Hello! Does anyone have tips for staying healthy and strong enough to barrel race as you age? This year I've started to notice that I am pretty stoved up after a weekend at the races, which I never experienced in my younger years. I am very fit, ride multiples a day, and I am at a healthy/lean weight, but more than one competition run in a weekend, and I am hobbling around for a day or two at the least. How do you combat that?
When I was younger I used to see gals list horses that were "to strong" for them at their age, but I never understood it. Now I get it. My good mare is wicked snappy, she'll unintentionally throw you out of the buggy in a split second if you don't show up that day. I am staying with her during runs, but pay for it later. Has anyone else found exercises or tricks to turn back the clock on a human body? Or did you have to switch to a different style of horse (dang I sure hope that isn't the case)? I sure don't want to slow down...
I'm over 60 now and can no longer ride the snappy turners. I gave up riding my DTF mare last year when she injured me 3 ways in 2 runs (jammed wrist, turf toe, pulled hamstring). She's now with a youth rider who is used to riding very strong and snappy horses.
As far as staying in shape I concentrate on some strength and lots of flexibility, core and balance. I figure if I am flexible I'll get hurt less when something unexpected happens like fast sideways motiong (shying). My body is going to stay with the horse due to a lifetime of muscle memory, but if I am not flexible I will hurt worse after those unexpected or snappy moves. My SI is bad and I started PT for that in 2018. After many years and only about a 50% less pain I got it injected in May 2022. Getting ready to go for PRP in July. I use most of the exercises they have had me do mixed into a 60-75 minute workout/stretch session. I am still wiped out after multi-day shows if I have to stay up late late.
And finally, Aleve is your friend!
Three or four years ago I found myself getting dashboarded on a couple of quick horses. I had never had that happen before and I really couldn't figure out what was going on! I should say I am now 68 - almost 69. Always rode, always ran barrels. Thought I was reasonably fit. I then started noticing if I would sit in one position very long - say a couple of hours or more - when I got up I would be very stiff and walk bent over for a little ways until I walked it off. That's when I realized that my problem with getting dashboarded was just because of my age and maybe a little arthritis. I still ride and run barrels every once in awhile. But I had to sell the quick horses and get old smooth and faithful! Hope you don't have to do the same.
YOGA. Specifically for riders.
lonely va barrelxr - 2023-06-18 2:21 PM
Thank you. Very helpful reply. I've never thought about flexibility, but that makes sense. I will incorporate that into my day to see if it helps. And yes, Aleve and I are becoming friends.
Sorry to hear about your SI... What a painful injury! I hope you are able to work through it and I hope the injections helped.
What if - 2023-06-18 5:51 PM
Thank you! I am impressed that you rode strong horses up until a few years ago... That gives me hope!
CanCan - 2023-06-18 7:07 PM
I am very interested in trying that. Where can I find something like that?
CanCanScribble - 2023-06-18 10:35 PM
Google yoga for equestrians
"Planking" is a great exercise to strengthen your core. Doesn't seem like it but if you do it correctly, 2 minutes is a true workout. Just like horses need a strong top line so do we. I'm in my 60's and it has really helped my strength while riding and recovery after a day a races!
Core strength is key !
Along with core strength and yoga or some sort of stretching/flexibility routine - routine chiro and body work/massage is essential in keeping me feeling on top of my game. If my body hurts, I might as well stay at home. And I'm not riding the hard running/hard turning 1D horses. I'm 48; hoping and praying I'm still riding well into my 60-70's. I'm just getting back into the swing of things after years of not running barrels. I figure if we take as good of care of ourselves as we do our horses, we'll be good to go. LOL
A body in motion stays in motion.
A body at rest stays at rest.
Ride on Friends!
I sign up for races without an option for a refund and I'm super cheap. The race gives me a reason to work out, along with the no refund thing. I use Camp Gladiator for the cross training then fit in the rest when I can. Last year I did my first sprint triathlon, or mini tri if you ask a real athlete. The bike surprised me as to how much it helped my core strength and just all the stabilizer muscles, amazing exercise for riding. Real biking that is, not a stationary bike.
This year I added the CG Nutrition just to try it and I LOVE IT! Have just over 2 months until my 2nd tri! I'm 47.
brlboogie - 2023-06-28 3:36 PM
Slow down! You're making the rest of us look bad!
I'm 58 and a few years ago when I realized my horses were 19,18. and 17 that I needed to start looking for the next horse if I still wanted to compete. I do not have the job anymore that I would be able to do justice to starting a horse as a 2 year old anymore and at then 55 I also knew that I do not bounce anymore so I needed something a little older , more likely to be sane. It was the first time in my life that I spent what for me was a large sum of money and I decided if I was spending that amount of money to ride and compete than I better step it up and get my butt back to the gym. Then Covid hit and the gym's closed down so I found a body weight based excercise program to follow so I could do it at home or anywhere I went, then added another program the following year that incorporated hiit training and weights. Some days its yoga or pilates based, some days it a lot of stupid burpees and squats, some days its a quick stretch a and a few mile run. The yoga/pilates keeps my core strong, the weight trianing keeps the metabolism at a decent level as well as the muscles strong and the running I hate, LOL!!! I work out 5 days a week around 40 minutes or so and then weekends my husband and I walk a few miles because my 58 year old hips and back sometimes need the break but the muscles still need the excercise. I think it's about finding what works for you and at what level you want to compete at.
I have a Peloton - I can ride the bike or take a multitude of classes including core, pilates, yoga, strength. The app even offers outdoor walks, runs or rides. I am 64 and ride three horses plus work full time. I realized how important the core work and stretching/flexibility is when I was struggling to ride my cutting bred mare. What a difference it made in my balance and strength! This winter I slipped and fell on the ice (flat on my behind) - by doing all of work together, I was able to get back to riding quickly without seeing a doctor.
Whatever you do, don't take a break. Once you lose it, it's really hard to get it back. I'm 63 and I broke my back a few years ago and didn't ride for years. Last year I got a new horse. I figured I better get one and get back to it before it's too late. This time I got a little one because I am so out of shape, I can't even get on without a mounting block. I couldn't even lift the saddle at first! It has been slow-going. The best exercise for me is to keep riding. And like conditioning horses, I just keep building it up, doing more and more. I don't want to get sore but I keep pushing myself a little more. I don't have time for a gym. It's either ride the horses or go to a gym. So I am also conscious of little things like filling the water buckets a little higher and squatting when I want to get on my knees and carrying the grain a little further, pushing the wheelbarrow with bigger steps, etc. I also stretch. But don't stop riding! That's the whole key if you ask me.
I say, Eat meat! Drink water! Lift weights!
Ditch the sugars and grains! Carbohydrates are not essential, especially the ultra processed types of carbs. They cause a lot of inflammation, and contribute to weight gain. Especially the older we get.
By doing this, I feel better at 52 than I did at 40.
I think that you need to be at least 60 to really give any good insight into what it takes to keep going. I'm only 59, so I'm not really qualified to answer the question either. I know this... I took two years off and it was HARD to get back to where I needed to be. I agree with what someone else said... don't stop. Keep doing it and it will prolong your ability to keep going. Keep an eye on your weight and nutrition. I'm don't eat meat, though I do eat fish and dairy. I feel great and find myself still being able to do much of what I did in my 40's, though I'm not nearly as brave or as driven as I was then, lol. I'm also a little gentler on my body these days. No more crossfit for me! I'm preserving my joints. Best of luck to you!
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