A little ways from his fence was young wild apple tree that didn’t produce very well. The apples were always tiny and, if anyone tried them, usually pretty sour, but sometimes the tree produced some decent-size fruit. We would occasionally pick one or two of these apples, cut off a few pieces, and offer them to Smokey at the end of the walk.
Smokey seemed to love the little tart apples, and always came running to get his piece, which he would take immediately from our hands and then happily crunch away on. His mother, however, was a little more particular. Whenever we held out a piece for her, she would cautiously sniff it before taking a bite. Sometimes she ate them, but if she apparently deemed the apple too sour, she would bob her head up and down a few times and then spit it out.
This is a good example of how different horses can have varied reactions to treats. Many horses love treats; some can take them or leave them. Some horses will take a sugar cube, but can’t be bothered with fruits or vegetables and if you try to offer them one, they sniff it and turn their heads away. And of course, some horses will be happy to snack on a tiny tart apple!
Sometimes horses are hesitant about a treat if it’s a new texture or smell that they aren’t used to. Even something as delightful as a sugar cube can be strange when a horse tries one for the first time. When introducing a new treat, expect to see some of that “I-don’t-know-what-this-is” head-bobbing, but give the horse a few moments to try it and he just might come back for another one. Whether it’s a fruit, vegetable, or even a store-bought horse treat—you may need to introduce them to your horse more than once in order to give him a chance discover the joy!
Remember to keep treats what they are—treats, a nice surprise for once in a while. Always feed treats in moderation to avoid disrupting your horse’s diet. A few tried-and-true treat ideas for equines include:
- carrot pieces (small)
- banana slices
- a handful of sweet feed
- a sugar cube or a peppermint once in awhile
- commercially produced horse treats
- a slice of an apple (Keep pieces small so that they won’t be a choking hazard.)
A few things not to use as treats (these are unhealthy to horses) include:
- nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, etc.)
- lawn clippings
Does your horse enjoy treats? What does he like?