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Why aren't we training ATHLETES in this country?? Musings on GM, the weight issue, water breaks, etc.

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  • Why aren't we training ATHLETES in this country?? Musings on GM, the weight issue, water breaks, etc.

    There have been several recent threads re: a number of topics (the water break issue, getting ready for GM clinic and the weight issue) and it makes me wonder...

    I have always considered riding a "sport". (Although you certainly could do it recreationally), but that doesn't mean that all riders are "athletes". (Nor do they need to be).

    But I look around at kids (and adults today), who want to SHOW and compete, and they're out of shape, and can't go more than 10 minutes without a water break. I guess I'm a little distressed at the "softening" of Americans. When I was in Germany, they treat their riders like ATHLETES. They are far more frequently athletic individuals who probably could've played soccer or been skiers if they'd preferred.

    I think recreational riding is fine. But when you cross the line into competitive riding in the show ring..., why don't trainers encourage riders (or riders take it upon themselves) to get in shape??

    About the GM/weight issue... I've never liked GM's propensity for addressing peoples' weight, because it rests on the fundamental fallacy that a size 6 equals a fit person, and a size 12 or 14 equals and out of shape person. I've known several individuals who were regular joggers and strong athletes who had a plus-size body type... and I've known lots of size 2 weaklings who didn't have the strength to carry a full water bucket let alone hold up a tired horse.

    And this nonsense about beginner riders who ride on a 75 degree day and have to stop 4 times for a water break... OY VEY! Can you imagine a football team that did that???

    If we want to be treated as athletes (and maybe we don't? you decide) I think we'd better start acting like them.

    Thoughts?

    Half of Riding is 30% mental ... no wonder there are so many bad riders
  • Original Poster

    #2
    There have been several recent threads re: a number of topics (the water break issue, getting ready for GM clinic and the weight issue) and it makes me wonder...

    I have always considered riding a "sport". (Although you certainly could do it recreationally), but that doesn't mean that all riders are "athletes". (Nor do they need to be).

    But I look around at kids (and adults today), who want to SHOW and compete, and they're out of shape, and can't go more than 10 minutes without a water break. I guess I'm a little distressed at the "softening" of Americans. When I was in Germany, they treat their riders like ATHLETES. They are far more frequently athletic individuals who probably could've played soccer or been skiers if they'd preferred.

    I think recreational riding is fine. But when you cross the line into competitive riding in the show ring..., why don't trainers encourage riders (or riders take it upon themselves) to get in shape??

    About the GM/weight issue... I've never liked GM's propensity for addressing peoples' weight, because it rests on the fundamental fallacy that a size 6 equals a fit person, and a size 12 or 14 equals and out of shape person. I've known several individuals who were regular joggers and strong athletes who had a plus-size body type... and I've known lots of size 2 weaklings who didn't have the strength to carry a full water bucket let alone hold up a tired horse.

    And this nonsense about beginner riders who ride on a 75 degree day and have to stop 4 times for a water break... OY VEY! Can you imagine a football team that did that???

    If we want to be treated as athletes (and maybe we don't? you decide) I think we'd better start acting like them.

    Thoughts?

    Half of Riding is 30% mental ... no wonder there are so many bad riders

    Comment


    • #3
      I do agree with you, riley,although GM's weight issue also has to do with being the most effective rider that you can be. This means having as much leg as possible on the horse (heavy thighs preclude this to some extent), having total control of your upper body (big boobs and a heavy upper body can make this difficult), being able to sit light on your horse (again, weight can make this difficult). I think this is where his association of "size 6 = better rider comes from, not necessarily the athleticism.

      BUT, I know that when he sees a good, but heavy rider, who CAN control his/her body effectively, then I don't think he minds size at all. A prime example of this would be Melanie Smith Taylor. Although she is svelte now (love ya, Moll!), she was not petite in her most active riding days. But GM had to give her credit and accept her because she demonstrated that she could get the job done, even if not a size 6.

      Unfortunately, I think his comments have been misinterpreted by the younger set and that has gotten him into a lot of controversy.



      Laurie
      Laurie

      Comment


      • #4
        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rileyt:
        And this nonsense about beginner riders who ride on a 75 degree day and have to stop 4 times for a water break... OY VEY! Can you imagine a football team that did that???<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

        Not going to comment on the rest of this, or not yet...but I think you exaggerate here. Saying "It's okay to grab a drink during a ride," doesn't necessarily mean someone is stopping every ten minutes.

