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Special Meal Treats

March 5, 2013
Special Meal Treats

We celebrate just about every holiday with a special meal. Why shouldn’t our horses?
They should and can!
Special meal treats are good for horses, nutritionally and psychologically. (Note of caution: just like treats for us, treats for horses shouldn’t be overdone. Too much of a good thing can result in a tummy ache.)
We like to start our meals with an appetizer. So do horses.
Before the main course of hay, let’s tickle his palate with some sliced carrots, a big sticky gob of honey or molasses, some sugar cubes or even sliced fruit.
If not fed in overly large amounts, all are good for the horse and will certainly stimulate his desire to eat. In fact, these appetizers are good for poor eaters anytime.
If you think you get tired of Hamburger Helper, just think how tired a horse gets of hay. A little appetizer a half-hour before mealtime can really perk him up. (Of course you should try to determine why the horse is a poor eater and correct the problem. It may just be the monotonous diet, but it could be nerves, stress, teeth, poor health or a lack of exercise.)
Now for that special meal.
Roots bring toots of happiness as a first course.
Carrots are the basic root. Add some parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, potatoes or sugar beets in small amounts and you’ve got a really delicious beginning. When preparing the roots, be sure they are cut finely enough to keep the horse from choking.
If roots aren’t your horse’s thing, how about a special relish?
Pumpkins, squash and melons sliced and in small amounts are excellent. And don’t worry about the seeds. When fed in small amounts the seeds are not harmful to horses. Such fruits contain only six to 10 per cent dry matter, so the nutritional value is low. Therefore the horse still needs plenty of hay as a main course.
Entrée: hay and grass. Maybe a special hay (in very small amounts) for the day. Again, don’t overdo it; changing hay abruptly can cause colic. If your horse doesn’t normally get grain, then he will certainly enjoy a small amount to make the meal sumptuous.
If you want to add a tantalizing sauce, just pour some honey or molasses on the hay…or sprinkle the hay with sugar.
Desserts are special to everyone, including your horse.
But keep desserts small. An apple a day is a good guiding rule. But on special occasions throw in a plum, a pear, a peach or a nectarine. Be sure to pit the fruit prior to serving.
And when the special meal is over, your horse will want an after dinner mint. I’ve been told that POLOS (English mints) are the best, but I think a peppermint Life Saver will probably suffice.
One mint is good for me….but I haven’t found a horse that is satisfied with less than three.

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