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The Human Foods Horses Can and Cannot Eat.

Last updated: December 6, 2022

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

My grandkids love to give our horses carrots and often want to feed them other human food. But because horses have different digestive systems than humans, there is some human food they can’t eat. But you’ll be amazed when you discover how many nutritional goodies they can safely enjoy!

Generally, horses can eat human foods such as fruits and vegetables like apples(without the core), raisins, carrots, bananas, celery, cucumbers, and grapes. However, they can’t eat human foods containing caffeine, chocolates, fruit seeds, pits, and things containing garlic or onion.

Many individuals may think that a horse can only be fed grass and hay, yet it’s quite the opposite. There’s a lot of treats that are beneficial to their well-being and which they will love.

Picture of a girl feeding a carrot held in her mouth to a horse.

And, while you may be excited to indulge your cherished animals with yummy snacks, it is highly suggested to do some research before you change their diet. That said, you might want to stick around to gain some pointers as I will be touching on which foods they can tolerate and which ones to avoid.

Feeding human food to your horse.

Despite horses having such an intimidating size, their stomachs are small compared to their body and easily upset, so you should consider this when choosing which snacks to feed them.

Also, never make significant changes to your horse’s diet suddenly because abrupt dietary changes can cause severe digestive damage. It’s best to stick to their regular feeding routine and limit snacks to small portions, no more than a couple of times a day.

Be careful feeding human food to insulin-resistant horses. Most horses love any delicious, sweet snack, but some human food contains sugar and is harmful to insulin-resistant horses.

I suggest speaking with a Veterinarian to assure you that your horse doesn’t have any conditions that prohibit them from enjoying certain foods. If you plan on feeding your horse fruits, make sure to cut them into small pieces to avoid choking hazards.

Human foods that are safe for horses.

If you are a horse owner, you know how important it is to find food that your horse will eat and is safe for them. Horses should only be fed human food in moderation since they have different nutritional needs than humans do.

Here are some human foods you can feed your horses:

  • Cheerios
  • Rice Cakes
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Popcorn (make sure it is popped and not left in the bag)
  • Applesauce with no sugar or artificial sweeteners. Your best bet for applesauce is to make it yourself. Just peel a few fresh apples and blend until they’re entirely liquidized.

Here are some other great foods that you can share with your horse:

• Turnips
• Pumpkins
Watermelon and watermelon rinds
• Peppermints
• Snow peas
• Plums (without the stone)

Picture of horses eating watermelon,

As for the turnips, you should wash them before giving them to the horse to remove pesticides and chemicals. Once cleaned, you can feed them small pieces at a time to make sure that there are no underlying allergy issues.

Pumpkins are a wonderful treat to share with your best friend, and it’s one of the few snacks where the seeds are harmless to horses, making it a great choice to treat your horse.

Your horse will love the juicy watermelon as it will make them feel refreshed and is a delicious snack that will surely awaken its tastebuds.

If you want to really make your horse happy, feed them their favorite, a little peppermint treat! They contain a bitter quality that helps stimulate their appetite and helps horses suffering from diarrhea spells.

Snow peas are a yummy way of assuring that your horse receives the proper healthy nutrients while getting it to enjoy a crunchy new snack!

As we have already discussed, the earlier mentioned fruits are safe for your horse to digest just as long as you remove the harmful seeds and core that can increase your horse’s chances of becoming sick if eaten in large quantities.

Human foods that are unsafe for horses.

Horses are sensitive to many things that humans can eat. It’s not enough to just know what is poisonous for horses; you also need to be aware of human foods that are unsafe for them as well.

But before I go there, for those who didn’t know this, it’s harmful to feed your horse things like lawn clippings and moldy hay. Some grass clippings can contain toxic plants that could jeopardize your animal’s overall health.

This is not an exhaustive list of foods that are unsafe for horses but here are some examples of human food items you might have around your house that could make your horse sick if consumed by them:

  • Chocolate
  • Anything containing caffeine(coffee, tea, and colas)
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Seeds and Pits
  • Avocados
  • Raw meaty bones like pork ribs, chicken wings with skin on them, beef/pork neckbones, etc. Horses aren’t omnivores, plus the bones can splinter easily, causing injury between the teeth and the mouth.
  • Mushrooms – Horse cannot break down this fungus, so any type can cause stomach problems.

While these may seem harmless to you, you should know the dangers of feeding your horse any of the items listed above can lead to negative results without the proper guidance and knowledge.

