What Human Food Can Horses Eat?

We all like to give our horses occasional treats, but what’s safe and what isn’t? In this article, we discuss which human foods are safe for your horse to eat and provide good advice on how much and how often you can treat your horse. Read on to learn more on what human food can horses eat.

Can Horses Tell If A Food Is Safe To Eat?

Can Horses Tell If A Food Is Safe To Eat

Some horses are picky, and some horses will take whatever you hand them (even some meat). Regardless of which type of horse yours is, you shouldn’t trust him or her to always know what’s best.

Be careful about what you feed your horse, and remember that horse’s digestive system is very delicate and sensitive. Just a small amount of the wrong thing can cause all kinds of problems ranging from colic to laminitis.

What Are The Best Human Foods To Give Your Horse?

Best Human Foods To Give Your Horse

Generally speaking, almost all fruits and quite a few veggies make safe horse treats. Most horses really enjoy carrots and apples, and giving your horse a single carrot or apple daily is a safe thing to do.

Other more unusual choices include:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Snow Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Berries

Some equines will have nothing to do with any of these strange treats while others gobble them up.

Generally speaking, donkeys will more readily accept oddball choices such as bananas and pumpkin, but this is not always the case sometimes horses and mules will enjoy these as well.

Can You Give Your Horse Whole Pieces Of Fruit Or Vegetables?

Can You Give Your Horse Whole Pieces Of Fruit Or Vegetables?

Usually if you give a horse a large item of fruit or veggie, he or she will take a bite, chew it and swallow it before taking another bite. Some horses tend to gorge themselves and they choke.

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to cut fruits and veggies up into bite-size pieces before offering them to your horse.

What About Candy And Sugar Cubes?

Just as with people, an occasional sweet treat is acceptable. Don’t make a habit of it. Hard candy and sugar are bad for your horses teeth, digestive system and general health just as they are bad for yours.

Some horses like the taste of chocolate. Again, just as with people a little bit occasionally won’t hurt anything, but avoid feeding larger amounts.

In addition to excesses being detrimental to your horses health, chocolate can cause a positive drug test if your horse is involved in a competition where drug testing may be conducted.

Are There Any Dangerous Fruits & Veggies?

Are There Any Dangerous Fruits & Veggies

Anything that might upset your horse’s digestive system or cause gas should be avoided. Remember that horses cannot burp and are very prone to colic.

Fruits and veggies that may cause these sorts of problems include:

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Onions

Generally speaking, avoid any fruit or veggie in the hemlock family or in the cruciferous vegetable family.

How Much People Food Is Safe For Horses?

A single treat item daily is safe for your horse. Don’t overdo it. Food that deviates from your horse’s ideal daily ration of hay, grass and feed can cause serious and dangerous digestive upset.

Here’s our guide to feeding foals if you’re interested.

What’s The Best Way To Feed Treats?

The best thing to do is drop a treat on top of your horse’s feed at feeding time. This is safest for you and will prevent having your horse become a nippy little brat.

If you insist on hand-feeding your horse a treat, be sure to hold your hand perfectly flat with the palm up and the tips of your fingers tilted downward so that your horse cannot accidentally bite your finger.

Remember that when a horse begins to bite down, he cannot stop until he’s finished. If your finger accidentally gets in the way you could lose it.

Horses Eating People Food

Frequently Asked Questions

Do horses need treats?

In a word, “no”. Horses are better off fed a consistent, high quality, high fiber diet of mostly hay and some low sugar grains (as advised by your vet). This, along with free access to fresh, clean water and a salt and mineral block will keep your horse healthy and happy.

Why is good hay such an important part of a horse’s diet?

Good hay provides protein, vitamins, minerals and calories along with roughage. Lots of fiber is very important to a horse’s gut health. Additionally, because horses are grazing animals, they need to forage and nibble throughout the day to calm their nerves and prevent problem behaviors (e.g. pacing, cribbing).

What can you do when hay is hard to find?

Adding hay alternatives, such as hay cubes, to your horse’s diet can help increase fiber. High fiber feeds, such as rice bran and beet pulp also provide fiber for your horse and sustenance for beneficial fauna in the large intestine.

Can grain be a treat for horses?

Many horses don’t need grain at all. Good quality hay and pasture may provide all of your horse’s nutritional needs. When this is the case, offering a small amount of grain for your horse to eat while you take care of grooming and saddling can be a good thing. Looking forward to a bit of grain can give your horse incentive for being easy to catch. Don’t feed grain out of hand, though. This can encourage nipping.

Should horses eat human food?

For the most part, your horse is best off just eating a steady diet of hay, pasture, feed, salt and mineral supplement and water. Occasional extras in the form of the fruits and veggies discussed in this article won’t hurt, as long as they are given in small amounts.

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