Horse treats aren’t just rewards for a job well done. A horse treat can add refreshment and entertainment to your horse’s life, encouraging natural behaviors even if their stall-bound life doesn’t exactly resemble the open grasslands horses are designed to inhabit. Horses are foragers by nature, picking out the good from the bad while grazing, so offering them treats that require a little more work than a pile of hay is a great way to enrich their lives.
You can buy plenty of stall toys that work by hiding treats. Doctors Foster and Smith offer a heavy-duty plastic cylinder with a center treat dispenser. The horse rolls the dispenser and treats come out! Try filling it with low-sugar homemade treats like these Sugar-Free Biscuits, flavored with unsweetened coconut, cranberries, and pumpkin spice (you might want to eat these yourself?), found at Equine Wellness Magazine: https://equinewellnessmagazine.com/healthy-sugar-free-treats-for-horses/.
(Find this toy at drsfostersmith.com: http://www.drsfostersmith.com)
Homemade toys are a fun way to provide basic treats, like carrots or even a handful of sweet feed, with a side of entertainment. The Horse and Man blog offers up several homemade toy ideas, including the old “fill a milk jug with feed and hang it up” trick. Let’s face it, that one can get boring quickly. Try a plastic container like a sour cream container instead. Punch tiny holes in the sides, and two larger ones at the top to run through with hay twine. Fill the container with treats and hang it up just low enough for the horse to nose around, but not so high he can reach the hay twine. The tiny holes offer tantalizing nibbles of treats, enough to keep your horse interested! (Find this and other toys at horseandman.com: http://www.horseandman.com/handy-tips/home-made-horse-toys-and-a-few-other-things/.
Ice-cold treats aren’t just a summer cool-down, they also get water into horses when they need it most. Equimed.com suggests a frozen fruit salad for your horses. Take watery, horse-friendly fruit like watermelon, grapes, oranges, and, of course, carrots and apples. Put them in a bucket, top with water, and freeze. Turn the bucket over into a feed pan, and you have a bucket-size popsicle full of fruity goodness for your horse to work his way through, eliminating boredom and dehydration! (See more refreshing cool-down treats for horses at equimed.com: http://equimed.com/health-centers/nutrition/articles/summer-treats-for-your-horse.
Is a bucket popsicle a little too big? Try dropping a grape into each opening on an ice tray, topping off with water, and freezing. Now you have individual horse treats for a refreshing cool-down with a burst of juicy goodness in the middle. (You’ll probably have to keep the Pony Club kids from eating all of these!)
A few treats and toys can go a long way towards refreshing your horse, both in body and spirit! What treats do you use to cool down and entertain your horses?