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Healthy Eating and Snacking at Horse Shows

Filed under: Education,Health & Training,The Buzz |     

Last week, we asked our readers:

What do you suggest to exhibitors who want to try to eat healthier at a horse show?

Though eating “healthy” can mean different approaches for different people, our readers provided a wealth of information!  For the most part, planning ahead is key.  We have listed the suggestions they have that work for them (and their barns). Read on and enjoy!

We have also included the PDF Cheat Sheet from Jenna Tolson’s Ride Fit Life program, one she posted in the comments, here for your download and viewing:


RFL Horse Show Survival Cheat Sheet


Maria Temple Jerome- I pack food that I can easily grab and go. I try to make it high in protein so I have the energy to keep going all day. My go to is meat (salami) and cheese so I can roll them up together and have a something yummy to eat.

Katie Barrett – Sargento morning power packs!

Miya Childers – We set up a list for everyday and one person brings lunch. It’s usually a crock pot type meal, but tacos, meatballs, Crack chicken, pulled pork, any soup, chili… all simple, tastes good and you can choose how you top it! Keeps energy levels steady, sugar intake down and helps a lot with overall cost. If it’s crazy we will order subs or bring sandwich makings too.

Joan Ames- Keep fruit handy. And little carrots, mini peppers. Trail mix is a fav. We also do the meal plan and we all take turns cooking. Breakfast bar basket. Of course we do have the other stuff but at least there is an option! We are prepping our World Show Meal plan soon!!

Lola James – try and bring your own food from home. some good healthy meals and snacks. this way you aren’t tempted to go out for every meal .

Chayna DeNicolo Petrocci- Protein shake, protein bars- I keep these everywhere- stall bag, boot bag, tack room, groom bag, so that I have zero excuse not to fuel up. And HYDRATE with a canteen of some sort!

Mandi Magerus Lyman- I buy those salad kit bags and just mix them in the bag and eat them. Boiled eggs. Fruit and veggies precut in bite size pieces with PB and hummus. Nuts. Sliced deli meat and cheese. Protein bars. Anything that’s low in carbs and sugar and easy to pack and keep in a cooler and can be eaten on the go if needed.

Mike Barrington- Get an apple slicer. Little plastic gadget, slices an apple in seconds. Eat on the run or use to scoop nut butters, cheese, yogurt or….whatever.

Karyn Jennings- Protein shakes

Madeline Graves-Homrocky – (For me) Healthy isn’t the goal. Eating is. I have horribly disordered eating habits at horse shows. Our goal is to get the food in my hands in small portions so I have no choice but to eat it. Beef sticks, applesauce snacks or cups of fruit have really helped improve my eating habits at shows.

Christopher Sulkey – So much going on at a horse show it can be difficult to eat “healthy”. healthy is a subjective term, and means something different for people. Fruits have natural sugars and be a poor choice for someone for example. Some people have food allergies such as being allergic to gluten. Which my daughter is. Typically at a horse show there are limited to no gluten free options. Providing options is a reasonable way for everyone to enjoy what and how they want to eat. Packing and bringing your own is a good way for each person to eat healthy. Though we all know foods trucks have come along ways and can really rock some dishes/meals.

Haddi Fetty– Easy, fresh fruit and vegetables. Nuts and seeds also

Kelly Kaczmarek– We made lettuce wrap sandwiches individually wrapped in clingwrap, a big Rubbermaid container with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and melon, and ice cold small water bottles.

Tia Justice – Premier Protein Shakes are an amazing go to and easy to keep chilled in a cooler.

Mandi Knowles – Meal prep!!

Kory Kumar – Wait until you get home, or meal prep!

Grace Veihl– Meal prep! We pack every meal prior to leaving and it makes eating healthy so easy at shows! Plus you don’t have to wait in the long food truck lines.

Sara Stewart– I meal prep. Due to food allergies and restrictions it’s a must. I also bring a small crockpot to make an overnight breakfast (imagine a crockpot omelet). It’s not as fun as “horse show good” but I rarely have regrets watching people suffer from the gut bomb they just ingested!

Haley Henry– I really enjoy making healthy juices before I leave and having them as a light and healthy snack! And pre made açaí bowls are soooo helpful too!

