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What Not to Feed Your Horse 

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in your horse's health and well-being. The main source of calories for horses is forage. Avoiding harmful foods will help maintain their optimal performance and prevent potential health issues.

Here are 5 things to avoid:

1. Sugar and Sweet Treats

While it may be tempting to indulge your horse with sweet treats, excessive sugar intake can lead to various health problems. This includes insulin resistance, damage to teeth and an increased risk of developing laminitis. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives, such as carrots or apple slices, which offer natural sweetness without the harmful effects. Check if any of your bagged feeds contain molasses. Horses have no requirement for sugar in their diet. If you want to improve palatability for fussy horses, add salt or fenugreek instead.

2. Toxic Plants 

Certain plants are toxic to horses and should be strictly avoided. Some common examples include ragwort, yew, and buttercups. Ingesting these plants can result in serious illness or even death. Regularly inspect your pastures and remove any potential hazards to ensure your horse's safety. Always feed your hay in one location to avoid spreading any unwanted weed seeds around your pasture. See this blog post on trees that are dangerous for horses.

3. Moldy or Spoiled Feed 

Feeding moldy or spoiled hay, grains, or other feed can pose significant health risks to your horse. Mold can contain toxins, which may cause respiratory problems or colic. Always inspect your feed for any signs of spoilage and discard any questionable batches. Clean your feed bins frequently. At only 10g per day Mycosorb A+ is a low-cost precaution against potential toxins in feeds.


4. High-Starch Grains 

Horses have a limited ability to digest grains. Feeding excessive amounts of grains with high starch content can lead to digestive disorders, such as colic or gastric ulcers. Only 37% of untrained Thoroughbreds have ulcers, but that rate increases to 80-100% within 2-3 months of training. While some of that would be stress, gallopers in training are typically fed grain-based diets and no opportunity to graze. Avoid corn-based feeds, which are high GI, and low in nutritional value. Opt for low-starch alternatives, like beet pulp or high-fiber feeds like copra meal or soy hulls.

5. Garlic 

Horse owners who feed garlic to their horses claim to use it as an insect repellent. While there is some evidence in humans that applying a dilution of garlic oil topically (on the skin) will repel insects, there is no scientific paper published that provides evidence that feeding garlic to horses repels insects. In fact, research indicates that garlic is dangerous for equines. The 1972 study published in The Journal of the American Veterinary Association stated that the toxic dose for horse is less than 5mg per kilo of bodyweight. We've known for a long time that garlic should be avoided. You can read more about it here. (We had a trim client who routinely fed her horse garlic. We told her every 6 weeks that this was dangerous, which she dismissed, and he died. It was truly tragic because it was totally avoidable.) 

By avoiding these harmful foods, you can help protect your horse from potential health issues. For more personalised advice on equine nutrition, feel free to reach out to us.

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