Katie Allen-Clarke from Horse & Country TV has put together a list of 5 things to never feed horses…

The days are longer, sunnier and warmer…what could be better than a long family walk on a summer’s day? The countryside is always stunning at this time of year, and there’s plenty of wildlife to look out for, too.

However, while it can be tempting to feed animals while out and about in the countryside, especially when with young children, this practice can be incredibly dangerous. Horses especially are often fed by the passers-by without consent and without an understanding of what could harm them. Lockdown showed several instances of unwell horses that linked to snacks fed to them by the public (The British Horse Society).

So, to minimise the chances of pedestrians causing unintentional harm to horses with this gesture, Horse & Country have put together 5 things you should NEVER feed horses.

1. Chocolate

Horses have been known to enjoy a sweet treat in the form of peppermints and sugar cubes, however, chocolate is a step too far.

Like dogs, the chemicals found in cocoa is harmful to horses causing seizures, crippling colic and in some severe cases, internal bleeding. Making it one of the most dangerous foods to dish out while passing a field.

Equines are also essentially lactose intolerant, they do not have the enzymes to absorb lactose in the body, so any dairy products can have a lasting negative affect.

2. Tomatoes

While the taste of the tomato plant is unappealing to horses, it’s harmful too.

The presence of alkaloid in tomatoes slows the gut function of horses and can result in diarrhoea. This includes cherry tomatoes, so even a miniature version can cause great discomfort.

Make sure to check your picnic spot for any roll-away tomatoes before leaving.

3. Bread

Sandwiches are a day out essential, so this could be the first thing that springs to mind when spotting a gate with friendly faces peering over. But, ensure you avoid doing this at all costs.

Baked goods including bread can become sticky and doughy in the intestine, making it hard to digest and causing blockages.

Bread can also cause a calcium deficiency, which could lead to more serious health concerns for our equine friends.

4. Lawn Clippings

This may seem an unusual one as horse graze daily on grass. However, picking freshly cut grass from the ground and using it as feed is not advised. As the grass has been finely chopped it allows the horse to eat more and chew less in a short space of time and can be a choking hazard.

This could also cause a fatal stomach-ache, negative effects on hoof health and colic making it incredibly important to avoid.

5. Pitted fruit

While apples are among horses’ favourites, other sweet fruits that probably taste delicious are not so good. Fruits that have seeds or pits contain cyanide and are toxic to horses.

Not only this, but the pits can also get caught in the throat, without a vet’s immediate attention, would be life-threatening.

“It’s of course tempting to pet and feed horses while spending time in the countryside, especially with young children in tow, as they are incredibly affectionate animals.

However, to keep both you and the horses safe, it’s important not to feed them something that is potentially harmful. Stable owners and equestrians tend to have set diet plans in place and it’s vital not to disrupt this.

Sometimes you may be able to feed them something safe such as a carrot or a piece of apple, but you should always get permission from the owner first.

Lastly, if you’re out and about this spring, always make sure to clean up after a day near a stable or farmyard as rubbish and leftover scraps could be consumed without your knowledge.”

– Katie Allen-Clarke at Horse & Country