Will Horses Eat Meat – Is It Ok?

Horses can have pretty broad tastes, with many willing to try something new, but it’s not always in their best interest, so will horse eat meat? Horses have a sensitive digestive system that has the purpose of solely processing forage, like grass and hay. This doesn’t stop some horses from eating anything you offer, but this can sometimes have serious consequences.

Do Horses Eat Meat

A horse is a herbivore. This means they only eat plants. In a natural environment, a horse will not eat meat.

Anecdotal stories report seeing horses eat meat or lick blood, but experts believe this is a learned behavior. Horses will also sometimes attack another animal, even kill it by stopping on it. This usually isn’t because the horse wants to kill it to eat but to rid its space from an intruder.

Horses that get treats from people will learn to search them out. Greedy horses will try to swipe any kind of food you have in your hand. This can include a ham or chicken sandwich.

Do Horses Eat Meat

The horse might enjoy the taste, some definitely, have unusual preferences. However, it is learning to eat meat as opposed to desiring. Also, if the meat is salty, like ham, it is often the salt that appeals.

Can Horses Eat Meat

As herbivores, the horse’s body evolved to suit this. One of their main herbivore features is the teeth. Their incisors, in particular, allow them to easily grab and rip plants. This is in contrast to animals that eat meat that have sharp, pointy incisors that allow them to tear into it.

After eating, the plants travel through the horse’s digestive system, which processes this into fat and energy. The stomach of the horse contains acid that quickly breaks food down before it travels further through the digestive tract.

The teeth and the digestive system of the horse are not equipped to deal with meat. Also, a horse cannot vomit. This can cause an emergency if a horse consumes something its body is not designed for. 

Dangers Of Horses Eating Meat

One problem with meat is that it goes bad fast. This quickly leads to toxins. When a horse ingests these toxins, it can trigger very dangerous health issues. One example of this is botulism.

Botulism in horses, though rare, is triggered by the horse eating food that has contamination from the carcass of an animal. This can accidentally happen when a mouse or other animal is killed during the baling of hay. Botulism is serious and can kill a horse without immediate medical intervention.

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The general conclusion here is to never feed horse meat. It cannot digest it properly, they don’t need it, and it can cause colic and other serious health problems.

Horse Eating Meat

Just because horses do not and cannot eat meat, as a rule, there are some unusual situations in which horses did survive with some meat in their diets. Many years ago, explorers of the South Pole brought Siberian horses with them.

So these horses could survive in the barren and freezing conditions, they taught them how to eat meat. They also taught them to consume animal fat. In addition to this, Siberian horses had special qualities that help them live in freezing temperatures.

These explorers’ horses had an extra layer of fat and were able to adapt their breathing for the cold air. There is no doubt this was incredibly difficult on these horses, and different breeds would not have survived this journey.

Icelandic Horses

There are reports of people in Iceland putting out barrels of salted fish as a supplement for their horses. This is so that in the winter, the horses will get some protein, salt, minerals, and vitamins. The feeling is that this supplement provides these horses with selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin A.

Icelandic Horses

Each of these nutrients is deficient in Icelandic hay and requires supplementation. One researcher went to study these horses and found that about once per day, the horses enjoyed going to the barrel to take a fish. It is highly possible that the horses learned to eat fish due to the salt, which they love.

Should You Give Horses Meat

The short answer is no, never. Even though it is tempting to give your horse a variety of treats to see what they like, it’s not worth the risk. It is easy to unbalance a horse’s digestive tract.

Horses need to eat quality forage that is mold-free and does not contain toxic plants Their body cannot cope well with food that is not some kind of forage. Some horses might eat meat and not have an issue, but some will have a sensitive system.

It’s not worth the risk for a few seconds of fun seeing if your horse eats meat. The effects can have serious consequences, such as colic, which can lead to death.

What Do Horses Eat

Horses eat a variety of grasses, herbs, hay, and grain. Grain is usually a premade feed using plants and with added vitamins and minerals. Horses also need salt in their diet.

Also, it is essential that horses always have access to fresh, clean water. The average horse drinks five to ten gallons of water per day. Not all horses will need grain in their diet.

This will depend on their body condition and if they do a lot of exercise. A horse that lives as a pasture pet will usually not need grain. It will need hay at times when grass supply is low and might need a vitamin and mineral supplement.


To answer will horse-eat meat is easy. Yes, some horses will eat meat, but it is rare and not in the interest of the horse’s health. So even if your horse will eat meat, don’t feed it.

When feeding a horse, concentrate on the food it is designed to eat. Keep feeding to a schedule, as horses thrive on routine. Feeding at random times can stress the horse and make it feel insecure in its surroundings.

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