19 Things You Should NOT Feed Your Horse
Your horse’s diet, along with regular exercise, is key to keeping them fit and healthy – just like us really. Most owners know (or should know!) that good quality grass or hay makes up the bulk of a horse’s diet, but we all like to mix things up a bit and give them something a little more exciting from time to time.
However, how much do you know about the food you’re giving them? Could those treats actually be doing more harm than good? Horses have very particular digestive systems, and certain foods that are perfectly fine for humans aren’t suitable for horses. The same goes for flowers and plants – there are some that can be harmful, even fatal, if your horse eats them.
So here are 19 things you should NOT feed your horse or ensure they steer clear from nibbling on…
Garlic and onions
These contain something called N-propyl, which can destroy red blood cells, resulting in anaemia – the same goes for similar foods, such as leeks and shallots. Many of your may dry out in horror at the mention of garlic here, as there are plenty of food and treats that contain garlic. In moderation, garlic is fine but you should just be mindful about how much you’re giving your horse.
Tomatoes are actually part of the same family as deadly nightshade, although aren’t as harmful as that (we’ll come onto that shortly). Tomatoes contain atropine, which can cause colic, and hyoscyamine, which can increase heart rate, cause constipation, and decrease saliva levels.
Our dogs can’t have it, and you shouldn’t give chocolate to your horse either. It contains theobromine, which can cause seizures and internal bleeding.
Rhubarb leaves are very poisonous for humans and equally so for horses, potentially damaging digestive and urinary systems and cause kidney failure.
Cabbage, Broccoli & Cauliflower
Can cause severe gas, so not especially dangerous can be uncomfortable for the horse – and not particularly pleasant for everyone else!
Unpitted Stone Fruits
The danger here is that the stone can cause your horse to choke, and obviously they don’t have any way to dislodge it.
They can choke if eaten whole, but aren’t too bad if fresh. However, if they’ve gone green or rotten, then they can cause toxicosis.
We’re not really sure why you’d give caffeine to your horse anyway, but if you do it can cause irregular heart rhythms and can also make competing horses fail a drug test.
It may be very trendy to have avocado, but just about every part of this fruit is poisonous to horses, so best steer clear.
Horses are lactose intolerant, so it’s sensible to give all dairy products a miss.
Plants, Flowers and Foliage
While lawn clippings will likely contain a lot of grass, which is fine for your horse, you don’t know what else is in there. It could contain poisonous plants or something that might lead them to choke.
It looks nice in gardens but privet hedging is not good for horses. Box privet is especially dangerous, and even small amounts could kill.
Sycamore and other acers
Saplings and those fun helicopter seeds contain hypoglycin-A, which can cause atypical myopathy.
We’re back to this one, and as the name suggests, it’s not particularly palatable. It can cause convulsions and unconsciousness.
Buttercups are very dangerous for horses, and even just a couple of kilograms over the whole of a horse’s lifetime can cause liver failure or even death.
Acorns probably won’t cause too many issues, but if eaten in large amounts can cause severe colic and poisoning.
Very poisonous. Just 100g can kill a horse in a few hours.
This is also very poisonous for horses and grows all over the place, so be very careful when you’re out and about with your horse. Again, just a couple of kgs could be fatal.
Another highly poisonous plant, and just a small amount can cause respiratory failure.
Hopefully this list has proved helpful and will allow you to recognise what your horse should and shouldn’t be eating. You can see all the information displayed in a nice visual infographic, along with some other feeding advice, over at Country & Stable.
Of course, if you want the best advice regarding your horse’s diet, or you’re concerned your horse has eaten something it shouldn’t, always consult your vet straight away.