The digestive system of a horse works very differently from that of a human. Food passes quickly through a relatively small stomach designed to take in frequent meals throughout the course of the day. In the small intestine, enzymes digest starch, protein and fat.

The “hindgut” of the horse is made up of the cecum (a pouch between the small and large intestine), the small intestine, the large intestine and the rectum. The hindgut contains a beneficial bacteria population that breaks down fibrous plant material into energy that the horse can use as fuel.

Horses cannot vomit and are therefore more prone to digestive disruptions, such as choke and colic, than other animals.

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This article originally appeared in the 2010 issue of Horses USA. Click here to purchase a copy.

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Holly Caccamise, Editor
Holly Caccamise has been with Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines since 2007, and in 2019, she became Editor in Chief of both titles. Caccamise has a master's degree in...


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