We all know how physically demanding working with horses is, this can be anything from riding to yard work, and it requires a lot of energy. This is why what we eat, and how often we eat are so important when it comes to working with horses.
Whether it is your full-time job or a side hobby, it can be quite easy to “forget” to eat. You may have ten stables to muck out, followed by 4 lessons in a row, or maybe you had lunch at 1, and are rushing straight to the yard when you finish at 5. This, coupled with the fact that most yards aren’t exactly in the most populated areas (there may be a local petrol station but that’s about it). It’s easy to see how getting proper meals in can be difficult.
But what you may not realise is that fuelling yourself properly when working with horses, is incredibly important for several reasons, and by doing so you can improve your experience when riding.
Here are a few things worth thinking about:
If you have more energy, you will perform better when riding, this is a fact when it comes to any task. Have you noticed the difference when you try to do anything after being fed? Normally it is much easier because your body has energy freely available to it from recently digested food and doesn’t need to pull from its backup stores.
You will be less likely to lose your cool when the horses or even hay bales are not doing what you want, we’ve all heard of “Hanger”. When you are hungry, you become more irritable. This is your body trying to tell you that it needs food, ever notice how every little thing is annoying you then once you eat something it all goes away? And you realise that you may have been overreacting a little? Next time you notice this happening, try, and grab a quick snack to see if you feel a difference.
Our brain needs fuel to function properly, without sufficient fuel lapses in concentration can happen, this happens because when we are hungry, part of our mind will be more focused on food, rather than what we are doing, it’s basic survival programming. This can be dangerous, Horses are big animals as we know, and a lapse in concentration can result in severe injury or worse.
Not only does lack of fuel cause a lack of concentration, but it also slows down reaction times, as our brain will prioritise what are considered necessary bodily functions, not reacting in time can be the difference between staying on or eating dirt.
You may think that you are fine but is it worth the risk? Just because you are functioning and nothing has happened yet, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way. Have there been some near misses that you’ve ignored?
Do you find, that when you get to eat you end up devouring anything quick and easy to throw together because you are too hungry to make a proper meal? This is the other danger of going extended periods without eating. Instead of having a nutritionally dense meal, we end up filling up on things like chocolate, crisps, or ready meals. While there is nothing wrong with any of these, and they will give you a quick burst of energy, you will be hungry again in half an hour. If you weren’t starving when you got a chance to eat you, would be more likely to make something more substantial, more filling and will give you the energy you need for the work you have ahead?
So what can you do to break this cycle? All you need is some advanced planning, make a bigger dinner the night before so you can bring some for your lunch the next day. Have some emergency (Ideally non-perishable) snacks in your car that you can eat before you ride, even setting alarms throughout the day to remind you to eat, all these little things can make an enormous difference in your life.
You will notice your energy levels are better, your mood has improved, and you may even notice your horse responding better to you when you ride. And the best part is, you get to eat more food! Is this not a solution where everyone benefits all around?
Falling off our horses can be common. It’s an occupational hazard that we all have to deal with from time to time.
How is it that something can happen so quickly and in slow motion all at once?
One second, you’re going along nicely then suddenly
…thud, you are on the floor and your horse is either standing there looking at you or has made its break for freedom. (Not sure which of these is more preferable really). Do you ever think about how the impacts can take a toll on your body?
A lot of the time (depending on the severity of the fall) It feels like you are sore for a day, and then it seems to be ok (hopefully) but over time this can cause our bodies to become stiff and less mobile.
If nothing is broken, do you ever get yourself checked post-fall? Or do you still have that dodgy shoulder that you just can’t seem to shake?
Our bodies go through so much as equestrians, and we need to look after them, just like we look after our horses. Now is the time to get those issues sorted finally.
Contact me today and I can help you with this! 🏇