Horse Care Tips

Snacking Success: How to Feed a Horse an Apple

Horse and apple
Written by Aimee B.

Take Care With Treats

As a horse owner, there’s nothing better than seeing your horse happy, healthy, and content. One of the most fun things about having a horse is spoiling them with everything from grooming sessions to special treats. Although you may have seen a variety of treats in stores, you may question whether a more natural treat would be better.

There’s more to it than you might think when it comes to feeding your horse treats, specifically apples. Although horses love apples, there are a few key safety points to remember when feeding snacks to your horse.

Horse Treats – The Basics

Horses love treats! An array of different horse delights are available from tack stores to grocery stores to your favorite online retailer.

Just like humans, horses have their own taste preferences. The treats one horse finds delicious might be spit out on the ground in disgust by another.

Through trial and error, it’s usually relatively easy to find a treat your horse will adore. Also, trying new things can provide some fun entertainment for you both!

Everything in Moderation

As with most things in life, moderation is key. Horses have a delicate gastrointestinal system. They are prone to colic, especially with sudden changes in diet. This can include feeding a horse too many treats at one time.

It’s always best to carefully follow package instructions for any treat you choose to feed your horse.

It’s important to remember to never feed someone else’s horse without permission. Signs alerting others to this general policy can’t hurt either!

Horse feeding sign

Photo Cred: Canva

How many apples can a horse eat a day?

Horses should only have about one, maybe two, apples per day. Remember everything in moderation. Feeding an excess of two apples can cause stomach upset, or even colic.

Feeding Treats Safely

Safety is an important consideration when feeding horses treats. Horses can’t see directly under their noses–they “feel” with their whiskers and lips in order to grab food.

To safely feed a horse an apple, place the treat in your palm with your fingers flat and safely out of the way. Horses can’t always distinguish between your fingers and a carrot, so it’s best to always keep your hand flat when offering anything.

If you’re considering offering a treat to someone else’s horse, always ask permission first. Some horses have dietary restrictions or allergies that make feeding certain treats potentially deadly.

Beware, not every horse is polite about taking treats from a person’s hands. Some people choose not to feed their horses by hand because sometimes horses get nippy. Don’t risk injury by offering a treat to an unfamiliar horse.

Horse eating apple unsafely

Photo Cred: Canva

Common Horse Treats

As you may have seen from catalogs and online ads, there are many different horse treats on the market. Some of these treats are natural and can be found in your local grocery store or farmer’s market, while others contain various ingredients.

Apples for Horses

Apples are a great, natural horse treat option. It’s best to thoroughly wash the apple before feeding it to remove any residual chemicals.

Can you feed a horse an entire apple?

Yes, a horse can safely eat a whole apple a day. Consider dividing the apple and feeding smaller pieces over the day instead of providing it all at once.

Horse eating whole apple

Photo Cred: Canva

How to prepare apples for horses

Offering a whole apple to a horse can be a choking hazard. It’s best to cut the apple into bite-sized pieces.

How to cut apples for horses

Slicing the apple into strips is one of the best ways to prepare it for your horse.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do horses eat apples whole?

The short answer? Yes! Horses will eat apples whole, but offering them this way can pose a choking hazard. It’s best to cut the apple into smaller slices, grate, or even puree it before providing it to your horse.

Q: How do you feed a horse by hand?

Put the treat in the palm of your hand and keep your fingers flat when offering a treat. And if the horse isn’t your own, always ask permission before offering a snack!

Q: How do you feed a horse a carrot?

Carrots also pose a choking hazard to horses. After thoroughly washing the carrot, cut it into narrow strips before offering it to your horse. If your horse has trouble chewing, you may want to grate the carrot instead of cutting it.

Horse and a carrot

Q: Do horses like apples or carrots better?

Most horses enjoy apples and carrots equally, but individual horses have different likes and dislikes regarding treats, so you may find that your horse prefers one over the other.

Parting Thoughts

Feeding your horse a healthy treat is fun for you and him. Apples are a great all-natural treat that most horses will love, but always remember to offer them in moderation and take care when preparing and feeding the apple.

Happy snacking!

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About the author


Aimee B.

Aimee grew up riding and showing in western pleasure and horsemanship through 4-H. She began riding dressage 7 years ago and is currently training her 3.5-year-old Friesian/Quarter Horse.