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DIY Horse Treats: Easy, Nutritious, and Horse-Approved

Last updated: June 21, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

My grandson’s eyes widened in surprise when he reached for a treat on our countertop, only for me to tell him it was actually for the horses. He protested, “But horse treats come in a bag!” That’s when I let him in on a secret – these were homemade and far better than anything store-bought.

As horse lovers, we’re always scouring for homemade treat recipes that our equine companions will love. However, too often, these recipes seem overly complicated or call for hard-to-find ingredients.

That’s why I’m thrilled to share my favorite homemade horse treat recipes with you. They’re quick, cost-effective, and absolute winners in the taste test, according to my herd. Stay tuned to discover how a few simple ingredients can bring joy to your stable.

Picture of horse treats.

The Benefits of Homemade Horse Treats

Imagine walking down the aisle of your local feed store. Shelves upon shelves are filled with horse treats, each promising a flavor explosion your horse will love. But as you flip the package to glance at the ingredients, you’re met with a jumble of unpronounceable words.

Food colorings, preservatives, artificial flavors – how many of these does your horse really need? The answer is none. This is where homemade horse treats have an edge. When you prepare horse treats at home, you become the master of ingredients.

You choose what goes into those delicious bites, ensuring each treat is packed with the right nutrition, free from unwanted additives. The health of your horse lies in your hands. This control isn’t just about health; it’s about peace of mind.

What about the cost, you ask? While it might seem that store-bought treats are the easier route, consider the long-term effects. The price of these treats can add up, and frequent consumption of artificial additives might lead to health issues.

On the other hand, homemade treats often require simple, affordable ingredients that you might already have in your pantry. Plus, the joy you see in your horse’s eyes as they munch on your homemade treats? That’s priceless.

Ingredients for Homemade Horse Treats

Excited to embark on your homemade horse treat journey? Let’s start with stocking up the pantry. Fortunately, many ingredients you’ll need are probably already in your kitchen, and they’re all horse-safe.

Common ingredients for homemade horse treats include:

  1. Oats: Packed with fiber and nutrients, oats are a favorite among horses.
  2. Molasses or Honey: A touch of this sweetener can make your treats irresistible to horses, but use sparingly due to sugar content.
  3. Carrots and Apples: Horses love these fruits and vegetables. They provide natural sweetness and are packed with vitamins.
  4. Peppermint: Many horses enjoy the flavor, and it can aid digestion.
  5. Flaxseeds: High in Omega-3 fatty acids, good for a shiny coat.
  6. Salt: A small amount can help replenish electrolytes.
  7. Bran: It’s high in fiber but should be used sparingly due to its high phosphorus content.

Now, just as crucial as knowing what’s safe is understanding what to avoid. Certain foods can be harmful to horses. Here are a few:

  1. Chocolate and Coffee: These contain theobromine and caffeine, both of which are harmful to horses.
  2. Onions and Garlic: These can cause anemia in horses.
  3. Tomatoes and Potatoes: These nightshade plants are toxic to horses.
  4. Avocado: This contains a toxin called persin that can be harmful to horses.

Remember, the key to a good horse treat is balance. While you want your treats to be tasty, ensuring they’re safe and healthy should be your top priority.

Picture of Quaker oats I keep in my pantry to make horse treats.
Quaker oats I keep in my pantry.

DIY Horse Treat Recipes

1. Horse Cookies

If you are looking for a healthy cookie your horse will love full, then these cookies made with apples, carrots, and honey is the perfect recipe. Carrots provide vitamins A and C as well as beta-carotene. Honey provides natural sweetness, while oats are a good source of protein.

Ingredients:

  • One apple
  • One carrot
  • two cups of oats
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • One tablespoon of water ( this is optional)
  • One tablespoon of vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cups of flour

Directions for making the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, grate the carrot, and chop the apple finely. (You may need to modify some ingredients depending on what type of oats and honey you use and the size of the carrot you get for the cookies).

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the liquids. Roll into balls, put on a greased baking sheet, and pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Once they’re done cooking, let them cool and put them in the fridge inside a sealed container. They will stay fresh for up to one week.

2. Apple and Peppermint Pleasers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced apples
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons crushed peppermint candies
  • 1/2 cup flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the diced apples, oats, flour, and molasses in a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle in the crushed peppermint candies and mix until well combined.
  4. Roll the mixture into small balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the treats are firm and golden.