        And yes, I can think of football teams who pause for a drink every bit as frequently as most riders I know, and when I ran cross-country and track, we guzzled water like there was no tomorrow.

        Yeah, I know there were other issues in that thread, and if the water break turns into an overlong excuse for not working, that's something else. But not drinking water is not a sign of toughness, and pausing for a swallow here and there isn't being soft -- it's wanting to stay healthy and capable of performing, and it's why all the professional sports teams I can think of have something to drink at the sidelines, as well as why long-distance foot races offer water along the way, and so on and so forth.
        bullyandblaze.wordpress.com

        "The present tense of regret is indecision."
        - Welcome to Night Vale

        Comment


        • #5
          A football team that DOESN'T do that gets sued for wrongful death of the very fit athletes who keel over.

          I have low blood pressure and asthma - if I do not drink EVERY TIME my horse has a walk break in the hot/humid months here in PA, I literally pass out. It has NOTHING to do with my level of fitness. I sweat profusely - you can wring my jeans/shirt/nearly chaps after every ride.

          Dehydration and heat stroke KILL PEOPLE - the idea that you should not drink during a work out because you are an athlete is wrong. Football players have plenty of water breaks - they bring water on the field at every time out, they drink every time they go to the sidelines. Runners carry water, marathon runners have water stations! And on and on ...
          Mal:This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then .... explode

          Comment


          • #6
            Couldn't agree more. If we expect to be competitive in athletic activities, we darn well better train ourselves as athletes. On the other hand, I'm not so dead set against water breaks. Keep in mind that where I live summer afternoons are often 100+ degrees and humid, so if you don't keep yourself hydrated you pass out and fall off (speaking from personal experience there). But the breaks should be reasonable - a quick swallow of cool *not cold* water at intervals during a hard school or between rounds at a show. Same for pony, we keep a water tub on a float valve near the gate of our ring and I won't hesitate to hose pony's chest and flanks a couple of times during a hot ride. Fit, yes; kill ourselves, no.

            Member of the mounting block clique!
            "WHOAA Dragon!!....Dragons are SOOO stupid!!" - Yosemite Sam
            Proud to have the ride on "Reprise" www.trinityfarmfl.com/reprise.htm

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              You're right, I may be over exaggerating here,.... but it seemed to me that these kids were taking multiple breaks over an hour long lesson.

              I'm all for staying hydrated. Hydrate before your lesson, hydrate after. If its 90 degrees out, take a water break or two. But its ridiculous to me that a bunch of munchkins are sweating so profusely during their riding lesson that they need to drink water every minute.

              I don't know... it just seems to be an example of what I see as "coddling" that has become far too standard.

              Maybe I'm just a old grouch.

              Half of Riding is 30% mental ... no wonder there are so many bad riders

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Oh my goodness. I can already see the turn this thread has taken. For pete's sake. If you have a condition and you need to drink water... DO IT. It doesn't make you a non-athlete.

                It's the coddling issue I'm trying to get at.

                Half of Riding is 30% mental ... no wonder there are so many bad riders

                Comment


                • #9
                  To personalize the various approaches to training, I'll use my daughter as example.

                  She plays high level soccer. They exercise/stretch for 45 minutes before every match. There are strict guidelines on diet (i.e. no grease or dairy); they all attended step sessions with a trainer this past spring which will now be incorporated into their warm-up.

                  When she rides, she grooms, straps on some boots, mounts; schools. While she's had fabulous trainers, not one has ever instituted a program which encompasses other athletic activities.

                  I do often wonder how much better we would all be as riders if we were, as a whole, more fit, and trainers/coaches incorporated other exercise to hone a rider's fitness and intuitive sense and control over their own body. I think it'd be fabulous if more coaches/trainers were to host a yoga class, for example, for their students and boarders.

                  Of course, this also begs the question - is a fit rider a better rider?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Actually the most important and easiest think you can do to improve altheletic performance is keep yourself hydrated. You don't have to drink gatorade or anything fancy. Water works just fine. The recomendation of sport physiologists is to drink a cup of water every 10 minutes, if you are sweating. You can stretch it out for more time, but you run the risk of a side ache because you have to drink more volume. It not an issue of wimpiness unless you make the break last long enough to drop your heart rate. This is more important for kids and women because they have smaller blood volumes. So they be dehydrated more quickly.

