Can a Horse Eat Pumpkin? Let’s Find Out

How peculiar does feeding pumpkins to horses sound to you? Can a horse eat a pumpkin? A lot of horse owners feed orange pumpkins, along with their seeds, to their horses. That’s because the fruit is as healthy for a steed as it is for us humans!

Still, make sure to check the eating eligibility of strange types of squashes and pumpkins prior to offering it to a horse. Consuming unsuitable food can cause horses to suffer from colic, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal irritation and similar digestive disturbances.  Orange pumpkins, however, are completely safe.

In this article, not only are you going to learn about the numerous benefits of feeding pumpkin to horses, but also how much of it you should offer, and how exactly you can make your steed relish it. You will also find out how to identify if a certain food is safe for your horse.

Benefits of Feeding Pumpkin to Horses

In a research paper published by Cambridge University Press, it was found that pumpkin has “substantial medicinal properties” for humans. But what sort of benefits are there for horses?

Not one or two, but a pumpkin can bring several health benefits to your horse. The reason is pretty simple and perhaps obvious, too. Pumpkins are rich in carotenes, fatty acids, fibers, minerals, and Vitamin A, E, B3 and B9. Let’s have a brief look at how each of these adds nutritional value to your equine’s diet.

  • Fiber – helps in improving the overall digestive health of horses.
  • Minerals – the copper, calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus content in pumpkin enhance bone, muscle, and heart health. Furthermore, minerals also boost brain health.
  • Carotenes – This particular nutrient plays a leading role in improving vision development.
  • Vitamin A – excellent for bone growth, vision, reproduction, and a balanced cell division.
  • Vitamin E – aids in red blood cell formation and is also essential for muscle functioning.
  • Vitamin B3 – produces energy to keep the horse throughout the day
  • Vitamin B9 – Folate helps in making genetic material such as enzymes and hormones as well as DNA.
  • Fatty acids – These are best for the animal’s heart health.

How Much and How Often Can a Horse Eat Pumpkin?

A cup or two of pumpkin a day would be great. However, it is best to feed pumpkin only as a treat, not more than a couple of times a week.

Now, no matter how fond of pumpkins your horse may seem to be, overfeeding it is never a good idea. You need to keep a perfect balance when adding it to your equine’s diet.

The following methods suggest how you can do so:

  • Add in only a few cups of pumpkin puree in a barn mash. Wondering if a horse can eat pumpkin puree? Indeed, it can.
  • Offer pumpkin as an occasional treat only. This will also help in preventing the steed from developing an addiction to the sweet taste.
  • If you feel that your horse enjoys the taste, you may consider allowing it to have pumpkin a couple of times a week.

Keep in mind that pumpkin should not substitute an equine’s regular diet. Besides, overfeeding can cause serious issues in the animal’s digestive system. Hence, it is best to stick to the quantities mentioned above.

How to Feed Pumpkin to a Horse?

There are a number of ways you can feed pumpkin to your beloved pet, without causing it to choke or overfeed itself. Check them out below:

  • Wash and cut into smaller pieces
  • Offer one slice a time
  • The lesser the quantity the better; as it will otherwise mess up the horse’s system. Moreover, if the animal gets accustomed to the taste, it might behave irrationally on not getting the treat very often.
  • Try out different pumpkin recipes for variety and additional health benefits.

Horses usually enjoy the taste of pumpkins and you can even add some variety by mixing pumpkin puree with other fruits to improve taste and health benefits.

To help you further, here is a flavorful recipe that is bound to be hit with every horse. It’s called Halloween Bran Mash:

List of Ingredients:

  • Wheat Bran
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Pumpkin

Preparation:

  1. Slice off and discard the top of the pumpkin after washing the fruit and de-seed it. You can save the seeds for later as horses can happily eat these, too.
  2. Fill up three-quarters of the pumpkin with wheat bran and add some water to get the desired consistency.
  3. Now, mix in the sliced apple and carrot pieces and serve the bran to your horsey. There is no way that the equine will reject it.

