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Can Horses Eat Lettuce? What You Need to Know

Ashley Bates

Every equine owner knows that horses love their veggies. You can get a horse to perform quite a few tricks over a single carrot. But when it comes to expanding their palette, you might wonder what other veggies are safe. And even if they are safe, are they nutritious? So, you’re here to learn can horses eat lettuce?

They certainly can eat lettuce, although some lettuce varieties are more nutritious than others. Let’s discuss a bit of the different kinds of lettuce, their health benefits, and any concerns you should have when you feed your hooved friends.

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Horses Can Eat Lettuce

Many horses spend the majority of their day grazing in the pastures. They get an abundance of natural roughage with all sorts of different health benefits for different parts of their bodies. Lettuce is definitely among some of the leafy greens that are delightful for your horses.

Unlike some other wild grasses, shrubs, and veggies, lettuce does contain mostly water content. Even though there are some vitamins and minerals, there aren’t as many as some other plants. But that doesn’t mean your horse can’t indulge in this scrumptious green.

person feeding lettuce to a horse
Image Credit: Kathy Matsunami, Shutterstock

Types of Lettuce: Are Some Better Than Others?

Lettuce comes in all sorts of varieties. Each one can carry slightly different nutritional benefits. Horses can delight in any of them, and they might even pick their favorites.

  • Crisphead—otherwise known as iceberg lettuce, crisphead is full of vitamin C and K.
  • Cress—this lettuce is full of vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Romaine—this lettuce has lots of vitamin C and K, plus folate.
  • Mizuna—this dark green lettuce has lots of vitamins A, C, And K. It also has a bitter taste.
  • Bibb—full of vitamins A, C, and K. It also has folate, calcium, and iron.
  • Boston—this lettuce is the highest in folate, iron, and prosperous.
  • Oak leaf—this type of lettuce contains vitamins A, B, C, and D.
  • Radicchio—this lettuce is rich in vitamin K and fiber.
  • Tatsoi—this lettuce has lots of beta-carotene, calcium, folate, and phytonutrients.
  • Butterhead—this lettuce is rich in iron, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Arugula—this lettuce has lots of vitamins B, C, and K, along with potassium and calcium.
  • Mache—this lettuce has tons of vitamin A, B6, C, iron, and copper.
  • Little Gem—this cross-breed lettuce is stuffed with vitamins A, C, K, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Belgian Endive—this leafy lettuce is jam-packed with vitamin K, along with other common lettuce nutrients.

As you can see, there are specific differences between lettuces and the vitamins and minerals that they offer. You can really spruce things up a bit by adding various selections for your horse to try out.

Iceberg lettuce typically contains the least amount of nutritional value but is still a great fiber and water content source.

Water Content in Lettuce

While it may surprise you, lettuce contains up to 96% water content. A single cup of lettuce produces ¼-cup of water plus a whole gram of fiber. All lettuces also include 5% or more of daily folate.

Folate, or folic acid, produces healthy white blood cells. Fiber aids and digestion, making sure that everything is operating correctly in the stomach and intestines—encouraging normal bowel movements.

Horses eating lettuce
Image Credit: Celiafoto, Shutterstock

Upsides to Horses Eating Lettuce

Lettuce is a very healthy snack that provides a delicious crunch. Your horses will probably love knowing away on a handful of leaves. It provides adequate roughage to help their digestive tracts not to mention it’s just plain delicious.

If your horse spends most of their time in the stable, lettuce can be a great alternative to grazing because it gives them the roughage they need in their diet in combination with their daily grain and hay intake.

Concerns for Horses Eating Lettuce

There is no major concern for horses eating lettuce. However, you shouldn’t overdo it either. Horses need an assortment of different plants and grains in their daily diet.

Lettuce is not a primary source of nutritional value for horses. It does not contain enough vitamins or minerals to match their daily dietary needs. However, it’s a safe horse snack that’s a good option during training or bonding times.

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Lettuce and Horses: Final Thoughts

Now you know that horses can absolutely enjoy lettuce anytime. However, you also know that this should never be a substitution for their regular everyday diet. As we also understand, lettuce  comes in a variety of textures and colors. Each can have its own beneficial perks that might put them above others. Let your horse try out all sorts of different flavors to see which one they like the best.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.