Which treats are safe for horses?

When humans think of “treats”, a chocolate bar tends to take priority over one of our five-a-day. Thankfully our horses have a much healthier attitude when it comes to treats and are more than happy to munch on an apple or carrot. But did you know there are a whole host of other options available that make safe treats for horses, when fed in moderation? We spoke to nutritionists to find out what makes a good treat and what should be avoided.

Interestingly, the humble banana is a popular choice among a number of elite dressage horses. Bananas can be fed with the skin on and are known to be very high in potassium.

Celery is really low in sugar and a great alternative to carrots, which are 20% sugar. It is good because the texture in celery is high in cellulose, which makes it very good for chewing. The more the horse chews, the more saliva it generates. Saliva is alkaline and can guard against things like gastric ulcers.

Other safe treats for horses include:

  • Strawberries
  • Raisins
  • Melon
  • Grapes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Fenugreek
  • Chamomile
  • Mint
  • Beetroot
  • Turnips
  • Parsnip

However, not all fruit and vegetables make suitable treats for horses.

“Foods that tend to produce intestinal gas or that belong to the nightshade family should be avoided,” advises Spillers’ nutritionist Clare Barfoot.

Foods that should be avoided include:

  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts

Like humans, of course, the occasional horse might have a guilty pleasure! Whatever treats you choose should always be fed with sugar content in mind.

Extracted from: Horse & Hound. Safe Treats for Horses. 6 April 2020. https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/features/safe-treats-for-horses-644034