Equestrians are incredible athletes. If you've ever watched a jumper, or a barrel race, dressage, or cattle cutting, you'll know how much physical strength, control, and agility is required. Plus, their bonds are with living, breathing, thinking horses rather than a trail bike or a snowboard. That bond means two athletes are competing, training, or celebrating, instead of one.
Full disclosure, my sister is an equestrian. She broke her arm about age 13 while learning to jump. And she is currently a horse mom to three aging beasties in Southern California. So while I am not an equestrian - having done little more than pet their noses since I was 18 -- I have been around those who are, and my admiration is genuine. (And no, that's not my sister, but it could be!)
Riders perform their sport sitting on a moving animal that can weigh more than 1,000 pounds. And it's an animal with a mind and a will of its own. Unlike with a tennis racket or a pommel horse, the rider coordinates the movements of their own body while at the same time, directing the actions of their four-footed partner.
Sloan Elmassian, a professional jumper and full-time student at San Diego University says it best: While the training needs of equestrians differ from those of a marathon runner or football athlete, they are most certainly athletes,” Kessler said in the letter. “Symmetry, balance, agility, flexibility, strength, endurance, motor ability, nutrition, and injury prevention are all physiological aspects an equestrian athlete must address.
Equestrian athletes have an additional challenge that other athletes do not, and that is they are working with another living being, their horse. A successful equestrian athlete must be a sports psychologist to the horse, as well as the first responder when it comes to the training and development of that horse. Equestrian is not a sport that an athlete can ‘pick up and put down’; it requires commitment and focus.
My sister is often a tester for our products and believe-you-me, she gives me straight talk about what is an isn't working. And she often blunts my ignorance by teaching me what she knows about how equestrians train, work, and think.
So here's a little about what I've learned from her and other equestrians.
- Butts get sore. Just as cyclists get sore butts, so do riders. Not only is there friction and pressure to combat, but the horse is also in motion, adding a component to saddle sores. And because saddles are designed to fit the horse rather than the rider, riders get pretty sore from the constant pressure.
- Thighs chafe. Gripping a saddle is not easy and like runners, thighs get chaffed and chapped as skin rubs on jodhpur seams and legs rub on leather as the rider moves With their horse during a walk, gallop or cantor.
- Boots chafe. A new tall boot can chafe the skin on the top of the calf and the back of the knee. Raw, red, bleeding skin doesn't actually help you perform. Finding a solution will definitely create a happier rider.
- Muscles get tired and achy. Like every other athlete, muscles build up lactic acid when they work and they get tired from exertion and effort. When competing riders are bedding down in RV's and tents near the stables so creature comforts like hot baths, cool showers, and masseuses are not available.
BODY CARE SOLUTIONS FOR EQUESTRIANS
- Sore Butts - Try CHAMOIS. Chamois butters or creams are used by cyclists to prevent and reduce saddle sores, painful seats, and friction while riding their bikes. Both men and women use chamois to cushion and protect tender skin and muscles. That same concept applies to equestrians. Apply under your riding breeches or pants, behind your knees - anywhere you need protection. And don't worry, it won't stain.
- Chafed Thighs - Try CHAFE. This non-greasy, non-staining formula provides a thin barrier to reduce friction, giving the rider more comfort in the saddle. This allows for more time in the saddle, plus faster recovery times. Use under your bra, between your thighs, behind your boots -- anywhere skin or clothing create friction and the skin damage that results.
- Sore Muscles - Try MUSCLE. This vegan formula delivers powerful essential oils like menthol and camphor in a natural oil and butter formula. It works quickly with an icy-hot sensation to soothe and calm tired, sore muscles. It speeds recovery and gets you back out with your four-legged partner. There are also options like RECOVERY+ with MSM and 300mg CBD Isolate (no THC) to boost recovery. Full disclosure, again.
Because horse comfort comes before human comfort, keeping a stash of
CHAMOIS, CHAFE, and MUSCLE or RECOVERY+ in your tack trunk can make a big difference in keeping you in shape to prevent or relieve damaged skin and body parts, and to soothe aching, tired muscles. And you can share with your barn mates and competitors as needed. Because we have to share the love, right?
If you're not familiar with how equestrians train and compete, you'll find great resources on YouTube. So check out dressage, jumpers, endurance races, rodeo, and driving. You'll have a ball and gain an all-new admiration for riders and their rides.
If you're an equestrian, please share your favorite photo on our Instagram page, @bluerubsports.
|Growing up in Southern California, Val played competitive softball (coached by her father), was a gymnast, swimmer, ran cross country, fished, hiked, kayaked, and as an adult, experimented in rock climbing and golf. In 2010 she was diagnosed with a rare cancer; a liposarcoma was growing on her sciatic nerve. Once this tumor was removed, she has been cancer-free!
Left with significant nerve damage, she now has limited mobility. Yet still moves and engages in the world around her. She snorkels, walks, travels, and practices yoga to combat chronic pain and to maximize her ability to keep moving. She works with a personal trainer, acupuncturist, physical therapist, and massage therapist to maximize her mobility.
She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her dog and gets her fins on so she can swim with the fish any time she can.