What Can Horses Eat?

Horses are browsers, not grazers. In addition to grazing grass, a wild horse fulfils its nutritional needs by browsing on an array of trees, plants, berries, bark and other vegetation.

It is our responsibility as carers of our domesticated horses to provide as much of this variety as we can to provide natural sources of nutrients and also to add interest to their lives.

I have broken the list up into groups for easy reference. This is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are plenty of foods that I have missed, but I hope it inspires you to give your horse a bit of variety.

All foods should be given in moderation. This is true for all horses, but especially if your horse is stabled and/or has led a life of restricted/bland or processed foods. These horses crave variety in their diet and are likely to over indulge if allowed to do so.

Fruits:

Apples
Pears
Oranges
Grapes
Bananas
Cherries (stones removed)
Raspberries (and any cuttings from the plant)
Blackberries (and the brambles)
Apricots (stones removed)
Mango (stone removed)
Coconut
Pineapple
Watermelon
figs (stones removed)
Plums (stones removed)
Strawberries
Dates (stones removed)
Peaches (stones removed)

Vegetables:

Celery
Carrots
Sweet potato
Turnips
Parsnips
Beetroot
Lettuce
Pumpkin
Cucumber
Swede

Herbs:

Herbs can be bought dried, or you can grow them yourself in the garden and cut small amounts to offer your horse from time to time. Alternatively, you can plant a herb garden for your horse so that they can self select what they need. Some of the herbs listed will not be very palatable to many horses, but will usually be consumed in small amounts for their medicinal properties when needed.
Dandelion
Mint
Nettle
Chamomile
English Comfrey
Liquorice
Fennel
Golden Rod
Echinacea
Vervain
Red clover
Parsley
Marshmallow
Calendula
Yarrow
Rosemary
Thyme
Wormwood
Lavender
Sage
Lemon balm

Trees/Shrubs

Trees are sometimes more difficult to get hold of, especially if you don’t own your land. But ask around and see if friends or family have these trees or shrubs that you can take cuttings from. A log or two in the field will also be greatly received as horses are natural wood chewers.
Here’s a few safe ones…
Willow
Hawthorn
Dog Rose (they love the hips as well as the cuttings)
Birch
Beech
Alder
Hornbeam
Poplar
Gorse
Hazel

Happy Feeding!

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