It is important to eat a balanced and healthy diet as a horse rider due to the demanding nature of the activity. To maintain the required energy levels, a horse rider must eat a balanced diet with the right combination of foods on a daily basis. The typical variety should include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and plenty of water.
Eat foods high in carbohydrates prior to exercise. Foods such as bananas are quickly and easily broken down and allow for the allocation of glucose to the muscles. Eat one to four hours before exercise to enhance this process. Carbohydrates are also responsible for maintaining the body’s blood sugar levels; good blood sugar levels enable the brain to function more effectively, enabling higher concentration on the task.
Water is an important component of any athlete’s diet and has a number of functions that can enhance performance. It aids in the transportation of nutrients throughout the body and helps to cool down the muscles that are at work. Any strenuous activity will cause perspiration, which can lead to dehydration. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water. The British Horse Association suggests drinking at least six to eight glasses of water a day, especially during exercise.
A healthy amount of fat is useful for optimal performance. According to the American Medical Equestrian Association, AMEA, a rider's diet should include 20 percent to 25 percent of fat. A low fat intake is important, as it wards off illnesses such as heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Protein's main function is to aid in the growth of new tissue and to repair damaged tissue. The AMEA states that an athlete's diet should include 15 percent to 18 percent fat, which equates to two or three portions per day. The AMEA also advises that good sources of protein that are low in fat include chicken, nuts, fish, turkey and low-fat dairy products.
Some essential minerals are often left out when the topic of healthy eating is discussed. They are three minerals that are lost during perspiration -- potassium, sodium and calcium. The replacement of sodium for riders is essential to aid in the body’s water absorption, to help in the stimulation of the thirst reflex and to help to maintain fluid balance. Foods containing sodium include bread, boiled eggs and butter. Calcium is good for the bones, but it also helps to avoid muscle cramps during any type of athletic activity. Foods containing calcium include milk, broccoli and collard greens. Foods containing potassium include bananas and oranges.