Is Clover Good For Horses Debunking Common Myths

Is Clover Good For Horses? Debunking Common Myths

by | Jun 24, 2023 | Equine Barn & Stall Supplies, Equine Feed

Horses, our beloved equine companions, have been part of our lives for centuries. Their dietary requirements, a critical element in their overall well-being, have sparked debates among equestrian communities worldwide. One such debate revolves around the consumption of clover – is clover good for horses? This article aims to sift fact from fiction, to explore the pros and cons of clover for horses, and to debunk common myths about this widely-used pasture plant. Hold your horses as we trot into the world of equine nutrition, specifically focusing on the much-contended clover.

Understanding Clover for Horses

Clover, a member of the legume family, has been recognized in the equestrian world for its high nutritional content. Available in many varieties such as red, white, and sweet clover, each type boasts different benefits for our equine friends. Clover is rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins, making it an excellent addition to a horse’s diet under the right circumstances.

White clover (Trifolium repens), a variety that is hardy and easy to grow, is especially beneficial due to its high protein content, aiding in muscle growth and energy. Red clover (Trifolium pratense), on the other hand, is a potent source of phytoestrogens, making it a topic of interest for its potential impact on hormone balance.

Clover Varieties and Their Impact on Horses

As we delve deeper into clover types, the variance in their nutritional value and potential effects on horses becomes apparent. Red clover, besides its rich protein content, carries a specific compound, formononetin, known to mimic estrogen’s effects. While studies are yet to establish conclusive effects on horses, it’s wise to monitor the consumption of red clover, especially among breeding mares.

White clover, with its excellent nutritional profile, is often the preferred choice. Yet, it’s not without its issues. When exposed to certain environmental conditions, white clover can develop high levels of cyanogenic glycosides – compounds that can potentially lead to cyanide poisoning in horses. These circumstances, however, are rare and can be mitigated through proper pasture management.

In the sweet clover category, while it offers substantial nutritive benefits, it carries a risk of causing “sweet clover disease” due to coumarin content, which can cause blood clotting disorders when consumed in large quantities over time.

Understanding these specifics helps shape a balanced, well-informed approach to including clover in our horses’ diets. We will further delve into the nutritional composition of clover, debunking myths, and highlighting facts in the next section.

Nutritional Composition of Clover

Clover is undoubtedly an important component in the horse’s diet, offering high nutritional value. Each variety brims with a range of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber, contributing to the horse’s health in unique ways.

The protein content in clover, particularly lysine, an essential amino acid, supports muscle development, immune functions, and overall growth. Vitamins A and E present in clover are pivotal for maintaining good vision, skin health, and boosting antioxidant mechanisms.

Minerals like calcium and phosphorus found in clover aid in skeletal development, while magnesium assists in nerve function and muscle contraction. Clover also contains a substantial amount of fiber, which is integral to the horse’s digestion process.

A prevalent myth about clover is that its high protein content can lead to kidney damage in horses. However, studies show that horses, unlike humans, efficiently utilize and excrete excess protein without harm, dismissing this as a myth.

Pros and Cons of Feeding Clover to Horses

The high nutritional profile of clover makes it a beneficial addition to a horse’s diet. It can support physical health and condition, from muscle development to shiny coats, thanks to its rich content of vitamins and proteins.

Nonetheless, like all things, moderation is key. Overconsumption of clover, especially when it forms a high percentage of the pasture, can potentially lead to complications such as excessive drooling, otherwise known as “slobbers,” or bloating.

Additionally, clovers can sometimes be infected with mold or fungus like Rhizoctonia leguminicola, causing “clover slobbers.” An essential preventive measure is to ensure your pasture is well-managed, and the clover is not overgrazed.

Another myth concerning clover is its supposed capacity to cause ‘laminitis’ – a painful condition affecting horses’ hooves. No scientific evidence backs this claim; rather, any horse’s dietary imbalance can potentially trigger laminitis.

For ensuring balanced nutrition, horse owners can consider products like “Farnam Weight Builder Equine Weight Supplement,” which contains flax meal – an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids. For digestive health, “Probios Probiotic Supplement” is a high-quality choice.

In our next section, we shall focus on the safe ways of introducing and feeding clover to your horses.

Safe Ways to Feed Clover to Horses

Feeding clover to horses should be done with a keen eye on balance and variety. Horses, by nature, are grazing animals that require a diverse diet for optimum health. Start by slowly introducing clover into your horse’s diet and observe any changes.

To prevent bloating, ensure your horse has ample hay or grass intake before turning them out onto a clover-rich pasture. This can help reduce the speed at which they consume clover and thereby decrease the risk of bloating.

When dealing with potential cases of ‘slobbers,’ it’s important to remember that it’s usually caused by a fungus on the clover rather than the clover itself. Frequent pasture inspection and proper management are essential to reduce such incidences.

Besides natural grazing, using slow-feed hay nets like “Tough 1 Slow Feed Hay Bag” can help regulate their feed intake, promote a slower eating pace, and create a more natural grazing experience.

Balanced nutrition supplements like “Farnam Vita Plus Supplement Pellets” can also be considered for a complete and balanced diet to maintain their health when adjusting to a clover-rich diet.


Indeed, answering the question, “Is clover good for horses?” warrants an exploration deeper than a simple yes or no. As horse owners or carers, it is our responsibility to understand and cater to their dietary needs judiciously. Clover, when included as part of a balanced and diverse diet, can be incredibly beneficial, offering a wealth of nutrients.

At the same time, it’s vital to be aware of and navigate potential pitfalls such as ‘slobbers’ or bloating. With the right approach and management, we can ensure our equine companions not only survive but thrive, debunking myths, and embracing facts along the way.

After all, a healthy horse is a happy horse.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Issabella Mitchel</a>

Issabella Mitchel

Isabella is a remarkable equestrian and racehorse trainer, hailing from the horse capital of the world, Kentucky. Growing up in the heart of bluegrass country, she developed a deep affinity for horses from an early age.

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