Sweet Treats: The Lowdown on What Strange Foods Are Safe for Your Horse

Posted by Allie Layos
Cute girl feeding her horse in paddock

Have you ever wondered if the odd treats your horse enjoys are actually safe for him?

Horse owners enjoy rewarding their horses with treats after a job well done, or sometimes for no reason at all. Like humans, some horses are picky about what they choose to eat, and others will willingly gobble up whatever odd treats their owner has on hand. But is a piece of that bagel or a sip of your juice actually safe for your horse?

According to a list published by the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University, there are a number of strange treats that are safe for horses, as long as they are fed in small amounts.

Young beautiful girl feeding a horse at summer time

Perfectly Acceptable Treats

As long as these treats are fed in limited quantities (less than 1-2 pounds per feeding), you won’t have to worry about offering your horse any of these treats.

On this list you will find grapes, bananas, peas, green beans, lettuce, celery, dried beans, such as pinto, red, fava (should be cooked or heat treated), watermelon rinds, squash, mangoes (minus the seeds), raisins, bread/bagels/cake (but not if they contain chocolate or poppy seeds), pasta, macaroni, potato chips and potato products, rice products (not raw rice), barley products, corn products, dairy products, eggs, fruit juices, hot dogs, hamburgers, tuna fish, ham, and even roast beef sandwiches.

Sweet Red and White Peppermint Candy in a Bowl

Probably Acceptable in Small Amounts

These foods should also be safe for your horse as long as you feed less than 2-4 ounces of these treats a day.

This list includes cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, spinach, rhubarb stems (minus the leaves or roots), garlic and onions (though beware that large amounts may cause anemia), turnips, radishes, avocado (minus the skins or seeds), sunflower seeds, and sugar candies like jelly beans, gummy bears, and the most popular horse treat: peppermints.

Young girl petting horse while feeding it a treat

Safe in Very Limited Quantities

Very small amounts of these treats should still be safe for your horse, but the items on this list will cause positive drug tests, so should be avoided before and during any horse shows.

These items include chocolate, licorice, cinnamon products, nutmeg, hot pepper/chili flavored products (like nacho chips, etc.), non-decaffeinated coffee or tea in any form, caffeinated sodas and alcoholic beverages. It is also important to note that carrots in very large quantities (over 5 pounds a day) can also cause positive drug tests.

Next time your horse is begging you for a few jelly beans or wants a bite of your roast beef sandwich, feel free to share away. It may be weird, but a bite or two is still perfectly safe.

Does your horse enjoy one of these strange but safe treats? Tell us below!

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Sweet Treats: The Lowdown on What Strange Foods Are Safe for Your Horse