What do horses eat?

Horses are herbivores and have a unique digestive system designed to consume plant-based foods. Here's a summary of what horses typically eat:


The bulk of a horse's diet should consist of forage, which includes:
  • Pasture grass
  • Hay (dried grass or legumes like alfalfa)
  • Hay cubes or pellets
Horses are meant to graze and consume small amounts of forage frequently throughout the day. Good quality forage provides calories, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.124


Concentrates, also known as grains or grain mixes, can supplement the diet for horses with higher energy needs due to age, workload, or other factors. Common concentrates include:
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Soybean meal
  • Beet pulp
  • Commercial grain mixes
Concentrates are more calorie-dense but should be fed in limited amounts to avoid digestive issues.125


Clean, fresh water is vital for proper hydration and digestion. Horses typically drink 5-10 gallons of water per day.12

Supplements and Treats

Supplements like vitamins, minerals, and salt blocks can be added based on the horse's individual needs. Occasional treats like apples, carrots, or mints are fine in moderation.13 The specific diet depends on the horse's age, activity level, and health status. It's important to feed good quality forage as the foundation and introduce concentrates and supplements cautiously to maintain a balanced diet and avoid digestive upset.145
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