Lisa Gardner– Invest in a YETI ! Everything will stay cold for days. Best coolers ever. Then stock with protein, veggies and water.

Kimmie Blackburn Peterson– Rarely eat during the show and only lightly back at the trailer. Maybe sandwich makings or some cereal.

Cindy Lisai– Crockpots and electric grills.

Bonnie Lassen– When going for all around, a good protein based breakfast, stay hydrated throughout the day if possible( not easy in triple digits) liquid IV is great. Protein bars are good when you don’t have the time or inclination to eat a meal. Eat a good healthy dinner at night.

Anna Limbird– I intermittent fast at horse shows just like I do at home. I feel tons better riding on an empty stomach.

Kim Hibdon – Greek Yogurt and Hard Boiled Eggs. Quick. Easy. Great source for protein.

Jennifer Streeter Carter– I always have protein shakes at shows for my daughter-Adkins, Premier Protein, Muscle Milk. A healthy, high protein snack that isn’t super heavy, but keeps blood sugar levels in check🥰.

Teresa Hanson– We pack a cooler with Ensure for a complete meal. Cheese and mixed nuts. Granola bars. Lunch size bags of chips and PopTarts. Plenty of bottled water and green tea.

Katti Jo Leitner- I lost 45 lbs during show season by doing meal prep. It’s easy if you are in a horse trailer with a microwave or are able to keep things cold. Low card dips using cucumbers instead of chips, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. I would pre make meals with low carb. Mainly chicken. If I had to order from a food truck the option was pretty limited to a hamburger no bun and I would ask for extra pickles.

Patti Bohmann– Cold fresh fruit chunks are refreshing in the heat and healthy.

Cherie Webber – I bring ensure Max protein shakes with me.

Lacy Sloan- I put a mini fridge in my tack room. Lots of calorie free beverages. My favorite thing is low-fat cheese sticks or pickles wrapped in ham. Low carb and high protein. Smart pop popcorn. Low sugar jerky. Fairlife protein shakes. I’m also meal prepping buffalo chicken and freezing ahead of time for easy tacos/nachos later. I got a quesadilla maker to take to shows as well….can pop those out pretty quick.

Cheryl Melody Grove– Low glycemic foods which balance protein and fiber gives me 3 to 4 hours without making my body work hard while I’m working. I also take fruits, vegetables, and berries in a capsule, along with plant based omegas that have a food label. Hydrate with warm green tea and honey in a thermos all day. Have a green salad with chicken for lunch. Protein bars or energy bites along with liposomal vitamin C 2 x a day sustains me through the day. I’m a 66 year old Certified Health Coach with the Dr Sears Wellness Institute and this is how I keep up physically to compete for the all around high point awards…and 8 hours of sleep minimum.

Laura Lamb – Protein bars, Greek yogurts.

Kim Raynor– Boiled egg, cheese, turkey or beef stick.

Rachel Rogowski– Overnight oats or protein shakes.

Nancy Hatcher Boatwright – Hydrate-Gatorade, Powerade, electrolyte powder. Snacks-fruits, crackers and cheese, jerky Plan meals with barn group-crockpot that will keep warm for different schedules.

Natasha Steele– I always end up dehydrated at a horse show because I don’t want to drink water and worry about having enough time to take off my chaps and class schedule. So that is probably harder than eating well! But overall, planning more snacks than meals because I get nervous and showing on a full stomach lags me down. I do love to have one group dinner though because I feel that it adds to the camaraderie which is half the fun of showing!

Holly White – Baumhover – My snack bag usually consists of Propel Water, Gatorade, Apples, Trail Mix and Cheez Itzs.

Whitney Romanoff– Meal prep. Start the morning with protein. Be it a shake or some other form. Most importantly hydrate.

Kim Turner – Protein bars are a must. Love the info Jenna Tolson posted! I prep veggies— like have them cut and ready to eat. I like to grill ahead and take it with to reheat- burgers (no bun), chicken, pork chops etc! I’m also big on premade salads with the grilled protein- easy and fast. Our group does group meals— I pick and choose what I eat without totally depriving myself (eat a little of my fave and the protein) and I make sure the meal I make to share is relatively healthy as well! And for our longer shows I like to make breakfast burritos or protein muffins for our group. Still pretty healthy but actually feels like a splurge.

