Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by Allison Price
You love your horse if you do. You probably enjoy giving your horse treats from time-to-time. Your horse will eat whatever you give him and want more. Every horse in your stable will have a different opinion on the best treats, which ones to avoid, and how to give them treats. Is there a better way?
Horses are wired to consume small amounts of food in a consistent amount. Your horse will always want more, but it is best to teach your horse to say no.
What treats Horses can eat almost any fruit and vegetables. Traditional favorites include carrots and apples. Your horse can be given raisins, grapes and bananas as well as strawberries, cantaloupe, cantaloupe, or other melons, celery and pumpkin. Horses that swallow large amounts of fruit or vegetables are likely to choke. However, most horses will chew them. Make sure to break up treats before you feed them. You can give your horse a few peppermint or sugar cubes (one to two), or any of the many commercially available treats for horses found in equine catalogues.
What to not offer Although some horses love chocolate, a small amount won’t hurt. However, avoid them if your horse is competing in events that involve drug testing. The substances in chocolate could cause a positive test .
What amount to offer. The best amount to offer for all the treats listed above is “not much”. This means that you can only give one or two of each treat. Horses are wired to consume small amounts of food, so they will always want more. However, it is best to teach your horse to say no. Treats can add calories to horses that they don’t need. But the most important reason to limit treats to horses is that their digestive tract has a delicate balance between bacteria and microbes essential for intestinal function. It is easy to disturb this balance, especially if you feed things that aren’t normal. Too many treats can lead to colic and other health problems.
Here are some more thoughts about treats. You can feed treats by hand, or you can put them in a bucket. Horses that are fed by hand tend to be more nimble than horses who are fed by a feed trough or bucket. Although a bucket is safer, you can feed your horse by hand. If your horse prefers to be fed by hand, place the treat in your flat hand. Push the treat towards the horse’s mouth and not withdraw your hand from his mouth. The owner’s inadvertent actions are often what makes the horse lunge for the treat. You shouldn’t feed your horse treats every day. Don’t do it on a regular basis, such as after lessons in the ring. You may have a problem if your horse starts to expect a treat at a specific time, and doesn’t receive it.
Take-home message. Don’t allow your horse to nag you. Give him small amounts, but not too often. You will make your horse happier if you limit his “extras” and feed treats in moderation.
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!