How to Hydrate as an Equestrian

I tend to dehydrate easily. If I forget to drink water, I get weak, and shaky, and sometimes I pass out. This comes with the territory of doing intense physical work outdoors. For this reason I keep very careful track of my water intake. People sometimes tease me because I am never without at least a 1L water bottle.

Do you know the signs of dehydration? The more obvious ones, of course, are fainting and dark urine. But did you know these signs could mean you are dehydrated too?

  • Headache

  • Dry skin

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Constipation

  • Muscle weakness

  • Slowed recovery

If you are an athlete (which you probably are given that you have found this post), you should be aiming to drink at least 2-4 liters of water a day. Some people even say you should drink a whole gallon. 

This can be a difficult target to hit, so I set myself a goal each morning when I fill my water bottle for the first time. I often tell myself that I need to have this liter empty by lunch time, and then again by dinner. That way I know that I drink at least 2 liters throughout the day. 

I also bolster my water intake by guzzling at least 8-16oz of lemon water or ACV water first thing when I wake up. This gets my digestive system going, helps me wake up, and moves me closer to my water intake goal. 

Some people swear by drinking an entire liter of water first thing when they wake up, or right around 2:00pm when they hit that mid afternoon crash. I have tried both of these and my takeaway was that although I felt a lot better about an hour later (after going to pee what felt like forty times and working out a very distended belly) the initial discomfort was enough to dissuade me from keeping this habit up. I wonder if I had worked up to it more slowly if this would have felt better?

So what are the steps to hydration that you can take today?

  1. Work up to drinking one gallon of water each day

  2. Always have water with you. Keep a 1L water bottle  with you. Take a CamelBak  in your backpack on trail rides or hikes.

  3. Replenish electrolytes when needed, but stay away from sugary drinks, like Gatorade

  4. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies, which contain a lot of water

  5. Drink a huge glass of water first thing when you wake up and last thing before bed

How can you work up to drinking a gallon of water a day? 

  1. Keep track of your water intake using 1L bottles 

  2. In the beginning, try to finish one liter before lunch and one liter before dinner

  3. Once that is easy, try to drink 1.5L before lunch, and 1.5L before dinner

  4. Finally, aim to drink 2L before lunch, and 2L before bed

Remember to hydrate extra well in the days before a show, long trail ride, or other particularly exerting day. Also remember that just because the weather changes in the fall and winter, doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water. Your body is always losing water through metabolism, breathing, and digestion. You need to replace all of this, even if you aren’t sweating.

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