Our horses have diets that we have carefully researched or have been advised by the vet or equine nutritionist, but have you ever wondered what horses eat around the world? Horses are adapted to diets that are primarily based on forages and their digestive systems have been designed to digest high roughage feeds that change slowly. However, due to domestication, modern technology, and confinement, there are some different horse feeds that are fed to horses around the world that may seem really weird and wonderful! So, let’s take a closer look, below.
What Do They Eat?
Horses in Europe are regularly fed silage. We have silage in the UK, but horse owners tend to opt for feeding hay over silage which is fermented and stored in a silo before being used as food, as opposed to hay that is cut and then dried. In Saudi Arabia, horses happily eat dried fava beans, which are very nutritious and good for the soil. Traditionally, in Ireland horses are offered a pint of stout or ale weekly.
On pasture, horses can eat a variety of different things in the United States, including dandelions, thistles, sunflower seeds and plants, peanut plants, raspberry and blackberry bushes, and work/bark of the majority of trees. They also consider the following potential treats:
- Green beans
- Dried beans
- Watermelon rinds
- Cakes/bread/bagels (providing that they don’t contain chocolate or poppy seeds)
- Chips or potato products
- Rice products, but not raw rice
- Barley products
- Corn products
- Dairy products
- Fruits juices
In small quantities, they also feed horses:
- Cabbage, kale, chard, collard greens, Brussel sprouts, broccoli
- Rhubarb stems, but not the roots or leaves
- Onions and garlic
- Sunflower seeds
- Candies, such as jelly beans, gummy bears, and peppermints
There is also some food that they feed in America, but in very limited quantities and they will cause positive drug test results. These are:
- Willow leaves and bark
- Tobacco, to be consumed, not inhaled
- Chocolate in any form
- Cinnamon products
- Caffeinated sodas
As you can see, there are a number of foods that horses enjoy eating, but they aren’t necessarily good for them. Some horses are very picky and won’t even consider trying new treats, whereas others won’t hesitate at trying them. Fortunately, in the UK, we tend to not feed our horses a variety of weird and wonderful things, so we can monitor their digestive health and keep them in the best condition possible. Before giving your horse something unusual, you should do plenty of research on it and even speak to your vet or an equine nutritionist. You must make sure that the food isn’t going to be poisonous to the horse, so check before you or anyone else feeds them weird and wonderful products.