Last Updated on January 8, 2022
Who doesn’t enjoy snacking on a crisp, crunchy carrot stick, packed full of healthy nutrients? Most people think of carrots as a tasty snack for horses, but do horses like carrots? And are carrots healthy for horses to eat?
Horses enjoy eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and most horse owners will tell you that horses do like to eat carrots. There are advantages and disadvantages to feeding carrots to horses, as we will discover.
Let’s take a look at carrots and find out the best way to feed carrots to our horses.
Do Horses Like Carrots?
Like humans, horses have their favorites when it comes to treats and snacks. For many equines, a crisp carrot stick is one of the best treats in the world! For many centuries carrots have been fed as horse treats and as part of their main diet.
This means that most horses will happily eat carrots and enjoy these crunchy orange vegetables. However, some horses might be a bit fussier, and reluctant to try eating carrots. Older horses in particular can be wary of trying new treats, whereas young horses will normally have a nibble at most things!
There is only one way to find out if your horse likes carrots, and that is to give them a try! To start with, chop the carrots into tasty slices and feed them by hand. You’ll soon find that your horse is seeking out carrots every time you visit the barn!
Can Horses Eat Carrots?
Carrots are a healthy and safe treat for horses, with some great nutritional benefits. However, these vegetables can be very tough and difficult to chew and may cause problems for the horse when it comes to eating them
The teeth of a horse are designed to bite off and chew vegetation such as grass and herbs. So, although the jaw muscles of a horse are very strong and can bite through a carrot, they might struggle to crunch it into small enough pieces to swallow. This is a particular problem if the horse eats too quickly or has problems with his teeth.
If this occurs, the horse may attempt to swallow chunks of carrots that are too large to pass down the esophagus. This is the tubular structure that connects the mouth to the stomach. The pieces of carrot may become lodged in the esophagus, leading to a condition called choke.
When a horse has choke, it cannot swallow any food as the esophagus is blocked. This painful condition often requires veterinary intervention to resolve.
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Are Carrots Good For Horses?
As far as treats for horses go, carrots are about as healthy as it gets! These crunchy vegetables are very nutritious for horses and have many benefits.
The great thing about carrots is that they are relatively similar to a horse’s natural diet. Horses have evolved to eat a high amount of roughage – foods that are high in fiber, such as grass or hay. We like to supplement our horse’s diets with treats, and giving fruits and vegetables is a good way to do this.
However, some fruits and vegetables are not as healthy for horses, as they contain high levels of sugar and low amounts of fiber. This includes sweet fruits such as strawberries, which should only be fed in small quantities.
When it comes to carrots, they are much closer to what horses would eat naturally. They are high in fiber and low in sugar and have little risk of causing health problems when fed in moderate amounts.
Carrots are also very high in vitamin A and vitamin C. Both of these essential nutrients have antioxidant benefits and help to support the immune system of your horse.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can give your horse a sack of carrots every day! Whilst he would adore this treat, you may cause digestive problems such as colic or diarrhea. So, stick to carrots as a treat, and your horse can enjoy them every day!
Best Way For Horses To Eat Carrots
Horses do have the capability to eat a whole carrot and can chomp their way through these tough vegetables with their powerful teeth and jaws. However, it is better to carefully prepare your carrots to make them as safe as possible for your horse to eat.
To allow your horse to get the full enjoyment from his carrots and avoid the risk of choke, slice the carrots into long, thin sticks before feeding. Never cut carrots into rounds when feeding them to a horse, as these are much more likely to become lodged in the esophagus and cause choke.
Another way to prepare carrots for your horse is to dice them into small cubes. These can be added to your horse’s feed, or popped into a treat ball for your horse to play with. Another fun way to give carrots to your horse is to hang them up with string for your horse to push around with his nose.
Many fruits and vegetables may also have been sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides. It would be a good idea to wash your horse’s healthy carrot snacks before feeding.
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Do Horses Eat Other Vegetables?
While it is common knowledge that horses love apples and carrots, they do enjoy tucking into other types of fruit and vegetables as well. Here are some new ideas for you to try with your horse:
- Horses will enjoy eating the flesh of oranges, but not the peel.
- Bananas can be fed either whole or sliced, and some horses will eat the peel.
- The flesh of pineapple will be enjoyed by most horses, but the skin and core must be removed.
So, as we have discovered, most horses will enjoy eating carrots as a refreshing snack or treat! However, carrots must be sliced correctly to prevent the horse from choking on chunks of this vegetable. Carrots are high in fiber, low in sugar, and packed full of vitamins A and C.
Do you have any questions about horses eating carrots or other vegetables? 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