Written by: Rachael Kraft
Do you know your horses favorite food? Some horses love horse snacks like carrots or celery, while others love fruits like bananas, strawberries and watermelons. Others have a sweet tooth and whinny in delight when they see you reach into your pocket for a sugar cube. The best horse treats are ones that your horse loves – and ones that don’t disrupt your horse’s delicate stomach.
Horses are herbivores that have a sensitive digestive tract – to stay healthy and happy, they need to eat a unique diet made up of lots of fiber. A diet made up of a combination of hay, grass, and other feed additives like oats, corn, and vitamins and minerals is essential to provide your horse the energy he needs.
A horse’s stomach is designed for constant digestion. In the wild, horses spend most of their time grazing and eating small amounts of hay and grass all day long. That’s why your horse is hungry all the time. But just because he’s hungry doesn’t mean you should fill him up with horse snacks all the time.
But, every once in a while, you can give your horses a special surprise by offering them horse treats. When choosing the best snacks for horses, there’s some important things to keep in mind to keep your horse safe and content. Keep reading to discover what treats for horses are the best and what horse snacks you should avoid at all costs.
You may also be interested in reading: 7 Easy DIY Horse Treats You Can Make at Home!
Growing up, our mare loved to eat – and she would eat anything! One time, at a show, she reached over my sister's shoulder and stole some of her ham and mustard sandwich!
While I don’t recommend ham and mustard sandwiches as healthy horse snacks, there are many great options for horse snacks that you can give your horse when he’s on his best behavior. Just remember, it’s not a good idea to give your horse treats and snacks all the time. If you give your horse a treat after every training session, he could start to expect the treats and react poorly if you don’t have one.
But, every once in a while, a special snack doesn’t hurt. And, many horse snacks have hidden health benefits as well – they’re a great way to sneak more vitamins and nutrients into your horse’s diet.
There are many different horse treats for sale on equestrian websites and at tack shops. You can find everything from packaged apple nuggets and horse cookies to carrot wafers and nutritious nibblers.
Looking for a fun new training treat? Try Mrs. Pastures Cookies for Horses.
While these are great options, you don’t have to buy special pre-made horse snacks to make your four-legged friend happy. Here’s a list of the 9 best treats for horses – they’re simple, easy to find in your local supermarket, and they won’t break the bank.
And remember, every horse is different and has different favorite treats. If you horse refuses to eat a certain treat, don’t worry! He’s sure to love a different horse treat on the list.
Carrots are number one on our list of favorite horse treats because almost all horses LOVE them! They are full of vitamin C and vitamin A which helps boost your horse’s immune system and keep viruses and sicknesses away. They’re also cheap easy to find at your local supermarket.
Another classic favorite, apples are a typical horses favorite food. Apples are very nutritious – the potassium in apples helps your horse’s muscles work properly and the fiber benefits their digestive system.
You can feed your horse both apples and carrots whole, but we recommend cutting them in half or into quarters to prevent choking. Always make sure to wash vegetables and fruits before feeding them to your horse to get rid of any pesticides or bacteria.
Raisins are another fun and healthy treat to give your horse. They’re small so they aren’t a choking hazard, meaning even foals and young horses can have them. Raisins are easy to carry in your pocket or saddle, and they are very nutritious. They are full of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber, making them great snacks for horses.
Bananas are another nutritious treat for your horse. You can feed them to your horse in many different ways – quartered bananas with the peel on, frozen chunks, or peeled bananas. This snack is a great source of potassium and vitamin B. But don’t give it to your horse too often – too many bananas can cause stomach pain and discomfort.
If your horse has a sweet tooth, strawberries are a great option as snacks for horses. Strawberries are full of calcium, magnesium, and potassium and they also have vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. But, they are a very sugary fruit so don’t use them as a treat too frequently.
Sugar cubes are a classic horse treat for our four-legged friends who love sweets. They’re easy to stick in your pocket and if your horse has a sweet tooth, he’s sure to do just about anything to earn one.
Running low on sugar cubes? Try these organic raw sugar cubes we love here.
Horses can safely eat candies like candy canes, lifesaver mints, hard butterscotch candies, jolly ranchers, and even skittles! Peppermint candies are a more common sugary treat to give to your horse, but since many candies have the same ingredients, you can safely offer your horse some of your favorite candies.
These candies are very high in sugar and horses should only eat 3-4 of these candies a day.
Celery is a highly recommended nutritious treat for your horse. Since it’s mostly made of water, it’s very low in sugar, but many horses like it because it’s fun to chew. Equine nutrition experts say that chewing celery helps horses produce alkaline in saliva, which can prevent gastric ulcers.
Did you know that horses can eat watermelon rinds? Watermelon – both the inside and the rinds – is a heart-healthy treat for your horse. It’s full of amino acids, vitamins, and fiber and it’s a sweet treat that might even become your horses favorite food! Make sure you wash the watermelon, then just cut the rinds into small, bite-sized cubes to feed to your horse.
No matter which of these horse snacks you give to your horse, remember to not overdo it. Horses have sensitive stomachs and need to stick to their regular hay-based diets to be happy and healthy. In the end, the best treats for horses are the ones your horse is familiar with and loves.
Yes, horses can eat bananas with the peels on. Banana peels are full of vitamin B and potassium. If your horse is used to eating peeled bananas, he probably won’t be too enthusiastic about eating a plain banana peel, but you could try giving him a whole banana (with the peel still on).
While horses love carrots, not all vegetables are good for horses. Never give your horse broccoli, kale, cabbage leaves, or cauliflower. Horses should also stay away from potatoes, tomatoes, avocado and chocolate. These foods in large amounts can cause serious stomach damage for your horse and even poison them.
Dairy products are not good for horses and can lead to severe stomach problems and diarrhea. Horse stomachs are not able to absorb lactose, so it’s best to stay away from cheese, milk, ice cream, and other dairy products.
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