These Apple and Peppermint Pleasers provide fiber and a nice mix of natural sweetness from the apples and a minty fresh twist that horses can’t resist.

3. Homemade Oatmeal Treats

Ingredients:

  • One apple
  • One carrot
  • One cup of molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups of oats
  • two tablespoons of oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Shred both the carrot and the apple and place in a large bowl. Next, add the molasses, oats, and oil and combine them well to ensure that the molasses cover all the oats.

Spread the mixture in a 9×13 baking dish, and pat it down to flatten. Once your oven is ready, place the dish in the oven and cook until they get crispy! It should take around 40 minutes or so (depending on how big you want them). Once done cooking, set them aside for a while to cool, then cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Picture of a carrot and horse treats.

4. Carrot and Oat Delights

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of oats
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, shredded carrots, flour, and molasses together in a large bowl.
  3. Gradually add water until the mixture holds together.
  4. Scoop tablespoon-sized balls onto the baking sheet and flatten slightly.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

These treats are full of fiber from the oats and carrots, and the molasses provides a hint of sweetness that horses love.

Picture of horses heading to get a treat.
Treat time!

Tips for Making DIY Horse Treats

Making your own horse treats can be a fun and rewarding activity, but there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure you’re getting the most out of your homemade goodies.

Storage and Shelf Life

Freshness is key when it comes to homemade treats. Unlike store-bought options, these treats lack preservatives, which is great for your horse’s health but means they don’t last as long. Most homemade horse treats will keep for a week at room temperature when stored in an airtight container.

If you’ve made a larger batch, consider refrigerating them, which can extend their life to about 2-3 weeks. For even longer storage, you can freeze them and just defrost a few at a time as needed.

Introducing New Treats

When introducing new treats to your horse’s diet, do so gradually. Every horse is unique and may react differently to new foods. Start by feeding them a small amount and observe any changes in their behavior or digestion. If your horse reacts positively, feel free to make the treat a regular (but still occasional) part of their diet.

Another tip is to incorporate flavors your horse already likes and is used to. If your horse loves apples, an apple-based treat would be a safe bet for your first foray into homemade treats.

Remember, homemade treats should complement a horse’s diet and not replace their regular feed. They’re a great way to spoil your equine friends a little and mix up their routines. Always feed treats in moderation and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your horse’s diet.

Essential Nutrients for Horses

A horse’s diet is a careful blend of many nutrients, each playing a distinctive role in health and well-being. And when we choose to make treats at home, we have the power to make each bite count, packing it full of these vital nutrients. This makes understanding the essentials of equine nutrition invaluable in our journey of crafting DIY horse treats.

Carbohydrates are the main energy source, fueling muscles for work and play. They’re found in hay, oats, and fruits like apples.

Proteins help with growth, muscle repair, and maintaining healthy skin and hooves. Oats and flaxseeds are great protein sources.

Fats are a concentrated energy source and aid in vitamin absorption. Flaxseeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids beneficial for a shiny coat.

Vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Calcium, and Phosphorus support the immune system, bone health, and overall well-being. Carrots are rich in Vitamin A while seeds provide Vitamin E.

Incorporate these nutrients in your homemade treats to complement your horse’s balanced diet.

Picture of my grandson's quarter horse.
My grandson’s quarter horse.

Horses’ Reactions to Homemade Treats

Witnessing your horse try a homemade treat for the first time is a unique thrill. My daughter and grandchildren made a batch of Carrot and Oat Delights for their horses. The experience was remarkable. The horses, initially hesitant, sniffed and nibbled the treats. Then, as if a switch was flipped, they eagerly devoured them. The sparkle in their eyes was priceless.

Sugar-free Horse Treat Recipes

Sugar-free snacks are an excellent alternative for horses on the verge of being overweight, insulin resistant, or having metabolic disorders. If your horse is insulin-resistant, these snacks are perfect for them!

1. Sugar-free biscuit

Ingredients:

  • Three cups of barley flakes
  • 1/2 cup of hemp flour
  • 1/2 cup of hemp seeds
  • One tablespoon of minced cranberries
  • Two tablespoons of unsweetened coconut
  • Two teaspoons of Saigon cinnamon
  • Two teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 cup of hemp seed oil
  • One teaspoon of blueberry flour
  • A handful of Acadian sea kelp
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place all the ingredients in one large bowl and mixes them by hand. Once you finish mixing the products, form them into any shape you want and put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Before placing them in the oven, sprinkle the Acadian sea kelp on top and lower the oven’s temperature down to 250 degrees. It’s best to leave them baking for about 45 minutes or until they reach a golden brown color, making sure not to burn the corners.

