Don't let heat throw you for loss Basic precautions will protect riders

EQUESTRIAN

September 05, 1993|By MUPHEN WHITNEY

For the past three months I have put off writing about extreme heat, because I really thought it would abate at some point.

But because the latest forecast is for continued hot and humid weather -- and because the latest long-range forecast is for above-average temperatures -- here is some information on how to survive riding when the temperature and humidity are at unfriendly levels.

Early this summer I wrote about how to protect your horse when the weather is hot. Much of the advice that pertains to your horse also pertains to you when you ride.

Make sure you are fit; try to ride early in the day or late in the evening; make sure you drink enough fluids before, during and after riding; try not to ride in direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time; and give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down in a shaded area.

In addition, you need to wear comfortable clothing that provides for air movement and evaporation of sweat.

This does not revoke the injunction to wear protective headgear, however. You must wear protective headgear every time you ride. Try the ventilated helmets that recently have come on the market.

Or here's something I tried this summer that has really helped: I took the cover off my racing-style helmet, soaked and stretched out a cheap straw hat that has a big brim, and stuck it on the helmet. This keeps the sun off my head, and I really feel cooler.

A recent issue of Parade magazine contained a temperature-humidity chart that showed the danger zone for exercising. The four points that define the danger zone are: 82 degrees (Fahrenheit) and 78 percent humidity, 85 degrees and 75 percent, 90 degrees and 70 percent, and 95 degrees and 67 percent.

As you can see, the weather during the last several weeks has consistently been within this zone and has even extended beyond this into the emergency zone.

When the weather hits the danger zone, do not exercise. Period.

When conditions are in the alert zone (as low as 75 degrees and 75 percent), you need to exercise with caution.

People who do not ride do not realize the amount of exercise that riders get. Those of us who do ride realize that we just don't sit on top of the horse and get taken for a ride.

Riders have to be concerned about exertion-induced hyperthermia, especially when the weather does not allow for dissipation of the heat that we create when we ride.

An article in the Aug. 12 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine stated that "hyperthermia is an inevitable consequence prolonged, intense exercise in warm, humid weather."

The article pointed out that mild hyperthermia caused by over-exercising can be alleviated with rest and proper fluid intake.

Heat exhaustion, however, may require more serious attention such as intravenous fluids. Heat exhaustion is characterized by a general weakness, a weak and rapid pulse, headache and dizziness.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine article, heat stroke, which is much more serious than hyperthermia or heat exhaustion, typically affects the young and healthy. In heat stroke, the skin becomes dry and hot, and symptoms of heat exhaustion are more intense. Heat stroke should be treated as a medical emergency immediately.

Churchville rider excels

Rumsey Gilbert of Churchville rode Night Train on the gold medal Three-Day Eventing Team at the North American Young Riders' Championships earlier this month in Wadsworth, Ill.

Take a ride for prizes

Are you feeling lucky? If so, you have one week from today to get your entry in for the Carroll County Equestrian Council's next Poker Ride. The $5 entry fee will benefit the CCEC show-ring project.

Your entry fee will get you a fun trail ride at Union Mills, and there is the possibility that you might win one of several prizes. Call (410) 833-4593 or (410) 857-2103 for an entry form.

Calendar of events

Today -- Howard County Horse Show Association Point Show. Frederick Pony Club Grounds, Ijamsville. (410) 781-7662.

Today -- Howard County Youth Horse Show. Schooley Mill Park, Hall Shop Road, Highland. Judge: Cindy Lytle. (410) 531-2370.

Today -- Polo match, Labor Day Weekend Celebration Cup, Ladew Polo Fields, (410) 557-6448.

Tuesday -- Carroll County Equestrian Council meeting. East Middle School, Longwell Avenue, Westminster. (410) 833-4593.

Saturday -- Horse organization exhibits, Leisure Expo, Cranberry Mall, Westminster. (410) 857-2103.

Sept. 14 -- Deadline for Carroll Council Equestrian Council Poker Ride at Union Mills. $5 fee. (410) 833-4593 or (410) 857-2103.

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