Are Horses Omnivores or Carnivores or Herbivore? (Important Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 11/15/22 •  6 min read

We all know – Three different types of animals exist – carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores.

But what does this really mean?

Well, some livestock and animals live on hay and plants, and they are known as herbivores. Others may live on animal meat, and they are known as carnivores.

And the most interesting one?

You will find other living creatures, like humans, who eat both plants and meat. They are called omnivores, meaning they can eat animals’ meat and plants based diets. 

Ever wonder – Are horses omnivores or carnivores

Let’s see why horses do not belong to omnivore or carnivore livestock. Horses’ digestive system will clear everything. 

Are horses herbivores?

Horses are herbivores, meaning they primarily consume plant-based foods like grass, hay, and grains. With a digestive system adapted for processing high-fiber plant material, horses rely on their ability to graze and chew continuously throughout the day.

Their herbivorous diet provides necessary nutrients for their energy and overall well-being.

Are horses carnivores?

No, horses are not carnivores. They are herbivores that primarily consume grasses and plants. Their digestive system is designed to process and extract nutrients from vegetation, making them well-suited for grazing and feeding on plant-based diets.

Is a horse a herbivore

Herbivore animals

Animals or livestock are called herbivores1 if they live on grazing plants, hays, and grass. They don’t eat animals’ meat or anything else to survive. And they have a long digestive system to eat more daily than other animals.

Now come to the main point…..If you notice a horse’s life, you will see that they eat only grass and hay. 

They eat a small amount several times a day, showing their herbivore characteristics which will be discussed in the next section. 

Carnivore animals

The horse is not a carnivore animal because it cannot eat or digest meat and other animals. 

Looking at the lion, tiger, and other carnivore animals, you will find some clear differences between those animals and your horse.

If you ever offer some meat to your horse, it will never try to eat, even in extreme hunger. However, the wild horse might have some weird and uncommon characteristics. 

Omnivore animals

Humans are the classic example of this category.

The horse is not an omnivore since it cannot eat both meat and plant, and it only lives on grazing. You will not find similar characteristics with your horse and other omnivore animals; they have different characteristics and meanings for their life.


Why is a horse classified as a herbivore?

Horses are classified as pure herbivores because of their eating habits, digestive system, and other characteristics. 

Let’s get through the major reasons why horses are classified as herbivores.

Understanding horse’s unique digestive system

Horses have a unique digestive system that is different from any other animal. 

Let’s go through the digestive system, foregut & Hindgut, and the monogastric characteristics of the horse to understand the horse’s unique digestive system.

Long digestive system

First off, the horse has a long digestive system that requires many fiber foods to keep working. Since horses run for a long time and need to have enough energy for it, they need some extra food.

You cannot only offer 3 to 4-time meals to your horse; instead, they need frequent meals to fill their stomach. Since they cannot process much food together, they eat small amounts, which will go through their digestive system.

Foregut & Hindgut

If you go through the horse’s digestive system, you will find two parts. They consist of the foregut and the Hindgut. The foregut includes the stomach and other little intestines. At the same time, the Hindgut consists of the cecum and colon. You will rarely find this structure in any other livestock.


Another unique fact of a horse’s digestive system is monogastric. If you look at other livestock animals, you will find a ruminant herbivore characteristic that is entirely different from the monogastric digestive system. That’s another reason why horses have a unique digestive system.

Do horses eat meat in the wild?

Since horses are herbivores, they don’t eat meat in the wild or any environment. You may ask what about those rumors regarding wild horses eating meat?

Can this really be true?

Well, those are 1-2% rare cases if they fail to find grass or grazing plants. 

Don’t fall for those videos and offer your horse meat or carnivore food. One thing is for sure- they will fail to process that food. You cannot even think of providing treats with meat, and it will severely damage your horseshoe’s health and take a long time to recover. 

The truth is- Horses are herbivores and are supposed to live on grazing. 

No matter whether it’s domesticated or wild.

You should allow your horse to graze freely and eat grass and other hays for a long time. They can rest and eat slowly as needed, which will also help them build their muscle and graze happily.

Never offer your horse any meat or protein-based food, as they will get sick and might suffer from stomach or digestion issues.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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