Surprisingly, chocolate is one of the most dangerous snacks you can feed your horse as its theobromine is known to cause colic, seizures, and internal bleedings in horses. Providing it with large amounts of cocoa can be fatal.

Hence, another reason why you should keep track of your horse’s daily diet routine is to ensure that they are receiving nothing but the best to aid in a healthy digestive system.

Anything containing (trimethylxanthine), otherwise known as caffeine, should be avoided at all times for the fact that it can alter your horse’s heart rhythm, causing it to become irregular.

Picture of horses eating tomatoes,

Things like tomatoes and potatoes are toxic for horses to consume. The tomatoes belong to the toxic Solanaceae plant family, resulting in constipation or possible hemorrhagic diarrhea, which can be pretty unpleasant for your valued animal.

Although the horses in the picture seem to be enjoying themselves on a pile of tomatoes, most horses don’t like their taste and won’t eat enough of them to cause damage. If they eat too much, they will surely become sick.

Potatoes pose a considerable risk when rotten as their chemical composition can cause toxicosis in horses and other animals. An important reminder when you’re going to switch your horse’s diet, especially if you’re considering adding fruits to their daily routine, you must remove all seeds, stones, and cores before feeding them to your horse.

The seeds are known to contain cyanide compounds which can be highly toxic when taken in large quantities. On the other hand, the pits can increase the chances of your horse choking, so it’s best to remove them to avoid future accidents.

What foods can kill a horse quickly?

Many foods humans consume regularly can cause severe damage to your horse, leading to losing control of its muscles, respiratory illnesses, colic, and many other deteriorating conditions that can be life-threatening concerns.

Here are some foods that you should ensure your horse doesn’t eat, yet, I should warn you that these foods aren’t the only ones that can potentially kill your beloved animal.

Take avocados, for instance; while we know them to be a great way to get our fatty acids in our diets, they contain a toxic called persin which is very harmful to horses.

While the actual avocado itself isn’t dangerous, everything else is highly toxic for them to consume. As we mentioned before, the pits of the allowed fruits can be just as dangerous as they can be potential choking hazards while also containing toxins within the seeds that can threaten your loved animal.

It’s safe to say that the best thing to do is remove the pits before offering your horse any snacks. Other essential foods to avoid would be anything containing lactose, as it is not safe for horses to consume.

Since horses do not have the proper enzymes for lactose absorption, large amounts of dairy can be very upsetting, so you should avoid it.

Some individuals think that giving bread to a horse is harmless and a great way to help it gain weight, but little do they know that there are so many risks that come with allowing your horse to consume starch.

Horses have a rough time digesting bread, and there’s a risk of it creating blockages that can lead to colics. It is crucial to determine if your horse may be insulin resistant, as feeding them bread will increase its chances of developing laminitis and founder.

All in all, if you’re trying to show your favorite equine just how much you love them by sharing your delicious goods, remember to keep in mind that your precious horse will continue to munch on the snacks if you let them!

So, it’s important to remember to give them snacks in moderation to avoid any gastrointestinal issues that may arise. You now have a deeper understanding of what a healthy diet entails for your horse and what human foods are safe for it to eat.

Based on everything we went over, you are more than ready to start introducing some healthy new alternatives to your cherished horse.

Remember to speak to a professional and check your horse for any underlying conditions to ensure you provide it with the appropriate nutrition based on its personal needs. You can start shopping for some delicious snacks to lead your horse to a healthy, happy life!


Can horses eat human oats?

Horses can eat human oats, and it’s healthy for them. The only difference is the oats for humans don’t have the hulls. Horse oats are either whole oats (oat including the hull) or crimped oats (with the hull busted open).

Can humans eat horse oats?

No, humans shouldn’t eat horse oats because they contain the hull of the oats, even if they’re crimped or rolled. If you were desperate, you can soak or crush horse oats and eat them.

Why can’t humans eat horse meat?

Humans can consume horse meat, and many people worldwide do; it’s a cheap source of lean protein. In the United States, it’s illegal to sell horse meat for human consumption. However, horse meat was legal to eat in the U.S. in the past, and it was readily consumed in desperate times, like during the Civil War.

Can horses eat peanut butter?

Your horse may be able to consume peanut butter safely, but I wouldn’t risk feeding it to my horse. Peanut butter is high in fat and doesn’t provide any benefit to your horse. Some people give their horses a small amount without any negative effects, but there are plenty of other choices, so why risk giving peanut butter to your horse?

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