Favorite Horse Flavors

Can horses eat bananas??? AM, Pennsylvania

Dear AM,

Sometimes the simplest questions are the best! Yes, horses can eat bananas, and in some countries they’re the preferred treat for horses. In the US we’ve trained our horses to like apples, carrots and peppermints better (my retired thoroughbred will do ANYTHING for a peppermint!) However, bananas are safe for horses to eat, as long as they don’t make up too much of their diet. Forage first!

There was an interesting study performed in the UK not too long ago that ranked flavors horses prefer. All of the eight horses in the study universally accepted these twelve tastes:

1.Fenugreek
2.Banana
3.Cherry
4.Rosemary
5.Cumin
6.Carrot
7.Peppermint
8.Oregano

Apple
Garlic
Ginger
Turmeric

The ones with numbers indicate their rank in a second study that directly compared them to each other. Finally, in a third study she compared the top two flavors and found that most horses chose fenugreek over banana.

We use this research at SmartPak in our product development, incorporating fenugreek as a flavor in many of our SmartSupplements. Not only do horses love the taste, but people love the vanilla-like smell. I recommend you experiment with the flavors listed above, and find the ones your horse likes best. Who knows, this knowledge may come in handy when you have to give him medicine, encourage him to drink water, or just want to reward him for a job well done!

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+

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