Better Eating on the Go

Keep your healthy diet on track, even when you're at horse shows.


Make sure you are eating right a horse shows.

Follow this guide for a healthy and supportive diet to keep you going at horse shows!

Sometimes the runaround of a horse show doesn’t leave much time to think. You have to remember your patterns and class schedule, keep yourself and your horse clean, plus stay focused and positive. How are you supposed to remember to eat proper meals?

Some riders either forget to eat or say they don’t have time to eat. Skipping meals not only means you risk having your blood sugar crash mid-class, but it could mean overeating later in the day, or make you hangry. Having a proper diet at a horse show is important.

Apples at horse show stalls
BYO healthy food and avoid the food truck trap. (Even better if you can share with your horse.) Photo: Elizabeth Moyer

“If you skip meals, it’s more likely that you’ll overeat at some point later on,” explains Lindsay Livingston, a registered dietitian from Columbus, Ohio, and blogger at The Lean Green Bean. “If you let yourself get too hungry, you will likely eat too quickly when you do eat, which often leads to overeating, because it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain that you’re full.”

We’ve put together some ideas about what to pack in your cooler for a day at the show or on the trails to keep you on the Fit Rider track.


Your horse show diet should start with breakfast and the best breakfast is one that has a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to jumpstart your day with energy and keep you satiated until lunchtime.

Livingston provides some easy breakfasts you can make ahead of time to eat at home or to take on the road with you:

  • Multigrain or whole wheat bread/toast with peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter) and hard boiled eggs on the side.
  • Egg muffins: you can make these ahead of time with scrambled egg mixture, chopped veggies, meat, and a little cheese. Simply bake in a muffin tin. In the morning just heat them up.
  • Frittata: A frittata is an egg dish baked in the oven or stovetop skillet. Make it ahead of time with your favorite chopped veggies, meat and low-fat cheese, then parcel out pieces in microwave-safe containers for easy reheating every morning (or eat cold).
  • Be aware that all muffins are not created equal, and many are far from healthy. Look for a muffin that’s whole grain or has some protein built in (made with Greek yogurt, for example).


Battle that mid-afternoon slump with a lunch combining protein and complex carbohydrates. Having a healthy lunch readily available at your trailer not only saves you money, but will save you in unnecessary calories, added sugar and fat.

Salads in a jar
Salad in a jar is a great way to stay healthy with a convenient, portable meal. Photo: bonchan/Shutterstock

Try making these lunches at home as part of your pre-show packing:

Wraps and sandwiches are great options because they can be assembled quickly and eaten on the go. Always aim to include a lean protein, a healthy fat and some veggies. For the wrap/bread, look for 100 percent whole wheat (just because the label on the front says wheat doesn’t mean it’s whole wheat/whole grain—always check the nutrition label), or something made with sprouted grains. You can also use lettuce leaves or collard greens to make wraps.

Some sandwich combos to try:

  • Grilled chicken, avocado, red peppers
  • Pulled chicken, black beans, avocado, salsa and a little cheese
  • Hummus, carrots, onions, peppers and edamame

Make a large-batch salad and pre-portion for your meals. To make sure you incorporate a good balance of nutrients, look at adding the following:

  • Quinoa, wheatberries or brown rice as a base. Add your favorite veggies, beans and dressing (there are lots of options for homemade dressings that don’t take long to make). If you want to skip the grains, go for a base of roasted potatoes; add some ground meat and veggies. Eat alone or serve over lettuce for a taco-salad type option.
  • Salads in a jar are another option for pre-portioned, grab-and-go lunches. Put the dressing on the bottom of the jar under veggies and the lettuce or greens on the top to keep them from getting soggy.
  • For a snack plate, pair hard-boiled eggs or grilled chicken, a sweet potato topped with nut butter, carrots and hummus, and an apple.

Snack Time

For a light snack, the best items to grab and go should ideally have a combination of protein and carbohydrates (see a pattern here?). This pairing gives whatever you’re eating—breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner—more staying power for a healthy diet at a horse show. Some easy-to-pack ideas for the ride include:

  • Carrot sticks and sliced apples act as a dual-purpose treat—one for you, one for your horse. Bring nut butter in a small container to add a little fat and flavor for you.
  • Almonds
  • Try to avoid potato and tortilla chips. Having mini rice cakes (a little more durable), whole grain crackers (who doesn’t love baked Goldfish?) or even baked apple or veggie chips give you that desired crunch to munch.
  • Hard boiled eggs (shell on for protection)
  • Make your own trail mix to have available at the stalls. Avoid buying the type found at the grocery store by making a healthier version with the items you like: nuts, seeds, dried fruit (watch the sugar content on some dried fruit), and some low-sodium pretzels.

Finally, don’t forget to bring plenty of water. Especially on hot days, avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks as well as alcohol; these drinks will actually dehydrate you rather than hydrate. Celebrating the end of a successful long show day with an adult beverage won’t hurt, but save those for when you’re back at the hotel to avoid any side effects from exhaustion and alcohol in your system.

There are plenty of different ways to make sure you’re eating right from beginning to end at the show. Taking the time to pre-plan your meals and doing some prep before you hit the road will save you time—not to mention money and calories—at the concession stand.

This article about horse show diet originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


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