What Does an Arabian Horse Eat: Comprehensive Feeding Guide

If you’re a proud owner of an Arabian horse, you know how important it is to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet. But, what exactly does an Arabian horse eat? In this comprehensive feeding guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about feeding your Arabian horse, including the best types of hay, grains, and supplements to keep them healthy and happy. So, if you’re wondering “What Does an Arabian Horse Eat?” – read on for all the answers.

Arabian Horse Diet Basics

Peaceful Arabian Horse eating grass

The diet of an Arabian horse plays a crucial role in its overall health and performance. This section delves into the nutritional requirements, forages and hays, and the grains and concentrates that form the basis of an Arabian horse diet.

Nutritional Requirements

Like other horse breeds, Arabian horses require a balanced diet to meet their nutritional needs. These needs include energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The specific dietary requirements may vary depending on factors such as age, activity level, and overall health of the horse. It is essential to ensure that the horse receives adequate nutrition through appropriate food sources and supplements, if necessary.

Forages and Hay

Forages, such as pasture grass and hay, form the foundation of an Arabian horse’s diet. These provide an essential source of fiber, energy, and other nutrients. Hay, specifically, is a crucial part of their diet when pasture grass is less abundant or not available (Horsy Planet). The quality and type of hay fed to the horse can impact its overall health. Common types of hay suitable for Arabian horses include alfalfa, timothy, and bermuda grass, among others. The amount of hay may be adjusted depending on the horse’s specific needs and the availability of pasture grass.

Grains and Concentrates

Grains and concentrates are used to supplement the Arabian horse diet, providing additional energy, protein, and nutrients when the forage intake is insufficient (Horsy Planet). Common grains fed to Arabian horses include oats, corn, and barley, as mentioned in WebMD. Care should be taken to ensure the appropriate balance between forage and grain or concentrate intake. Overfeeding grains and concentrates can lead to obesity or other health issues. It is recommended to consult with an equine nutritionist or a veterinarian to determine the appropriate feeding regimen based on the individual Arabian horse’s needs.

Factors Affecting Diet

Red bay Arabian horse grazing

An Arabian horse’s diet depends on various factors, including age, activity level, pregnancy, and health conditions. It’s essential to consider these aspects when designing an optimal feeding plan to meet their unique requirements.

Age and Development

Young Arabian horses, such as foals and yearlings, require a different nutritional balance compared to adults to support proper growth and development. Their diet should consist of high-quality forage, grain, and appropriate supplements to meet their specific nutritional needs. As they mature, their dietary requirements change, and adjustments should be made accordingly.

Activity Level and Workload

The level of physical activity and workload significantly impacts the amount of feed an Arabian horse consumes. Horses that engage in intense exercise or perform demanding tasks require a higher caloric intake and additional nutrients, compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle. A combination of good-quality hay, pasture, and suitable concentrate feeds can help meet their energy needs (Equine Cave).

Pregnancy and Lactation

Pregnant or lactating mares have increased nutritional demands to support the growth of their offspring and milk production. Their diet should contain a balanced blend of forage, grains, and supplements to ensure the mare and foal’s well-being. A veterinarian should closely monitor the dietary adjustments made during pregnancy and lactation for optimal results.

Health Conditions

Some Arabian horses may have pre-existing health conditions that require special dietary considerations. For example, a horse with a metabolic disorder or digestive issues might need a tailored feeding plan to manage their condition. Always consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to design a diet that meets the specific needs of a horse with health concerns.

In conclusion, the diet of an Arabian horse depends on various factors, such as their age, activity level, and health conditions. By taking these aspects into account and adjusting their feeding plan accordingly, you can ensure that your Arabian horse receives the necessary nutrients for optimal health and performance.

Feeding Practices

Arabian horses eating grass in field

An Arabian horse’s diet mainly consists of hay, pasture grass, and grains to provide essential nutrients. Dietary requirements are generally similar among all horse breeds, with only a few specific nutritional differences depending on individual horses (source). The following feeding practices are crucial to ensure the proper nourishment and overall health of an Arabian horse.

Frequency and Timing

When feeding an Arabian horse, it’s crucial to prioritize forage, as it should make up around 80-90% of their diet (source). Ideally, grass hay and non-irrigated pastures should be the primary source of food. Now, to enhance their diet while avoiding any deficiencies, supplementing with grains such as barley, corn, and oats is highly advisable (source).

As for the amount of food, it’s recommended to offer 1 to 1.5 percent of the horse’s body weight daily. In terms of frequency, it’s best to split their meals into smaller portions throughout the day, instead of providing large meals all at once (source). Consistent feeding schedules promote digestion and help maintain a healthy body weight.

