What Is the Horse Food Web?

Historically, horses inhabited the vast Asian steppe, where they consumed grass and feared few predators. Currently, almost all horses are domestic animals that eat food provided to them by their keepers and fear no predators at all. Accordingly, the food web for horses is usually very simple, consisting of their food and the decomposers that eat them after they die.

Like cattle, horses are prodigious grazers, and they primarily eat grasses and herbaceous growth. They tend to eat gradually as they move through their habitat. In captivity, horses eat hay, grass, flowers, apples, carrots and other vegetables.

Predators like mountain lions and wolves prey on horses. Horses are capable of extreme speed and running for very long distances, allowing them to outlast chasing predators. The horse can also defend itself with powerful kicks. Horse flesh is also occasionally eaten by humans.

Without many predators, most horses die of starvation, old age, injury or illness. When this occurs, the horse is digested by decomposing organisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Occasionally, scavengers, including vultures, raccoons, rodents and insects, consume the horse’s carcass.

Horse manure is also an effective fertilizer for plants, including crops, trees and the grasses on which they feed.