Can Horses Eat Bananas?

Bananas are a food that many people associate with a member of the monkey family but not a horse. 

Are they a good treat or should a horse not be given bananas?

Can a Horse Eat Bananas?

Yes, a horse can eat a banana.  They are good for them.  They also like the taste of sugar and bananas are sweet and have a high level of sugar.  Bananas are great to give them as a treat or reward if they do something that you are trying to train them to do.

Benefits of Eating Bananas

One benefit of eating bananas is that they provide your horse with a good source of potassium.  This mineral is necessary for the health of your horse and contributes to muscular and cellular health.  Potassium contributes to the excitability and muscle contractions, which are beneficial to a horse that races, does competitions, or any other high-energy situation.  Also, they give horses’ much-needed energy in those situations.  

Bananas are also rich in vitamins B6 and C plus the minerals fiber and magnesium.  They can also help to remove harmful chemicals and stomach cleaning.  Bananas can also help calm a horse down as long as you feed them bananas in moderation and help maintain their body temperature.  Bananas can metabolize carbohydrates and give the horse a quick source of energy.

  • Copper 10%
  • Fiber 2.6%
  • Magnesium 8%
  • Potassium 9%
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Feeding Your Horse Banana

When you try your horse on a banana for the first time, just give them a couple of bites to make sure that they have no discomfort or allergies after eating them.  Most horses do not have a problem with eating bananas but it is best to make sure.

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When you feed your horse a banana you want to make sure that it is ripe and fresh and has not begun to mold.  You do not have to peel the banana unless you want to but if you do feed them the peel, make sure that you wash it thoroughly to get any pesticides and fungicides off the peel.  Do not give a whole banana to your horse but cut it into strips so they do not choke.  Do not cut it into chunks either as they can choke on those too.

You should only give your horse about a cup of banana at a time.  Do not give the end and the stem part.  Make sure that you feed them in moderation as too much potassium can be detrimental to their horse.  Many owners feel that you can feed them bananas once per week.  If you do not want to measure it out, make sure it is no more than two bananas per week.

It is suggested that you feed them banana treats in between a normal feeding time but not right before you are going to give them their regular feed.  This will make sure that they will be hungry enough to eat all their regular feed.

Why Too Much Potassium is Not Good

Too much potassium can prevent your horses’ muscles from relaxing properly.  If this happens, it can lead to muscle stiffness.  If their diet is too rich in potassium, it can also prevent them from absorbing the other important nutrients and minerals like magnesium and calcium that they need.

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horse eating banana

Metabolic Issues And Bananas

If your horse has a metabolic issue you should not feed them bananas in any form.  These issues can include obesity and insulin resistance.  When a horse is insulin resistant, they have to be monitored on their sugar intake.  Bananas are naturally high in sugar.  

Some horses have a genetic issue called Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), which is a disease that requires a horse to stay on a diet that is low in potassium.  There are high levels of potassium in bananas as mentioned.

Ways to Fix Bananas For Your Horse

  • Frozen—some horses may not like the texture of a banana at room temperature so you can try to freeze them and see if they like them better.  A frozen banana is a bit crunchy so it might be more enjoyable for a horse.
  • Baked banana treat—if you are going to make a banana baked treat for your horse, make sure that all the ingredients in there are non-toxic and safe for your horse.  
  • Mix with bran mash—some owners feed their horses’ bran mash so you can put some bananas in there as an added treat.

Conclusion

  • A horse naturally prefers a banana flavor over other flavors so it is a decadent treat for them.
  • If your horse is suffering from a metabolic or digestive disorder, check with your veterinarian before you give them bananas or any new treats.
  • Because bananas are naturally soft, they are the perfect treat for senior horses, especially if they have dental issues.  Any horse with dental issues would like bananas.
  • Although a horse can eat the banana peel, many do not like it so try your horse on a small piece before offering them more peeling.
  • Do not feed your horse banana chips as they have a high concentration of sugar and very little nutrients.  Avoid banana pudding and banana cakes for the same reason.
  • If you have to give medication to a horse, you could hide the pill in mashed up bananas or just inside a piece of banana.  Watch to make sure the horse does not choke on the banana or spit it and the pill out.
  • If you do not feed your horse bananas in moderation it can cause their sugar levels to spike, cause a sugar high, and get the horse over-excited.  In this state, it could hurt itself.
  • Some racehorse owners will give their racehorses bananas between races to give them quick energy.  Each banana has approximately 105 calories, depending on the size of the banana.
  • Potassium is essential to help the supportive cells to help build their hoofs.
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