Horses are not particularly picky eaters, but they sure have an affinity for nibbling at things they should absolutely avoid. In this case, do strawberries fall in this category, or is it safe for consumption? Let’s find out whether or not horses can eat strawberries.
So, can horses eat strawberries? Yes, strawberries very safe for horses, and owners who look after their horses are encouraged to give them strawberries as treats. Their owners or groomers can feed horses moderate quantities of strawberries, but some discipline must be maintained so that the horses don’t get sick.
There are many breeds of horses bred around the globe. Their diets depend on their size and levels of exercise.
Some well-known horse breeds throughout the world are thoroughbred, Arabian, American Quarter, Appaloosa, Clydesdale, Friesian, Shire, American Paint, Miniature, Comtois, Caspia, Breton, Finnish, American Indian, Brumby, Yonaguni, Westphalian, Shagya Arabian, Trahkener, Curly-haired, Dartmouth, Irish Draught, Peruvian Paso, Cob, Hackney, Fjord, Hanoverian, Barb, Lipizzan, Icelandic, and more.
The number of strawberries a horse can safely consume also depends on other factors like body mass, genetics, metabolic rate, external exercises, grooming, etc.
What do horses normally eat?
Horses are very high maintenance beasts and need constant grooming, care, and attention. Athletic horses have requirements that differ largely from a pastoral/ pet horse.
Some healthy food items that are fed to horses for their nutritional intake are:
- Grass and soft plants found in pastures
- Oats and small amounts of corn
- A mixture of molasses, beet pulp, and grains
- Salts and minerals
- Sliced or small fruits
- Food items with natural sugars (horses are known to have a sweet tooth)
There should also be plenty of water available for horses. Water is as vital for these animals as it is for others. Provide fresh water that cannot be contaminated by environmental factors or dirt and food scraps.
Where do strawberries come into this? Are there any ill effects seen in horses caused by the consumption of too many strawberries?
Let us find out.
Benefits of strawberries to horses
Strawberries are tiny delicious fruits that have been incorrectly tagged as a berry. The strawberry is an aggregate accessory fruit, which means that the fruit’s flesh holds the ovary of the plant and isn’t a fruit of the ovary itself.
The strawberries packed to the brim with beneficial and nutritional elements. Strawberries are full of vitamins and fiber. These berries are rich in anti-oxidants, specifically in polyphenols. Polyphenols help to counteract digestion problems, weight management issues, cardiovascular illnesses, etc.
Therefore, strawberries help provide an additional layer of protection for your heart, increase good cholesterol levels, and reduce your chances of contracting cancer.
Strawberries are an excellent snack that is low in calories and helps to attain your weight management goals.
Strawberries are full of magnesium, which is vital for regulating biochemical processes in the body, and potassium, which is required to reduce blood pressure and offer protection against strokes and renal calculi (kidney stones). It is interesting to note that a single serving of eight medium-sized strawberries contains more Vitamin C than an orange.
This is all well and good for humans, but how are strawberries beneficial for horses?
Horses are known to have a strong affection for anything sweet. Strawberries are the perfect treat for your four-footed pals and are certainly a better treat than handfuls of processed sugar.
These fruits are full of fiber, among other nutrients, so it forms a very beneficial part of their diet.
Strawberries can help manage and encourage a healthy diet in horses – these fruits have high water content and natural sugars, which is great for the equestrians.
Horses require many nutrients to be in tiptop condition. Some of the vitamins and minerals required in the healthy diet of a horse are vitamins K, C, and E as well as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. All these can be found in abundance in strawberries.
Don’t give horses processed or cooked strawberries. Always present them with fresh strawberries.
You can slice them up before giving it to your horse to avoid any choking hazard.
Slicing off the top of the strawberries can draw out your horses, and they will greatly relish this delicious treat.
Things to keep in mind when feeding strawberries to horses
Strawberries are great for ponies and horses alike, but how much is too much?
Apparently, horses should not be fed more than eight to ten strawberries a week, according to organizations involved in equestrian care.
This is because too many strawberries end up hurting horses rather than providing good health and nutrition because of the following reasons:
You may have experienced a health condition called bloat: the condition occurs when your stomach swells up considerably due to excessive gas trapped inside the muscles of the digestive system. This causes a painful and uncomfortable sensation and creates a sense of being “stuffed” to the gills.
Well, this condition is common in horses as well. Bloat can occur when horses eat too many strawberries and end up suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort and vomiting.
An excess of strawberries can fill up a horse, which will cause it to turn away from its meals. If a horse does not get a proper well-balanced diet, it will suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition in horses is a common cause of death.
Strawberries are very high in sugar content, and natural or not, too much sugar can have a harmful impact on horses.
Horses love sweet things, but many horses may be resistant to insulin. It is best to speak to a vet prior to introducing sweet food items like strawberries in your horse’s diet.
Horses usually chew their food before swallowing, but a large piece of food may escape and go down the wrong gullet. Big pieces of strawberries can choke your horse, so it’s best to slice these fruits before feeding your horse.
Feeding strawberries to horses
Before you jump on the wagon and buy tons of strawberries for your pet horse, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Moderation is the key to everything. Always maintain discipline when feeding horses strawberries. Don’t fall for their beautiful eyes and give in by feeding them too many strawberries.
Strawberries should be given as treats only, and never as full-fledged meals. Strawberries do not contain all the nutrients required for the wellbeing of a horse.
Wash your strawberries thoroughly before giving it to your horse – the remnants of pesticides and insecticides sprayed on crops make many animals sick.
Throw out strawberries that have been discarded by horses – these fruits may be rotten or have mold or fungi growing out of them.
Always check with your vet before giving your horse strawberries – no matter how much your horse loves all sweet-tasting things, if they are insulin resistant, giving them strawberries can cause serious harm.
Always provide fresh water for horses along with their fruit snacks. There is nothing like a fresh bowl of water to go with their meals.
Strawberries are great for teaching your horse new tricks. You can use strawberries as a treat when your horse performs the exercises and tricks you want the animal to learn.
So here you go. Yes, strawberries are safe for horses, as long as you give them these fruits as an occasional treat. Too many strawberries can cause more harm than good, so it is best to follow a thorough regimental diet to ensure your horse does not fall sick.