Grapes are one of the most commonly used fruits across the globe. It’s cultivated on every continent except Antarctica and is consumed in several forms including jams, juice, raisins, etc. Grapes are almost always cultivated in the form of clusters and are a rich source of Vitamin-C. Aesop’s Fables describe a popular story about the fox who failed to eat grapes and termed it sour. We don’t know about the fox, but are the grapes sour for horses too? We are going to provide a detailed analysis of whether it is safe for us to feed Grapes to our horses.
So, can horses eat grapes? Yes, it is totally safe for a horse to eat grapes. In fact, treats like grapes and apples are a favorite of horses. It is quite a safe and healthy snack for your horse. But keep in mind that due to high sugary content only a limited quantity of grapes should be fed.
Most of the horses would chew a fruit that you would offer them, but some of them have a habit of swallowing them whole. Grapes offer an advantage here as horses can’t choke on the grapes or their seeds. If you are still concerned, you can always offer them seedless table grapes.
The one thing that you should take into account is that grapes have high sugar levels. So, you should not feed grapes in large quantities. 10-12 grapes once or twice a week is more than enough.
If you are feeding your horse any other fruit, you should limit this number to less than 5 or 6 grapes a week. If monitored properly, grapes are the perfect treat for your horse.
What about other grape products?
Grapes are very versatile and as mentioned before, used to produce a variety of other food and beverages. The first thing that comes to mind is raisins.
Again, raisins are nothing but dehydrated grapes. So, giving a monitored number of raisins is the same as giving your horse table grapes. Other products like grape jelly are also good as treat.
There is another grape product that you must be wondering about- Wine. It may come as a surprise for many, but to an extent, wine and some other alcoholic beverages are perfectly safe for your horse.
In fact, horses have been fed wine and other alcoholic beverages for decades. Racehorses in Ireland are regularly offered Guinness stout, almost on a daily basis.
The bacteria that reside in a horse’s intestines help them to drink wine or beer with ease. The large bodies of horses allow them to distribute the alcohol and as a result, a glass or two of wine will not get your horse drunk at all. But it is advisable to consult a vet before regularly offering wine to your horse.
Things to watch out for
- Sugar Intake – As stated, always keep a tab on the sugar intake of your horse. Some horses can be insulin resistant. It is always wise to consult your vet before giving your horse any product that contains sugar.
- Allergies – Some horses might have mild to high allergy to grapes. Feeding grapes in such cases is a strict NO.
- Pesticides and other toxic waste – Many fruits can contain residue of pesticides on their peels. It is always a wise thing to wash the grapes properly before offering them to your horse. An even better idea is to feed your horse organic grapes, that are devoid of any pesticides.
- Food Habit – Just like little kids, if you offer too many sweet treats to your horse, he may start to develop bad feeding habits and would show reluctance to eat his regular feed. Keep this in mind before feeding them grapes or any sweet product regularly.
How to balance the treats and regular feed?
This is one major question that comes in mind. How to balance the diet so that the horse remains healthy?
Before feeding horses, anything, always consider their size as well as the amount of work your horse does. A horse that does heavy work, a lot of running and exercises will need more nutrition than a small pony who spends most of their time in the stable.
So, if you feed a lot of grapes or other fruits to a racehorse, it can result in your horse becoming less active.
The best way to feed your horse would be to give them small meals at frequent intervals. This is much better than giving them a lot of feed and treats in one go.
If fed in small amounts, the horse would be able to digest the food in a much better way. You should also feed your horse roughage. Their bodies are built in a way that they can easily digest it.
If you slip in one or two table grapes in between, the horses will love it and they won’t have any adverse effect on them either.
Is it good for Horses to eat Grapes right after exercise?
Let’s keep this short and precise- NO! Not just grapes, but you should never feed your horse immediately after exercise or after riding. They need to take proper rest. Make sure they are not sweating anymore and are breathing properly.
This also applies the other way around. One should never take out a horse for exercise or a ride immediately after feeding them. The reason behind this is that horses have a really powerful digestive system.
The blood flow will be towards the digestive system instead of their lungs. Your horse will get tired quickly while running and in in long term, they will face severe health issues.
Should we change the eating habits of horses?
Horses are one of the most disciplined animals. They love routines and want things to happen on a fixed interval. Their internal clocks are incredibly accurate.
This means that they would be reluctant to change their eating habits. So, you should plan a horse’s diet in such a way that it doesn’t change drastically. But this does not mean that changes should never be made at all.
- You should keep a tab on the amount of work your horse does. If that changes regularly, you should change the amount of food you give.
- If you or your vet has planned out a new diet and try to implement it immediately, the horse will show reluctance. Try to bring a gradual change in the diet. For example, change only 10% of the diet on day one and keep doing so every day. On the 10th day, your horse will comfortably adapt to his new diet.
- During summer, when the grass is available in large quantities, it’s easier to feed your horse. During winter, when the grass is scarce, try and provide supplements to maintain nutrition.
How to feed grapes to the horse?
Last but not least. What is the correct way or posture to feed grapes to your horse?
You should always feed treats to your horse by keeping the food on your outstretched palm with the fingers spread. If you try and feed him in any other way, he may bite your fingers.
When it comes to grapes, avoid feeding them directly from the bunch. Instead, pluck them. Keep one or two grapes on your palm and then, offer it to your horse. It’s safer.
Summary: Can Horses Eat Grapes?
Grapes are a rich source of nutrition and a horse enjoys eating them. It is safe for you to feed grapes to your horse, keeping the horse’s health in mind.
Don’t disrupt their diet plan and ensure your safety while feeding them grapes. Horses are one of the wisest and most disciplined animals on earth. We should make sure that their discipline is rewarded with regular and healthy treats like grapes!