The Practical Nutritionist - Performance


Boost Rider Performance Part 2

Part 2 – Boost your PerformanceThe Practical Nutritionist - Performance
If you are not already doing other forms of exercise you may find that it would be beneficial if you did. I used to go to the gym using free weights and the running machine because it helped to work muscles I was not using when riding horses. Now I practice yoga to work on my core muscles. Another excellent form of exercise is pilates, which  targets areas that will help your riding as well as building your core, Equi-pilates is tailored for the horse rider. Try something that you enjoy or at least do not mind doing, perhaps swimming, equipilates or high intensity work outs. It will help with strength and stamina, improve cores muscles, improve circulation and in turn build a strong immune system.

As mentioned in my previous post (Part 1) hydration is essential for internal health. Timing when to drink is important too. Just like the horse, drinking water between meal time has the most benefits, since if you drink during or immediately after eating it can wash away many of the nutrients your body needs.  The best time to drink water is before a meal – at least 30 mins prior and 30 mins or more after eating.

Horse Trainer
If you are training and exercising several horses a day, spending most of your day in the saddle or doing ground work, you need to stay both relaxed and alert. With that in mind, do not consume anything that will overly-stimulate you because last thing you need is to be ‘excited’ on a potentially already excitable horse.

Types of stimulants to avoid: 

  • Coffee
  • Refined sugar (white and brown)
  • Smoking (nicotine)
  • Recreational drugs (e.g. cocaine)
  • Alcohol (in low doses, higher doses acts more like a depressant)
  • Fizzy drinks (soda, pop)

Full day shows 
You and your horse are training and improving your techniques and performance all the time. You train hard so that you can go to those events that interest you the most. You may travel close and near or far and wide but it is a long day and a lot of preparation has gone into your horse. Make sure you eat breakfast. Slow releasing energy is what you need. Porridge, granola, avocado on sourdough toast, egg on toast are great go-to’s for breakfast.

Pack snacks, energy bars (avoid those with too much sugar), fruit, nut butters, hummus and veggie sticks. However, if nerves are getting the better of you, particularly if it is your first show, be aware that being stressed can shut down or impede your digestive system. If you are overly anxious, eat something small like an apple with almond butter – the fat from the almond butter will help slow down the sugar absorption of the apple. An alternative would be a smoothie – something with berries, fats (greek yogurt, almond/cashew/peanut butter or a spoonful of coconut oil) and perhaps kale or spinach.  Ensure after your event you have a substantial meal because you will find you are very hungry afterwards. Quinoa and baked vegetables (yam, pepper, carrots, onion, garlic) is an easy option that can be prepped the night before and refrigerated.

Team Chasers – National
Team chasers is relatively new compared to most equine shows. It reminds me of cross-country and point-to-point, and is fast becoming one of my favourites to watch.You will need energy for this event and you need to be as fit as your horse to get around one of these courses!

Ensure you have a solid, healthy breakfast, an omelette or scrambled egg with onion, cannelloni beans and tomatoes for example. If you are on the go, make breakfast the night before, in a portable cup add granola with nuts and seeds and plain creek yogurt, or yogurt with almond butter and fruit.

Avoid the burger stands and bring your own food. A portable flask with soup or prepare a veggie wrap or maybe a quiche to share with your team. You are going to feel exhilarated and hungry after this ride and exhausted by the time you return home. Use a crock-pot (a slow cooker) and prepare your meal before the day of the event. Here are some recipes you can try. A crock pot can be left on all day and by the time you return home your dinner is ready, you will pat yourself on the back knowing that you can relax for the evening with a meal waiting for you.


Soothe aching muscles by taking a relaxing bath at the end of the day. Use some epsom salts in your bath – they are full of magnesium, which is great for relaxing, winding-down and getting rid of toxins in your body.

Part 3 will be focusing more on those who have an intense schedule, competing, eventing, polo and so on. Included will be lifestyle tips that will be beneficial no matter what level you are at and ways to relax and stay balanced.

The Practical Nutritionist – personal, and above all, practical nutritional advice and services to help you improve your health.

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