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Dr. Gray's Featured Article: Does Your Horse Have a Favorite Flavor?

This article was originally published at www.TheHorse.com

Eight horses in England did. Researcher Deborah Goodwin set out to discover what flavors horses actually like, compared to what horse owners and product manufacturers think horses like.

In Trial 1, she offered 15 flavors to eight stabled horses in a small amount of grain and measured how much they ate, how long it took them to eat it, and if any horses partially or completely rejected it. Some horses refused to eat three flavors—echinacea, nutmeg and coriander—leaving 12 that were universally accepted: apple, banana, carrot, cherry, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, oregano, peppermint, rosemary turmeric.

In the next phase of the study, the eight flavors the horses ate the fastest of the twelve offered were re-presented, in all combinations of pairings, to rank the horses’ overall order of preference. Results of Trial 2 were:

1. fenugreek
2. banana
3. cherry
4. rosemary
5. cumin
6. carrot
7. peppermint
8. oregano

Finally, in Trial 3 she offered the horses three versions of a mineral pellet: banana-flavored, fenugreek-flavored or unflavored. Horses ate the pellet much faster when it was flavored with either fenugreek or banana than when it had no added flavor.

The take-home: if you want your horse to eat his medication or supplements, choose products that already contain the top eight flavors horses prefer or add them yourself.

Goodwin D, Davidson H P B, Harris, P. Selection and acceptance of flavours in concentrate diets for stabled horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 95, Issue 3 – 4, Pages 223-232.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet, Misc. Topics

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