Taking a treat to your horse is perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of having a horse. If you have a horse or know a bit about horses, you will surely be aware of how horses just love apples.
Many times after an exciting ride, I’ve explored my refrigerator in search of something my horse enjoys; peppermints, carrots, sugar cubes and of course apples. But can horses eat apples? They surely can! Apples are a favourite treat for most horses. There are some very important apple-horse facts you need to know.
Can Horses Eat Apples? Yes, moderately
Horses most often love apples. We know that apples are excellent for us, but are they as beneficial for horse? I often cut an apple up into smaller pieces for my horse as a treat, or use applesauce to hide the taste of medications while giving them to my horse. Can one apple a day help my horse to keep stay away from the vet?
A bit of research lead me to learn that apples are an excellent treat for my horse too! They contain several nutrients that important for a horse’s health.
Good Source of Potassium
It is common knowledge that apples contain high levels of potassium. There is nearly 160 mg of this nutrient in a medium-sized apple. The high potassium content in apples is essential for the functioning of nerves and muscle contraction. Additionally, potassium being an electrolyte is necessary for the metabolism of cells. Feeding your horse apples regularly can help it to maintain suitable levels of potassium, required for the functions listed above.
Calcium and Phosphorus
Apples also act as a good source of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is essential for several body functions, including the growth and health of bones, heart function, health of muscles, production of milk, maintaining correct thickness of blood, function of hormones and enzymes. Phosphorus is essential for metabolism of energy, bone structure and neutralizing the body’s acid.
An apple of a medium size contains approximately 10mg of both. The equal proportion of calcium and phosphorus complements each other. This is because phosphorus is essential for the absorption of calcium. If there is lesser amount of phosphorus in the body in comparison to calcium, the calcium will not be absorbed by the body properly, which may result in weakness of the bones.
Fiber is another very important element of a horse’s diet. A medium-sized apple contains approximately between 3g to 5g of fiber. This makes apples a very good source of fiber. Adding apples to your horse’s diet will surely be beneficial as they will act as a good source of fiber.
Vitamin A and C
More important nutrients found in apples are vitamin A and vitamin C. Both of these vitamins are extremely important for your horse. Acting as antioxidants, both of these vitamins combat free radicals and help the body to get rid of them. These damaged molecules can be the cause for fatigue, infection and inflammation. Adding apples to your horse’s meals will ensure that it gets both essential vitamins as a routine and in suitable quantity.
Moderation is Key
Having said all this about apples, you must remember that any good food loses its benefits if it is not used in moderation. If your horse loves apples and you feed it too many apples, this can lead to over indulgence and create health issues.
You must always remember that the digestive system of a horse may need time to adapt to any changes in his diet. Such changes may be unexpected or planned by you, but in both cases, there may be a reaction.
If your horse accidentally consumes a large quantity of apples, you may be faced with horse colic or laminitis. This may happen for any number of reasons; your horse may get access to your neighbor’s apple harvest, a strong wind may knock down large quantities of apples or your horse may discover your apple supply stored in a barn. Be prepared for a visit to the vet!
Is your Horse HYPP Positive?
There are certain circumstances in which apples are not good for your horse. If your horse has an active hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), potassium is leaked into its blood stream from the muscles continuously. In such a situation, it is imperative that the intake of potassium is controlled through its food. Based on research, the recommended level of potassium for a horse with HYPP is one percent of less on the entire food intake. Therefore, if your horse is HYPP positive, it is advisable that you do not feed it apples at all.
Always Slice and Feed
Whole apples are just the right size for a horse to choke on and this is a huge risk! Although this doesn’t occur too frequently, there is a good possibility that it may happen to your horse. If your horse does choke on an apple, you may need a veterinarian right away. Always make sure that you slice up apples into smaller pieces to avoid this.