When you’re feeling like a change from carrots and apples, what are healthy treats to feed your horses? You could buy commercially-packaged horse “cookies” from the local feed store… or you could hit the produce aisle at your grocery store! Surprise your horse and tempt his tastebuds with these healthy treats for horses.
Bananas — Most horses absolutely love bananas, and they’ll eat them peel and all. Since bananas are full of potassium, they’re a great choice when your horse has a busy day, such as a horse show or long trail ride. Bananas are rich in phospholipids, which can aid in preventing acid damage to the stomach. Since ulcers affect a large percentage of stabled equines, a banana could be more than a tasty treat — they can have a positive impact on your horse’s gut health.
Dried figs and dates — In the Middle East, dried fruit like figs and dates were once a staple of a desert horse’s diet, and they’re still fed as treats and energy boosts for horses in that part of the world. High in fiber and potassium, plus a treasure trove of other vitamins and minerals, horses love their sweet taste. Be sure the dates are pitted before you offer them to your horse.
Grapes — If you like carrying treats during your ride or grooming sessions for easy rewards, grapes are a great natural choice. (Try freezing them during the summer!) Since they naturally come in tiny single-serve bites, it’s easy to hand off a grape for good behavior reinforcement without overdoing it and giving your horse a stomachache. Horses love their sweet flavor — just watch out for seeds and bits of vine when you’re handing them out.
Melon rinds — What to do with the leftover rind from a barn picnic? Save it for the horses! You can cut up rind into small bites and dish it out as a treat. Watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe rinds are all palatable (and delicious) for horses. And since they’re low in sugar, this is the perfect treat for a horse with Cushing’s or insulin resistance. Remember that no matter how much your horse might love a treat, it’s important to go easy on them. Just like any other new food you’re introducing, your horse’s gut doesn’t immediately know what to do with it. Upsetting the balance of the gut’s bacteria and microbes by suddenly giving your horse six bananas is going to end in a colic, even though the bananas themselves are full of healthy nutrients.
What treats do you feed your horses?
Additionally, as expressed by one of our readers and very important, people should never feed horses these or any treats if the horse does not belong to them.