Equestrians – How To Eat To Win On Horse Show Day

Tips To Help You Eat Healthier and Rev Up For Horse Show Day! 

Equestrians - How To Eat To Win On Horse Show Day!

Holly by Induc. All Rights Reserved.

Happy Friday or whatever day it may be in your neck of the woods…

Since we’re definitely into those “dog days of summer,” healthy equestrian nutrition can become even more critical, especially during the summer competition season. And while we don’t always follow through as we should, keeping well-hydrated and eating properly when preparing for a competition, clinic or other more intense riding activity, is absolutely essential for you and your horse!

I suspect as riders and competitors we’ve not always kept our nutrition at the forefront, especially when getting ready for a show – there’s so many things to do!!! However, just as with any athlete, the more well-prepared we are from a nutrition (and hydration) standpoint, the better our chances for success in the arena – to help you to think, perform and recover your best!

We hope you find these tidbits of information beneficial to you and help you better prepare and thrive for your horse show day! So…

One Day Prior To Show Day:

♦  Eat lower-fat, higher-carbohydrate (good carbs) meals such as pasta (gluten-free is great as is organic!) with a tomato based sauce rather than a cream sauce, baked potatoes or skinless grilled chicken and brown rice.

♦ Drink lots and lots of of fluids, especially H2O. You can infuse your water with fresh fruit, which offers multiple benefits and flavor! 

♦ If you know you won’t be able to eat much of a breakfast the day before the show, an after-dinner snack that is a bit higher in those good carbs with less than 10 grams sugar can be helpful (at least 1-1.5 hours before bedtime).


Riders - Eat To Win On Show Day

Courtesy of Kari C. All Rights Reserved.

The Big Day – Show Day Morning:

Eat light, healthy and nutritious, such as

♦ Fruit ‘smoothie’ shakes made with yogurt and fruit (or greens)

♦ Soft, hearty cooked cereals such as Cream of Wheat, thick cut oatmeal, hot buckwheat cereal, healthy granola – all with fresh fruit, etc. 

♦ Toast (sprouted grain toast is a great choice)

♦ Fruit (grapefruit, oranges, bananas)



Important:  Avoid traditional, greasy breakfast foods like fried eggs, bacon, sausage, doughnuts, danishes and hash browns as these can wreak havoc on your body (especially your tummy) in more ways than one…

During The Show:

Pack a cooler with lower-fat, higher-protein/carbohydrate items, such as:

♦ Turkey, chicken breast or tuna sandwiches (hold the mayo; mustard better), fruits (frozen seedless grapes are great on hot days), dry cereal, Melba toast, string cheese (a great protein snack) or soup (preferably chilled and tomato based)

♦ Lots of cool H2O

♦ Snacks – Stay away from those stall snacks or snacks from the onsite food vendor. In between classes, many of us are tempted to dig into the bags of snacks left at the stalls. Don’t even start because once you start, you will not stop. Instead, bring a healthier alternative. Fruit and veggies are great but not always accessible. Nuts (particularly raw nuts), popcorn, whole grain chips and  protein snacks (the healthy and low-sugar kind) are also better options because they don’t need refrigeration. 

Tip: Check out Fooducate.com. This is a super website with phone apps for Iphones and Android. You can look up the grade on your snack item and it even suggests items that are healthier. For example, instead of Cheetos, which have a grade of D, pick white cheddar popcorn, which has a grade of A-B depending on the brand. Look up your favorite items and see how they rate.

Remember too that soda, coffee and alcohol will definitely increase your risk and rate of dehydration – definitely not a good choice.

Tip: Remember, equestrians are athletes that need to fuel their bodies properly in order to maintain peak performance. Your carbs should be in the form of whole grains in the morning before heading out to the show (oatmeal, cereal, toast or healthy breakfast bars). Before you show, a piece of fruit can provide more carbs for energy without loading down your stomach.

If you’re staying at a hotel, grab an extra banana, apple or orange as you leave. Throughout the day, you will want to get protein and carbs to help your body to continue functioning in between rides. A turkey or chicken breast sandwich on whole-grain wheat bread is a great option. If you are short on time or resources, eat a handful of nuts, preferably unsalted. Peanut butter or other healthy nut butters are a great option. Make a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread or eat an apple with organic peanut butter, one of my favorites!

Tip: MyFitness Pal (link below) is a phone app that tracks your food consumption and physical activity. It’s great to use while at shows when you don’t have a computer. Keeping track of your energy in and energy out will make you more aware and accountable.

Resource Sites:


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