Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

Can my horse eat that!?

Over the years, horses have adapted to a diet of forges with their digestive systems gearing toward the digestion of high roughage feeds.  However, with domestication, confinement and our modern way of life, we often are confronted with horses that consume some strange things with apparent delight.  European horses are routinely fed silage, horses in Saudi Arabia munch happily on dried fava beans while Irish horses are offered a weekly pint of ale or stout!


Below is a list of things that horses have been reported to eat by veterinarians and horse owners around the world.  Those that might adversely affect the health of the horse are noted and should be avoided or at least limited.

Potential Treats

·         Carrots, apples, grapes

·         Bananas

·         Peas

·         Green beans

·         Lettuce

·         Celery

·         Dried beans, such as pinto, red, fava

·         Watermelon

·         Squash

·         Mangoes (not the seeds)

·         Raisins

·         Bread/bagels/cake (NOT if they contain chocolate or poppy seeds)

·         Pasta

·         Potato chips

·         Rice products but not raw rice

·         Barley products

·         Dairy products

·         Eggs

·         Fruit juices

·         My horse, Bruq, really enjoys hot dogs, hamburgers, tuna fish and roast beef  sandwiches!

No problem, assuming limited quantities and balanced ration:

·         Dandelion

·         Thistle (NOT Russian Knapweed or yellow star thistle)

·         Sunflower seeds and plant

·         Peanut plants and peanuts

·         Raspberry/blackberry bushes

·         Wood/bark of most trees (NOT Prunus or black walnut or locust)

Potential problem if eaten in large quantities

·         Buttercup

·         Morning glory

·         Pokeweed

·         St. Johnswort

·         Gum-weed

·         Most bulb type flowers (tulip, iris…)

·         Acorns/new oak leaves

Avoid at all costs (Lethal or severe toxicity potential)

·         Lily of the Valley

·         Larkspur

·         Tomato or potato plants

·         Rhubarb leaves or stems

·         Poison hemlock

·         Foxglove

·         Leafy spurge

·         Mustards

·         Blue flax

·         Privet

·         Japanese Yew

·         Azalea

·         Rhododendron

·         Mountain Laurel


·         Morning glory plants

·         Sassafras

·         Willow leaves and bark

·         Yucca

·         Tobacco – consumed not inhaled!

·         Valerian Root

·         Carrots in large quantities – over 5 lbs. a day

·         Chocolate in any form

·         Cinnamon products

·         Nutmeg

·         Non decaffeinated coffee or tea

·         Caffeinated sodas – Bruq loves his Pepsi!

In summary, there are obviously a wide range of things that our horses would love to eat, not all of which are good for their health.  Many horses would refuse to even sniff many of the items listed above, but knowing which may be potential treats is important for horse owners as you may never know what may be offered to your horse.


Lewis, Lon.  1995 Feeding and Care of the Horse, 2d ed. Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia
Excellent chapters on toxic plants and feed induced diseases.

Toxic Plants Website:  Excellent site   http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/plants.html


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