How to Know if a Fruit or Vegetable Is Safe to Feed Your Horse?

The easiest way to check if the fruit or veggie is safe for your horse is through the trial and error method.

First, thoroughly wash the fruit or vegetable that you’re about to offer your horse. This will free it from any chemicals and pesticides. Next, introduce a very small portion of that food to your equine to see how well it goes with the animal’s digestive system. However, it is to be noted that not all unsafe foods immediately reveal the harm they can do. So make sure you wait and see before fully incorporating any food in your horses’ diet.

Another way to go about it is to check lists of poisonous plants and food compiled by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Animals. You can also look up important data on food Self Nutrition Data and find out its glycemic index prior to feeding it to your horse.

Although feeding pumpkin to horses is totally safe, there are several fruits and vegetables that are likely to harm the equine. Finding out what is safe to feed your horse and what is not can be quite tricky, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

FAQs Regarding Feeding Pumpkins to Horses

Just in case you still can’t get through the question: ‘can a horse eat pumpkins?’, dive in straight to the answers below.

Do horses eat raw pumpkins?

Horses can eat pumpkins raw, however, only orange pumpkins are considered safe for the animal. The other varieties of autumn gourd have rather toxic effects on an equine’s health and should be avoided altogether. There are certain parts of the fruit, such as its stalk, that are better left unfed as they can cause serious choking hazards.

Can I feed pumpkin to a laminitis prone horse?

Pumpkins are a suitable option to feed a laminitis-prone horse. The fruit is highly fibrous and low in starch which is ideal for the condition. Regardless, the fruit should be fed in a moderate quantity no matter how much your horse enjoys the treat. An occasional pumpkin treat will hardly affect a horse with laminitis adversely.

What are horses not allowed to eat?

It is best to avoid feeding the following foods to your horse:

  • Potato
  • Cabbage
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Broccoli
  • Rhubarb
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Meat
  • Bread

Although these foods are generally healthy, they do not suit an equine’s delicate digestive system.

Why isn’t my horse keen on pumpkin?

It’s very likely that either the horse doesn’t like the new food or is somewhat suspicious about the change in its regular diet. Regardless, you can try building up its liking by adding pumpkin with other fruits and veggies in a bran mash. Or just avoid feeding it.

In any case, if your steed doesn’t enjoy the taste of pumpkin as much as you thought it would, don’t fret about it.

Is it OK to feed a horse once a day?

Horses generally need to be fed at least twice a day, but feeding them only once is good enough, too. However, when offering food to a horse only once a day, you have to make sure that the quantity of the feed is sufficient enough to last approximately 12 hours.

What are horses’ favorite treats?

Apples and carrots are popular as all-time favorite treats for horses. However, the animal also happily devours hay cubes, sunflower seeds, Pitted Dates, and even bananas and celery. As a matter of fact, pumpkins, too, can serve as a favorite snack for some horses.

Is pumpkin a choking risk to horses?

If a whole pumpkin is put in a horse’s paddock for the animal to relish on it, there will certainly be a huge choking risk. Horses can eat pumpkins and enjoy it very much, only if they are given the fruit cut in small cubes, puree form, or as a slice. Even if you offer your horse a whole pumpkin to toy around with, make sure to remove its stalk first.

Conclusion

No matter what breed of horse you’re dealing with, there’s a good chance your horse will enjoy pumpkins. However, you need to keep certain important factors in mind while feeding pumpkins to horses.

To begin with, offer the vegetable in moderation as overfeeding is likely to lead to drastic health issues. Also, make sure that you wash the pumpkin before cutting it into small pieces that the horse can conveniently pop into its mouth. Furthermore, bite-sized pieces are essential to prevent choking hazards.

In addition, you need to be aware of the condition of the fruit. It should be fresh and ripe, with no rotten parts. All in all, pumpkins along with pumpkin seeds serve as an impeccable treat for horses.

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