There are many fruits and vegetables you can safely share with your horse! In fact, they can even be beneficial.
Offering the occasional fruit or vegetable to your horse is a great way to add variety to her diet, reward good behavior, and give her natural unprocessed treats. Here are six human foods you can share with your horse.
Nutrients — Beta-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A during digestion), vitamin K, calcium, potassium, fiber
Benefits — Promote digestion and relieve constipation, promote a healthy coat, improve immune function, support bone health, act as an anti-inflammatory and provide hydration.
Feeding instructions — To prevent choke, slice carrots into long strips before feeding. This will also help you ration the feeding, since carrots contain some sugar and should be given in moderation.
Grams of sugar — One 8” carrot – 3g
Nutrients — Fiber, vitamin C, folic acid (vitamin B9), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamine (vitamin B1), calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, ursolic acid (in the skin)
Benefits — Support the nervous system, aid in the production of collagen, promote tissue repair, help with carbohydrate digestion and boost immune system.
Feeding instructions — Like carrots, you should cut apples into smaller slices. The skin is the most nutritious part, so consider feeding your horse apple peels to offer maximum nutrition with less sugar.
Grams of sugar — One medium apple – 13g
Nutrients — Vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, choline, lycopene (a powerful antioxidant that gives red fruits and veggies their bright color)
Benefits — Hydrates, supports immune function, reduces muscle soreness, helps keep free radical levels in balance, anti-asthmatic.
Feeding instructions — Horses can eat every part of the watermelon – rind, flesh and seeds (you can even try roasting the seeds). As always, cut into small pieces and feed in moderation.
Grams of sugar — One wedge (approx. 1/16 of melon) – 28g
Nutrients — Potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, protein, folate (B9)
Benefits — Help relieve constipation, soothe the stomach (good for ulcer prone horses), soothe sore muscles and provide energy.
Feeding instructions — Horses love the taste of bananas. They can eat the fruit and peel. Try adding sliced pieces to her feed or offer as a snack.
Grams of sugar — One 7” banana – 14g
Nutrients — Vitamin C, manganese, folate (B9), potassium, iron
Benefits — Improve immune function, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and help with blood sugar regulation (because they have a low glycemic load, strawberries do not spike blood sugar as much as you’d expect).
Feeding instructions — Wash your strawberries thoroughly. You do not need to cut the tops off before feeding, though your horse may prefer them without the leaves.
Grams of sugar — 3 medium strawberries – 3g
Nutrients — Potassium, beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, iron, folate (B9), magnesium, zinc, vitamin E , protein, fiber
Benefits — Improves circulation, provides arthritis relief, increases energy, provides allergy relief, improves coat and relieves constipation.
Feeding instructions — Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and feed raw. You can also boil it and make a mash, or roast the seeds for a tasty snack. Limit intake to two cups of pumpkin flesh per day or less. Do not feed your horse gourds.
Grams of sugar — One cup pumpkin – 3.2g
Points to keep in mind
- With all these treats, it’s important to consider them as just that – treats. They should be fed in moderation and only on occasion, particularly those with higher amounts of sugar.
- The seeds of some fruits (apples, watermelons, etc.) do contain toxins, but generally need to be consumed in very high quantities to be harmful.
- Remember, horses, like humans, can be allergic to certain foods. Try any new food in small amounts at first, and see how your horse reacts.
- Finally, always cut the food into small bites or long strips to prevent choke.
Foods to avoid
While some human foods make great snacks to share with your horse, others are toxic to equines. These include, but are not limited to:
- Garlic and onions
- Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower (can cause gas)
Be a good neighbor – do not feed a horse that isn’t yours without permission from the caretaker. Doing so can have potentially devastating consequences and is just plain impolite.
Sariana Burnet is an associate editor at Redstone Media Group, publisher of Animal Wellness Magazine, Equine Wellness Magazine, IVC Journal, and Canadian Dogs Annual. Sariana earned her BAH from Queen's University, in Kingston, ON and studied at the University of Edinburgh. She is happiest when combining her twin passions of the animal world and the written word. Writing about claws, paws and hooves feels like a perfect fit!