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Dos and Don’ts of Fruit and Vegetable Treats for Your Horse: Part 2

While apples, carrots, cucumbers and celery are all great treats to feed to your horse, there are certainly some fruits and vegetables that should be avoided. Here is a look at a few of the vegetables to avoid along with more that are safe to feed to your horse. 

Cabbage and Other Vegetables in the Cabbage Family

Cabbage is never safe to feed to your horse. The same is true of other vegetables in this same family, such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Just as with humans, all of these vegetables can create intestinal gas in your horse. Gas pains can escalate into life-threatening situations for your horse, including gas-related colic. Even if the condition is not fatal, it can cause intense discomfort for your horse. 

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Dos and Don’ts of Fruit and Vegetable Treats for Your Horse: Part 1

Everyone knows that horses love to eat apples and carrots, but have you ever wondered about other fruits and vegetables that are safe for your horse to eat? In this first of a three-part series, we will explore some of the other produce items that are and are not safe to give to your horse as a special treat.


Most horses enjoy eating celery, which is also a good source of vitamins A, B2, B6, C and K as well as manganese and potassium. Since it is a hard vegetable, it should be cut into small pieces when feeding it to your horse, as giving a full piece to your horse can be a choking hazard. It is safe for your horse to eat both the celery stalk and its leaves.

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Exploring Feed Grains for Horses: Corn

A common feed choice among horse owners, corn is slightly less palatable to horses when compared to oats, but more palatable than other types of grains. Nonetheless, excessive amounts of corn used as a feed should be avoided.

Potential Corn Issues

While corn is a tasty feed option for horses, it is more prone to mold than other grain options. In addition, corn lacks the safety margin against over-consumption that oat grain has to offer. In fact, when corn is fed, it does lead to an increased risk of cecal acidosis resulting in diarrhea, laminitis, founder and colic when compared to other grains. It is also important to note that only 41 percent of corn’s gross energy is given off as heat as compared to 66 percent with oats. Similarly, approximately 98 percent of starch from oat grain is absorbed in the small intestine while only 70 percent is absorbed from corn. 

Health Benefits of Corn

While corn is lower in fiber when compared to oats, it is higher in energy and density than oats. If an equal amount of energy is fed, however, corn does not have a greater tendency to lead to obesity in horses when compared to other grains. It also is not any more like to make a horse “high” than other grains.

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Exploring Feed Grains for Horses: Barley

While oat is the most popular are most common grain fed to horses, barley is also a good option for horse owners to feed to their horse for added energy. Similar in appearance to oat grain, barley is somewhat harder, but typically less palatable to horses when compared to oat or even corn.

Preparing Barley for Feeding

In order to achieve the greatest health benefits and digestibility, barley should be crimped or rolled before it is fed to horses. It should be noted, however, that this process the does increase the feeding value for horses with good teeth.

Health Benefits of Barley

Barley offers a number of health benefits for horses. First, it actually has a higher fiber content than many other grains, including corn, wheat, milo, rye and rice. Generally speaking, it is considered to be an intermediate between oats and corn in terms of fiber level and energy as well as safety and heat produced. While it is more similar to corn in terms of density, slightly less of its starch can be digested by the small intestine when compared to corn. Due to its high quality, barley is a very desirable grain for horses and can be fed as the only grain in the diet with no adverse effects.

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Exploring Feed Grains for Horses: Oats

As a horse owner, there are many different types of grains that you may feed to your equine friend in order to keep it healthy. The seeds of cereal plants that belong to the grass family, grain is primarily fed to horses to serve as a source of energy. One of the most commonly fed types of grains are oats. Here is a closer look at oats and how they are beneficial to your horse.

A Long History of Feed

Generally speaking, oats are the most commonly fed type of grain used with horses. This is at least partially due to tradition, but also due to the fact that oat is easily acquired and it is the safest and most palatable option for horses. The grain itself is soft and easy to chew and, unless the horse has poor teeth or is very yong, processing the oats is not necessary or beneficial.  

Health Benefits of Oats

Oats have a fiber level of 10 to 12 percent and, therefore, is less likely to cause digestive issues when compared to other grain options. They are also an amorphous starch, which makes them easily digestible. Whole oats also represent 35 to 45 percent more body heat production when compared to equal amounts of corn.

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Basic Guidelines to Feeding Your Horse

As a first time horse owner, you may feel a bit apprehensive about feeding your horse. While you may have to do a bit of experimentation to find that combination of feed for your horse, there are a few general rules that you should keep in mind when determining how much to feed.

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