Healthy Treats For Horses

With all the talk in the news about how bad for you sugar is many of us are reducing the amount we eat and understandably want to reduce the amount we feed to our horses in treats. While this is of course a good thing it can be difficult to know what treats are the healthiest for horses and which ones should be avoided at all costs. Obviously you don’t want to feed your horse huge amounts of sugar cubes but did you know what watermelon makes an excellent alternative?

What human foods can horses eat?

Its great to be able to share your food with your horse but not all human foods are suitable, or even safe, for your horse to eat. We all know that you should never feed chocolate to horses (or any animal for that matter) but did you know the same goes for onions, garlic and chives? For a more extensive list of what you shouldn’t feed to your horse click here. Knowing what you can’t feed to your horse is one thing but obviously you want to know what yo can feed him. Below is a list of some of the more popular humans foods that can, in moderation, be fed to horses – although all fruits or vegetables should have their pips, seeds or stones removed. As with humans though, horses can and do suffer from allergies so if your horse displays any adverse reactions to anything stop feeding it straightaway and if necessary speak to the vet. 

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Corn
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes (including raisins)
  • Grapefruit
  • Horseradish
  • Lettuce
  • Mangoes
  • Melon (especially watermelons)
  • Oranges
  • Peach
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabagas (or swede)
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips

What fruit can horses eat?

I know that I’ve included some fruits above but there’s too many that horses can eat to list them all so instead I thought it might be more helpful to group them by type and include a few examples of fruits that are in that group..

  • Citrus – Including lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits etc. Don’t feed the peel or pips though.
  • Stoned fruit – Generally any fruit that contains one large stone, fruits such as apricots, plums and peaches. Again you must remove the stone before feeding them to your horse.
  • Berries – Berries such as blueberries, strawberries (although not technically a berry) and raspberries. You might be surprised to know that the avocado is scientifically classed as a berry but they must not be fed to horses.
  • Melons – All melons are suitable for horses but they especially love watermelon. Unlike citrus fruits though the rind of melons are okay for horses to eat.
  • Pome – Pome is derived from the latin word for fruit and contains things such as apples, pears, quinces and hawthorn berries.

What are good snacks for horses?

As with all treats they should be fed in moderation and with that in mind any healthy treat that you feed to your horse is going to be good. If you want to feed your horse treats that will not only be tasty but will do them some good too then you can’t go wrong with things like hawthorn berries and mint leaves. Both of them will help your horse’s digestion but hawthorn berries have a multitude of other benefits too. They’re known to increase stamina and help ease symptoms of rheumatism as well as helping horses with laminitis and navicular syndrome.

Can horses eat peanut butter?

Who doesn’t like a peanut butter sandwich, either with jelly, banana, tomato or on its own and horses are no exception at all. Just because they love peanut butter it doesn’t mean that they can safely eat it and while there is some disagreement about it the consensus is that, as an occasional treat, it’s okay for them to have a little bit of peanut butter. If your horse is overweight or suffers from equine metabolic syndrome (a medical term used to describe a horse that’s resistant to insulin) then I wouldn’t feed them peanut butter because of the naturally high levels of sugar. Of course if your horse has a nut allergy then you absolutely shouldn’t feed them peanut butter either.

So does that mean that I can share my peanut butter sandwiches with my horse? 

Sadly no I’m afraid it doesn’t, while they will almost definitely eat it the bread isn’t good for them. A horse’s digestive system was never meant to cope with processed food so, while some horses will be okay, I would never recommend feeding bread to them. It can get stuck in the digestive tract and then drastically increases the chance of colic.

What do horses like to eat the most?

Let’s be honest horses will eat most things, regardless of whether it’s healthy or not but what do they really like to eat? You’ll be very hard pushed to find a horse that doesn’t things like apples and carrots but if you’ve ever watched a horse eating a watermelon you’ll know they go potty for them!! Horses also love anything with sugar in (regardless of whether its artificially added sugars or those that occur naturally), this is because the sugars make them salivate more which in turn aids digestion. Some how horses seem to instinctively know what will help them.

Are mints okay to feed to horses?

Horses have a very delicate digestive system and mint actually helps with the digestive process, and of course they absolutely love mints too! If you’re after a healthy treat for your horse though mints might not be the best option, even special mints for horses contain a lot of sugar. If you’re not keen on giving your horse sugary treats then why not feed them a few mint leaves? This while have the same benefit on their digestion but without the sugar. You could even make mint flavoured treats if you wanted to, just follow the recipe on the next page.

Page 2 – Healthy horse treat recipes