                    The weight thing is another issue entirely. If you are fat, it is tough to be an affective athlete. You can't really control flab so that means there are parts of your body the aren't moving in sync with the horse. It is just a handicap. But you can be a large person and not be fat.

                    [This message was edited by nhwr on Jun. 03, 2003 at 02:30 PM.]
                    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Where is a brick wall to bash my head into when I need one?

                      Actually, I think true athletes never drink water. Ever. If they die of heat stroke, at least they will go down in a blaze of athletic glory... and on their tombstone, it will say "Here lies the driest and best athlete ever."

                      Half of Riding is 30% mental ... no wonder there are so many bad riders

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [QUOTE]Originally posted by rileyt:
                        Actually, I think true athletes never drink water. Ever. If they die of heat stroke, at least they will go down in a blaze of athletic glory... and on their tombstone, it will say "Here lies the driest and best athlete ever."
                        [QUOTE]

                        ROFL Rileyt, yeah, me too

                        &gt;^.,.^&lt;
                        ~~Linda

                        To me, a perfectly balanced diet means a cookie in each hand.
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        You can't have everything. Where would you put it all?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Getting away from the "water break" issue it seems to me that the problem comes with riders who want to move up and win, but aren't willing to put in the work to get in the condition it takes to reach those goals.

                          I also think it is a whole different issue for your working adult amateur as well - believe me, not a show or lesson goes by where I don't wish I had the time to drop a some extra pounds and get into top notch physical shape!! But, you can only curse the work schedule so much when the job is what is paying for the horse

                          [This message was edited by Madison on Jun. 03, 2003 at 11:21 PM.]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I won't address the hydration issue as I have already posted my opinion on the other thread.

                            I do agree with you rileyt that Americans are going soft in the area of physical fitness. I'm in my early 30's and last year I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs. Boy was that embarrassing! That was an eye opener because I have always been a "tomboy" and very athletic. I got my *ss in gear, hired a personal trainer from Germany and got in shape so that I can enjoy competing!

                            The more fit I get, the better I ride. It is that simple. Just a side note, I am short and I am not a size 6, but I am working towards being HEALTHY.

                            I feel sorry for the horse hauling an obviously overweight rider around a course. Some riders are so out of shape, they look as if they should be carrying the horse!

                            "If Noah had been truly wise, he would have swatted those two flies."-Helen Castle
                            Proud member of the Clean Horse, Dirty House Clique! Founder of the Goodbye Fat, Hello Muscle Clique!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SoEasy:
                              I have low blood pressure and asthma - if I do not drink EVERY TIME my horse has a walk break in the hot/humid months here in PA, I literally pass out. It has NOTHING to do with my level of fitness. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                              Uh, yes it does. I have extremely low blood pressure; my daughter has asthma. Sorry, SoEasy, but that IS our level of fitness - we can improve it a great deal but may never be as fit as those who don't have these physical liabilities. I'm not saying we can help that we have those things wrong with us, but it does affect ultimate fitness.

                              As for the weight issue, GM is right: we Should be athletic and most of us aren't, we SHOULD lose the pounds. Where he got in trouble was not telling a 5'6" girl who weighed 165 pounds that she should lose weight, because she should, but he was and should be criticized for his old long-ago Practical Horseman clinic comments where (always) female riders whose weight was fine & normal, but who weren't skinny, were criticized. That's where the flack came from, and frankly, IMO that's just the gay viewpoint. My ex is gay and because of my relationship with him, I have a lot of gay male friends. To them, if a woman isn't lean and muscled, she's fat.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Hi rileyt

                                I think that the issue of water is something that has changed over time. It used to be that coaches didn't allow water breaks for athletes. Better science has shown that this isn't productive. Now you can buy a Camelback - a backpack entirely for water that lets you keep going!

                                As far as not treating riders like athletes - I don't think it's "kids today" - I think for the most part riders have NEVER been trained as athletes. Look at how many riders in the 60s/70s/80s smoked and drank. Melanie Smith was unusual because she jogged to stay fit.

                                The only group I know of that treats riders like athletes is eventers. Rider fitness is considered a serious issue by eventing coaches I've known - and frankly, being unfit and tired at the end of a cross-country run can get you or your horse seriously injured.

