The days are getting warmer and competitions are slowly being rolled out again. Happy days ahead! We all know that the past few months have brought all kinds of new challenges. Many of us have had to adapt their horse’s management, varying from winding the training down a bit to 24-7 turnout. We are all looking forward to the moment we will be able to go for our ‘equestrian goals’ once again! In this blog we will share 5 tips to get back into competition in optimal form.
1. Take your time
There are few things as tempting as going for it full steam after this unprecedented period of rest. Especially with the sun announcing that summer is here. This opens the door to overtraining your horse! Take your time to ease your horse back into more intensive work and be responsible about building his condition and fitness. How long you will need to bring your horse back into competition fitness depends on how much you have had to adapt your management. Research shows that in horses which have been trained well over an extended period of time, it will take a minimum of four to five weeks before any loss of condition will begin to show. Has your horse been completely turned out? Then it will take at least six weeks to build his condition back up responsibly.
2. Consider the weather
Hot weather is on its way! Good for us, but how does your horse feel about this? When the temperatures begin to rise above your horse’s thermo neutral zone, your horse will need extra support to be able to lose this excess heat. Within the thermo neutral zone (TNZ) your horse does not need to actively work to maintain his core body temperature (36-37 °C). The TNZ is dependent on, among others, your horse’s age and condition, as well as clipping. For unclipped horses, this zone is between -5 and +15 degrees Celsius. A clipped horse feels best between 10 and 20°C. This goes for adult horses, that are used to average temperatures. Build condition carefully, acclimatise your horse to the rising temperatures (train in the early morning or late in the evening) and ensure a proper cooling down! Add Cavalor CoolSens to the water during cooling down for an increased and extended cooling effect.
3. Adapt your horse’s ration and do not forget the electrolytes!
Increasing workload and increasing temperatures. This is a combination that certainly requires a close look at your horse’s ration. In all probability, you have adapted your horse’s ration to a more fiber-rich diet in these times of less intensive training. And you would be likely to adapt it again with intensifying training and upcoming competition. What ever your goal is; your horse cannot deliver peak performance without the proper nutrition. With intensifying training, your horse will need sufficient energy and protein, to build his fitness and aid muscle recovery. Increasing workloads will also mean your horse will sweat more, using up his electrolytes at lightning speed, especially on hot days!
Cavalor Electroliq Balance or Cavalor Electrolyte Balance will replenish the lost electrolytes and help your horse recover well. The ideal time to offer these electrolytes is directly after training. You could also feed them a maximum of 1,5 hours before training, but immediately afterwards has the best effect. No minerals will be lost that way, and your horse’s reserves are quickly replenished. Do you want to be sure your horse receives enough hydration and electrolytes on hot days? Use Cavalor Mash & Mix – mash to mix the electrolytes through. It tastes great, and definitely helps your horse recover.
4. Establish a grooming routine
This may sound like an open door, but a fixed routine in your horse’s grooming offers a lot of support and a better sense of any subtle changes in your horse’s health. For instance, check your horse’s manure every day as a measure of his intestinal health. If the digestion is good, the horse will have smooth, rounded balls of manure without any visible long stems of roughage: abnormal manure could indicate digestion problems. Also check your horse’s temperature regularly. It is the only way to know their regular temperature under normal circumstances, and to determine if at any time there is a fever. Just like in us humans, the horse’s base body temperature will vary per individual. In addition, regularly check how the nose, ears, legs, coronet band and hooves feel to the touch; so you have a clear sense of how the temperature of for instance the legs feels in case of a tendon injury, for instance. Do you have a fixed routine in your horse’s health checks?
5. Don’t forget yourself!
Niet alleen je paard heeft tijd nodig om terug te komen in wedstrijdconditie. Ook jij bent er een tijdje uit geweest. En in de samenwerking tussen paard en ruiter zijn beiden een atleet. Geef jezelf dus ook de tijd om weer in vorm te kIt is not only your horse who needs time to get back into competition fitness. Don’t forget that you have also been ‘out of it’ for a while. And in the partnership between horse and rider, both are athletes. So allow yourself some time to get back into shape as well. Get back into exercising in addition to your riding. Be mindful of what you eat and drink plenty of water! If you expect your horse to get back into peak performance, your horse may expect nothing less of you. Right? PS: Did you know that you can also use Cavalor FreeBute Gel on yourself, against sore muscles?
Nutritional advice from our experts: increasing training on hot days
After a period of rest, you do not only want to build up your training step by step; you want to do the same with your rations. Increase your horse’s ration gradually over the course of about a month. First and foremost, make sure your horse has access to plenty of fresh, clean water and good quality roughage. Horses coming back into work have increased need for energy and protein, to aid conditioning and muscle recovery.
You can supplement your horse’s diet with a balancer that is high in fats such as Cavalor WholeGain. Nutrition that is rich in fats provides long-term energy, so your horse will not have to dig into its reserves during training. This allows you to build up fitness and muscle at the same time.
Is your horse lacking the muscle build up you would like? Supplement the diet with Cavalor Muscle Force to support healthy muscle development. During a period of intensifying training, your horse’s tendons and joints will also experience more stress. Does your horse have sensitive tendons and joints? Cavalor Arti Matrix may help. Each horse is unique. And each horse has their own unique needs. Would you like tailored advice on which nutrition would suit your horse best? Ask us!
Happy and healthy athlete? Cool down properly!
Whether you are training for Grand Prix or just riding for yourself at home, a proper cooling down (at least 10 minutes of slow trot) is just as important as the warming up. After your training, your horse’s body gradually has to return to a state of rest. This will prevent a lot of injuries and ensures your horse can stay a happy athlete. During exertion, your horse’s heart rate, body temperature, and in case of any exertion above the anaerobic threshold, lactic acid levels in the blood will all go up. A proper cooling down will allow your horse to break down this lactic acid, bring his muscles back into relaxation, catch his breath and lower his body temperature again.