However, they can eat a wide variety of vegetables and may get bored with carrots if these are the only vegetables that they receive. When grass isn't available, hay is the next-best choice. Finding good horse hay can be tricky. By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. Miniature horses are adorable. Don't be tempted to throw lawn clippings, garden refuse or compostables over the fence. Of course, a horse won't make the connection to the hamburger they ate an hour ago and the discomfort they're having now, so they'll probably eat any food they like over and over again. But humans still employ horses for all kinds of activities including to herd livestock, race, and perform in dressage events. Horses are as individual as people – some seem content whatever is offered to them, whilst others have picky tastes or need a carefully tailored balance of nutrients in order to thrive. Like many animals, every individual has their own preferences about different types of forage, and whether they like concentrates or not. It’s thought that this is one way foals populate their own cecum with the good bacteria they need to break down large volumes of plant fiber in future. Dietary requirements of an Arabian are similar to other horse breeds and only differ for certain individual horses. There are also some foods out there that you should never feed your horse. Horses are herbivores. Your horse also needs to be respectful when being fed treats. Horses generally go on consuming a very similar diet for their whole adult life. Removing water means they keep without spoiling for a long time. Grass. This is frequently achieved using specially formulated concentrates. The avocado, itself, isn’t toxic to horses, but the skin, pit, and leaves of the plant are. So once they’ve swallowed something toxic, it has no way out other than travelling the full length of the digestive tract – which can take 2 to 3 days! They keep for a long time because packing them tightly in plastic excludes oxygen which bacteria need to grow. Horses have a famously sweet tooth, and the old tradition of feeding horses sugar cubes or peppermints is fine, within reason. Brans, including wheat and rice bran, are not recommended as a major part of your horse's diet. In the wild, horses graze on frequent small meals of grasses and other meadow plants. Avocado. Yes, either provided by their human friends or if they find them on their own. Riders form strong bonds with their horses. You have entered an incorrect email address! The exact composition of the diet depends upon where they live, and which plants grow there. However, water is an essential part of the equine diet. A horse eating pasture grass probably won't drink as much water as one on a hay only diet. It’s … Some owners need to supplement their foals’ regular milk diet with extra vitamins and minerals – this is known as ‘creep feeding’. What do Mini Horses eat? Horses primarily eat hay and grass, with grains like corn or oats added for extra calories. They eat what are known as legumes. Mares in foal, nursing mares, performance or working horses often benefit from being fed concentrates in addition to grass or hay. What Do Horses Eat? Concentrates are usually a mixture of things like grains, flaxseed, beet pulp, molasses for energy and flavor, bran, vitamins and minerals, and other ingredients. It can easily be overwhelmed or bypassed by sudden large quantities of food. Bob Langrishorling Kindersley / Getty Images. There are 3 variants of a foal that can be found wandering around the open world: Foal1 Swift Foal2 Sturdy Foal3 All foals display the same Dunn color pattern, this is not indicative of the mature color. They not only make great pets, but offer ample showing opportunities including halter, jumping, driving, and trails. In short, wild horses eat grass, stuff that looks like grass, and stuff that grows next to grass. Read our, The Best Feeds for Helping a Horse Gain Weight, How Much Grain or Concentrates Will Your Horse Need, How To Calculate How Much Hay To Feed Your Horse. What do horses eat? This helps keep their overall gut health constant. Colic is the name for a collection of symptoms rather than a specific problem. Let’s dig into the equine diet. Some people offer free-choice minerals as well, or it can be added into the horse's grain or concentrate meal. The cecum is a dead-ended pouch, but food still needs to pass in and out of it in order to be digested properly. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Those of us with easy keepers need to limit the amount of fresh grass our horses have access to. Their digestive tract is equipped with a single-chambered stomach (unlike cows, which enjoy a similar diet but have four chambers in their stomach), a cecum, and a massive 100 feet of intestines! Horses are quite specialised herbivores – meat has no place in their digestive system, so don’t put it there. Horses can safely eat a wide variety of different foods that humans regularly consume, although the biggest difference is (obviously) that horses are strictly vegetarian and shouldn’t be fed meat or animal byproducts. Since they’re already partly broken down, they ferment too quickly in horses’ intestines, and create a toxic environment for the good bacteria there. Certain fruits, such as berries, are a great source of antioxidants. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. A nursing mare needs enough energy to produce a staggering 3-6 gallons of milk for her foal every day! You should avoid giving your horse any sugar foods, as well as rhubarb, chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes, or potatoes. Pasture Quality And Abundance Affects Contribution To Horse Diets. Silage and haylage are semi-dried, tightly-packed plants and grasses. Some horse nutritionists believe that horses who aren’t working or competing don’t need concentrates if they are receiving a proper balance of good quality pasture and forage. Kentucky Equine Research, Feeding Horses. They also usually stay reasonably close to water, as it is essential for survival. However, fresh, clean water is essential for both. For some horses, rich hay can be a problem in the same way rich pasture grass can be. Some equine vets now believe that laminitis is a symptom of EMS rather than a disease in its own right. But this differs slightly from horses kept by humans. And most horses have a notoriously sweet tooth, so they love a treat. Typically, horses eat grass, but domesticated horses are often fed bran, rolled oats, barley and hay, as well. Just like dogs, horses cannot metabolise theobromines – which means chocolate and caffeinated drinks are off the menu. And it is a frequent result of worm infestations. Apples make a tasty snack, but should only be given sparingly. Of course, no. Wild horses survive by grazing for food as they are herbivores, eating grasses and shrubs on the lands that they occupy. Here is a quick rundown of what horses eat and a few things they shouldn't. Pasture Grass and Tender Plants. Horses actually spend most of their time eating! Wild horses eat plants, which they graze on throughout the day. A well-fed horse eats 1 to 2 percent of its body weight in roughage, such as grass or hay, every day, according to The Humane Society. The primary diet of an Arabian consists of hay, pasture grass, and grains for nutrients. Hay can also be useful when keeping horses indoors, and while transporting them. Laminitis is inflammation of the soft tissues inside a horse’s hooves. Unpitted stone fruits can choke horses, so always remove the stones first, or avoid them altogether. A horse that over-eats a large amount of grain may colic or founder.. This digestive set up is great making the most of a plant based diet, but it has some weaknesses: These drawbacks have important implications for feeding horses in captivity. Lewis, Feeding and Care of the Horse 2nd Edition, Blackwell Publishing, 2013. Concentrates are usually oat or mixed-grain pellets, fortified with vitamins and minerals. The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Fruit can be very beneficial to their health, if fed in the right amounts. It’s more usual to give pregnant and nursing mares larger quantities of their usual forage to meet these energy demands, rather than high-energy supplements. But there are some life stages and lifestyles which need a special diet. If you want to understand what it takes to care for a horse, particularly regarding its diet, read on to discover more. News Center At Cummings School Of Veterinary Medicine At Tufts University, 2020, Bran Mash. Foals can be tamed at Level 15. Introducing lush pasture suddenly to a horse not used to it can cause serious problems as well. Grass is an important part of a horse’s diet. … Horses are meant to eat roughage, and their digestive system is designed to use the nutrition in grassy stalks. But first, whether your interest in wild horses or captive horses is greater, the anatomy of their digestive system hasn’t changed since it adapted to a wild diet. Horse owners can use a weighing tape and body condition charts to assess their horse’s size, and make sure they’re healthy. Those who own many horses should consider getting their concentrate mixes customized through a feed mill. Some grains like wheat, aren't good for horses. So how do you know how much your horse is eating when he is out to pasture? Many of us don't have the luxury of being able to let our horses graze on pasture throughout the whole year. To get all the calories they need to survive, wild horses graze almost continuously, taking on several kilos of food over the course of lots of small meals per day. Horse owners should consult with an equine vet regularly, to make sure their horse’s diet still best serves their needs. You can also give your horse … What do horses like to eat? It provides horses with vital nutrients that are … Colic can be caused by eating spoiled or soiled food, or too much food at once, because their food is served in two or three large daily meals rather than being available to graze on little by little. Your Pregnant Hamster – How To Care For Her During Pregnancy... Gerbil Vs Hamster – What’s The Difference And Which Is Best... Syrian Hamster – A Complete Guide To A Pocket-Sized Pet, Cute Guinea Pig Names – 200 Unique Names To Choose From, Hamster Breeds – Differences, Similarities, and Choosing the Best One. Let’s take a closer look at what horses eat and what nutrients they need. Grains that are grown, harvested and processed as we do now, are not natural foods for horses. The cecum contains large colonies of good bacteria that help break down the cellulose in plant material, so that the energy and nutrients from it can be absorbed by the large intestine. These tidbits may include things like apples, carrots or other favorite fruits or vegetables, handfuls of grain, sugar cubes or candies, or sometimes odd things like a bite of a hot dog