What Do Horses Eat?

What Do Horses Eat

What Do Horses Eat?

Pasture Grass and Tender Plants

Horses thrive on a diet that primarily includes pasture grass and tender plants. As natural grazers, horses spend most of their time consuming fresh grass, which provides the bulk of their nutritional needs and aids in dental health due to the silica content. Maintaining high-quality pasture is vital for horse owners as it is the most natural and beneficial feed. It’s important to note that:

  • Primitive horses are adapted to thrive on minimal pasture.
  • Overfeeding fresh grass can lead to obesity and other health issues in domestic horses.
  • Moderation is key for a horse’s diet to prevent conditions like laminitis.



In regions or seasons where pasture grass isn’t readily available, hay is the staple in a horse’s diet. Horse owners must source high-quality hay and have it tested for nutritional content. This ensures that any deficiencies can be addressed through supplements. Considerations for feeding hay include:

  • Limiting access for easy keepers to prevent weight issues.
  • Ensuring the hay is free from mold and dust can cause respiratory problems.



Grains are commonly included in horse feed, especially for specific groups like performance horses or those with higher energy requirements. Oats, corn, and barley are popular choices among most horse owners. However, balancing grain intake is crucial as it can lead to digestive issues if overfed. Key points about feeding grains:

  • Grains should be fed in controlled amounts to avoid colic or founder.
  • They are less fibrous than grass, requiring less chewing time and potentially leading to dental health issues.


Concentrate Mixes

Concentrates are formulated to supplement the primary diet of hay and grass, providing energy, vitamins, and minerals. They are particularly beneficial for:

  • Nursing mares
  • Young horses


Working or performance horses

  • Here are some specifics:
  • Concentrates typically include grains, molasses, beet pulp, and flaxseed.
  • Custom mixes can be formulated depending on the number of horses and specific nutritional requirements.


Salt and Minerals

It’s essential to include salt and minerals in a horse’s diet, either mixed into concentrates or provided separately:

  • Salt blocks or loose salt should be available to allow horses to consume as needed.
  • Electrolyte balance can be maintained by ensuring access to mineral supplements, especially in varying weather conditions.



While treats can be an excellent way to bond with a horse, they should be given in moderation to avoid health issues. Safe treats include:

  • Carrots and apples (cut into appropriate sizes to prevent choking).
  • Commercial horse treats are designed for their dietary needs.
  • Avoid sugary treats and anything not typically found in a horse’s diet.



Accessible, clean water is crucial for maintaining a horse’s digestive system and overall health. The intake might vary depending on the diet and weather conditions, but the general guidelines are:

  • Always provide water, especially if the horse is on a dry hay diet.
  • Monitor water sources to prevent freezing during cold months or stagnation.


Additional Dietary Considerations

What Can’t Horses Eat?

To maintain the health of your horses, certain foods must be avoided:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) can cause gas and bloating.
  • Avoid avocados and chocolate, as they contain substances toxic to horses.


How Much Do Horses Eat?

The amount a horse eats can be influenced by its size, activity level, and the quality of its diet. Typically, a horse can consume:

  • Approximately 1.5% to 3% of their body weight in dry matter daily.
  • Adjust portions according to activity level and health status.


Monitoring Your Horse’s Health

Regular assessments of your horse’s weight and overall condition are crucial. Adjustments to the diet should be made based on the following:

  • Signs of weight gain or loss.
  • Changes in energy levels or behavior.


Consulting with Equine Experts

Changes in a horse’s feeding habits or diet should be discussed with professionals:

  • An equine nutritionist can develop a tailored feeding plan.
  • Regular veterinary checkups can help catch and address issues early.


Ensuring Quality Feed Supply

For companies like ours that supply bulk animal feed, offering high-quality products tailored for horses is essential. We ensure most horse owners can access the best nutrition, helping them maintain optimal health and performance. By providing feeds that support a healthy digestive system and overall well-being, we play a crucial role in caring for and managing horses across various conditions and life stages.