Top Tips for Successful Eating at the Barn, on the Job

By Bridget Braden-Olson

An equestrian spends long hours daily at the barn, from riding to grooming to cleaning and everything else in between. For successful eating habits while away from the house, planning ahead is imperative.

When I managed the Peters’ barn way back in the day, I ended up being at the barn from 7 am until 6 pm with a lesson at 5:45 in the morning. You can’t complain when you work outside with horses all day, but my eating habits soon became a big problem for me.

Riding numerous horses throughout the entire day and eating only two or three meals a day left me super depleted. There was plenty of time to snack while on the job, but the quality of the food to eat on the go isn’t that great.

Many riders have a tough time eating right before they ride, their stomachs have a harder time digesting. Some riders just forget to eat and overeat in front of the TV at night. A trainer or anyone who works full-time at the barn can have a really hard time getting the proper daily nutrition.

Here are my top tips for successful eating on the job and increasing your metabolism with proper fueling.

Prepare Ahead

  • Preparing meals ahead is crucial to having healthy, ready-to-eat food at the barn.
  • Buy containers that you can pop into the microwave and prepare at least one meal ahead. Make sure you have a lunch prepared to take every day, regardless if you think you might grab something else.
  • Have protein bars at the barn or in your car.
  • Sandwiches. Some say that they can be horrible for you because of the bread. Whole wheat or gluten-free are the alternatives to white flour so that shouldn’t be a problem. Lunch meat is also considered a poor source of protein, but you can get higher qualities of meat by slicing your roast from the night before into lunch meat. Real chicken can be sliced with cheese, and hummus instead of mayo gives a well-rounded meal. This fits nicely into a bag and you can eat a half of a sandwich in less than five minutes walking from the barn to the arena.
  • Pack a sweet or treat: I always want some sort of sugar around my lunch meals. After you eat, the body can use a treat. The sugar will be used for the work ahead and help resupply energy levels. When you have more energy, you do more stuff resulting in more activity. This can help people lose weight. Eating a small treat, such as a piece of fruit or a chocolate chip cookie (which is only 10 carbs) after a meal earlier in the day is a trick to eating what you want and not feeling guilty. If you don’t bring one to work, you might eat 10 cookies at night without realizing it.

Photo: canstockphoto40543942 - Tbralnina

Fuel After the Ride

  • Eat two lunches: I particularly like to have two lunches a day, one at 10:30 am and the other at 1:00 pm. By the first lunch I am ready with my half a sandwich or a protein bar since I ride my horse early in the mornings.
  • Eat after your rides. The body has about 30 minutes to replenish the muscles. After an intense activity, muscles are open to receiving the nutrition from the food you eat. Waiting too long denies the body of resources it needs to recover. By the time most of us eat lunch, around noon, it would have been over four hours since the last meal and by then the body has depleted itself.

Plan Your Horses

  • Ride your horses in a block of time, so that you eat afterwards without having to get back into the saddle right away. I usually do a lesson or two before I start another block of horses.
  • Relax after riding; the body is digesting. If you plan to go work in the arena or start riding a horse right after a lunch, muscles will be lacking major blood flow since it will be directed into the stomach and digestion for some time after you eat. I like to do my computer work after lunch for 30 to 60 minutes before getting active again. This allows the body to gain the energy needed to finish up the day. 

Main blog photo: Canstock/Baibaz

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