Can a Horse Vomit? No. This is the reason!

As most horse lovers know, horses can’t throw up. Although many people know this fact to be true, very few know why. After all, most other animals – including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds – can vomit. Why not a horse?

In this article, we will answer that question for you. The answer requires a detailed breakdown of the horse’s anatomy so you can understand why its body can’t vomit. We’ll also explain what this means to you, a horse owner. Let’s get started.

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Can Horses Vomit?

Most animals vomit whenever they eat something that upsets their stomach or is poisonous. While this is common among almost all animals, the same is not true for horses. Horses can’t vomit, and you can’t force them to vomit either.

Why not?

The reason why horses can’t vomit can be answered in two different ways. The first reason tells you why horses can’t physically vomit. The second reason tells you why horses evolved this way, whereas other animals didn’t.

horse standing on grass

Their Body Makes It Almost Impossible

Let’s start with the first reason. For an animal to vomit, a coordinated sequence of reflective movements must work together. As you probably know from experience, you need to take deep breaths, close your vocal cords, lift your larynx, and close your airways to start the vomiting process.

Then, your diaphragm contracts, loosening the pressure. The abdominal wall contracts to put pressure on the stomach. This is in the sense of opening the “door” of your stomach, allowing vomit to appear. Only when all these events occur in coordination can you vomit.

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Horses can’t vomit because their bodies weren’t designed for food to go in the opposite direction. Their food can only go down, not up. For example, horses have muscles that are completely impossible to open the valves that allow vomiting.

Similarly, a horse has an esophagus, but the esophagus joins at a lower angle. Whenever the stomach is distended, it actually causes the valves to close more, making vomiting more difficult at that point. These are just a few examples of why horses cannot physically vomit.

They don’t need to vomit to survive

That brings us to the second reason. Why did horses evolve in such a way that they couldn’t physically vomit when almost any other animal could? Of course, we cannot give a specific answer to this question. We can only speculate.

Some people believe that it may be due to the fact that vomiting is used as a way to flush toxins from the body. Horses are very picky about what they eat and they just graze on pastures. Very rarely do they come into contact with toxic items. As a result, they may not develop an urge to vomit because they are not exposed to toxic objects frequently.

Another speculation has to do with how horses ran. Every time a horse gallops, its intestines move and hit its stomach. In other animals, this will cause a vomiting response. However, for horses to run, the same is not true for them.

horse eating grass

Lastly, horses eat very differently from other animals that regurgitate or regurgitate their food. Cows, for example, regurgitate food so they can eat it. Wolves and birds regurgitate food for their young. Horses don’t do any of these things, meaning they don’t need reflexes to survive.

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Are There Reported Cases of Horse Vomiting?

Although horses are not designed to vomit, there have been some very rare cases reported. Most likely, the vomiting experience was actually just a choking horse. This means the object is stuck in the esophagus, causing the horse to expel the object from the esophagus, not the stomach. It’s not technically vomiting.

Likewise, horses can vomit if they are very sick. Vomiting occurs whenever your body is in a reflective state. Regurgitation, on the other hand, occurs whenever the muscles become flaccid, causing food to come out of the mouth. It may seem like vomiting, but it’s not the same process.

What Does This Mean for Horse Owners?

Since horses don’t vomit, you may wonder if this requires you to pay extra attention to your horse. After all, he didn’t have the means to vomit if he ingested something poisonous. Should you be wary?

Of course, you must be careful not to feed your horse anything poisonous. For example, don’t feed the horse nightshades. They will have no way of getting food out of their system. Also, the horse’s inability to vomit doesn’t make much difference to the horse owner.

After all, horses have evolved this way for a reason. The animal doesn’t always need abilities like you or me. As a result, you really don’t have to worry about your horse accidentally eating something that may need to be regurgitated later.

horse eat

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Final Thoughts

Although horses are built like us in many ways, one of the ways they differ is that they don’t have the ability to vomit. This is largely due to the fact that their esophagus and stomach are so different from ours, that the gag reflex is impossible.

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Horses probably evolved in this way because they don’t come into contact with toxic objects often. They also don’t need reflexes to feed their young, and they need to be able to run without triggering a gag response. Because of this fact, it’s actually not that surprising that horses can’t vomit.

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