Healthy Horse Food Choices

two horses heads eating grass

Horses are herbivores, so they need to eat grass and other plants. However, what kind of food is healthy for a horse? In this article, we’ll talk healthy horse food options, for both inside and outside the stable. We’ll also cover the rules of hay and grain feeding and discuss supplements like salt and minerals as well as treats like apples (which can be poisonous) and molasses (which isn’t).

Pasture grass and weeds

Pasture grass and weeds are a significant part of the horse’s diet. They are the horse’s natural food and contain much more fiber than other types of food. They also contain vitamins, minerals, and sugar.

Grass and weeds can be a good source of calcium too! This is important because horses need calcium to keep their bones strong, so they don’t break easily or get brittle bones when they’re older.

Grass and weeds are also low in calories. This means your horse will eat less and still feel full so that he won’t gain weight. Also, the fiber from these foods helps keep horses regular, which helps prevent colic.

Keep your horse away from poisonous plants

Horses are herbivores, meaning they eat only plants and plant-based food. Their diet can vary from hay and grasses to fruit, leaves, and other vegetation. Horses can eat poisonous plants if they are hungry enough or have limited access to other food sources. However, just as with humans and dogs, some plants have also been found to be toxic for horses.

One everyday example of this is acorns. Acorns provide an excellent source of nutrition when eaten by animals after they’ve been cracked open by squirrels or other rodents who have first chewed on them (to remove the tannic acid). However, they may cause colic after being consumed whole by horses without processing first through another animal’s digestive system. 

In addition, horses with allergies may experience allergic reactions when ingesting acorns due to their high levels of salicylates (the same substance used in aspirin). Acorns also contain toxic alkaloids called saponins that can cause neurological problems such as seizures if consumed in large quantities over an extended period of time. This is especially true when consumed by pregnant mares due to their effects on fetal development! While these effects don’t always occur immediately upon consumption (and so are overlooked until symptoms appear later), it’s best to keep your horse away from acorns altogether!

four horses on a meadow
Image by Ludovic from Pixabay

Feed your horse hay

Hay is an excellent choice for horses. It’s a good energy source, roughage, fiber, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, and protein.

The best hay comes from grass or legume plants like alfalfa or clover. You should feed your horse grass hay if you can afford it; it has higher digestibility than legume hays because it has less cellulose and lignans (indigestible fibers). If you don’t have access to fresh grassy pastures full of lush green hay fields during the summer months when your horse needs extra exercise and enrichment activities, use some baled hay instead so that he still gets enough roughage in his diet.

Feed your horse grains

Horse feed is an important part of maintaining a healthy horse. Grains are an excellent way to supplement your horse’s diet, but they should not be fed as a central component. The best grain for your horse depends on its overall health and age.

Grains can be fed as a treat or reward, but they should not make up more than 50% of their diet. Horses have a high starch requirement, which means that grains are good for them in small amounts since they are high in carbohydrates and have low protein content. Some horses need extra carbohydrates due to age or weight concerns. This is when it becomes beneficial to introduce more grains into the equation!

Feed your horse concentrate mixes

Feeding a horse concentrates is a good idea. Concentrates are high in calories, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also provide fat which is important for energy metabolism. This is the healthy horse food of choice for working horses that need extra calories, but when fed in large amounts could cause problems with weight gain or laminitis.

The problem with feeding your horse only grain concentrates lies in their sugar content and the fact that they are not considered good sources of fiber (especially if they contain molasses). Unless your horse is overweight or has some health issues associated with cellulose deficiency, you should feed him enough grass hay to keep him from being hungry. This will prevent him from overeating his grain rations or concentrate supplements (such as beet pulp).

Feed your horse salt and minerals

Salt is a vital part of your horse’s diet. It keeps the body’s muscles functioning correctly, helps with muscle contraction and movement, aids digestion, helps maintain a healthy nervous system and immune system, and much more.