You scream, I scream, we all scream for…okay, ice cream is most definitely not something to be feeding your horse. But there are plenty of simple and easy horse treats that you can reward them with. Because just like you and me, your horse loves to get rewarded for being such a great companion.
But what exactly should you feed as a horse treat? Well, your local pet/tack store is going to be a very good source of information and will probably carry many different kinds of treats. Or you can read the rest of this article.
Using Your Pantry Staples
But what if you prefer to feed your horse treats that you can either make yourself or come from foods that are already in your pantry? That’s actually a good idea as you will have more control over the actual ingredients. And you can ensure that whatever you choose as a treat is not only going to be tasty but it is going to be healthy as well. This means that table scraps are definitely off limits.
Let’s start with the simple things that you likely already have in your kitchen. Horses love raisins, sweet sugar cubes, dates and sunflower seeds. It’s a good idea to experiment with these types of easy horse treats to see what your horse favours. Don’t be too shocked if they simply prefer carrots and other vegetables instead of sugar cubes.
Feeding The Treats
You can bet that once your horse figures out that you have treats stashed in your pockets that you are going to receive some extra attention. That’s okay because you can utilise this as a training tool, if you so desire. Otherwise, rewarding your horse for doing something correctly is always a great reinforcement tool. While it is okay to carry treats in your pockets, remember that your horse may eventually associate pockets as homes for treats. And forget some of their horse manners. Which could become a problem when you have other people in the stable with you.
The same thing has to be said about how you choose to feed those treats. Try to mix up how you give your horse treats. You should have a bucket or feeding trough or specific location where you will ‘serve’ the treats that won’t involve pockets or hands.
What Not To Feed Your Horse As A Treat
Before we get into the list of no-no treats, remember that the serving size of the treats you provide will be determined by the size of your horse. This means that although they can easily gobble down a carrot, it's a good idea to cut the treats into smaller sizes. This will reduce any chance of choking and seem like your horse is getting additional horse treats.
The No-No List:
- Lawn and garden clippings (sure, it is all grasses, right? Wrong!)
- Anything from the Cole crop family (cabbage leaves, broccoli, kale or cauliflower)
- Potatoes, tomatoes or acorns
- Fresh bread or doughnuts
Here is a disclaimer for you. Your horse can also get sick on contaminated feed. This means that the feed you have stored to mix for your horse daily should be stored in a cool, dry location. And in an airtight feed bin to keep moisture and other critters out of it.
Treats For A Horse You Don’t Own
To treat, or not to treat? There is a simple answer for that. It is no. Every horse has a routine which includes treats or no treats in their diet. There may be allergies or other food sensitivities you are not aware of and so the smart thing to do is to refrain from treating someone else’s horse. If you are not sure, and the horse is acting like it is ‘treat-friendly’ ask the horse owner if treats are allowed. If so, describe what yours are in case there is a food sensitivity that needs to be known.
Horse Treat Frequency
Well, think about your own diet for a moment. You likely eat three regular meals and possibly a snack or two in-between. For your horse, you provide a feed mixture they can enjoy once or twice a day. Then they get to graze whenever they get hungry during the rest of the day in their paddock.
Treats are extras on top of the other foods they consume so you don’t want to create a habit that changes the overall feeding pattern. Small portions are best when serving treats and healthy fruits and vegetables are your best choices. Remember, too many treats can impact your horse’s digestive system and you will want to avoid that.
Feeding Treats By Hand
We’ve already indicated that feeding treats by hand is a habit you should not create for safety reasons. However, there are going to be treats that are best fed by hand. There is a safe method to doing this. It involves holding your hand out flat, palm up, with fingers held tightly together. This keeps your fingers from being accidently bitten by your horse who is more interested in the treat than anything else at that moment. If you gently push the treat against the nose of your horse, it signals them to grip the treat with their lips allowing you to push it slightly into their mouth. This prevents your horse from having to work hard to collect the treat and you get to control how the treat is delivered. Saving all your fingers.
Easy Horse Treats Conclusion
So we've gone over quite a lot of information about simple, yet easy horse treats for your big burly companion. Try and refrain from using treats daily. Just like the treats you may enjoy, moderation is the key and that helps keep your horse healthy with a balanced diet.