Top Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Horse

Nothing is more important than nutrition. The vitamins and minerals our horses receive provide a foundation for their health and soundness. We are all searching for the best grain, the best supplements. But what about common foods that pose a health risk to our horses?

Top Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Horse

Common Foods to Avoid with Horses


There are many foods that may not be ingested by horses due to the chemicals they contain and the serious problems that result.

  • Avocado. This fruit is extremely toxic to horses even in small doses. According to EquiNews:“Persin, a substance derived from fatty acids contained in avocados, is believed to be the toxin responsible for health problems in horses and other animals that eat the fruit. In horses that ingest avocados, the toxin can cause colic, irregular heartbeat, respiratory distress, neurologic dysfunction, edema, and other signs of illness.”
  • Caffeine. May cause irregular heartbeat and acts as a stimulant. If you show your horses, caffeine is a definitely no-no.
  • Potatoes. Part of the nightshade family, green and sprouting potatoes contain high amounts of the poison solanine. Horses can suffer from colic, decreased heart rate and breathing, seizures, and heart failure.
  • Tomatoes. Also part of the nightshade family, tomotoes contain a number of chemicals that are toxic to horses.
  • Rhubarb. While the stalks are non-toxic to horses, ingestion of rhubarb leaves may cause kidney failure.
  • Garlic & Onions. While not necessarily toxic, these can destroy red blood cells and result in anemia.
  • Chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to horses as much as dogs. In horses, it can cause colic, seizures, and even internal bleeding.


Choke is a serious concern for horse owners. With a blockage of the esophagus the horse will still be able to breathe but cannot swallow. As a result dehydration is a result. Some horses may panic. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, coughing, gagging, excessive saliva from the mouth and nose.

  • Potatoes. Potatoes are easily lodged in the esophagus when eaten whole or cut into large chunks. As noted above, green or rotten potatoes are  toxic.
  • Bread. Dough products are easily stuck and can block the airway.

Severe Gas or Colic

My horse owner’s biggest fear is colic. These foods are well known for their gaseous tendencies.

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese. Horses are lactose intolerant.

Does this seem like a long list? Don’t worry. Country & Stable has made an amazing infographic regarding the do’s and don’ts of feeding your horse.


What not to feed your horse infographic

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8 thoughts on “Top Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Horse

  1. So many of these are not common knowledge! I’m so glad you’re sharing this. We want to keep our horses happy and healthy, and I love how that’s at the forefront of all your posts!

    1. Thanks Lindsey! I hope this will be helpful to horse owners and prevent some major health issues.

  2. I am sometimes scared by the amount of horse owners in Norway who give their horse fresh or dried breads(yeast breads especially).

    1. Yikes! That is scary. Choke is so dangerous. Sadly, it’s not uncommon here either.

  3. Good article! I was surprised about broccoli and potatoes, so good to know. I use to give my horse some of my non-caffeinated root beer as a treat once in awhile. He really loved it 🙂

    1. I bet! Root beer was originally made with sassafras and is sweet like molasses. Most horses have a sweet tooth. We have one horse here obsessed with gatorade.

  4. This is a terrific post. Such good advice.

    1. Thanks Anne! Glad you find it helpful.

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