• Lis Clegg

Can horses eat sprouts?

Well, it's nearly Christmas, after all. I've heard of people who hang a stem of sprouts in the stable for their horses to munch or play with. Lots of people say horses should never eat brassicas, but some adore cabbage. Who do you believe?

My horses have all loved broccoli stalks (the florets, less so), and for years a publican friend used to bring the peelings and leftovers from preparing Sunday buffets for our horses to tuck into. Cauliflower, swede, turnip, parsnip, carrot, cabbage, broccoli... all fresh and yummy.

Potatoes are poisonous to horses. But I also know people who've fed their horses the previous day's potato peelings for years. Horses for courses? Best not to try it.

If you have a laminitic you do need to watch the sugar levels (I've heard that celery is allowed), but for many equines the vitamin content might offset the risk. If your horses is on good grass it probably doesn't need extra veg, but something fresh in the winter is generally a good thing.

How much do you feed your horse? A sack of veg is probably not wise, but a few bits and pieces each day adds vitamins and variety to the winter diet. Provided horses aren't starving they're pretty good at picking out what they need and like.

Know your horse. Mine ate celeriac last week. It wasn't his first choice, but it disappeared overnight.

Finally, a key fact: if it's not your horse, don't feed it unless you have the owner's permission. Not a peppermint, not the end of your sandwich, nothing. Just don't.

We cover all this and more in How to Approach Horses. Get your copy via our Books pages!

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