Safe horse treats include:
- Pitted Dates
- Sugar cubes
- Hay cubes
- Apple pieces
- Carrot pieces
- Sunflower seeds (with or without shells)
If you often carry treats in your pockets and feed from your hands you might teach your horse a bad habit. He might decide that all pockets or fingers contain treats and nip at your clothes and fingers. A horse that is pushy about getting treats can be dangerous. The safest way to feed treats is to put them in a bucket or feeder.
Some treats can be a choking hazard. Apples and carrots are best cut into pieces. Only feed a very small amount of any hard foods like mints and hay cubes. A greedy horse may not chew the treat completely and bolt a treat down. The food can then become lodged in the horse's throat, causing choke.
In the book "Arabian Exodus" author Margaret Greely describes the Bedouin custom of feeding horses whole dates. After their meal, the trough would be covered in pits. While swallowing a few date pits might not cause a problem you'll want remove the pit or stone of any fruit you feed if it is large enough to cause a choking hazard.
Some things are not good for treats:
- Lawn, hedge or garden clippings.
- Cabbage, including broccoli, cauliflower etc….
- Chocolate, if you are competing can cause a positive drug test.
Horses will eat surprisingly weird foods-from roast beef sandwiches to ice cream. Historically horses have been fed some strange things to survive--like fish. But horses are herbivores-animals whose digestive system is geared to digesting grass and soft plant matter. Although some horses can eat these things with no apparent ill effects, it is always better to stick to treats similar to their natural foodstuffs.