Your horse’s health and overall wellbeing very much depends on the diet they have. Foods that are rich in fibers, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is a great way to boost the horse’s immunity and increase its lifespan.
Treats are an important part of a healthy horse diet. Apart from their regular meals, which largely consists of grass, hay, and grains, treats are a great way to supplement their organism with the needed minerals and vitamins. Of course, treats’ menus vary from horse to horse, and it is very important to be familiar with the horse’s potential medical conditions before feeding them with any treats.
Today we will discuss one of the staples of human cuisine: the pumpkin. In this article, we will see whether can horses eat pumpkin, and whether it is beneficial for their health. Another issue we will turn to is whether the horses can be fed with pumpkin seeds, and other seeds, and whether this is a great idea or not.
Can Horses Eat Pumpkin?
The pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbits family, which usually thrives in warmer climates. Apart from pumpkins, members of this family include melons, cucumbers and squashes. Pumpkin is another species that is falsely considered as a vegetable: in fact, pumpkins are considered to be a fruit, because of their seeds.
They are a highly nutritious meal, being very rich with Vitamin A, and also containing Vitamins B2, C and E. They are also rich in minerals, in particular potassium, copper, manganese, and iron.
Same as with humans, there are a lot of benefits of feeding pumpkin to horses. They definitely can eat pumpkins, especially orange pumpkins. Also, pumpkins do not cause a sudden increase in the horse’s glucose levels, which makes them pretty safe for all horses – of course, if your horse has a pre-existing condition, or insulin resistance, consult with your vet before feeding them pumpkin; it is safe for them in general, but it’s better to be sure.
There hasn’t been a lot of official research on the overall benefits of the pumpkin for horses, however, horse breeders and vets all agree that there are a lot of benefits. However, same as with many other foods, pumpkins should be served with moderation – and they should not be a replacement for an entire meal for a horse. A medium sized cup a day is completely fine. Anything more than that can cause bloating and digestive system distress.
The only issue you might have with feeding your horse pumpkins – is that they might not be the biggest fans of the taste. Each horse is an individual, with unique taste. Therefore, they might be the biggest pumpkin fans, or they might completely ignore it.
Despite horses being allowed to eat pumpkin, make sure you do not feed them with canned pumpkin, or a pumpkin pie – the pre-packed pumpkin usually contains more sugar, which can pose as a serious threat for your horse’s digestion.
Another very important thing you need to bear in mind, is that not all members of the Cucurbit family are actually beneficial for your horse – while the orange pumpkin is great, other types, such as gourds, can disrupt your horse’s digestive system and be potentially toxic. If you don’t have an orange pumpkin, and you’re unsure if another type is safe for them, consult with a professional.
How to Feed Your Horse With a Pumpkin?
Here are several tips on how to feed and serve a pumpkin treat for your horse:
- Cut the pumpkin in smaller chunks – large pieces might pose as a choking hazard; also, give your horse one piece at a time.
- The recommended amount, as we have mentioned, is a medium-sized cup per day max;
- Do not offer them pumpkin treats every day – the sugar levels might disrupt their dietary habits, and they might start asking for a sugary treat more often, completely ignoring the other, healthy food;
- If there are signs of mushing in the pumpkin, or it starts to sag, it’s better to throw it away, instead of feeding your horse with it – they might get food poisoning;
- If you have some Halloween leftovers, and you want to give a little treat from the Trick-or-Treat, make sure the pumpkin is completely cleaned from paint, wax and similar additions, and it is still fresh;
- When you feed your horse by hand, put the pumpkin slice in the middle of the hand, while keeping your hand flat. Then slowly start pushing it into the horse’s mouth;
- Don’t force feed your horse with a pumpkin – chances are, they might not like it. If they keep giving resistance, just seek for another healthy and nutritious treat for them.
Benefits of Feeding Pumpkin Seeds to Horses
We know the benefits pumpkin seeds bring to humans for a long time now. They have a high level of nitric oxide, which is one of the key molecules for a blood vessel’s health. Being a vasodilator, it relaxes the blood vessels’ inner muscles. This causes widened blood vessels, which in turn increases the blood flow and of course, lowers the blood pressure.
Pumpkin seeds are a completely safe snack for horses, as they also get the same benefits as humans do. They can eat pumpkin seeds both rar or roasted. Apart from nitric oxide, they also contain manganese, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, and copper, making them an incredibly nutritious small treat for your horse.
When it comes to seeds, another very common question is whether can horses eat sunflower seeds. The short answer is yes – and same as with pumpkin seeds, horses love them. Many groomers claim they are a great supplement for bolstering the horse’s coat condition. However, bear in mind that horses eat only black oil sunflower seeds – the striped seeds usually consumed by humans may poison your horse.
We can definitely agree there are loads of benefits of feeding your horse with pumpkins. They are refreshing and highly nutritious. The only problem might be that your horse might not be the biggest pumpkin fan – and of course, you should respect their choice.
Apart from being a healthy, nutritious snack, pumpkins have another great benefit for your horse – they can use them as toys. Horses love to play with pumpkins, regardless if you throw a smaller pumpkin at them to play, or hang one on the ceiling of their stable. Plus, you can be sure that it is a toy that is completely safe to consume!
The post-Halloween period is a great time for pumpkin snacks for your horse, however, make sure that the pumpkin is thoroughly cleaned, and still fresh, before giving it to your horse as a treat or a toy (or both). Be careful not to overfeed your horse with pumpkin in this period – as pumpkins still contain a significant amount of sugar.