What Do American Quarter Horses Eat: A Detailed Guide

If you’re a proud owner of an American Quarter Horse, you know how important their diet is for their overall health and well-being. In this post, we’ll be diving into a detailed guide on “What Do American Quarter Horses Eat?” From their nutritional requirements to their favorite treats, we’ve got you covered. So, whether you’re a new owner or just curious, read on to discover everything you need to know about feeding your American Quarter Horse.

Understanding American Quarter Horses

Close up of Beautiful Brown Shinning American Quarter Horse eating grass

Origin and Background

The American Quarter Horse is one of the oldest recognized breeds of horses in the United States, originating in the 1660s as a cross between native Spanish horses used by early colonists and English horses imported to Virginia from around 1610. These versatile horses have been used as race horses, work horses, in rodeos, on ranches, and in many other settings, due to their friendly temperament and highly trainable nature.

Colors and Markings

American Quarter Horses come in a wide variety of colors, including sorrel, bay, black, chestnut, roan, palomino, gray, grullo, buckskin, white, blue roan, red dun, and perlino. Each color has distinct markings, contributing to the breed’s unique appearance and individuality.

Size and Temperament

Quarter Horses are known for their compact and sturdy build, typically standing between 14.3 hands (56 inches) and 16 hands (64 inches) in height, with weights ranging from 950 to 1,200 pounds or more. Their muscular bodies make them well-suited for a variety of tasks and disciplines.

In terms of temperament, the American Quarter Horse is generally friendly, adaptable, and eager to please. This breed has a highly trainable nature, making it an excellent choice for riders of all levels and interests.

The diet of American Quarter Horses primarily consists of fresh grass, hay, and grains such as rolled oats, bran, and barley. In addition to these, supplements and concentrates can also be included in their diet to provide the necessary nutrition. To add some variety, horses can be given treats like carrots and apples, which are rich in vitamins and minerals essential for their health and well-being. It is important to ensure that the horses receive a balanced diet to maintain their overall health and energy levels.

To summarize, the American Quarter Horse is a versatile breed with a rich history, diverse coloring, and a friendly temperament. They are easily trained and adaptable, making them an ideal choice for various equestrian disciplines. A proper diet and adequate nutrition are vital to maintaining their health and performance.

Feeding American Quarter Horses

A magestic white quarter horse leaning over gate in the fall

Diet and Nutrition

American Quarter Horses are known for their versatility and athleticism, making their diet and nutrition crucial in maintaining their overall health and performance. They mainly consume fresh grass, hay, and grains such as rolled oats, bran, and barley to fulfill their daily energy requirements. Supplements and concentrates may be added to their diet to ensure they receive the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Treats like apples and carrots can occasionally be given, but it’s essential to ensure these treats do not constitute a large portion of their diet. The nutritional needs of Quarter Horses can vary based on their age, body weight, and activity level. It is vital to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to create a balanced diet plan tailored to the individual horse’s needs.

Hay and Forage

Hay and forage should form the foundation of an American Quarter Horse’s diet, as they are natural grazing animals. Providing high-quality hay or access to pasture is essential for their digestive health, as it mimics their natural grazing habits. Their intake of hay and forage should be monitored and adjusted based on their weight, workload, and overall health.

In addition to grass and hay, quality forage may include alfalfa, clover, or other legumes. Forage not only provides essential fiber and nutrients but also promotes proper chewing and saliva production, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues like ulcers or colic.

Water and Mineral Needs

Hydration plays a vital role in the health of American Quarter Horses, making access to clean, fresh water a top priority. Horses should have access to fresh water at all times, and the water source should be checked and cleaned regularly to prevent contamination or stagnation.

Besides water, their diets should be supplemented with essential minerals and salt. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are crucial for maintaining strong bones and proper muscle function, while salt helps regulate fluid balance and muscle function. Providing a salt block or loose salt in their feed will help ensure they receive the required amounts.

In conclusion, a well-balanced diet consisting of hay, forage, grains, supplements, and fresh water is crucial for maintaining the health and performance of American Quarter Horses. By understanding their nutritional needs, owners can better manage their Quarter Horses’ diets and keep them in optimal condition.

Balancing Energy and Nutritional Needs

Beautiful quarter horse close up view with green background

The diet of an American Quarter Horse should be balanced to meet both its energy and nutritional needs. In this section, we will discuss the key components of a balanced diet, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as the importance of vitamins and mineral supplements. Additionally, we will address how to adjust a horse’s diet based on its workload and exercise level.


