Trick Or Treat?: Treats You Should and Shouldn't Feed To Your Horse
"Trick or Treat!" Here are the treats you should and shouldn't feed to your horse.
With everyone having a different idea of what your horse should be eating, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction! So, we've put together a quick guide to treats your horse can eat safely and what food items are a 'trick'.
TREAT - Treats You Should Feed You Horse
Almost any fruits, and most vegetables, are safe treats for healthy horses. Apples and carrots are the traditional favourites, however you can offer your horse a much wider variety, if you please.
Berries are a great source of vitamin C, which plays a vital role in protecting against cell damage and be found in some hoof supplements! Plus, the antioxidants found in fruit and veg help to fight damage-producing cells and maintain the health of internal and external structures. Therefore, some treats are a welcome addition to horse diets, with their contents assisting with everything from hoof nutrition to performance.
When offering bigger items of fruit or veg, ensure to cut them into manageable chunks. The size of the piece you cut treats into will vary depending on the size of the horse and their dental condition. Make sure the pieces are a size which encourage your horse to chew to ensure they don't swallow pieces whole, reducing the risk of choking.
How Often Can I Feed My Horse Treats?
Treats should be occasional for your horse; a few pieces once a day if enough! Due to their higher energy content, feeding lots of treats regularly could predispose your horse to obesity. The high sugar content in most treats, commercial and natural, could also encourage the onset of conditions such as laminitis, or spikes in blood sugar causing excitability. In addition, feeding lots of treats sporadically can put your horse at risk of serious gastro-intestinal problems, as introducing large amounts of un-familar food can disrupt the fine balance of microbes in the gut.
TRICK - Treats You Shouldn't Feed Your Horse
'Treats' you should avoid feeding your horse include most types of cruciferous vegetables, due to the tendency of gas build ups after ingesting these. Vegetables belonging to the Nightshade family should also be avoided.
Some common vegetables to avoid feeding, include;
For those with a sweet tooth, you can safely feed chocolate to your horse in very small amounts! However, chocolate should be avoided if your horse competes where drug testing is possible, as substances found in the sweet treat can cause a positive test.
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Journalist and News Reporter, Everything Horse
Reporting on equestrian news stories, Abby also produces a variety of engaging content for the magazine.