Caitlyn Uehling – My go to snack is sandwich thins, peanut butter, and honey! You get protein and sugar to keep you going without feeling heavy.

Kimberly Roark – I will have a few meals prepped and ready to go. For quick grabs I have protein bars, apples and peanut butter, guacamole and crackers, cheese sticks, nuts, beef jerky. Things that have either protein or healthy fats to it and are quick and easy to grab.

Ellie Stiller –

Make protein peanut butter balls ahead of time!!!

  • Oats
  • Peanut butter
  • Banana
  • Chocolate chips
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Coconut
  • Honey
  • Protein powder
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Or whatever else you like!! I make them for horse shows all the time.

Yogurt + granola is also super easy.

Costco fruit bars are also a great snack.

Chili recipe I make ahead of time:

  • 1 red potato
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • I small yellow onion diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 yellow squash diced
  • 1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper (or a combo of the three that equal one pepper)
  • 1 large carrot sliced if desired
  • 1 can of three bean mix (or any whole beans you like)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies use the liquid
  • One small can tomato paste plus 1 can water
  • Garlic Salt and pepper to taste
  • Costco taco seasoning to taste and water

Janel Marie – Overnight oats are super easy to put together. Mix your dry ingredients at home, cut your fruits at home, add your liquids the night before you go to bed, and you can manage calories as necessary. It’s filling and no cooking required.

Amanda Conn – The answer to the question is It’s really about planning . If you want to eat healthier you need to pack and plan things you can easily store , grab n go! There’s hundreds of easy grab n gos but protein and hydration should be priority then having healthy snacks in stock !

  • Protein shakes and bars
  • Electrolyte packs in water (look for ones without a bunch of sugar and additives aka not Gatorade or power aide 🤮)
  • Beef /chicken/Turkey jerky
  • Protein balls (google it there’s a gazillion recipes )
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Fruit
  • Egg omelette muffins make ahead and freeze
  • Crockpot stuff with lean protein and veggies , pre made rice ,
  • Skinny girl dressings for basically everything
  • Smart pop popcorn
  • Italian ices


Allison Clark McDonald – healthier at a horse show is hard. Fortunately I don’t care for donuts. It’s pretty easy to do like others have said, you can have low carb tortillas and lunch meat. Add some flavored cream cheese spread…♥️

Colleen Mastro– I pack a cooler and my Keurig for life sustaining coffee. In the cooler/snack pack is Gatorade, cheese n crackers, salami, to go oatmeal and use Keurig for the hottish water, PBJ, protein bars, fruit, and applesauce squeezes and donuts. There may also be a Mike’s for bedtime. My tack box holds my emergency Pop Tart(s).

Sara Torres– I bring food bars for breakfast to get me through an early morning without being too heavy and then pack sliced lunch meat to make quick roll ups with cheese between classes. The protein helps fill me up and helps keep me from snacking on all the chips/crackers/cookies that are readily available.

D’Lynn Jones – If the show is doing it, breakfast burritos.

Faith Small – A fresh fruit and veggie bar

Brenda Salsbury – Charcuterie board items

Nate McCray – Salad, fruit cocktail and apples

Kathy Drumm Harper– Cheese stix and crackers

Marcie Lynn – Slow cooker meals.

Cindi Madej – Yogurt Parfait

Cathy Corrigan Frank – I start my morning off by making my first cup of coffee in my room using 3 or 4 supplements I bring from home. I also always choose a hotel that has a breakfast area and eat before I go out. And if my room has a mini-fridge, I will find a market that sells Keto yogurt and Premiere Protein shakes. Bringing my own protein bars from home also helps me eat healthy when I travel.

Lisa Pavlak Vignerot – Meal prep

Jamie Binegar – Fasting…


Horse show folks like to have fun, of course, so below please find our favorite funny responses:


Alexis Gooding – Get banned from all the Mexican restaurants.

Jennifer Horton – So… the family size box of Cheez-Its in my backpack that kept me alive during the NSBA World Show a few years ago probably won’t make this list. #horseshowphotographer 🤣📸🐴🏆

Jackie Weatherman – Skinny Margaritas. You’ll forget to eat.

Niki Slattery-Abilla – Skinny margaritas, white claws.

Theresa Hughes-Poissonnier – Mimosas.

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