If you own a horse, chances are you will want to treat them to a tasty snack occasionally. Before feeding snacks be sure to check out our dos and don’ts to avoid feeding them anything that may be harmful to them or could create bad habits.
Things to Consider When Giving your Horse Treats
Horses have the biggest sweet tooth! They love any sweet treat, but just like we have to practice moderation, the same goes for horses. Small amounts of sweets are good for your horses because it can cause them to salivate which is beneficial for digestion. However, horses are built to have small frequent meals throughout the day, so over going overboard on snacks can disrupt their digestion. It’s best to serve sweet snacks in small quantities and not give in when they ask for more. An important note is to be sure not to habitually give treats after rides. Your horse could then learn to expect them after every ride and if not given could create bad behavior.
Things to Avoid When Feeding Treats
It is easy for a horse to become nippy if you begin to hand feed them treats often. Of course, some horses have better manner than others, but the safest option is using a bucket to feed your horses treats. Avoid keeping treats in your pockets, as horses can begin to associate any person’s pocket with the possibility of having snacks.
Avoid giving your horse whole fruit or large pieces of snacks. While a horse will normally chew its snack before swallowing, sometimes they become too excited and will try to swallow whole. Cutting treats into small bite size pieces that won’t become choking hazards. If you do wish to hand feed treats, do so by laying the treat flat on the palm of your hand and push it in towards the horse’s mouth. This action will prevent the horse from reaching out for the treat and potentially biting you.
What Can I Feed My Horse?
You can safely offer your horse any of the items listed below as a treat:
- Apricots (pitted)
- Cherries (pitted)
- Grapes (including raisins)
- Grapefruit (without rind)
- Mangos (pitted)
- Oranges (without rind)
- Peach (pitted)
- Peanut Butter
- Plums (pitted)
- Sweet Potatoes
Foods You Should Never Feed Your Horse
Never feed any of the items listed below as they can cause your horse intestinal discomfort and digestive issues:
- Chocolate (if competing can give a horse a false positive)
- Soda, coffee, or other drinks containing caffeine
- Pits of stone fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots, or nectarines
- Onions and garlic, leeks, or shallots
- Dairy products
- Dog or cat food
- Cattle feed
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower
- Avocados with pits
- Alsike Clover
- Moldy hay
- Lawn or garden clippings
- Bread products
Take Home Message
The most important things to remember when giving your horse treats is to offer small pieces, a few at a time and try not to feed snacks too often. Doing so with items on our snack list will ensure your horse stays happy and healthy.