An important aspect of horse ownership is their diet and nutrition; most horses will have a set diet based on their activity levels, breed, or medical issues. Naturally, we all want to spoil our horses and ponies, which is why we have created this easy guide to safe and healthy horse treats. Thankfully, horses have a natural disposition towards healthy foods and are more than happy to munch on apples and carrots. They are also regularly known to head stoned fruit such as plums and are experts at spitting out the stones.
Did you know there is a whole range of natural, baked, and DIY goodies you can give them?
Safe Fruits & Vegetables for Horses
We all know that apples and carrots are a popular choice, but did you know that bananas are also appealing to horses? They can be eaten with the skin on and are a natural source of potassium. Some equine nutritionists also recommend celery as a good option as they are low in sugar and high in cellulose.
Other safe treats include:
Keep in mind that not all fruits and vegetables are safe for horses – some foods can produce intestinal gas which can cause trouble. These include foods such as onion, potatoes, tomatoes, sprouts and cabbage.
Homemade & Baked Horse Treats
When considering a horse’s diet, it’s important to consider the sugar intake, especially those with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) or who are prone to laminitis. Making or baking your own horse treats is the best way to ensure they are not ingesting too much sugar. Here we have a few ideas you can use. (Recipes courtesy of Formahoof).
- ½ Cup Grated Carrots
- 1 Cup of Oats
- 1 Cup of Oat Flour
- ¼ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ of a Banana
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, to reach a firm consistency. Divide into around twelve individual cookies on a baking tray. Cook for 12 Minutes. Flip each one over and cook for 5 more minutes.
- 1 1/2 Cups Oat Flour,
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil,
- 1 Cup of any fruit chopped (apples, peaches, bananas).
Stir ingredients to mix. If it is too runny, add more flour until thick and gooey. Drop onto a baking sheet in individual rounded spoonfuls and bake for 15 minutes at 180°C (350°F). The cookies should be crunchy when finished cooking.
- 2 large, grated carrots
- Grated apple
- A handful of chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup molasses
- Teaspoon of salt
- Cup of oats
- Cup of flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C (Gas Mark 4 or 325°F/ 160°C Fan assisted) then mix the carrots, apple, oil, and molasses in a large bowl. When that’s all mixed add the rest of the ingredients and separate into bite-sized balls. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place the balls on that before baking for around 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
This recipe is from 2015 by Olivia Mulligan and published by Horse and Hound.
- 2 large carrots (grated)
- 1 apple (grated)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup flour
- Optional: 1/2 cup of your horse’s regular feed
- Optional: polo mints
Preheat the oven to 180°C
In a large bowl mix together the carrots, apple, oil, and molasses until combined.
Add the salt, oats, flour and optional feed and stir until it’s combined. It will be a sticky, dough-like consistency.
Form into small 1″ size balls with your hands.
Place them on a tray lined with a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Note: if you’re going for a ‘show-stopper,’ you can reveal your artistic side and decorate the treats with mints too.
Allow to cool.
Ice Lolly Ideas for Horses
Or in the hot weather, Ice Lollies for horses are incredibly easy to make and can be customised with all of your horse’s favourite fruits and vegetables. Using a Bundt pan or similar doughnut-shaped cake dish, simply fill it with a variety of chopped apples, carrots, melons, etc, and top up with some water. Freeze these overnight and pop them out of the pan in the morning. They can then be strung up on fences, stables and even trees for your horses to enjoy.
Another enrichment idea is bobbing apples! Add a few small apples to a bucket of cool water and watch as they pull the apples out from the bucket – this easy solution can also encourage them to drink more water during hot weather.
What Not to Feed Your Horses
As much as we wish to spoil our horses, it is equally important to ensure they are not given anything which can cause illness or issues. For example, chocolate given to horses could flag a positive drug test for those who are competing. Similarly, do not feed anything, let alone treats to horses that are not your own without their owner’s express permission. There are too many horses who suffer choke or lose their lives when they have been fed inappropriately by members of the public.
Horses will eat a surprising variety of foods given the opportunity. Historically, horses have been known to eat fish in order to survive and have been spotted eating beef sandwiches and ice cream! Equines are natural herbivores and their digestive system is geared towards eating grass and soft plant matter. Due to this, it’s always best to stick to foodstuffs that can be easily digested as to avoid any unpleasant trips to the vet.
As always, make sure to consult a professional when making changes to your horse’s diet, or adding in any new food items. An emergency callout to the vet can be costly – so be sure to have adequate horse and pony insurance in place at all times. If you have any questions or would like to enquire about our specialist equine insurance, don’t hesitate to contact us.