List of Foods Horses Can and Can’t Eat

Ask any equestrian or horse owner, giving treats to our four-legged friends is the best thing ever. They enjoy eating delicious treats, and it makes them so happy. However, as much as we love watching our horses get ecstatic, we should be very careful while giving them treats.

If we give them anything they’re not supposed to eat, it will not only bring them pain and discomfort, but it might also cause life-long damage to their urinary and digestive systems, and in rare cases, it can be fatal.

As a horse owner, you need to be well informed about what your horse can and can’t eat. By learning about the various foods you can give to your horse, and several foods to stay away from, you can enjoy treating your horse even better.

Well in this article, we will guide you through the list of foods your horse can and can’t eat. We will also go over various foods that can be fatal to your horse. So continue reading to improve your equine partner’s diet.

Foods That Horses Can & Can’t Eat

On top of the usual hay, pasture grass, and some grains, you can treat your horse with something extra. But you need to take into consideration that horses have quite a complex digestive system which has its own microbial and bacterial growth. So always consider your horses’ health before giving them treats.

Keep moderating everything you’re feeding your horse because anything other than their usual diet can disrupt their digestive systems, which may lead to disruption in their normal diet which is their main source of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.

Horses enjoy nothing more than sweet treats. They have a really big sweet tooth. So, no matter how many sugar cubes or other sweet treats you give them, they will always ask for more. It is your duty to control their sugar intake, and if your horse is insulin-resistant, then you need to go for treats that have relatively less sugar content.

Now that you have a general idea of what to feed your horse, and what to avoid, let’s go in-depth and list several foods that are safe and unsafe for horses.

List of Foods Horses Can Eat

Just like humans, each horse has a unique taste. One of your horses might love apples, while the other one might hate them. So you need to understand which healthy food your horse likes and feed it accordingly. However, it is always good to have a detailed list of foods that are safe for horses.

Sunflower SeedsSugar Cubes
StrawberriesSnow Peas
PretzelsPlums (without the stone)
Pineapple PiecesPeppermints
Peanut ButterPears (without the core)
Peaches (without the stone)Oranges
OatmealMelon (without the rind)
LettuceGreen Beans
BananasApricots (without the stone)
ApplesauceApples (without the core)

It is necessary to make sure that your horse can safely eat the food you are providing. For instance, it is always wise to cut any hard fruit or vegetable or anything round in shape that might be a choking hazard. Remember, your horse needs to eat comfortably to ensure optimum health and safety.

If you are exploring your horses’ diet and you have fed them something new, then you need to observe them for a few hours to make sure there aren’t any allergic reactions. The possibility of such a scenario is little to none with safe foods, but you need to be on the safe side. Any change in their mood or overall health should be immediately addressed.

List of Foods Horses Can’t Eat

There are lots of foods that are safe for horses to eat, and similarly, there are many foods that you must avoid at all costs. So here is the list of foods that your horse must not eat:

TomatoesStone Fruits
Lawn ClippingsKale
GarlicDairy Products
CabbageBrussel Sprouts

Before feeding anything that you don’t know much about, always conduct proper research. For instance, if your friend’s horse can eat mangoes, that doesn’t mean your horse can eat them. So you need to understand your horse’s liking properly before exploring their diet. Remember, it is your responsibility to take care of your equine partner. Ensuring their wellness, comfort, and health must always be your first priority.

If your horse has, by accident, eaten any of the foods mentioned above, or anything that it is allergic to, then first of all you need to remain calm and observe what happens next. Even though lying down is not a problem in itself, if your horse exhibits any irregular behavior then force it to stand. There is a chance your horse might have intestinal distress or extreme gas, and walking can help with it.

If the condition seems to get worse, then immediately call your hoofed pal’s veterinarian. By explaining any apparent symptoms and the situation, your vet may guide on how to proceed. Look, it is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when the matter is about your horse’s wellbeing. So don’t procrastinate on getting professional health, because the matter can quickly evolve into a life-or-death situation.

Once you have guidance on how to proceed, and your horse has recovered from the side effects, you must get to the bottom of what caused the incident. Look over your horse’s diet and remove any harmful foods. You can also go for allergy testing to further investigate the situation.

What Foods Can Kill a Horse?

While most of the unsafe foods that we have mentioned will cause your horse to have an allergic reaction or digestive problems, some of them can still be fatal to them. These are the foods that you must never feed them under any circumstances.

