The launch of our new quarterly subscription box, the NF.edit, is a huge part of our mission to support riders in all that they work for and experience on a daily basis. The NF.edit supports our belief that success starts with self-care, so, we’re getting real and starting a conversation about the current state of equestrian athlete health.
Our horses will, of course, remain a top priority in our lives - but that doesn’t mean that the typical less than six hours of sleep, dirty clothes, sore muscles, and living off of Ramen should continue to exist as a sport-wide status quo.
You might be reading this thinking, “Well, that’s what a life with horses is.” You’re right and we agree but, hey, there’s always room to improve, especially when it comes to how we treat our mind and bodies at the end of a long day at the barn."
"It’s time to start a revolution – an era where we invest a little more in ourselves"
So what’s missing, why don’t more of us take the time and make more of an effort when we know it will ultimately help us in the saddle and around the barn? We’re investing in the way riders view self-care, not just in the product curations of the NF.edit, but in our daily content.
We’ll be having frank discussions with the best of the best within the health and beauty sectors, as well as high-performance specialists, to pick their brains about anything and everything self-care. NF’s resident Mind Games columnist, Annette Paterakis, weighs in on the subject and gives us the real-real on what it takes to take every equestrian athlete to the next level.
Photo by Made by Jessy.
From day one, we were taught to always put our horses first – and for good reason. We have to ensure our horses get the best possible care, the best treatments, and the best products so they feel their best. But we can’t forget that there is another, pretty critical team member to care for (ahem, that’s you).
Our equine partners will still remain a top priority, but it’s time to start a revolution – an era where we invest a little more in ourselves.
Let’s start with the most important and perhaps most difficult thing – relaxation. Between having to feed, prep, ride, and groom, there just isn’t much time left to relax. However, sleep and rest are critical for recovery (you are an athlete, after all) and for long-term health - both of which help get you better results in the ring. As an athlete, don’t treat rest and sleep as a luxury, but as a necessity. Great ways to relax and unwind before bed.
- Take a bath with Epsom salts or a luxe bath soak
- Meditate with a scented candle.
- Listen to music (I personally love the “Pure Chill” playlist on Apple music)
- Make a plan
Once you’ve had enough rest and sleep, you will have the mental clarity you need to think strategically. It’s important to choose consciously where to invest your time. When I was running my stable, I always made sure my tack was clean, as were my horses, and I always dragged my arena at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, I often failed to think and invest time in improving myself. Ask yourself, ‘how often do I take the time to make a plan for the week ahead? And ‘how often do I set new goals and create a clear path for how I will get there?’ A few ways to stay in control of your own personal growth:
- Read the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen R. Covey
- Plan each day in advance so you can think strategically.
- Ask fellow riders or trainers for advice on how to further improve yourself and your horses.
- Exercise & stretch
Although riding is an exercise, there are muscle groups that are constantly being used, and there are some muscles groups that aren’t used at all. Sitting short on the horse (for the show jumpers and jockeys out there) can result in short muscles that are injured easily. So make sure to exercise regularly and train different parts of your body (and mind). For example:
- Strength training for core strength and better stability on the horse.
- Cardio to stay fit for long days and demanding jump-offs.
- Yoga to stretch and lengthen your muscles to avoid injuries, and to train your mental focus.
- Eat to nourish
At a horse show recently, my friends were joking about how they invest in their horses’ B12 supplement and as a result, only have enough money left to live on pizza. Though it’s important that our horses get what they need to rock in the arena, you also need the nutritional power to ride at your best. You are what you eat, so make sure you pick whole foods over fast foods. No healthy options available at the show? Prep like a pro and bring your own healthy meals to be sure you get what you need to have enough energy all day. Your body will thank you in the long term, too.
- Mason jar salads are easy to toss in a small cooler for some mid-day nutrition (keep dressing separate until ready to eat). Add lentils, smoked salmon, or grilled chicken for a protein boost.
- Although not ideal, toss a few high-quality protein bars into your ring bag to fuel you before classes.
- An electrolyte powder, like Liquid IV, can help keep you hydrated during hot show days.
- Have fun
Looking back at my own riding career, I have to admit - I was pretty stressed a lot of the time, as a result of doing everything on my own and not taking time for myself. I took everything so seriously and “having fun” was very low on my list of priorities. So, my results suffered, together with my motivation. I burned out and I stopped riding. Moral of the story is: If you are not having fun doing what you do, then what’s the point? Go to that concert, meet your friends, and enjoy playing a different sport from time to time – just for fun!
Photo by Ben Clark.
As riders, you deal with a lot, so we want to show you some love and have you see that you deserve some good ol’ self-love too. The NF.edit is the gift a rider gives themselves on their journey to improve their own self-care, not to mention to indulge in some pretty luxe products.
Click here to learn more and subscribe to the NF.edit. Boxes for September are selling fast so don’t miss out on a chance to treat yourself.
Feature photo by Tori Repole
Written by Annette Paterakis
Annette Paterakis - The Equestrian Mental Coach - specializes in mental coaching for riders of all levels. She is passionate about working with riders and trainers to help them better understand the mind and reach peak performance. Annette is the author of the book "Keep Calm and Enjoy The Ride", available through Amazon.com. For more information give her website a gander: annettepaterakis.com