Oats and hay are fine for the feed bucket but healthful treats can add variety and vitamins to your equine friend's diet. Aside from the obvious affection for you this will inspire, the horse can benefit from the same antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and energy-boosting vitamins you enjoy. So stave off boredom on the bridle trail with a judicious, nutritious selection of fruits and vegetables for a mount with a discerning palate.
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The Old Standbys
Apples and carrots are always a good choice for a tasty and healthy horse treat. The crunch is very satisfying and horses do have a sweet tooth. Both carrots and apples are naturally sweet, and you'll train your horse to be nudging your pockets if you appear more than once or twice with a sweet snack. Fresher is better. Avoid produce past its "sell date" because the horse will get fewer of the beneficial vitamins and antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables; the flavour will be compromised and the water content will be lower. A snack should be a healthy treat for your horse, so wash apples and carrots carefully before feeding to remove any pesticides.
You see it at competitions, bananas being eaten by humans and horses. Athletes snack on bananas between sets or matches for an energy boost and added potassium. Equestrians feed their mounts a banana during competitions for the same reasons. You can offer one to your horse along a trail ride or after some work in the ring. Bananas are like candy to horses and they love to eat them skins-on, so you don't even have to peel them.
Wax Beans and Watermelons
A Hawaiian holistic vet recommends feeding horses fruits and vegetables found in the wild where it is living. If you don't fancy your equine friend raiding the local green market, show up at the stable with fresh organic produce for a safe, healthy between-hay snack. Watermelon, flesh and rind, is cooling in hot weather. Guava, mango, papaya and pear are liked, but remove large pits before feeding. Cut fruit into big strips rather than chunks so pieces don't lodge in the horse's back teeth. Grapes, cherries with pits removed, blueberries and strawberries are a nice fruit salad with plenty of vitamins. Mix them with oats for a meal. Although that horse with the sweet tooth may take some persuading, he eventually will look forward to celery, all kinds of crisp green beans, sweet potato greens and beet tops, broccoli, turnips, unshelled peas, hunks of lettuce and plantain.
Try a sample-sized portion first to see what your horse prefers. If the treat is a hit, give a half cup to a cup serving. Soak fruits and vegetables in vinegar and rinse with water to remove pesticides and fungicides before serving the produce to your horse. Never toss produce that is starting to go bad into the feed bin. Horses are very sensitive to moulds and bacteria and contaminants can be deadly to them. Do not feed fruits and vegetables to a horse that has foundered, a condition that can be caused by an excess of carbohydrates, without first consulting a veterinarian.
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