AND THE EQUESTRIAN HEALTH & WELLNESS
There are many forms of exercise that are beneficial for equestrian health and wellness, from basic stretching to cardio. Any type of exercise is beneficial for your physical conditioning; here we will specifically focus on Yoga. Yoga is a low impact exercise that can have a big impact on your overall strength, balance, and posture in the saddle. There are many different types of yoga and it is a fairly easy exercise to start at home. As with all exercise programs, consulting a physician prior to starting is always a good idea. The Downward Dog app is an amazing yoga app that is awesome for beginners to advanced practice yogies, I highly recommend downloading it. The functionality is awesome and you can pick your practice level, duration, and modifiers. You can start with Level 1 and progress all of the ways to advanced. You can set the practice for 5 minutes or an hour. The feature that I like best is that you can pick “boosts” to your practice, such as hip stretches, back strength, hip flexor stretches, etc. Hip and hamstring strength and flexibility are important for equestrians. Improving the strength and flexibility of your hips, hip flexors, and IT bands will enhance stability, balance, and posture in the saddle. I can literally feel a difference in my riding when I have focused on stretching and the flexibility of my hip flexors.
Another place that you could gain some insight on yoga and the equestrian health and wellness is Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). This is a website that will walk you through 8 different yoga poses specifically selected to improve your posture in the saddle. You could set these poses by your bed and either begin your day with these equestrian based yoga poses or end your day with them. I guarantee implementing a yoga practice in your exercise regimen will improve your riding.
I always find nutrition is often one of the hardest parts of health and wellness to sustain long term. It can be hard enough to stay on track with a healthy diet at home, but throw the time constraints of traveling, showing, and living in a horse trailer and it can seem nearly impossible to maintain a healthy balanced diet. An awesome calorie counting app is Lose It! Lose It is a daily tracking app that you log your food in and it calculates calories consumed. One of the most helpful things about logging and tracking your food is that you see how many calories you are consuming throughout the day.
Good nutrition is definitely all about the preparation. While you are on the road at horse shows, make sure to fill your trailer with all of the good choices, like healthy fruits and vegetables, that way when you are short on time it will be easy to reach for a healthy option. The reason why we love using Lose It! is because when you know you are going to be logging your food, it gives you the incentive to reach for a fruit as compared to a doughnut because of the calorie difference. It definitely feels a lot better to log a healthy salad as compared to a McDonald’s cheeseburger! Lose it is also programmable to your specific needs; if you want to lose weight it will give you a calorie count per day tailored for you. It can also be used if you want to just maintain your weight and make sure you don’t gain while you are traveling. Check it out; I really think you will like it, even if you just use it during show weeks, to keep count of your calories.
MENTALITY OF A CHAMPION
Mental preparation for competitions is elemental for any elite athlete. Olympians are excellent examples of athletes that continuously work on the mental preparations needed for competing at professional levels. Olympians train their brains with goal-setting, self-talk, and visualization, among other tools.
The purpose of goal setting is to have written goals that help focus your attention and increase motivation for short and long term goals. An excellent website to review principles of effective goal setting is: Applied Sports Physchology: Principles of Effective Goal Setting. Check it out.
Are you intentional about developing positive self-talk? What does your inner voice say to you? Your thoughts are powerful. Fine tuning self-talk is a complete area of study by sports psychologists. Top athletes continually train at positive self-talk. One trick utilized by sports psychologist is to have the athlete create a mantra. This is a small statement or slogan that you continuously use during training and competition, whether things are going well or not. Think of The Little Engine that Could, “I think I can, I think I can”. When things were hard instead of saying, “I can’t make it up the hill”, the engine went directly to his positive mantra. When you are riding and you hit a barrel, lose a cow, or have a fault, instead of creating a negative environment in your head, you should go directly to your positive mantra, this takes your self-talk away from the negative. Your mantra thought should come as easily to you as your name and should be your go to thought when a negative idea enters your thoughts.
Have you ever heard of TEDx talks? There is an enormous variety of TEDx talks that you can listen to; they are very broad in topics, a quick google search will put hundreds of TEDx talks at your disposal.
The Secret Imagination of Elite Performers | Charlie Unwin | TEDxHolyhead by Charlie Unwin is an awesome discussion about visualization. Charlie Unwin is a performance psychologist and has a very impressive resume for working with elite athletes and global organizations. He is also specifically an equestrian psychology coach, check out his Facebook (Charlie Unwin Equestrian Psychology Coach) for additional information.
We wouldn’t want to close without leaving you one recommendation for an amazing book. If there was ever a book that you should invest in for self-improvement it would be, Tools of Titans, The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. In this book Tim interviews over 200 world-class performers about their routines, habits, and daily regimens. It is an amazing book that we just can’t recommend enough for any person wanting to implement self-improvement strategies.
Overall, these are some amazing apps, websites, and books with excellent tools to help you improve your riding, both in the show ring or on the trail. Try out these apps and let us know what you think. Do you have any apps or recommendations that you use on a regular basis to help improve your riding? What routines do you use prior to riding or showing that have proven helpful? Drop us some ideas!
Have any questions, feel free to CONTACT us!