Equine Taste Preferences

Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by Allison Price

Horse owners and veterinarians are often faced with the responsibility of providing medication and/or supplement feed. It is common for them to have to come up with creative solutions to make each horse’s diet more appealing. A more recent study is worth repeating because it provides an informative assessment of horses’ preferences for sweet and sour [Merkies K. and Bogart E. 

The study examined how horses react to certain tastes.

Equine Taste Preferences

Two identical black water buckets were given to five adult horses. One contained tap water, the other one contained one of three possible concoctions.

  • Tap water
  • sucrose
  • citric acid
  • citric acid, sucrose

Each horse was given two buckets of “flavors”, which were then offered for four consecutive days. After that, they were left untreated for three days. After that, the offerings were reopened with the second bucket being altered in flavor. The process was repeated until all horses were able to choose from a variety of choices in addition to the first bucket of tap water.

To determine the taste preferences, we measured the fluid intake from each bucket. These were the results

  • Citric acid was rejected by a weak level, i.e., it had a sour taste.
  • Succrose was not rejected by all, but there was some tolerance.
  • Three out of five horses refused treatment, with two other horses showing a minimum level of preference.
  • Sucralose was preferable to citric acid. The citric acid and sucrose combination were consumed in similar amounts to citric acids. According to the authors, citric acid may mask the sweetness.

Although the study only included a few horses, it may be useful as a guideline for administering nutritional, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical supplements to feed.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!