Thursday, May 22, 2014

What kind of treats do horses like?

A more lighthearted post for today.

People ask a lot what they can give a horse as a treat, or if it's okay to feed a horse certain things.

Horses are herbivores. They should not be given meat - it probably won't hurt them, but it is not very good for them and might even cause intestinal distress. Horses should also never be given lawn clippings - there's something about the way cut grass ferments that can give them colic.

So, what should you offer a horse as a treat?

1. Tack stores generally sell horse biscuits/horse cookies. These come in a variety of flavors and often include vitamins and other nutrients. They can be expensive, though. A cheaper option is to make your own - searching on horse cookies or horse treats will bring up a slew of simple recipes.

2. Carrots and other root vegetables. Horses should not be fed too many of these, but they do like the occasional one. Carrots are, of course, the classic "trope" of horse treats - but they definitely like them. I once knew a horse who would pretty much do anything for a carrot.

3. Apples. The other "trope" horse treat - but again, quite accurate. Horses can also eat the apple core - being much larger than humans the tannins don't affect them. I've often been on a day long trail ride, eaten an apple, and then fed the core to my trusty steed. Also, horses enjoy crabapples - humans generally find these too bitter, but horses enjoy them straight from the tree.

4. Watermelon. This one's not on the trope list, but horses like watermelon. And they will even eat the rind. The actual body of the watermelon is a good treat for a horse that's so old it doesn't have many teeth left.

5. Grapes. This is another good treat for toothless old nags. (Horses should not, however, be fed raisins, currants, or other dried grapes).

6. Hard peppermint candy. Every horse I have ever known has loved peppermint. I'd question the horse-ness of one that didn't. It's perfectly safe to give horses hard candy in small quantities. (They should not be given soft or "gummy" candy which can stick to their teeth with results not dissimilar to humans eating too many sweets). Every Christmas I like to go around our barn with a small bag of candy canes.

Tomorrow's post will be about something else people feed horses that might surprise you.

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