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 Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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