Last Updated on January 25, 2022
Now, most people enjoy eating pumpkins, whether roasted, in a soup, or as a delicious pumpkin pie. But what about horses – do they eat pumpkins? And are pumpkins good for horses to eat?
It might not be on the regular treat list for horses, but some of them do enjoy eating pumpkins! However, these giant orange snacks are not a normal part of a horse’s diet, and we need to take care when feeding pumpkins to horses.
Let’s take a look at everything we need to know about horses eating pumpkins!
Can Horses Eat Pumpkin?
Every year, as fall comes around, pumpkins start to appear everywhere. We all love the fun of these seasonal vegetables, whether it is carving them into Halloween decorations or cooking up delicious pumpkin delicacies. But what if our horses develop a taste for pumpkin – are they safe for horses to eat?
Luckily, pumpkins are perfectly safe for horses to eat! However, as with all snacks and treats, pumpkins should only be fed in moderation. Do not put a whole pumpkin out for your horse to eat, as it may make him ill!
Horses should eat a diet that contains a high amount of roughage. This means that the bulk of their food should be high-fiber foodstuffs such as grass and hay. Any extras that are fed, such as pumpkin, could upset the natural balance of the horse’s digestive system and cause serious problems.
So, this means that giving your horse all your leftover Halloween pumpkins as a treat is not a good idea! Any new and unfamiliar food, when fed in large amounts, may cause the bacteria in the intestines to become unbalanced. This can cause serious problems such as colic or diarrhea.
It is also vital to prepare the pumpkin correctly for your horse to be able to eat it safely – more on this later!
Do Horses Eat Pumpkins?
If your horse has not been fed pumpkin before, he might be quite wary of giving it a try. Pumpkins are not something that wild horses would normally come across, and our domesticated horses are quite suspicious of any unusual foods! This is a vital strategy to prevent them from eating anything poisonous.
Some horses will happily tuck into anything which looks vaguely edible, whilst others can be incredibly fussy. Younger horses are normally more likely to try new foods, whilst older ones are less adventurous and fussier.
The only way to find out if your horse will eat pumpkin is to give it a try! With anything new, it is a good idea to mix it in with something your horse loves. So, chop up a mix of apple and pumpkin chunks and see what he thinks!
Are Pumpkins Good For Horses?
The great thing about pumpkin flesh is that it is relatively low in sugar, compared to other treats such as apples or watermelon. This means that it is a safer option for overweight horses and those that suffer from laminitis and insulin resistance.
However, pumpkins are higher in potassium than other treats. This means that they should not be fed to horses prone to Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis – an inherited muscular disorder common in Quarter Horses.
Pumpkins are said to have many health benefits to humans, however, these have not been proven in horses just yet. However, we do know that pumpkins are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B9. They are also packed full of minerals, fatty acids, and fiber.
As pumpkins are low in sugar and high in water, this gives you a tasty treat option for greedy horses. They will enjoy tucking into a slice of pumpkin and you can relax in the knowledge that you are not filling them full of sugar and calories!
As with all good things, keep the amount of pumpkin you feed to your horse relatively low. Equine nutritionists advise that two cups of pumpkin would be the maximum daily amount – this is roughly equal to one slice of a medium pumpkin.
How To Feed Halloween Pumpkins To A Horse
If you are feeding a pumpkin to your horse that has been used for seasonal decorations, there are some common-sense precautions you should take:
- Avoid feeding any pumpkin flesh that has become soft or started to rot.
- Do not feed any part of the pumpkin that has candle wax on it.
- Never feed pumpkin that has been decorated with any sort of paint or coloring.
- Only ever feed orange pumpkin to horses – green gourds are not always safe for horses to eat, and should be avoided.
- Always safely prepare the pumpkin before feeding it to your horse. Whole pumpkins should never be given to a horse to eat.
How To Prepare Pumpkin For Horses
The great thing about feeding pumpkins to horses is that they can eat nearly all parts of these orange vegetables. They can eat the flesh, seeds, and even the rind! The only part to be careful of is the thick stalk, which can be a choking hazard.
If your horse has never tried pumpkin before, the best place to start is with the flesh. Horses can actually eat the flesh in quite large chunks, as they are soft enough for horses to chew easily. However, your horse will find the pumpkin flesh more appetizing if you slice it into smaller pieces first.
The seeds of the pumpkin do not need any preparation and can be fed straight to your horse. The rind of the pumpkin must be chopped into smaller bite-size pieces, to avoid the risk of choking.
Most importantly, remember to remove the stalk of the pumpkin. This will be dry and tough, and almost impossible for your horse to chew.
So, as we have learned, you absolutely can feed pumpkin to your horse or pony as a tasty snack or treat! This fleshy orange vegetable is not often fed to horses, so you may need to tempt your horse to eat it at first. As with any new or unusual foods, pumpkins should not be fed in large amounts.
Do you have any questions about feeding pumpkins to your horse? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you! We’d also love to hear your suggestions on other great treat ideas for your horse!
Find out if Horses Like Apples?
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE