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 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+

Posted in Ask the Vet, Misc. Topics

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