We all ensure our horses are well hydrated all the time, especially when out competing, but we often forget about ourselves! Dehydration can affect your performance as well as lead to health issues and generally make you feel pretty rubbish so keeping hydrated is critical. Symptoms of dehydration can include
dizziness or light-headedness, headache, tiredness dry mouth, lips and eyes and going to the loo less frequently (that is sometimes a bonus but not in this case!)
Dehydration can also lead to a loss of strength and stamina. In sum, if you have a bit of competition anxiety and then add in dehydration you are seriously decreasing your competitive edge.
So how can I stay Hydrated?
One thing to remember, tea and coffee is a great pick me up for those early mornings and it also contains vital fluid. Whilst it is a diuretic the amount of caffeine in a cup does not discount the fluid in them.
It’s a given that we should drink plenty of water both before, during and after an event, but what else can you do? Drink plenty of fluid the day before a competition, this will ensure your body is properly hydrated. If you plan to party the night before or after the cross country at an international take this into account. It doesn’t matter if you are a spring chicken or a 80s throwback… alcohol will make you dehydrated – as you well know!
Before you mount your trusty steed, drink some more! In some of the hotter months try a home-made isotonic drink is a great substitute for water. There is a recipe at the end of this article.
Isotonic drinks are great for adding salt back into your body, but additionally orange juice is high in potassium. Instead of drinking orange juice as you buy it, dilute them with about 50% water. This will empty your stomach quicker than normal orange juice and will enable the electrolytes and water to quickly reach your heart and other organs. Try and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables as they contain additional fluids for the body to absorb. Other snacks that contain potassium are dried fruit and nut mixtures, they contain not only a good amount of potassium but also sodium, protein, carbs and calories which are great for energy, although you must continue to drink plenty of water.
One thing to remember, water carries heat away from your internal organs which can help prevent heat stroke, the heat then travels through your bloodstream and turns into sweat, as the sweat evaporates this allows you to cool off to a normal body temperature enabling you to maintain your peak performance. So allow your body to sweat by keeping hydrated.
Home-made Electrolyte Sports Drink
1 litre of water
½ teaspoon of table salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Juice of a lemon
Juice of a lime
¼ teaspoon of honey (or up to ½ if you have a sweet tooth)
Mix the salt and baking soda with the water until dissolved (you can heat the water if you prefer). Add in the lemon, lime and honey and mix well to combine, the honey may take some stirring! You can then keep it in the fridge for up to a week. Add in ice cubes and sliced lemon and lime in a jug if you have the capability in your lorry!