or boiled egg. It helps to have hay tested so that any shortfalls in vitamins and minerals can be compensated for with supplements. Girl Guinea Pig Names: Over 200 Great Names For Female Guinea... sedges, which are perennial herbs that look like clumps of long grass, legumes like alfalfa and clover, which commonly grow among wild grasses. However, in 2015 a survey of over 6,500 horse owners found that 87% feed their horses concentrates, despite 70% also having access to fresh pasture. What do Horses Eat? Every horse’s diet should be tailored to fit their specific needs. But others disagree on what the definition of EMS should be, which reduces its helpfulness as an alternative diagnosis. Nutritionists always recommend forages as this provides the essential nutrients and does not over feed them. Do horses eat apples? Horses are herbivores and hindgut ruminants. Too many sugar cubes can cause stomach aches, and contribute to problems like obesity and laminitis though, so they’re best saved for special occasions! Horses also receive treats in the form of apples, carrots and sugar. But the best snacks to share are slices of apples, carrot and watermelon. This is normal up until around two months old. A horse should eat one to two percent of their body weight in roughage every day. And finally, it’s not a snack you’re likely to be tucking into yourself, but never offer a horse fresh grass clippings. What kind of foods do horses eat, and how do they impact equine health and happiness? Horses need a high fiber, plant based diet. The bacteria in the cecum adapt and adjust to digest the plant matter they’re used to receiving. So what treats is a horse allowed to share with you? Supplements such as salt and minerals may be included in a concentrate mix or may be offered separately. In the wild they get it by grazing almost continuously on grasses, sedges, legumes and flowering plants. In captivity, grass they graze from the field is usually supplemented with dried grass (hay) or semi-dried grass (haylage), and concentrates. Each of these activities demands a slightly different diet, tailored to deliver results such as steady energy release over a long period, rapidly available energy for intense bursts of activity, or good joint health. Let’s look at safe treats, and which foods to avoid, next. For the horse that is a hard keeper, however, good pasture provides the best nutrition. It can also be caused by a sudden change in diet, even if the new food is appropriate for horses. Good pasture contains most of the nutrition a horse requires to be healthy. It also contains silica, which is important for dental health. Kentucky Equine Research, 2020, Safe Snacks For Your Horse. This is likely why problems like obesity, equine metabolic syndrome and laminitis are rare in wild horses but occur frequently in our modern horses. Captive horses’ diets usually have three main components: Common sources of forage for captive horses include: Hays are grasses and plants cut near the end of the growing season and dried. Most carbs including bread, crackers and breakfast cereals are safe in small quantities as an occasional treat. Garlic, onions, and leeks contain a compound called N-propyl, which destroys horses’ red blood cells and causes anaemia. The Secrets Of A Healthy Horse’s Diet, How they have adapted to digest that diet, What horses need to eat if they’re young, pregnant, working or competing, And the human treat foods which are safe to share, 7% of horse deaths are attributed to laminitis, Obesity is the main risk factor for developing EMS, Equine Nutrition in the United States: A Review of Perceptions and Practices of Horse Owners and Veterinarians, Equine Nutrition: A Survey of Perceptions and Practices of Horse Owners Undertaking a Massive Open Online Course in Equine Nutrition, A bibliometric review on nutrition of the exercising horse from 1970 to 2010, Research Review: Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Donkey Names – 300 Funny, Cute, and Farm-Inspired Ideas, Duck Names – Over 400 Fun, Cute, And Funny Ideas For Your Ducks, Horse Breeds – 10 Beautiful Breeds Every Horse Fan Should Know, Horse Names – 350 Top Ideas For Naming Your Horse, Pony Names – 360 Amazing Ideas For Naming Your Little Horse. In fact, horses love to eat fruits and vegetables, and apples and carrots are the favorites in this category. Maintaining consistency is the simplest way to avoid digestive upset and the health problems in the next section. Concentrates are an alternate if the nutritional intake is not met through forage. Horses usually graze all day long, eating a little bit now, then a little bit more later, and then a little bit more a few hours later! The exact composition of the diet depends upon where they live, and which plants grow there. Domesticated horses are also given blocks of salt and mineral blocks to lick. Horses absorb most of their nutrition from food supply like hay, forages and grass. The most common equine health problems associated with diet are: Horses who eat too much protein-rich concentrate or get too many sugary snacks are prone to weight gain and obesity. These satisfy a horse’s sweet craving, without upsetting the delicate ecological balance in their gut. Pasture Quality And Abundance Affects Contribution To Horse Diets. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli cause horses to get uncomfortable (and very stinky!) Sudden changes in diet can cause chemical imbalance and stomach upset while the bacteria adjust. gas. Mild colic may resolve itself, but severe colic can require medicine or even surgery to fix. Katherine is an avid horseback rider and trainer who contributed to The Spruce Pets for over 12 years, publishing 400+ articles. Just like small pets, people feed horses they own a wide variety of diets, based on availability, cost, personal preference of the keeper, and the needs and tastes of their horse. However, it may not be advisable to feed horses meat or too many sugary treats, including fruit. Horses like a fairly unchanging diet of small, complete meals. Horses love to eat grass and plant materials. Obesity is the main risk factor for developing EMS, and so it is closely linked to diet. Obesity puts strain on their joints and heart, causing further health problems. Seahorses do not have teeth; they suck in their food and swallow it whole. Pregnant and nursing mares need more energy from their diet. Wild horses eat plants, which they graze on throughout the day. An additional benefit to grass hay is that is easier on the kidney's due to it's lower protein content and it tends to have finer stems, making it easier to chew and digest…..nice for senior horses. Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is usually a combination of obesity, insulin resistance and laminitis or predisposition to laminitis. Let us know in the comments box down below! Horses can’t regurgitate food from below the oesophagus. Racehorses eat oats from our northern states and Canada, blended commercially and sold by a local supplier, also known as the feed man. What do horses eat? However, you should be careful. Feed a Miniature Horse as a Horse – with some caveats! Primitive horses can live on sparse rations and often have to make do with less than ideal pasture and living conditions. The following is a list of other vegetables that horses can eat. and other flowering plants, like dandelions. Oats are a traditional grain fed to horses. Williams says a 1,000-pound horse in light work can consume 20 pounds of forage—grass and hay—per day. Horses are also provided with salt, either added into a concentrate mix of grains, flax seed, beet pulp, bran and molasses or separately as a salt block in the pasture. Sharing a tasty treat to say hello, or reward them at the end of a long hack or trail ride, is a very human way of saying thanks and showing affection. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are detrimental to the health of your horse. It is linked to obesity and other inflammatory diseases, such as colic caused by overeating lush new plant growth in spring and summer. But lots of proud horse owners still follow a tradition of giving the new mom a bowl of warm, easy to digest porridge right after birth too, to help them recover. Just like us, eating too much of the wrong thing too often can make horses sick. Learn why hay is so important to horse owners. From an evolutionary point of view, horses have never needed to digest lactose, the protein in milk and dairy products. Treats & Water. Fruits can also be helpful as a supplemental water source. So, what vegetables can horses eat? Other than usual pasture grass, hay, and some grains, you can surely give your horse some treats. When grass is not available, hay may make up the largest part of a horse's diet. Around 7% of horse deaths are attributed to laminitis, because severe cases can only be resolved by euthanasia. But it’s hard to imagine such large animals getting all of the energy they need by grazing on small plants alone, so how do they manage it? Rather than a few large meals like we should eat, horses eat many, many small meals. Penn State Extension, 2020, Ideal Salt Levels For Horses Examined. It is important to stick to a regular feeding schedule to avoid digestive issues. Some of the best treats you can give your horse include apples, lettuce, oranges, peaches, and various berries. Foals rely on nursing from their mom for most of their daily calories until they are 4-5 months old. Nutrition plays a critical role in your horses’ overall health and well-being. Horses have very specific dietary needs because they are herbivores and have a unique digestive tract quite different from ours. Not all human foods can be offered to horses. Captive horses are usually fed a mixture of forages and concentrates, as well as being turned out to graze on pasture land. Learn how to create a happy, healthy home for your pet. Grain also doesn't require the chewing time or contain the silica grass does and this can contribute to things like ulcers and dental problems. So don’t offer them now, because they’re a sure fire route to digestive upset. Horses have a rather complicated digestion system which has bacteria and microbial of its own. Any fruit or vegetable should be cut into strips to ensure they do not become stuck in the horse's throat which can lead to choking. However, horses may also be fed small amounts of other grains like corn. People involved in feeding horses commonly describe it as more of an art than a science! The most commonly served concentrates are oats and commercial grain mixes, frequently supplemented with extra vitamins and minerals. Many of us like to feed our horses treats. But they are prone to problems with their teeth as they get older, which means they might need their meals softened in warm water first! Thus their prey needs to be very small. Since the invention of cars and tractors, most horses are kept