Carbohydrates play a crucial role in providing energy to American Quarter Horses. They mainly consume fresh grass, hay, and grains like rolled oats, bran, and barley, which are excellent sources of carbohydrates. These horses can efficiently utilize the energy from carbohydrates for various activities, such as working on ranches, participating in shows, or performing jumps in English riding disciplines.


Proteins are essential for building and maintaining the muscular and compact body that is characteristic of the American Quarter Horse. High-quality proteins can be found in different feed sources, such as alfalfa hay, soybean meal, and linseed meal. It is important to ensure that the horse’s protein intake is sufficient to support its exercise and workload, while also taking into account its age, size, and overall health.


Adding limited amounts of fats to a horse’s diet can supply additional energy and support a shiny coat. Common fat sources for American Quarter Horses include vegetable oils, like corn oil or soybean oil, and rice bran. When incorporating fats, care must be taken to avoid excess, as too much fat may cause digestive problems for the horse.

Vitamins and Mineral Supplements

Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in the overall health and wellbeing of American Quarter Horses. Some essential vitamins and minerals required by these horses include vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium. To ensure adequate intake, horses can be fed specially formulated supplements and concentrates alongside their regular diet.

Adjusting Diet for Workload and Exercise

The energy and nutritional needs of American Quarter Horses can vary depending on their workload and exercise level. Horses participating in demanding activities such as jumping, working on ranches, or taking part in shows, may require higher levels of energy and nutrients to maintain their performance.

To accommodate these needs, horse owners can make adjustments to their horse’s diet by increasing the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, or fats, while keeping an eye on their horse’s body condition and weight. It is crucial to consult an equine nutritionist or veterinarian to determine the appropriate modifications and ensure a well-balanced diet tailored to the horse’s specific needs.

By understanding the importance of balancing energy and nutritional needs, owners can provide their American Quarter Horses with a diet that supports their overall health, performance, and well-being.

Feeding Quarter Horse Foals

A closeup shot of a dark brown American Quarter horse

Proper Nutrition for Growth

Feeding a growing Quarter Horse foal is essential to ensure its proper development and long-term health. Foals require a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, energy, and protein to support their growth and overall well-being. It’s important to note that foals have small stomachs, so dividing the daily ration into two to three feedings is recommended.

Providing high-quality foal feed is essential to meet the nutritional requirements of young horses. A general guideline is to feed suckling foals 1 pound of feed per day for every month of age. For example, a 2-month-old foal should consume 2 pounds of feed daily. It is important to avoid group creep feeding situations when feeding foals. Instead, a creep feeder should be used to feed the foal separately from the mare. This ensures that the foal receives the necessary nutrition without competing with other horses for food.

Transitioning from Mare’s Milk to Solid Food

As the foal grows, it will start transitioning from its mare’s milk to solid food. To ensure a smooth transition, gradual introduction of solid feed is necessary. The feeds should be rich in vitamins, minerals, energy, and protein to meet the growing foal’s nutritional requirements.

During this transition period, feeding the foal separately from the mare is crucial to avoid competition for food resources. Removing uneaten portions between feedings will help prevent spoilage and encourage the foal to consume its full ration.

In conclusion, feeding Quarter Horse foals with an appropriate diet is essential to their overall health and well-being. By ensuring proper nutrition for growth and easing the transition from mare’s milk to solid food, you can support the development of a thriving and healthy young horse.

Special Feed and Treats

A young and magical American Quarter Horse Mare in the evening Light

Grains and Concentrates

American Quarter Horses primarily eat fresh grass and hay. To ensure they receive the required nutrition value, it’s essential to supplement their diet with grains and concentrates. Common grains fed to these horses include rolled oats, bran, and barley. Additionally, soybeans, alfalfa, and wheat can further support the horse’s overall health and energy levels. Grain mixtures may also include added supplements to meet specific nutritional needs.

Fruits and Vegetables

Aside from grasses and grains, American Quarter Horses can benefit from consuming various fruits and vegetables. Some nutritious options for these horses are apples, carrots, watermelon, and strawberries. These provide essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to the horse’s well-being. However, moderation is crucial, as too much fruit can lead to health issues due to their sugar content.

Treats and Rewards

American Quarter Horses, like other breeds, enjoy receiving treats as a reward or occasional indulgence. Popular treats for this breed include:

  • Apples: A favorite among many horses, apples provide a crunchy texture and a sweet taste that they love while supplying essential nutrients.
  • Carrots: Another common treat, carrots offer a firm texture and natural sweetness that horses find appealing. They are also low in sugar, making them a healthier option.
  • Peppermints: Many horses enjoy the refreshing taste of peppermints, but it’s essential to give them in moderation due to their sugar content.
  • Bananas: Although not as common, some American Quarter Horses enjoy bananas for their sweetness and soft texture. Always remove the peel before offering it to a horse.