                                There is no question in my mind that most riders would improve markedly more by working on fitness than by working on technique.
                                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rileyt:

                                  Actually, I think true athletes never drink water. Ever. If they die of heat stroke, at least they will go down in a blaze of athletic glory... and on their tombstone, it will say "Here lies the driest and best athlete ever."

                                  <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                  I nearly spit my water out on my screen at this one.

                                  BUT, I agree. I have been working on becoming more fit since November. Now, I had a regular yoga program before, which I took up to improve my riding about 7 years ago (liked that so much I studied to teach yoga), but I was coming to realize that I needed MORE fitness to be a better rider.

                                  If I want my horse to be an athlete and perform, it is only fair that I also be an athlete and perform my share of the partnership. I'm attempting to get to 10 minutes of relatively intense cardio on a machine, figuring that is a good start. And, that will get me through most XC course rides I might be doing at my piddly level-with breath to spare-I hope.

                                  Now...back to that head bashing issue....

                                  I drink copious amounts of water....GUZZLE the stuff, but even in 90+ degree weather, I rarely take a break during a one hour lesson for a drink...I have, but usually it is not handy, and I can guzzle almost a liter in one breath . I would however need a drink in a 2 hour ride...maybe. I rode in one of those last year and yes...I did get a drink, because we had a tack change break (switching from dressage to jumping tack...gave me a chance to also drink water). The 2nd day, we didn't change tack, and I did not get a drink, but it was not as hot.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    rileyt,

                                    I understand what you are saying and I totally agree. To be serious about this sport and to be competitive at horse shows and other types of equine competitions you HAVE to be an athlete. I just heard a story about Richard Spooner in Indio, that because of an injury, he rode 5 jumper rounds in a day all without stirrups. Talk about being fit! I know Ian Stark and other event riders work out for 3 hours on weights, running, etc. a day to stay in shape for eventing.

                                    Weight is also an important issue because a reduced weight is easier on the horse's back, the rider can more easily adjust to changing conditions (e.g. the horse veers off) without interfering with the animal, etc. I do not think GM meant to imply that a size 6 automatically means one is fit, but rather that person has a better chance of putting in a more effective ride than a rider of larger size, given equal fitness levels.

                                    I event and to be able to a 3-day endurance phase means you have to be able to ride and be alert for more than 1 hour while on your horse's back. I do a lot of weight training and bike riding to keep in condition. I also watch my diet to keep my weight down.

                                    On a bright note about being treated as athletes, a wonderful thing happened at the High Priarie CCI*/** the other week. We had as a sponsor NASCAR and as part of the promotion, one of the Busch Series divers was out watching. He was VERY impressed with the level of fitness and toughness of the CCI/Advanced/Intermediate and Preliminary competitors. He saw the athleticism involved in this sport.

                                    Reed

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think the answer is that most people who ride and show do so recreationally. As much as it pains me, I have to put myself in that category at this point in my life. *sigh*

                                      I love to ride, and "work" at it, within the context of the rest of my life. That means, I do not just poke around on my horses, but neither do I consider myself a serious athlete in training. (Having been a serious athlete years ago, in a different sport - I know the difference.) I usually take a lesson a week, and my horses each get one schooling ride with my trainer weekly. That "day off" is when I do grocery shopping, pick up the dry cleaning etc... don't I wish it was a day I spent at the gym working on my strength and fitness! But with only so many hours in the day, and lots to accomplish... it just isn't going to happen.

                                      I also show, though not as often as I'd like to - and though I am quite competitive by nature and love to win, the fact is that horse shows are basically a social event for me - a nice outing with my horses with my friends. I ride well, but the demands of adult life (ugh) mean that I juggle riding with a full time job and other life responsibilities.

                                      I would love to be in better shape, and to take more lessons and train harder than I do now - but riding is what I do mainly to relax and has to fit into all the other things I am committed to every day.

                                      "It's a funny thing about life: If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it." ---W. Somerset Maugham
                                      \"It\'s a funny thing about life: If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.\" ---W. Somerset Maugham

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I think the focus should be on fitness not weight. How many people on this board excercise beyond riding their horse? How many people lift weights to strengthen their upper body? How many do cardio workouts?

                                        I'll bet the answer is not many.

                                        While I think someone who is overweight and out of shape is not being fair to the horse, I don't think the person that weighs nothing and has no muscle is holding up their end of the partnership either.

                                        "I thought I was dead once but it turns out, I was only in Nebraska."

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