Last October, we shared letters from three readers describing horses killing and/or eating small mammals and birds (see “Carnivous Horses,” article #3832 at We asked for reader response, and I agreed to contact experts in equine nutrition, behavior, and husbandry from around the world for their comments on the topic. All told, through the magazine or directly, we have had replies from nearly 100 readers. The responses have come from horse owners, trainers, veterinarians, biologists, animal behaviorists, and equine scientists from all over the world. We received many stories as intriguing as the original three, and we wish space allowed us to print them all. I have also had written and verbal feedback from more than 30 equine experts to whom I sent copies of the article. Thank you all for the wonderful letters. As promised, here is a summary of what you all have seen and think about horses killing animals and/or eating meat.

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About The Author


Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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Most readers and experts said they had never seen a horse eat a live or dead animal, but had seen some horses eat meat that was offered or that was inadvertently available, such as by raiding a picnic. (We’re not suggesting feeding chicken bones to horses.)