When someone mentions treats for horses, carrots and apples are the first things that come to mind. This is because man commercials and cartoons depict horses enjoying these healthy snacks.
However, just because carrots and apples are the most popular treat choices for horses, they are the only ones. The world of fruits and veggies is vast and rich and offers many treat options for horses.
In fact, with so many choices, making the right one can be challenging. We wrote this article to help you choose the best fruits and veggies for your horse. This is a short review of our top picks.
TOP FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Can horses eat carrots? Yes.
Nutrients: beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin K, potassium, calcium, fiber.
Health benefits: better digestion and low constipation risk, perfect eyesight, boosted immune system, healthy bones, healthy and shiny coat, good hydration and strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Feeding tips: serve the carrots sliced into longer strips.
Note: do not overfeed carrots as they are quite sugary and need to be served in moderation. One medium-sized carrot contains 3 grams of sugar.
Can horses eat apples? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin C, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), folic acid (B9), pyridoxine (B6), potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber.
Health benefits: promote healthy nervous system function, stimulate collagen production and tissue repair, boost the immune system and enable proper carbohydrate digestion and metabolism.
Feeding tips: serve the apples cut into smaller pieces – one medium-sized apple can be sliced into 8 pieces.
Note: Always leave the skin on as it is the most nutritious part of the apple but always remove the core and pits.
Can horses eat bananas? Yes.
Nutrients: protein, vitamin C, pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), potassium, magnesium, manganese, fiber.
Health benefits: offers constipation relief, soothes sore muscles, increases the energy levels and helps with stomach ache associated with ulcers.
Feeding tips: horses adore bananas and to avoid gulping the whole fruit, cut it into circles. Horses have no trouble digesting the peel and since it is packed with nutrients feel free to serve the banana peel as well.
Note: bananas are sugary so be mindful about the other treats your horse will be getting the same day. One medium-sized banana has 14 grams of sugar.
Can horses eat carrots? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, antioxidants.
Health benefits: strong anti-inflammatory properties, good hydration, protect against free radicals and their damaging effects.
Feeding tips: all parts are edible and they are best enjoyed when the cucumber is served in small chunks. The peel is the most nutritious part so feel free to serve it but not before giving it a thorough washing.
Note: cucumbers are mostly water (95%) which makes them the ideal low-calorie treat for horses on strict weigh loss regimens. However, to avoid gas build up the serving size should be limited to 2 cucumbers per week.
Can horses eat watermelon? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, lycopene (antioxidant), magnesium, phosphorus.
Health benefits: boosts the hydration, supports strong immune response, soothes muscle aches, has potent anti-asthmatic properties and protects against the damaging effect of free radicals.
Feeding tips: the best part about feeding watermelon is that all parts are edible. The flesh and rind are best served fresh and the seeds roasted. Just keep in mind to cut the watermelon wedge into bite-sized chunks.
Note: one wedge, around 1/16 of a watermelon contains approximately 28 grams of sugar so try not to be manipulated into overfeeding.
Can horses eat pumpkin? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid (B9), vitamin E, zinc, potassium, iron, magnesium, and fiber
Health benefits: better circulation, increased energy levels, arthritis and allergy relief, smooth and shiny coat, decreased risk of constipation.
Feeding tips: you can serve it raw and cut into smaller pieces or boiled and mashed. If roasted, the seeds make excellent treats too. The serving size is around two cups.
Note: Never give your horse the gourds.
Can horses eat strawberries? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin C, folic acid (B9), iron, potassium.
Health benefits: boost the immune system, reduce inflammatory processes, decrease the blood pressure, and keep the blood sugar levels within normal range (they have a low glycemic index thus releasing their sugars into the bloodstream gradually).
Feeding tips: you can serve the strawberries whole just make sure you give them a good wash before. The tops are safe and edible but some horses prefer no leaves in their fruity treat.
Note: strawberries are small and low in sugars, so you can safely give your horse three pieces. The sugar content in three strawberries is 3 grams.
Can horses eat celery? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), potassium, manganese, fiber.
Health benefits: strong eyesight, immune system boost, healthy and well-regulated blood pressure, smooth digestion, proper hydration.
Feeding tips: when it comes to celery both the stalks and leaves are perfectly safe, just make sure you serve them chopped into bite-sized chunks.
Note: chopping is imperative when serving celery as its stringy texture increases the choking risk when served as a whole stalk.
Can horses eat oranges? Yes.
Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin (B1), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), magnesium, potassium, lycopene.
Health benefits: improves the immune system functioning and ensures powerful immune response, increases the overall infection resistance, ensures healthy cardiovascular system, promotes wound healing.
Feeding tips: all parts of the orange are safe for horses – you can enjoy the flesh and your horse the peel, it is a win-win situation.
Note: you can freeze orange slices and serve them as refreshing treats on hot summer days – your horse will appreciate this frozen and juicy treat.
Can horses eat cantaloupe? Yes.
Nutrients: beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), magnesium, potassium, antioxidants.
Health benefits: soothes sore muscles, promotes strong immune response, regulated the blood pressure levels.
Feeding tips: the serving size for horses is 1/8th of a cantaloupe. The cantaloupe flesh should be served cut into smaller chunks.
Note: the grind is edible but should not be offered as it usually contains molds. These molds are more often than not invisible to the naked eye but if ingested in larger amounts can cause lameness.
GENERAL FEEDING GUIDELINES
When adding fruits and veggies on your horse’s menu there are several things you need to consider – from type of product through preparation method to serving size.
We will describe the process, step by step:
- Choosing the right type of fruit or veggie – we already described the best treat options for your horse. Just go through the list above and choose one.
- When shopping for fruits and veggies it is also important to know which products are bad for horses. The list of fruits and veggies that are bad for horses includes:
- Members of the nightshade family – tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers
- Veggies of the onions family – onions, garlic, leek, shallots, chives
- Cruciferous veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage
- Avocados, persimmons, and rhubarbs
- Make sure the specific product you chose is fresh and healthy. If the fruit or veggie has any signs of decay, molding, or discolorations it should be discarded.
- Once you brought the fruits and veggies home, you need to wash them thoroughly. Most commercially grown fruits and veggies are heavily treated with pesticides and need to be washed to ensure there are no pesticide leftovers.
- When serving the fruit or veggie keep in mind that the leaves, pits, and cores need to be removed as they pose choking hazards. On the other hand, peels, skins and rinds are generally safe for horses (as long as it is well washed).
- If serving a larger fruit and veggie, chop it into bite sized pieces. For example, if feeding an apple cut it into eights. Some horses are voracious and will swallow the entire treat rather than chew on it. The cutting is also necessary for older horses and horses with dental issues.
- Limit the portion size to between 1 and 3 pieces based on size. For example, if offering apples the portion size is one piece, if offering something smaller like carrots you can give two pieces and if is small like plums, feel free to give three pieces.
- Finally, take care of your fingers. If your horse gets too excited, he can accidentally nib you.
There is no universally good, one fruit or veggie fits all type of treat for horses. Every horse has its own taste and prefers munching on a different fruit or veggie treat.
The important thing is that all fruits and veggies in this article are not just perfectly safe for horses but also beneficial in providing essential nutrients and offering the opportunity to munch on something savory and irresistibly tasty.
Now that you know which fruits and veggies make excellent snacks for a horse, all you need to do is visit the local grocery store or farmer’s market and start fruits and veggies shopping for your horse.