Cross Country Day Recovery
While many of us love the thrill of getting around a tough cross country course, there’s a lot that needs to go on behind the scenes to make sure your horse bounces back properly. Management before and after is key to a safe round and a happy horse, so here are my top tips for Cross Country Day Recovery :
- Wake up early and feed your horse their hard feed first. By allowing 3-5h for your horse top metabolize their feed before competition, they are able to better utilise fats and carbohydrates while on course.
- Take your horse for regular walks. It might sound simple but sure enough many people forget the importance of regular walks when their horses are stabled at events. The last thing you want is a stiff or even sore horse going out on Cross country.
- Make sure they have access to plenty of clean water.
- BC5 paste 1h before. BC5 paste is a branched chain amino acid paste designed to maintain muscle tissue during periods of intense exercise. When given pre-exercise, it considerably reduces muscle protein degradation.
- The immediate cool down period after Cross country is one of the most important parts of the day. Repeated hosing down and scraping off warm water will help to bring down their temperature back to within the normal range. In water restrictions, buckets of water and sponges can be a great substitute to hosing.
- Monitor vital signs and behaviour. Its good practice to know your horses resting vital signs such as temperature and heart rate, and monitor these in intervals after you finish cross country to make sure they are returning to normal. Behaviour can also be a good indicator of how your horse is recovering.
- Ice boots. Ice after exercise helps reduce swelling and flush out lactic acids, helping to decrease soreness after. I like to alternate between ice boots and cold water boots, using the cold water boots for a shorter period of time on the legs that do not have ice boots on to increase the cooling down effect. For horses like mine who can get a bit sensitive, its also a good idea to use ice boots or cold water boots on their back to make sure they don’t feel sore under the saddle for the next phase.
- Food and water. It is important they your horse has access to hay and water as soon as you get back from the wash bay. I like to let mine eat while I ice to make them a bit happier too.
- Electrolytes are so important after intense exercise, especially in horses, as they sweat out a lot of nutrients. Electrolytes also promote more drinking in the horse which also aids in recovery. I like to add an extra scoop of Salkavite to my night feed after cross country and/or give an electrolyte paste soon after finishing.
- More walking. After your cross country cool down and recovery is done, it’s super important to keep taking your horse for regular walks to stretch their legs and help prevent them feeling very stiff and sore the next day.
- Once legs have dried from ice and your horse is happy eating, I like to apply a poultice to the joints and tendons of the lower leg to help with the recovery process.
It’s also important to note that your recovery and preparation process can vary based on the event, time of year, time of cross country, length of course and many other factors.
Author: Elouise Bacon
Appt, S. A, Moll, H.D, Scarratt, W.K. Sysel, A.M. Esophageal foreign body obstruction in a mustang. Equine Pract.(1996), 8-11.
Feige, K et al. Esophageal Obstruction in Horses: A Retrospective Study of 34 Cases. Can Vet J 41.3 (2000), 207-210
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