At The Plaid Horse, horses are a part of the family. There is no better way to make a horse feel loved and appreciated than by feeding it a healthy diet. You could say that the way to a horse’s heart is through his/her stomach. Herbs and veggies are some of the most nutritious and tasty food for horses.
But some can be harmful. Also, when a horse feeds on the wrong quantities, herbs and vegetables could have adverse effects.
We are here to help. We will share with you some basic rules of feeding horses and have a quick look at some herbs and vegetables that you can incorporate in your horse’s diet.
Feeding Horses: The Basics
When feeding horses, ensure the diet consists of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. The nutritional requirements will vary with the class and weight of the horse. You don’t expect an expectant mare to have the same nutritional needs as a young thoroughbred.
There are many rules about feeding horses. But the critical ones are: first, all horses must take sufficient water and roughage. Second, a regular routine is a must.
Fortunately, this article is about feeding your horse herbs and vegetables. Both feed types have high contents of roughage and water, they are highly nutritious and tasty.
Herbs are plants that contain high levels of desirable bioactive compounds. These compounds are often found in the raw (unprocessed) forms or in their extracts.
Herbs offer various benefits for horses ranging from improved digestion, enhanced immune system, and soothing excitable behavior, and relieving pain. We have picked some popular herbs you can include in your horse’s diet. Here is what they do for the horse.
Stinging nettle: They are rich in vitamin C, iron, roughage, and protein. Some say that the stinging nettle is a blood cleanser. Perhaps this is because stinging nettle also boosts the ability to absorb iron and improves blood circulation. Nettles also keep skin ailments at bay.
When serving, cut the nettles into small pieces to avoid choking. Serve small quantities as you observe whether the horse likes it. Also look out for reactions. Some horses have allergic reactions to stinging nettle.
Comfrey: It is the wonder herb for horses. They love how it tastes, and the health benefits are immense. Comfrey boosts the healing of damaged bones (sore shins, chipped knees, etc.), reduces the effects of arthritis, and relieves tendon strains. It also has a reputation for aiding the respiratory system.
An adult horse can comfortably eat about 40 leaves and one root of comfrey a day. But feeding should not be too frequent. Continued ingestion over long periods could hurt the liver.
Evening Primrose: The seeds contain primrose oil. It is an excellent source of healthy dietary fats. Traditional horse owners applied the oil on minor wounds to aid in healing.
However, it is not only oil that is good for horses. The leaves are also edible and are perfect for easing digestive issues and sore throat. This herb has multiple anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that are beneficial for the general health of horses.
However, if a horse overeats in a single feeding, it could cause diarrhea.
Garlic is widely known and acclaimed for human health. But it is also great for horses.
Bioactive compounds in raw garlic can kill bacteria, aid in circulation, and prevent clotting within vessels. But the most sought-after benefit of garlic is the ability to repel pests such as ticks, mosquitoes, and flies.
When feeding your horse, the amount has to be just right. Otherwise, the horse could develop Heinz body anemia. Fortunately, all horses, even wild ones, know when to stop eating garlic.
Feeding horses vegetables is a great way to reward them as opposed to processed treats. But some vegetables could harm horses and not all horses like all kinds of vegetables. So give them small quantities at first as you establish what they like and what they don’t.
Swede is a root vegetable that looks like a turnip but slightly bigger. According to horsevills.com, horses love the sweet taste of swede. If your horse has to spend lots of time in the stable, a hanging swede treat is a perfect way to keep it busy. However, horses with laminitis can only eat specific quantities of swede. Ask your vet how many swedes would be safe.
Pumpkins: They are rich in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, iron, and protein. They improve circulation, relieve arthritis symptoms, and relieve constipation.
Cut the pumpkin into small pieces and feed the horse. Take care not to give it the flesh only not the gourd part. Horses seem to enjoy raw pumpkin more than boiled. But limit intake to about two handfuls in a day.
Carrots are famed for their high content of beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin K, and potassium. They promote good digestion, promote a healthy coat, and have anti-inflammatory qualities.
When feeding your horse, cut carrots into small strips to prevent choking.
A final word
Horses love herbs and vegetables. The above herbs and vegetables are available and will make your horse feel great and look fabulous. Remember to give small quantities at first. Then observe how the horse reacts to the herb or vegetable, and consult a vet if anything looks strange.