The purpose of this study was to identify predictors of preference for alfalfa hay by equines. A total of 15 quarter horses, at average age and body weight of 10 years and 500 kg were used, respectively. It was conducted an evaluation to identify the preference for alfalfa hay by horses by short-period tests of 10 min. This evaluation was conducted in pairs for each test hay (1-30), available on the market, against each standard (A, B, C), until the completion of all resulting combinations. Alfalfa hays classified as A, B and C, contained on average 22.88, 17.78 and 13.16% of crude protein, respectively. The evaluated variables were constituted by ethological, morphological, microbiological, bromatological and biological analysis. The horses showed a preference for the type A of alfalfa hay, followed by type B and C. The preference for alfalfa hay type A can be predicted by the equation: It was concluded that horses showed preference to alfalfa hay, wherein the best type A bales. Therefore to predict of preference of the equines for high quality alfalfa hay it's necessary to select bales with lower values of stem thickness and fiber in acid detergent, as well as presenting high level of dry matter digestibility.
conserved forages; horses; Medicago sativa; palatability