It’s important to remember that treats and rewards should not make up a significant portion of the American Quarter Horse’s diet. They are meant to supplement their primary food sources, such as grasses, grains, and concentrates. Feeding treats too frequently can lead to health issues, such as obesity or digestive problems. It is crucial to monitor the horse’s overall diet and keep treats as an occasional indulgence or reward for training and positive behavior.

Caring for American Quarter Horses

American Quarter Horses are a popular horse breed originating from Texas, known for their strength, speed, and versatility. They are commonly used in various equestrian disciplines, making their care an important aspect of ownership. This section will discuss important aspects of caring for these beautiful animals, focusing on grooming and hoof care, housing and shelter, and weather and environmental factors.

Grooming and Hoof Care

The health and appearance of American Quarter Horses can be effectively maintained through regular grooming. Grooming not only helps to keep the horse’s coat clean and shiny but also enables owners to identify any potential health issues, such as skin infections or injuries, at an early stage. To groom the quarter horse, a good quality rubber comb should be used in perfect circular motions to bring dirt and dust to the surface. This should be followed by a strong and quality flick brush to remove dirt and dust from the skin using short hand movements.

Hoof care is equally important for the well-being of your horse. Regular cleaning and trimming, typically every six to eight weeks, will ensure the hooves stay strong and healthy. Check for any signs of injury, infection, or imbalance in the hooves. Consult a farrier for professional advice and maintenance.

Housing and Shelter

When it comes to housing your American Quarter Horse, it is essential to provide them with a safe, comfortable, and well-maintained environment. Whether stabled or in a pasture, make sure it is clean, free of hazards, and has adequate ventilation. Providing shelter from weather extremes, such as a barn or a run-in shed, is crucial for their well-being.

  • Stalls: If housed in a stall, ensure that the stall size allows for your horse to move comfortably. Stalls should be at least 12×12 feet for average-sized horses, with sufficient bedding to keep them comfortable.
  • Pasture: If your horse is living primarily on pasture, ensure that the fencing is secure, and the pasture is free from toxic plants. Regularly inspect the fencing to prevent any injuries to your horse.

Weather and Environmental Factors

American Quarter Horses are hardy animals, capable of adapting to various weather conditions. However, it is essential to consider the extremes they may experience.

  • Summer: In hot climates or summer months, ensure that your horse has access to clean, fresh water and shade. Consider using a flysheet to protect your horse from harmful insects.
  • Winter: Cold weather calls for additional protection, such as a blanket for added warmth. Ensure that your horse continues to receive proper nutrition and regular exercise throughout the winter months.

By paying attention to proper grooming, hoof care, housing, and environmental considerations, you can help ensure that your American Quarter Horse stays happy and healthy. Remember to provide them with a balanced diet consisting of fresh grass, hay, and grains like rolled oats, bran, and barley, as well as appropriate supplements. Your attention to detail and care will go a long way in maintaining the well-being of your beloved American Quarter Horse.

What Do American Quarter Horses Like to Eat

A closeup of an American Quarter Horse with a blurry background

American Quarter Horses, known for their versatility and athleticism, primarily enjoy a diet consisting of fresh grass, hay, and various grains. These grains may include rolled oats, bran, and barley to ensure they receive the necessary nutrition for their active lifestyles. To further supplement their diet, these horses can also be fed supplements and concentrates, providing them with essential vitamins and minerals.

In addition to their staple diet, American Quarter Horses also appreciate treats, which can include fruits such as carrots and apples. Offering these treats not only helps maintain a balanced diet but also provides an enjoyable bonding experience between the horse and its caretaker. It’s essential to regulate the intake of such treats to prevent overfeeding, ensuring that the horse remains healthy and active.

When it comes to the quantity of food required, factors such as the horse’s age, size, and exercise routine must be considered. As with any horse, it’s important to provide an appropriate feeding routine that caters to the specific needs of the American Quarter Horse, adjusting the diet when necessary, depending on their level of activity and overall health.


To summarize, the diet of an American Quarter Horse mainly comprises of fresh grass, hay, and a combination of grains like rolled oats, bran, and barley. Supplements and concentrates can be added to provide the required nutrition, and horses can enjoy treats like carrots and apples in moderation. It is important to consider factors like the horse’s size, age, and exercise routine when determining their feeding habits. A balanced diet and feeding routine are crucial to maintain the overall health and energy levels of American Quarter Horses, making them a beloved and versatile breed for various activities.