As most people know, horses require a different diet to that of humans. However, many people are familiar with the trope of giving a horse a sugar cube or a carrot as a reward, whether during training or just as a snack. Although it may seem like horses can eat much of what humans do, there are some restrictions on things they can and cannot have. Before feeding your horse any kind of food that is not specifically for horses, make sure to read on and learn what is healthy or harmful.
There are many kinds of vegetation that horses will easily digest. Typically, you want to stay more in line with foods that are a regular part of a horse’s diet. Fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots are great treats for horses, as they are easily digestible. Just be sure to cut them up into small chunks, as some horses tend to gulp their food without chewing and may choke on larger pieces. Additionally, you will want to provide small snacks, as horses are grazers and do not tend to eat large meals.
Some other foods that are generally fine for horses include: pumpkin, raisins, strawberries, grapes, and celery.
A Caveat of Moderation
Although horses can eat the aforementioned foods with little fear of sickness, horses should not be fed human food frequently. A few times per week may be fine, but multiple times per day can lead to an unbalanced digestive system. A horse has particular bacteria in its digestive tract that are necessary for the proper digestion of their daily meals. If you feed them too much human food, the level of bacteria may be thrown off and cause horses to have any number of digestive diseases.
Additionally, while many people think it is fine to feed a few sugar cubes to a horse, an inexperienced horse owner should shy away. This is because a horse with an illness may experience worsening symptoms as a result of sugar level spikes. To prevent this, try feeding snacks that will not cause a spike.
Some foods are harmful to horses, regardless of the quantity, and for a multitude of reasons. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, or broccoli, can cause gas, which can seriously hurt a horse’s digestive system. Chocolate should be avoided, as just like dogs, horses are sensitive to the chemical theobromine, which can cause serious reactions or even death. Stone fruits (like cherries, dates, and avocados) can be toxic to horses, particularly if the stone is consumed. It is best to avoid all of these foods.
Horses have delicate digestive systems and their health should be a top priority for any owner. If you plan to feed your horse human food, do your research to find out whether the food is toxic or fine in moderation.