to ride for leisure. The best known legumes are peas, beans, peanuts, lentils, alfalfa and carob. A sufficient amount of carbohydrate level in the forages can provide the horses with the energy they require. A daily ration of 12 to 14 quarts a day is typical, and a few horses here and there will need as much as 16 quarts a day. This post will answer that question, and also look at some interesting facts about horses. Apple seeds produce hydrogen cyanide when chewed, which can be deadly in high enough doses. Carrots are a very popular choice among horses, as horses love their sweet flavor. Horses typically thrive on a diet which changes very little, since changes upset the bacterial balance in their digestive tract. Treats like apples and carrots are relished by horses and they’re good for a horse as … The natural diet of the horse is pasture grass and tender plants. Concentrate mixes, like grain, help make up for any shortfall in nutrition and provide a quick source of energy. Horses eat a variety of foods including hay, grass, grains, and minerals. All captive animals benefit from being able to practise as many of their natural behaviors as possible, so horses enjoy being let out to pasture to eat fresh plants and grasses. The cecum is a chamber at the junction of the small and large intestines. The natural diet of the horse is pasture grass and tender plants. Pasture grass isn't necessarily the problem, the type of horses we've developed and the lack of exercise are. Horses are herbivores, and even though a horse may not show outward signs like colic when fed meat, they may still feel some discomfort and strange foods could affect the intestinal flora. It is very important to know what fruits can horses eat. The seed head of grasses would be the closest thing a wild horse would come to eating grains in their natural environment. Horses love to eat a variety of grass types such as reed canary grass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, meadow fescue, smooth bromegrass, and many others. Because the outside of the hoof is fixed and rigid, inflamed tissues inside it cause a great deal of pain, and can begin to push the bones of the foot down through the sole. Hay, oats, alfalfa and other grains make up a majority of modern horse diets, with the occasional horse treats and “human” food like apples and carrots thrown in. This young horse looks at the world through liquid brown eyes that seem to see a future where it could be anything. If you’re an equestrian, you probably already know about the many different types of foods that domesticated horses eat in stables around the world. Commercial mixes may have a number of ingredients in them or some feed mills will mix concentrates to your specifications (only practical when you have a large number of horses to feed). It is easy to feed too much grain to horses. A salt block or loose salt in a pasture or stall allows horses to help themselves when they have a craving. Some salt may come mixed with minerals. But what do horses eat to maintain that healthy gut? An adult seahorse will eat 30 to 50 times per day, while baby seahorses eat 3,000 pieces of food per day. All can cause mineral imbalances.. Don’t be shocked if you also spot a very young foal taking a nibble on their mom’s poop though! What Do Wild Horses Eat? This means they only eat vegetation. Many horse owners prefer to give their horses an occasional ‘treat’. Grass type horse hays have a lower nutritional value than legumes, but are considered ‘safe’ hays, because it is harder for a horse to over eat or have a reaction to grass hay. All can contain plants toxic to horses. Pasture – fresh grass and plants grazed directly from the field when they are “turned out” for the day, Forage – dried or semi dried grasses and plants either served as meals or provided, Concentrates – pellets, nuggets or biscuits served as meals once or twice a day. In winter wild horses paw through the snow to find edible vegetation. They rely on colonies of good gut bacteria to digest a high fiber, plant-based diet. Their long digestive system requires a high-fiber diet that is consumed in small amounts over a long time period. The basic food requirements of all horses are fresh grass, forage, pasture, hay, some amount of grains, fruits and vegetable treats, along with some salts and minerals. Easy keepers may need to be restricted from 24/7 access to a bale feeder. This is why it's important to feed treats in small amounts. Treats need to be considered as part of the overall feeding plan and kept to a minimum if your horse needs to watch its weight. Avoid round boiled sweets, since they can be a choking hazard. https://www.helpfulhorsehints.com/fruits-and-vegetables-horses-love-to-eat Of course, a horse doesn't really "eat" water. Broadly, it means “stomach ache”. Davies, Introduction To Horse Nutrition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Hay allows us to keep horses in climates and conditions not natural to horses. They usually include: grasses; sedges, which are perennial herbs that look like clumps of long grass; legumes like alfalfa and clover, which commonly grow among wild grasses Squeaks and Nibbles is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk, Squeaks and Nibbles is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Many people find that salt is consumed more during the summer months than in the colder weather. Such treats can be made with carrots, apples, oats, and molasses.