Horses and dogs have at least two things in common: They both have four legs, and they both must always be kept away from chocolates. Cocoa, which contains the chemical theobromine, is used to make chocolates, and horses are highly sensitive to theobromine. A small amount of chocolate intake can create many serious difficulties in your horse’s health, and a large amount can easily be fatal.

Not many horses have a liking towards plants of the nightshade family, but who knows maybe yours like it. So just to be safe, never feed your horse any nightshade plants because they contain atropine — a compound that can seriously impact your horse’s nervous system. Atropine toxicity is very critical, it can cause convulsions and death.

We have mentioned avocados as the first unsafe food for horses, but they are not just unsafe, they are highly toxic. Even though their flesh isn’t toxic, their plant, pit, and skin can definitely kill your horse.

So your horse should always stay away from avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and rhubarb. Along with plants such as ragwort, milkweed, privet, foxglove, and all kinds of nightshades (including tobacco and eggplant). Other plants like horsetail and bracken are also highly toxic to horses, so make sure your equine friend gets nowhere near them.

People Also Asked

Let us now address a few frequently asked questions regarding a horse’s diet.

Can horses eat strawberries?

Yes, strawberries are really good for boosting your horse’s immune system, and they can also provide good hydration. Strawberries are rich in water, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. They also contain a solid amount of vitamin K, E, and C, along with potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. The recommended strawberries dosage is 1-2 per day and 6-10 per week. Make sure the strawberries are clean before eating and cut them into smaller pieces to prevent choking. If your horse isn’t used to eating strawberries, then introduce them into their diet in small quantities and observe any irregularities in their health and mood.

Can horses eat oranges?

Yes, oranges are rich in vitamin C, that is, a strong antioxidant that helps boost immune systems in both humans and horses. They are also enriched in fiber, vitamin B, potassium, and folate. Oranges are also high in water content and low in calories, which makes them a healthy and ideal treatment for horses. They have no toxins that can make them dangerous, and their peel is also safe to eat. Just monitor their intake and never feed them as the main meal. Only give oranges as a treat in small quantities. The recommended dosage is one sliced orange per day.

Can horses eat meat?

No, horses are herbivores — an animal that eats plants. Therefore, their digestive system is built to digest plant-based foods. Even their teeth are flat to chew plant material. However, some horses might appear to eat meat, and a few of them may even enjoy it, but you should never include meat in their diet as it could cause them harm. It’s okay if your horse eats a very small bit of meat once, but feeding them meat deliberately is never a healthy option.

Can horses eat apples?

Yes, apples are one of the foods that horses love to eat. They are a perfectly healthy snack as long as they are clean, fresh, and provided under observation. Even though horses love to eat apples, never feed them too much as they can cause gastric issues. They are also quite high in sugar so consider that as well. Apples are rich in vitamin A, which will boost your horse’s immune function, vision, and red blood cell function. They also contain vitamin C, which is another powerful antioxidant. Other than that, apples are high in fiber, which helps your horse in maintaining a healthy digestive system, and potassium which helps in muscle function.

Can horses eat pumpkins?

Yes, gourds are safe for horses. But as always, you need to take precautions before feeding them to your horse. Pumpkins have a high amount of fiber that can boost your horse’s digestive health. They are also rich in Vitamin A and C, which helps with vision, bones, reproduction, cell health, and building strong muscles. Calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus are also found in pumpkins. They can help your hoofed pal’s body parts to function properly. They are also high in water content so your equine friend can stay hydrated. One thing you need to make sure of before feeding pumpkins to your horse is that they must be properly chopped into bite-sized, smaller cubes because they are a huge choking hazard.

Bottom Line

We understand if you want to make your horse the happiest horse in the world by spoiling it with delicious treats. However, there are certain foods that you must avoid to ensure your horse’s health. We have talked about several foods that are completely safe to be fed as treats, so you can use them instead.

While feeding anything new to your equine friend, always observe it for a couple of hours after it is done eating to make sure there aren’t any medical complications just to be on the safe side. Also never feed anything hard or big in size, cut the food into smaller pieces so your buddy doesn’t choke.

If you follow this guide properly, then hopefully you will never run into complications regarding your horse’s diet. So enjoy treating but in smaller quantities, and continue galloping!