Can Horses Eat Apples? Cautions, FACTS, and Recipes

Are Apples Bad For Horses? 

Can horses eat apples? For most horses, apples can be a healthy and delicious treat in addition to their regular diet. While we want our horses to stick to a healthy diet, we also want them to be able to enjoy a treat every now and then, and apples are a treat that most horses love without being unhealthy.

We may know that horses love the taste. However, as with all treats, it is important to consider the amount and frequency you are feeding your horse and whether this treat suits your horses’ diet and health condition.

horse eating apple

How Many Apples Are Too Much?

As suggested, apples are to be considered a treat in a horse’s diet, and treats should be consumed in moderation. We definitely do not want to be feeding a horse a bag of apples per day. Horses should only be fed one or two apples each day, and when giving them as treats, it should be calculated into their total daily nutrition intake. 

The Dangers of Feeding Your Equine Too Many Apples

Many horse owners have ended up with unwanted vet visits and digestion issues from feeding too many apples to their horses. As we know, horses have very sensitive digestion systems, and it’s essential to be very careful with the diet and treats they receive. 

Some horse owners have found that when feeding a large number of apples each day, their horse has developed digestion issues and, in some cases, caused colic. This is obviously a dangerous situation for your horse’s health, and feeding large quantities of apples at a time should be avoided. 

A good idea to keep your horse happier for longer is to split the apples into treats throughout the day rather than in just one sitting. This will make your horse feel like it is getting more treats when actually it is just one or two apples cut up throughout the day.

Which Types of Apples Can Horses Safely Eat?

When it comes to what type of apples they like, horses are generally not picky! They will eat any color such as green, red, and yellow apples and even enjoy cooked apples (although they prefer them served raw). There are no types of apple that are deemed unsafe for a horse to eat, but the following are some of the most common favorites for horses:

  • Gala apples
  • Red Delicious apples
  • Honeycrisp apples
  • Pink Lady Apples
  • Granny Smith Apples
  • Suncrisp Apples
  • McIntosh Apples
horse eating red apple

Precautions to Consider When Feeding Horses Apples

Although apples are considered to be a generally healthy snack for horses, there are some instances that you may reconsider feeding them to your horse. Let’s explore some of the most common health reasons that may cause an issue with apples being a regular treat in their diet.

Horses With Dental Issues

For horses with dental issues, a nice crunchy apple can pose a serious threat to their dental health or be painful to eat. If your horse has only a few teeth left but loves the taste of apples, you could cut them into smaller pieces to make them easier to chew. If your horse has no teeth, but you still want to feed them apples, consider making a soft puree or mash for them to eat.

Horses With Metabolic Issues

Due to the high sugar content in apples, it would not be recommended to feed them to horses with metabolic issues such as Cushing’s disease or insulin resistance. There are many other healthy snacks you can feed your horse, so it would be safest to avoid apples in this case.

Horses With Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP)

If your horse is suffering from HYPP, it would be advised to avoid feeding apples altogether. HYPP is a disease that makes a horse incapable of processing potassium and can leak out of the muscles causing major health issues. Since apples contain potassium, they should be avoided in this diet. 

Preparing Apples for Your Horses Before Feeding

When preparing apples for your horse, you can remove the skin if you would prefer. However, horses tend to enjoy the taste of the crunchy peels. In addition, the skin is relatively thin; it doesn’t cause issues when ingesting and digesting. There is also a lot of fiber and nutrients in the apple peel, so this is an added bonus to keeping the skin intact when feeding your horse apples. 

Organic apples that have not been sprayed with pesticides or toxins are ideal for feeding your horse but if you do not have access to organic apples, simply rinse off store-bought apples to remove the toxic residues. 

Whole Apples vs. Cut Apples – Which is Best?

A horse definitely can eat an apple whole, but that doesn’t mean it is the best way to feed them to your horse. When giving whole apples, a horse may get over excited and eat them too quickly, causing a blockage in their throat or digestive issues. 

Choking on an apple can be a severe affair for a horse and may require a vet visit or lead to a bout of pneumonia. To avoid these complications, it may be safer to cut the apple into smaller pieces before feeding. This will ensure your horse eats slower and the treat lasts longer. When it takes longer for a horse to eat their treats, it is a more rewarding experience.

The Different Ways to Feed a Horse Apples

If you want to get creative with your treats for your horse, we have a few ideas to incorporate apples into a more tasty and dynamic snack. Always ensure you are considering your horse’s daily nutrition requirements when adding in treats and using safe ingredients.

Baked Apples

Try baking cut-up apple pieces for a different flavor and texture to change up your horse’s treats. 

Apple Oatmeal 

Ensure that you use safe ingredients for horses, mix in some apple with oatmeal as a tasty and substantial treat. Ensure you are not adding excess sugars.

Frozen Apple Lick

A perfect treat for a hot summer’s day is a frozen apple lick. Simply fill up a container with water and add some sliced apples to the mix, and freeze. This is a creative way to keep your horse occupied for a little while as they try to get the apples out. Then, remove from the container and let your horse enjoy them! 

Baked Apple Treats

For those who are feeling creative, try finding a horse-friendly baked treat that you can incorporate into apples. These could be anything from apple cookies to apple squares! Ensure you are always using horse-friendly ingredients and not adding additional sugar into the mix.

Apple Bran Mix

A way to spice up your horse’s bran mash is by adding cut-up or mashed apple to it. This can completely change the taste and make bran even more enjoyable for your horse.

Apple Mash

Cooking and mashing up apples can be a tasty treat for older horses with dental issues that find the raw apples too crunchy to eat comfortably.

apple baked and fresh

FAQs on Horses and Apples

Can apples kill horses?

While apples may not seem dangerous to something as big as a horse, if fed in excess, it can lead to colic, which can very easily cause death in a horse. Another risk is providing whole apples, which can increase the risk of choking and, therefore, pneumonia. Also, if you are feeding a horse that cannot eat apples as part of its diet, it can cause serious health issues.

Can horses eat all the parts of an apple?

A horse can and will eat all the parts of an apple; however, if you prepare your apples by cutting them up, you may choose to leave out the core and seeds. Apple seeds do contain cyanide poisoning, but the quantity in an apple seed would not cause an issue for a horse due to its size. 

Horse vs. Apple vs. Cyanide Poisoning

Apple seeds do, of course, contain a small amount of cyanide, so does this pose a threat to your horse? And is it safe for your horse to eat all parts of the apple? In short, yes, your horse can eat the seeds of an apple. This does not mean horses are immune to cyanide. Rather, the amount of cyanide within the seeds of an apple is not nearly enough to cause damage to an animal as large as a horse. 

To put it in comparison, a human weighing 150 pounds would have to eat 200 apple seeds for it to affect them. Now imagine how many apples a horse weighing over 1000 pounds would have to eat to cause any adverse health effects. So if you are feeding your horse a sensible amount of apples each day, you will have no issues with cyanide poisoning from apples.

For a horse to eat enough apples to cause cyanide poisoning, it would almost be impossible to eat that many in one day as it would be far too much food for the poor horse! If you are still concerned about cyanide poisoning, you can, of course, remove the seeds before feeding apples to your horse. 

Final Thoughts

Adding apples to your horse’s diet can be a great and healthy way to keep them excited about their food or used as a reward for training or good behavior. However, it is essential to remember that apples are considered a treat for horses, and feeding in excess is never a good idea.

As long as you responsibly incorporate apples into your horse’s diet and follow the various health precautions and safety recommendations, you should have no issues. Your horse will love the tasty addition to their food!