Most tack and feeds stores carry an overwhelming variety of horse treats in every shape, color and size these days. But, if you’re looking for a fun way to share a little holiday spirit with your horse, making treats at home is simple and affordable.
Creating your own horse treats is as easy as whipping up a batch of cookies. You don’t have to be skilled in the kitchen—horses don’t mind if your treats are oddly shaped or a little overcooked!
Plus, you don’t need any special ingredients to make horse treats. A few cups of grain combined with flour and molasses makes a quick, easy treat.
Where Do I Start?
The first step is determining what your particular horse enjoys eating. Most horses will snack on apples and carrots, but there’s no reason to limit yourself in the kitchen. Here are some suggestions for foods horses may like to eat.
- Dried fruit (pitted dates, raisins, etc)
- Sugar cubes
- Sunflower seeds
- Green beans
- Watermelon rinds
- Mango (not the seeds)
In comparison, here is a list of things you should avoid feeding your horse!
- Garlic and onions
- Cabbage/Kale/Chard/Collard Greens/Brussel Sprouts
- Tomato/Potato plants and any member of the Nightshade family, including peppers, should be avoided at all costs!
- Rhubarb leaves and roots—Toxic!
- Pits of peaches, cherries or avocados
And finally, a list of things that may cause positive drug tests.
- Tobacco (consumed, not inhaled)
- Carrots in very large quantities (over 5 lbs/day)
- Hot pepper/chili flavored products (chips, etc).
- Non-decaffeinated tea or coffee
- Caffeinated sodas
Follow Directions or Wing It?
While there are dozens of treat recipes available online, it’s quite easy to experiment on your own. In order to create a tasty treat, you need to have a solid (grain, oatmeal), a filler (bran, flour), a “glue” (molasses, corn syrup, honey), a liquid (water, juice, beer), and, if desired, a garnish (carrot, apple, peppermint, sugar, salt).
You certainly shouldn’t be limited by these suggestions, and the equation used results in a semi-soft cookie-type treat.
Here is a recipe modified from a simpler version found online.
15-Minute Horse Treats
4-5 cups of oatmeal
2 cups of molasses
3 cups of grain
2-3 cups of flour
Splash of oil (I used olive, corn would probably be better)
1 cup of water
Salt for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the liquid ingredients. Mix thoroughly until the entire mixture is coated and moist. Add either liquid or solid until you’re able to form the mixture into small balls. Roll balls lightly in salt then press onto a cookie sheet. Or you can spread a layer of the mixture on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Other Fun Recipes:
From COTH BB User MistyBlue:
Any type of juice or Gatorade or melted molasses
Medium-sized plastic containers with lids
Optional: chunks of carrot, apple, etc.
Fill containers 1/2—2/3 full with liquid of choice, and then top off with water.
For molasses, fill container with warm water, add 1/4-1/2 cup molasses. Close lid, shake well.
On a hot day, pop the now frozen treat out of the container and into your horses’ feed trough or water buckets. You can also put several of them into the water trough itself to cool and flavor the water.
If you have a chest freezer, use the same recipe in a two-gallon bucket for more fun!
From COTH BB User PaintedBones
2 cups corn syrup
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 cups corn meal
2 cups sweet feed
Optional: peppermint or other kinds of flavoring
Combine corn syrup and sugar over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and cook for eight minutes, then uncover and cook until 300 degrees or hard crack stage. Turn off heat. Add corn meal and sweet feed alternately and stir until combined and well coated. Pour into well-greased bundt pan and allow to harden.
Remove candy from pan and run a string through the middle. Hang within reach of your horses. Watch them enjoy!
Beer Bran Mash
From COTH BB User OMalley Cat
8 cups of bran
8 cups of oats
Pinch of salt
1 can of beer
Add enough hot water to moisten ingredients, add a pinch of salt, mix, and let steep for 30 minutes or until cool enough to feed. Add a can of beer moments before feeding.
New England Valkyries Vaulting Horse Cookies
(Or cookies for any horse sweet enough to let people jump off and on in rapid succession)
From Mari, @NEValkyries
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup Cheerios or other grain
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup other grain (we used psyillium, you can use cornmeal, grape nuts, wheat cereal, etc)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup corn or lite olive oil
1 tbs. salt
1 cup applesauce
1 cup grated carrots or apples
2/3 c. molasses
(You may also need some white flour)
You can also replace some grains with sweet feed. You can also choose organic versions.
1. Mix these ingredients together with your hands. Really mix. Whole grains vary widely in their abilty to hold/absorb water so the dough varies too. Some get stickier as they absorb liquid. If it doesn’t hold a nice ball easily after a while, add some regular white flour (which acts as glue). If too stiff, add just a little more water. Should hold a ball easily, but not be too sticky.
2. Oil a cookie sheet. DO NOT PREHEAT OVEN (not necessary at the beginning).
3. Drop spoon-size balls onto well-oiled cookie sheet and press flat (1/3 inch thick).
4. Set oven to 325 degrees, bake for 10 minutes. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN. If the cookies are not crisp on the outside, FLIP THEM at this point and cook for three more minutes. Flip again for three minutes more if you want an even tougher cookie. With subsequent batches, flip half-way through and reduce total time by one minute (oven loses heat when you open it).
The goal is crunchy on the outside, a little chewy inside—but if your horse likes a REALLY hard crunch cookie, take finished cookies and then lower the temperature to 250 and bake for 10 more minutes.
Cool completely. Horses like them as is. Store in airtight container. Makes five to six dozen, depending on the size. Small cookies for smaller horses!
Or…. you can ice them…
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sift after measuring
2 tbsp milk
2 tbls light corn syrup
Mix with handmixer until smooth. Drizzle on cookies (or brush on or dip,) if you like.
Sprinkle with crushed peppermints, which will stick to icing, and let set for two hours in a cool place.
You can also make a sandwich-style cookie with these….use marshmallow fluff!
Store in an airtight container.
What’s your favorite recipe for horse treats? Share it in the comments.