Can Horses eat Pumpkin?

Halloween is synonymous with fancy dress, costumes, sweets and of course pumpkins. They are literally everywhere at the moment! Everywhere seems to be displaying them - with some people getting really creative with the carving and decorating. I managed to get a few from my local shop as I'ma huge fan of pumpkin soup (it's so delicious!) but I also like to give the horses a little Halloween treat too. Certainly makes a change from carrots, turnips and apples! Pumpkins are not only good for us but also great for horses too - so no better time to pick up one and spoil that special horse or pony in your life :D

The Benefits of Feeding Pumpkin to Horses 

  • No part of a pumpkin is toxic to horses (although the stalk can be a choking hazard). 
  • Pumpkins are a great source of nutrients. They contain high levels of
    • Vitamin A: for vision, bone growth, reproduction and cell division. 
    • Vitamin E: necessary for muscle functioning. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells
    • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Used to produce energy.
    • Vitamin B9 (Folate): is needed to make DNA and other genetic material.
    • Carotenes: converts into vitamin A inside the body.
    • Fibre: improves digestive health.
  • It is also a rich source of minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
  • The flesh and shell of the pumpkin is also thought to be anti-parasitic! 
  • Pumpkin seeds are completely safe for horses to eat too! They are an excellent source of fibre and fatty acids (which is good for heart health). They also contain high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals (such as iron, selenium and zinc).  

Before you feed Pumpkin

Before you decide to feed pumpkin check for any signs of rotting, mould or mildew - particularly on the underside where it will have been in contact with the ground. If there are small patches of sagginess or softness these may be cut out and the remaining pumpkin is still safe to eat. Any pumpkins that have been used with a candle or are no longer fresh cannot be fed to horses.

How to feed Pumpkin to Horses

Most horses like pumpkin treats and will gobble them up. In fact, most will eat the skin and the insides if let alone to 'play' with a pumpkin! If your horse is fussy then you could save some seeds and mix in with regular treats until they become used to the taste and smell.

If they find the pumpkin a bit tough to chew you can bake it to soften it up. The seeds can be toasted too.

I tend to leave a pumpkin in their field or stable and just let them play and chew on their new (healthy!) boredom buster. It's mentally stimulating for them to roll around a pumpkin and figure out how to bite into it!

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