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:
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.