Access to Clean Water

While feeding practices prioritize the provision of an adequate and balanced diet, access to clean water is just as essential for the health of an Arabian horse. As with any other horse breed, fresh, clean water must be available at all times. Regularly checking and cleaning their water source is crucial to ensure that it remains free from debris or contamination.

Common Dietary Issues

Two Arabian horses eating hay

Arabian horses, like all breeds, can face some common dietary issues. To ensure the health and well-being of your Arabian horse, it is important to be aware of these issues and address them as necessary. In this section, we will discuss nutritional imbalances, obesity, and digestive problems.

Nutritional Imbalances

Arabian horses need a balanced diet, consisting of hay, pasture grass, and grains to meet their nutrient requirements. However, it is not uncommon for these horses to experience nutritional imbalances due to poor-quality feed or insufficient intake of essential nutrients. Some common issues include mineral imbalances like calcium and phosphorus, and vitamin deficiencies, especially Vitamin A and E. Additionally, Arabian horses may require different nutritional needs based on their age, activity level, and workload. So, it’s crucial to tailor their diet to their specific requirements and monitor their health regularly.


Obesity is another common issue among Arabian horses. While the breed is known for its endurance and athleticism, an inappropriate diet, lack of exercise, or overfeeding can lead to excessive weight gain. Overweight horses face various health risks, such as laminitis, joint problems, and metabolic disorders.

To prevent obesity, ensure your Arabian horse has a balanced diet, with portion control and proper exercise. Avoid high-energy feeds (such as those rich in sugars and starch) and replace them with low-energy, high-fiber feeds like hay, as per their nutritional needs.

Digestive Problems

Arabian horses can also be prone to digestive issues, particularly when they do not have constant access to fresh grass, as it is vital for their gastrointestinal health. Some common digestive problems include colic and stomach ulcers; these can arise from irregular feeding, rapid changes in diet, or stress. To mitigate these risks, ensure your horse has constant access to fresh water and pasture grass, and implement a consistent feeding schedule.

It’s also essential to be cautious when offering fruits and vegetables, as horses can choke on large pieces. Offer these treats in small, chopped servings to prevent any issues.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Diet

Two Arabian horses eating green grass

The foundation of an Arabian horse’s diet is pasture grass and tender plants, as these provide most of the nutrition that a horse requires to stay healthy. Good pasture should contain silica, which is important for maintaining dental health in horses (The Spruce Pets). An average adult Arabian horse can eat up to 20 to 30 lbs. of hay per day, with the exact amount depending on factors like routine, age, workload, and exercise (Horsy Planet).

When supplementing your horse’s diet with forage, ensure that it is of good quality, free of mold and dust. This is essential for preventing digestive problems. Avoid feeding your horse diets high in concentrates and low in forage, such as hard feeds like cubes or grains (RSPCA).

It is also possible to feed Arabian horses fruits and vegetables in moderation. However, to prevent choking, always give your horse small, diced portions of these foods (Horsy Planet).

Proper storage and handling of feed are crucial for maintaining the health of your horse. For example, unsoaked sugar beet can be fatal for horses if consumed. It’s important to keep food bowls and equipment clean and free from stale feed. Regularly clean feed bins and ensure that the feed room is tidy and free of spilled food (Blue Cross).

In summary, to maintain a healthy diet for an Arabian horse, focus on providing good quality pasture and forage while avoiding high concentrations of hard feeds. Additionally, incorporate small portions of fruits and vegetables as treats, and ensure that feed storage and handling practices are properly followed.


In conclusion, the diet of an Arabian horse primarily consists of hay and grass, which fulfill most of their nutritional requirements. This breed, like all horses, follows herbivorous feeding habits and relies on plants for sustenance. Grass serves as their main food source, while some domestic horses receive grain supplements like oats, corn, or barley (Animals.netWebMD).

When feeding an Arabian horse, it is essential to consider their routine, age, breed, exercise, and workload. An adult Arabian horse may consume 20 to 30 pounds of hay per day, depending on these factors (Horsy Planet). Additionally, horse owners should take precautions to prevent choking by offering small, diced portions of fruits or vegetables if they decide to include these in their horse’s diet.

Arabian horses are known for their speed, stamina, beauty, intelligence, and gentleness, making them an excellent choice for various equestrian activities. By providing a well-balanced and appropriate diet, horse caretakers can ensure that these magnificent animals maintain optimal health and performance throughout their lives.