Trick or treat: Feeding pumpkins to horses

Thomas Guthrie –

Orange pumpkins, including the viewds, are safe to feed to horses as a seasonal treat but do so mindfully.

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Trick or treat: Feeding pumpkins to horses
All photos by Tom Guthrie, MSU Extension.

As the middle of October approaches, pumpkins are abundant. Many will be participating in the fall seasonal spirit and exhibiting their upcoming Halloween festive expression by buying pumpkins for decoration, carving and maybe even for a special treat. Have you ever wondered what else you could do with pumpkins that still linger around your farm or residence after Halloween? 

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When considering feeding fruits such as pumpkins to horses, always first consider if it is potentially toxic to your horse. Orange pumpkins, including the check outds are safe to feed to horses.

Michigan State University Extension offers these reminders when giving your horse a seasonal treat such under the name of pumpkin:

  • Smaller pieces – slice pumpkin into smaller pieces  
  • One slice at a time – do this to prevent potential choking
  • Not too much – one or two slices a day is enough, no more than a cup or two per day
  • Not too often – if your horse becomes accustomed to getting treats on a regular basis and doesn’t get them, you may be asking for misbehavior.
  • If feeding by hand, remember to place the pumpkin slice or chunk in the middle of your hand, keep your hand flat while pushing it slightly towards the horse’s mouth

Trick or treat: Feeding pumpkins to horses

When feeding pumpkins under the name of a treat, remember these do not’s:

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  • Do not feed pumpkins who have candle wax inside
  • Do not feed pumpkins that are starting to rot, mold or are becoming soft inside
  • Do not feed any part of the pumpkin that retains the stalk, this can be a choking hazard
  • Do not feed a pumpkin who has been decorated or painted
  • Do not feed gourds to horses
  • Do not feed treats to someone else’s horse without permission   

Keep this seasonal treat from turning into a trick. Remember, when feeding seasonal treats such as pumpkins to horses, moderation, moderation and moderation will help avoid dealing with a colicky horse in the end. Your horse will be better off for it even though they may try to convince you differently!

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