You all know about my “affection for confections”, my love for cupcakes and ice cream, but have you ever wondered what other strange things horses eat? Well, it turns out there are lots of strange foods that you would be surprised horse’s enjoy…but only in moderation!
Horses come from all over the world, so they eat a wide variety of different foods. One thing is for sure; their digestive systems are geared towards a diet of forages, like grasses, stems, and leaves which can be eaten over extended periods of time. But I’m not the only horse with a sweet tooth! Traditional treats like apples and carrots can also be found in nature and are a healthy supplement to our diets. Some natural treats that are non-traditional, but perfectly safe include bananas, grapes, mangos (without the seeds), squash, and watermelon rinds. Other treats such as peppermints and sugar cubes are safe for horses in small amounts as well, even though they are not found naturally (but boy, if they were!). Jelly beans, gummy bears, carrot cake, and gingersnap cookies may be fed to horses occasionally as unique rewards.
Horses sometimes eat things that don’t seem as tasty as candies and fruit, and can indicate a deficiency in our diets. Have you ever seen a horse eating dirt? It may sound gross, but there are several reasons why a horse may do this. As I mentioned before, horses need forage in their diets in order to get the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. Sometimes though, the forage available to them cannot provide enough of those minerals they need, so they must find alternative sources. In an effort to fix this problem, horses may lick rocks, dirt, and even each other to balance their need for sodium (salt) and minerals! Nowadays, it is common and recommended that horses have free access to a salt or mineral block. Not only will they no longer have to search for these supplements, but free choice salt promotes water consumption which keeps horses healthy. Water is a horses’ drink of choice, so it is very important that a clean and abundant supply be offered at all times!
As you all may know, my weird food of choice is none other than a nice juicy hot dog! Share with me a strange food that a horse you know likes to eat, or if you have any questions about a particular treat!