Maybe second only to carrots and sugar cubes, apples are the treat that you might most commonly associate with horses. Photographs, movies, and artwork all depict loving horse owners and enthusiasts offering apples to their favorite equine friends. But have you ever stopped and actually asked yourself, Can Horses Eat Apples? While you might think that horses eating apples is as natural as your horse eating hay, there are still some people out there who may not know!
The short answer is: Yes, horses can eat apples. In North America, they are one of the most popular treats to offer a horse, and definitely the most popular fruit to offer horses. The natural crunch of the apple can be satisfying to some horses, and horses with a sweet tooth will certainly enjoy the natural sweetness of an apple. Apples have a high water content and therefore provide a tiny bit more of the daily fluid your horse needs to be happy and healthy. You do not need to worry about peeling the apples, as they are high in fiber and yet another benefit to your horse’s diet.
While apples are perfectly safe for your horse to enjoy as a treat- remember the phrase: “Everything in moderation.” What this means is that too much of a good thing can eventually end up being a bad thing. Too many treats can take away your horse’s appetite for their regular, well-balanced diet, possibly leaving them with a nutrient deficiency down the road. Other horses may have no problem eating their normal diet and still eating large numbers of apples, but that may lead to weight problems. Horses with insulin resistance may also be impacted if they are allowed to eat excessive amounts of apples on a regular basis. A generally accepted recommendation is to offer one pound of apples or less in a day, and only offer that amount once or twice a week. If your horse has a medical concern such as insulin resistance, you may also choose to talk with your veterinarian about what type of treats and what amount of treats are safe for your horse to eat.
So in the future, if you should run into the person who would ask the question: Can horses eat apples?, you can give them a clear, knowledgeable answer!