Temperatures are rising. Meanwhile competitions are continuing on the agenda. In this blog we will share 5 tips to get back into competition in optimal form, certainly on these hot days.
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!
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!
Any Electroliq Balance or 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?
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?