can horses eat pumpkin

Can Horses Eat Pumpkin?

Can horses eat pumpkin? As most horse owners know, new owners or riders are always coming up with imaginative treats to feed their riding companions. They may want a way to reward their horse during training or use their feeding time as a way to deepen their bond.

No matter why you want to give your horse something extra tasty to eat, it’s important to check whether the foods are safe for your specific horse. So, while the easy answer to this question is yes, horses can eat pumpkins, there are still a few factors to take into account.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to prepare and safely give your horse this fun autumn food.

Horse drawn carriage full of pumpkins


Nutritional Content of Pumpkin

It’s a good idea to first know what pumpkin contains. As with any other treat or food source you may give your horse, monitoring its nutritional intake is key.

Luckily, pumpkin is a great addition to most horse diets, provided you also give them plenty of clean, fresh water and high-quality horse feed.

The nutritional value for every 100 grams of pumpkin is:

Pumpkin nutritional data


The Health Benefits of Feeding Your Horse Pumpkin

Since pumpkin is loaded with plenty of vitamins and minerals, there are some great health benefits to feeding pumpkins to horses.

Some of the top benefits of feeding pumpkin to your riding buddy include:

  • Supplementing the necessary nutrients in your horse’s diet.

  • Vitamin C is fantastic for your horse’s health and boosts the immune system.

  • Vitamin E is good for heart and muscle health.

  • Pumpkins have a high water content, which means better hydration.

  • Orange pumpkins are high in fatty acids and omega-3s which provides joint support and a glossy coat.

Black and orange pumpkin


How to Incorporate Pumpkin into Your Horse’s Diet Safely

If your horse has never had pumpkin before, you’ll need to introduce this new food gradually. Adding it to their food routine too quickly can lead to upset stomachs, bloating, and general gastrointestinal discomfort. And nobody wants a sore stomach.

Generally, fussy horses may not like certain parts of the pumpkin. Thankfully, it’s not just the pumpkin flesh that you can feed them. In fact, you can give them a pumpkin treat from any part of this delicious treat, including the pumpkin seeds and pumpkin rinds.

Preparation

It may not come as a surprise that you can feed horses pumpkins. But did you know that you can feed them a whole pumpkin? That’s right! You don’t have to bother removing the pumpkin rind or spend time scooping out pumpkin seeds. Instead, you can offer every bit of this nutritious treat to your horse.

Still, there are some important tips to keep in mind when you’re preparing to feed pumpkins to a horse:

  • Be sure to wash the pumpkin thoroughly. This will help to remove pesticides and other chemicals.

  • Remove the pumpkin stems. Although they’re not toxic to horses, they can be choking hazards.

  • Mix some pumpkin puree in with your horse’s wheat bran for a tasty treat.

  • If you’re going to cook the pumpkin, be sure not to add any sugar or spices. It’s better to keep it simple when you feed pumpkin to your horse.

  • You can feed your horse roasted or raw pumpkin seeds, but be careful. They may be a choking hazard for some horses.

  • Cut raw pumpkin into sizeable chunks. Don’t make them too big or too small.

Slices of pumpkin

How Much Pumpkin Can Horses Eat?

For an average-sized horse, you can give it one to two cups of pumpkin a day. However, you’ll need to be careful. You should always use your discretion as to how much you’re giving them. For example, a larger stallion may eat considerably more than a small mare with an average build.

For pumpkin seeds, you can give your horse around a handful a day. It may be a good idea to mix the seeds in with any other pumpkin you’re feeding it.

Should Horses Eat Pumpkin?

Yes, your horse should absolutely eat pumpkin. Not only is it a tasty treat, but it’s also full of nutritious goodness that can keep your horses strong and healthy.

It’s important to remember that like most other fruits and vegetables, you should make pumpkin a novel food. Although it has a low glycemic load, it’s still high in carbohydrates and can cause your horses to pack on some unnecessary weight.

You Shouldn’t Feed Pumpkin to These Horses…

While it’s safe for most horses to eat pumpkin, it may not be the best idea for those with Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis or HYPP. These horses do well on a diet with low potassium levels. Since pumpkins have relatively high levels, they may potentially be dangerous for them.

Pony with broom and pumpkin


FAQs

Can I feed my horse tinned pumpkin?

A natural follow-up question to ‘Can horses eat pumpkin?’ is ‘Can horses eat tinned pumpkin?’. And the answer is yes! Sometimes, it can be tricky to go through all the trouble of cooking and blending up food for your horse.

Luckily, you can feed it pure pumpkin puree as an alternative. Just remember to make sure that the only ingredient is pumpkin. Additives like sugar and spices can potentially lead to health complications in your horse.

Can horses eat other gourds?

Horses should only eat orange pumpkins. Other autumn gourds, like yellow or striped gourds, may potentially be toxic to your horse. So it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Can I give my horse a carved pumpkin?

Although it may be tempting to repurpose an old Halloween pumpkin, these should never be fed to your horse. Decorated pumpkins or those with old candle wax can cause stomach upset in your horses, while some decorative paints may be toxic.

Carved pumpkins are also usually older and soggy and go stale quickly. You should only feed your horse fresh, natural pumpkins that have been cleaned and prepared correctly.

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