It is almost irresistible not to treat your horse but what is the best present to give him? Treats don’t have to equal ‘unhealthy’ or ‘sugar-laden’, a treat can be both healthy and unusual, so something that he does not normally have included in his diet. And treats don’t have to be fed from the hand which can encourage bad behavior and biting, they can be fed on the floor or from a specially designed treat ball. Take a look at our list of 8 tempting healthy horse treats, there is bound to be some old favorites there and a few you haven’t even thought of:-
- Apple and Carrot Ice Lollies- perfect for exceptionally hot weather and horses which are confined due to excessive temperatures. Slice up some carrots, long ways of course, and apples with the core removed. Place in a large plastic bowl and fill with cold water. Freeze for a few hours and then tip out onto the stable floor. Tasty and cooling, this is also a great way to alleviate boredom as the horse works away at the ice to reach the snacks
- Commercially prepared treats – there are plenty of these available but always check the label. Most contain natural ingredients with no added chemicals or supplements but watch out for sugar content, particularly if you have a laminitic or a horse that needs to lose weight as these do not fit the definition of healthy horse treats. These are sometimes designed to go in a treat ball which is usually shaped like a hexagon with treat sized holes so the horse can beaver away to extract the goodies
- Stud Muffins – a larger treat, more like a cake or similar in size and appearance to a bird feeding ball
- Flavored health licks or blocks – prepared sticky lumps which can be fed from the floor in their container, wall mounted or fitted into a bespoke device which you can suspend from the ceiling. They are supposed to be a ‘browsing’ treat but some horses will work away at them until they have eaten the entire thing so beware
- Home bake – if you are worried about what may be contained in some commercially produced items then you can bake your own. The internet is packed full of recipes for healthy horse treats, easy to cook and turn into balls or pellets or whatever shape or size you want to create
- Swede on a rope- bore a hole into a large swede and suspend from the ceiling with a piece of rope which is knotted at one end. A very effective DIY treat that can double up as a boredom buster for horses on box rest or rehab
- Fruit and Veg kebab – a selection of delicious items – apple, carrot, swede parsnip all cut to size and threaded onto a rope or twine and which you can hang from the stable ceiling or a tree in the field
- Bananas – slow release energy, potassium and naturally occurring sugars, bananas can be as good a healthy horse treat as they are energy snack for human athletes. To peel or not to peel that is the question. Either peeled or unpeeled are both fine but take care, a horse plus banana can get very messy
Most horse treats that you can buy online or from your local saddlery tend to be marketed with a healthy reward in mind. There is so much awareness now of increasing weight and obesity in both horses and riders that generally, these products contain only naturally occurring or zero sugar. Sugar-laden snacks are not a good choice for horses which either already have or have a predisposition to laminitis, Cushing’s Disease or Equine Metabolic Syndrome. Popular flavors are obviously mint, apple and carrot but you don’t have to buy healthy horse treats, you can easily improvise and make your own. Some owners combine treats with investigation over a period of time so the horse has to discover or identify where they are – hiding them around the stable for example. This is a great tool for stable kept horses, in for long periods of time or horses who are on rehabilitation following an injury. It is part of the human condition to want to praise or reward with food and horses like lots of other creatures are greedy and love that type of attention. Just remember, praise can be a kind word or a gentle touch too.
1 thought on “8 Healthy Horse Treats that your horse will love”
Very interesting and useful.