Once they finished baking, leave them out for a while to cool before storing them in containers. This recipe allows you to make about five dozen biscuits so your horse will be able to enjoy these snacks for a while.

2. “Hey” snacks

Ingredients:

  • One cup of whole chickpea flour
  • Three cups of brown rice flakes
  • 1/4 cup of hemp seed nut butter
  • One teaspoon of ginger
  • Two teaspoons of Saigon cinnamon
  • One tablespoon of carob
  • 1/2 cup of filtered water
  • 1/4 cup of blueberry seed oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and combine all of the ingredients by hand or food processor. If you’d like, you can shape the mixture into fun little shapes for your horse to enjoy, which can be done quickly by hand.

Once you’re ready to put them in the oven, grab your cookie sheet, line it up with parchment paper, and bake them for 20 minutes. When the time’s up, you let them cool before storing them in the freezer. The fantastic thing about these treats is that you can also serve them raw.

3. Apple cinnamon low-starch treats

Ingredients:

  • Two tablespoons of cinnamon
  • Two cups of hot water
  • One pound of Bob’s Red Mill Organic ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

You will start preparing by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and putting the flaxseed in a mixing bowl. You then add cinnamon, mix in the applesauce, and add the hot water to the mix. You can mix it with a rubber spatula; then, once the dough starts thickening, you can mold it until it becomes smooth.

Grab a cookie sheet and line it up with parchment paper, spreading the dough to cover the sheet. If you want your cookies to come out crispier, you lay them out as thin as possible. To allow for easier separation, cut the mixture into squares before baking.

Once you’re ready to bake, place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 60 minutes; if you prefer chewy snacks, keep them in for 75 minutes for crunchier cookies. Once they finish baking, let them cool before placing them in containers.

horse yearlings edited

Natural Horse Treats

If baking isn’t your thing, or you’re unsure about homemade recipes, don’t stress. You can find plenty of healthy, natural treats online for your horse. So, even without turning on the oven, your four-legged friend won’t miss out on a tasty, nutritious snack.

Here are the top ten natural snacks you can find online to aid in your horse’s diet:

  • Buckeye Nutrition all-natural apple horse treats
  • Compressed hay squares
  • Equus Magnificus horse muffin snacks
  • Stud Muffins variety pack
  • Buckeye Nutrition Reasons Joint Support treats
  • Probios Equine Probiotic Soft Chews
  • Manna Pro Bite-Size nuggets
  • Manna Pro Nutrigood Senior Snax treats
  • Purina Apple and Oat snacks
  • Mrs. Pastures Cookies
  • Ginger Ridge Stable Snax

You’ll find a wide variety of goodies for your horse online, from expensive treats to cheaper alternatives. All with various benefits, but all are made exclusively for horses. To ensure your horses get the best possible ones, it’s essential to research their ingredients and check with a vet.

Below is a YouTube video that shows you how to make horse treats.

YouTube video

Conclusion

Creating homemade horse treats can be more than just a fun weekend project. It’s an opportunity to provide nutritious, tasty treats for our equine companions that they will surely love. From understanding the nutritional needs of horses to exploring different recipes and ingredients, we’ve covered a lot of ground.

Remember, balance is crucial, and while treats are a great way to show affection and reinforce training, they should never replace a horse’s balanced diet. Try out the Carrot and Oat Delights or the Apple and Peppermint Pleasers.

You might be surprised to find your horse’s new favorite treat right inside your kitchen. And while your horse is enjoying their new treats, remember the sparkle in their eyes is more than just a response to the delicious treats; it’s an expression of the bond between you and your horse being strengthened.

So get creative, have fun, and let these homemade treats be a new way to connect with your beloved horses. After all, nothing says “I care” like a handcrafted treat made with love.

FAQs

Can Horses Eat Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is generally safe to occasionally give to your horses, but be sure your animal doesn’t have any metabolic conditions or peanut allergies.

Can Horses Have Ginger Snaps?

Ginger snaps are perfectly safe to give to your horse as treats. No studies show that ginger snaps are dangerous for them to eat.

Can Horses Eat Quaker Oats?

Horses can eat Quaker Oats. The difference between the oats that we give our horses and the oats that humans consume is the hull. Horse oats include the outer shell, which is removed for human consumption.