Can Horses Eat Popcorn? Safe or Risky

Feeding Popcorn to horses is ok? It’s okay to have this thought when you are engulfing popcorns at the movie theaters or when you are out with your friends.

Feeding popcorns as a treat is common practice in the European countries but if this practice is safe or not let’s settle the debate. Starting with the commonly asked question, 

Can horses eat popcorn?

Yes, They can eat popcorn but in a small quantity. A handful of popcorn (even the flavored ones) once in a week won’t hurt horses but overdoing will surely do. 

Treating horses with popcorns is a common practice

Even though popcorns aren’t that good for their health, they are still considered a popular horse snack. Maybe because the horse owners know how to make it safer for the horses.

What about unpopped popcorn? Are they the same case?

Yes, the unpopped popcorn is the same case as popped ones. Horses can eat unpopped ones as well but if it’s the part of homemade popcorns. However, if the unpopped popcorns contain salts and preservatives they would invite a lot of trouble.

What about popcorn is bad for horses?

Corns are just a natural food item that is safe for horses if fed in the right way and has more protein than any other snack option we usually have on our minds. But popcorns get a little harmful as they contain salt and preservatives. It’s more of a salt and preservatives that brings a bad reputation to the popcorn for the horses.

Everything about feeding popcorns to the horses

How often can horses have a handful of popcorn as a treat?

As often as you let your child have an ice cream or chocolate for winning a race or doing something amazing. If you still can’t decide how you should feed popcorn, I would say once a week.

Can popcorn be mixed with cookies and other treats?

Yes, popcorns can be mixed with cookies or other such treats that are considered safe but the overall quantity should be kept minimum.

Suggestions for feeding popcorns to horses

Cheese popcorns should be avoided no matter how appealing they appear

Do not ever think for a second that if popcorns are allowed cheese popcorns would also not be that harmful. Cheese popcorns should never be fed no matter how appealing they appear as the horses are lactose intolerant so feeding cheese, yogurt, and milk in any form should be avoided.

Keep it small even if the horse is begging to have more!

Keep the quantity as minimum as possible. Keeping it low will neither do good nor will harm the horse. It would just feel good in the mouth. So, to make it play safe in the tummy do not ever overfeed it.

It can get stuck in the teeth and cause some trouble

It can be stuck in the horse’s teeth as it gets in ours. Since horses can not speak so they won’t be able to tell what’s wrong with them. So, they would go insane which is not good for you and your barn.

Insulin-resistant, obese, and the horses that are prone to laminitis should never be fed corn let alone popcorns!

High starch content in corn makes it extremely harmful for an insulin resistant, an obese horse that is prone to laminitis. Starch is known for worsening such diseases.

Even if such conditions do not exist still horse owners are usually warned not to add sugar and starch-rich content to a horse’s diet. High Starch foods can become a reason for colic and laminitis disease in horses. 

do horses eat popcorn

Risks attached to feeding popcorns

Feeding corn or popcorns against the feeding rules increases blood glucose levels that eventually results in insulin. 

In other cases, it increases the risk of developing equine metabolic syndrome. The undigested popcorn content disrupts the microbial fermentation as it the hindgut. Horses that are fed corn and popcorn more often are on the verge of developing colic and acidosis.

Make Them Safe

Yes, you can mitigate the danger to some extent by feeding the homemade popcorns. Readymade popcorns contain salt and preservatives which when combined with starch becomes a slow poison for horses. To make it safer, it is recommended to treat your horses with homemade popcorn.

Popcorns are safer than corn

It’s always better to feed popcorns than just regular corns as in the process of making popcorns the starch becomes gelatinized that promotes its absorption in the small intestine. So, the popped corn is always a safer option than regular corn.

Watch out for the signs

Watch out for the signs of toxicity for at least 24 hours if the horse is eating and behaving normally it’s fine. But if the horses are not eating as per the daily routine know that it’s time to discuss the situation with the vet.

Even though popcorns are whole grain food rich in iron, vitamin A, Vitamin B3, vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, cobalamin, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. All these vitamins and minerals are important for the horses to live a well-balanced life but the high starch content takes over the good spirit. Resource

My thoughts on feeding popcorns to horses

If you ask my opinion on feeding popcorns to the horses I would say it’s better to find a better rewarding alternative instead. Even if it’s causing no harm it is doing no good either. If a snack is satisfying taste buds and boosting overall health it better to go for that.


Yes, Horses can eat popcorn. Treating horses with popcorn is a common practice in European countries. But popcorn is a little harmful because of high starch, salt, and preservatives. Cheese popcorns should be avoided at any cost as the horses are lactose intolerant and it’s better not to test dairy products(milk, cheese, and yogurt) on these novice gentle giants. Homemade popcorn is usually safer as compared to the commercial ones as they do not have preservatives and you can minus the salt content. However, feeding it in small quantities would not harm. 

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Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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