Last Updated on February 10, 2022
Who doesn’t love to snack on a crisp, juicy apple, packed full of healthy vitamins? Most people think of apples as a healthy snack for horses, but do horses like apples? And are they healthy for them to eat?
Horses all enjoy eating a tasty treat, and most of us would agree that horses do like to eat apples. Apples may also have some nutritional benefits to horses, but there could be some downsides to feeding them to horses as well.
Let’s take a look at apples and find out the best way to feed apples to horses.
Do Horses Like Apples?
Most horses have their favorite treats and snacks, and for many equines, a juicy apple will come top of the list! Apples have traditionally been fed as horse treats for many years, and most horses will eat apples very happily.
However, horses do vary widely in their tastes. Some horses will enjoy eating pretty much anything, whilst others might be fussier. Younger horses will be more inquisitive and give most foodstuffs a try, whereas older horses will be warier of new foods.
There is only one way to discover if horses like apples, and that is to try it! Horses are more likely to try new things if they are fed by hand, so this is a good place to start.
Can Horses Eat Apples?
Apples are a safe and healthy snack for horses, but there are some things to be aware of before feeding apples to a horse.
The first problem comes from how hard apples can be to chew. If the apple is not sliced properly, the horse will need to bite the apple until it is small enough to swallow. However, if the horse is greedy or cannot chew his food properly, he may try to swallow larger chunks of apples.
The problem with this is that it could lead to a painful condition called choking. This is when a piece of food becomes lodged in the esophagus – this is the tube down which food travels from the mouth to the stomach. Choke can be very difficult to resolve and is very uncomfortable for the horse.
Are Apples Good For Horses?
The natural diet for horses and ponies contains a high amount of roughage. This includes foods that are high in fiber, like grass or hay. Most horse owners will be familiar with the huge amounts of hay horses will eat each day, especially in the winter!
It is nice to add some variety into the horse’s diet by feeding fruit or vegetables. However, it is vital to make sure that these are not fed in large quantities, otherwise, digestive problems may occur.
The digestive system of the horse is not designed to cope with large quantities of foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar can cause painful and debilitating medical conditions such as laminitis. For this reason, apples must not be fed to overweight horses, or those suffering from insulin resistance.
A large amount of fruit or vegetables can cause colic or diarrhea. These digestive problems are both very uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening.
Best Way For Horses To Eat Apples
Whilst a horse could theoretically eat a whole apple, it is better to prepare it before feeding it to your horse. This will reduce the risk of choke and mean your equine friend gets the full enjoyment out of his tasty treat.
To avoid choking, all tough pieces of fruit should be cut into smaller chunks. So slice or dice your apple before feeding it to your horse.
Another thing to be aware of is that many fruits and vegetables may have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. It would be advisable to either wash or peel your horse’s healthy apple treats before feeding.
Do Horses Eat Other Fruit Similar To Apples?
While most people know that horses love apples and carrots, they do have adventurous tastes! This means that they will enjoy tucking into other types of fruit and vegetables as well.
Why not try making a delicious fruity snack box for your horse to tuck into on your next long ride? Here are our top suggestions for healthy horse treats!
Most horses will enjoy eating a juicy orange. However, they will not eat the skin so peel this off the orange first. Oranges are very nutritious for your horse and contain high levels of vitamin C.
Bananas are a great source of potassium for horses. Some horses will even enjoy eating the peel! Start by feeding small chunks of banana by hand to your horse to find out if he likes the taste.
Your horse will greatly appreciate the effort it takes for you to prepare a pineapple snack for him! The skin and core must be removed, and the pineapple flesh cut into smaller pieces. Pineapples are a healthy snack and contain high levels of vitamin C.
The flesh of a coconut is very nutritious for horses and contains potassium, iron, and magnesium. Coconut is also very high in fat and will give your horse a great energy boost! The husk of the coconut should be removed and the flesh cut into small pieces before feeding.
Horses can eat all parts of the watermelon, including the rind, flesh, and pips. The rind should be removed and cut into small cubes to avoid the risk of choking. Leave the fleshy part-whole, and watch your horse enjoying biting into this juicy snack!
Strawberries are a delicious treat for horses, and also very nutritious. They are packed full of potassium, phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium, plus many beneficial vitamins. Strawberries will also hydrate your horse and provide a good source of energy.
As we have learned, most horses will enjoy eating apples as a refreshing snack or treat! However, the apples must be sliced correctly to avoid the horse choking on chunks of the fruit. Apples should not be fed in large amounts, as they may cause gastrointestinal problems.
Do you have any questions about horses eating apples or other fruits? 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!
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