Performance demands in the Endurance Rider

Jane Williams, Jenni Douglas, Emma Davies, F Bloom, C. Castejon

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Endurance is one of the fastest growing equestrian disciplines worldwide. Races are long distance competitions (40-160km), organized into loops, over variable terrain usually within one day. Horse and rider combinations in endurance races have to complete the course in good condition whilst also aiming to win. Horse welfare is paramount within the sport and horses are required to ‘pass’ a veterinary check prior to racing, after each loop of the course and at the end of the race. Despite the health, fitness and welfare of both athletes within the horse-rider dyad being essential to achieve success, few equivalent measures assessing the wellbeing of the endurance rider are implemented. This review considers evidence from ultra-endurance sports and rider performance in other equestrian disciplines, to consider physiological and psychological strategies the endurance rider could use to enhance their competition performance. Successful endurance riding requires an effective partnership to be established between horse and rider. Within this partnership, adequate rider health and fitness are key to optimal decision-making to manage the horse effectively during training and competition, but just as importantly riders should manage themselves as an athlete. Targeted management for superior rider performance can underpin more effective decision-making promoting ethical equitation practices and optimizing competition performance. Therefore the responsible and competitive endurance rider needs to consider how they prepare themselves adequately for participation in the sport. This should include engaging in appropriate physiological training for fitness and musculoskeletal strength and conditioning. Alongside planning nutritional strategies to support rider performance in training and within the pre-, peri- and post-competition periods to promote superior physical and cognitive performance, and prevent injury. By applying an evidence informed approach to self-management, the endurance athlete will support the horse and rider partnership to achieve to their optimal capacity, whilst maximizing both parties physical and psychological wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Aug 2020

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