Horse Treats: They’re Not All Created Equally

Horse Treats

Horse Treats versus Horse Cookies

What is a Horse Cookie?

When you think of a horse cookie, what comes to mind? For us, that is a homemade snack for your horse. Homemade horse treats are crafted with care and intention in your home – and that is exactly what we wanted to replicate in our factory.

When horse owners decide they are going to make their own horse treats at home, it is typically due to the lack of nutritional content found in commercial horse treats. But let’s be honest, most riders would rather be out at the barn with their horses than stuck in the kitchen mixing ingredients that are both healthy and delicious! So, we’ve taken the labor part out of the equation for you, and have made horse cookies that you can feel comfortable feeding to your horse.

Why Do Horses Even Like Horse Treats?

When you think about the type of treats that have been traditionally fed to horses, a few things come to mind: peppermints, sugar cubes, and apples. What do these three treats have in common? They are all full of sugar! And just like us, horses have a giant sweet tooth – 26 to 40 of them in fact!

So, how do many commercial treat manufacturers get horses to love their treats? Usually by adding in refined sugars.

Research shows that limiting the sugars you are feeding your horse is crucial to their overall health. Everything you feed your horse matters, including the contents in those tiny horse treats! This is especially true for any horse with underlying health issues, particularly related to a metabolic challenge.

Cookies Are a Softer Alternative to Horse Treats

Horse treats that are commonly found on the market are usually very hard. Continually giving your horse hard treats can cause major dental problems down the road. Horses start to lose their tooth enamel by the age of 15, which allows for their teeth to be worn down even more from the continuous grazing they spend most of their day doing. Feeding hard horse treats only adds to the wear and tear on their teeth.

The equine dentist that treated our founder’s horse years ago mentioned to her that when you put a carrot in a horse’s mouth and snap it in half this may cause a possible fracture in the tooth. This can be easily overlooked, as horses have such large mouths and teeth, they seem invincible. This was the inspiration behind a softer cookie!

Avoiding hard feed and treats is especially important for the aging equine who may not have many teeth left. If your horse cannot physically chew their treats, you could have an episode of choke (when feedstuff becomes blocked in the horse’s throat) on your hands.

Horse Treats are Not All Made with the Same Ingredients or the Same Quality of Ingredients

All horses are not cookie cutters. Dietary needs and restrictions are dependent upon many aspects in a horse’s life including their developmental stage, level of activity, overall health, and breed dispositions. This may have an impact on the type of ingredients you should be looking to add or to avoid in their diet, including those in horse treats.

While a true clinical food allergen is quite rare in horses, many horses suffer from adverse reactions to certain feed ingredients and additives. If your horse has a known food intolerance or allergen, it is important to take a look at the ingredients of your horse treats. Always check with your vet when it comes to any ingredients you may have concerns about.

It is also important to look for a Guaranteed Analysis when shopping for horse treats. This will provide you with the information you need to know exactly what it is you are feeding your horse each time you reward them with a treat. And note that not all treats will be made with the same quality of ingredients.

A to Z Horse Cookies Lab Analysis

By FDA standards and laws, horse treat companies are not required to provide the guaranteed lab analysis to consumers regarding carbs, sugars, and calories. We at A to Z Horse Cookies went beyond the call of duty to show our loyal customers how healthy and safe our horse cookies truly are by providing the above guaranteed lab analysis based on a 1 oz. cookie, including the carbs, sugars, and calories! This way you can be confident in your horse cookie selection.

Horse Treats Cannot Do All That a Horse Cookie Can

While tasty, nutritious snacks are reason enough to want to give your horse a cookie, they can be used for more than snacks or a reward. Horse cookies are the best alternative to pill-poppers! Due to their softer texture, you can easily break your cookie in half, place a pill inside, and squeeze the cookie shut. This has saved many horse owners the trouble of medicating their horses on a daily basis when needed.

Would You Eat the Treats You are Feeding Your Horse?

If your answer is “no” then you probably have not tried an A to Z Horse Cookie! Another reason we call our products horse cookies instead of horse treats is that many of our customers have tried them for themselves along with their horses! Horse owners can feel free, as they have, to take a bite for themselves. You can truly see how good they taste since they are made with the finest human-grade ingredients!

It’s clear to see that the benefits both you and your horse receive from a horse cookie far outweigh those of traditional horse treats! Next time your treat jar is empty, you may want to consider refilling it with A to Z Horse Cookies instead!

Horse Rescue Spotlight: Gerda’s Equine Rescue

In our last blog post, we introduced you to the Retired Racehorse Project, and today we would like for you to meet Gerda’s Equine Rescue!

Horse Slaughter Still Exists for American Horses

Gerda’s Equine Rescue (GER) is 501(c)(3) nonprofit horse rescue based in Vermont, committed to saving the lives of horses who are slaughter-bound for human consumption. Even though horse slaughter has been banned in the U.S. since 2007, our beloved companions are not safe from this unthinkable fate. Every year horses are shipped over American borders, to Canada and Mexico, on route to slaughter houses. It was reported that 80,000 horses met this horrific fate in 2017, even though according to the USDA 92.3% of horses sent to slaughter are able to live a productive life.

We are so very thankful for rescues and organizations like GER that work tirelessly to help these horses. Without them, many horses would not have been granted a second chance at life in a new loving home. Since its founding in 2005, GER has been able to rescue, rehab, and rehome over 1,000 horses!

GER’s Mission

We had the pleasure of speaking with Gerda Silver herself, the president and founder of GER, about her rescue and the wonderful work that they do. Here is what she had to say.

“GER is a small rescue that houses 32 horses, if we need an emergency intake we do have wonderful fosters available who will care for the horse until we have room.  Sadly there is never enough room for so many who are destined for slaughter and shipped to Mexico or Canada for that purpose.

Our mission is to save as many slaughter-bound horses as possible. Once they come to us we take care of all their needs, both medically and mentally. Eventually, once we know what type of owner they need we put them up for adoption. Last year we placed 91 horses in great homes!

Over the Christmas holidays, we saved an aged gelding Haflinger, who broke my heart because I saw him in a kill pen and that in itself is a scary place for any horse, and even more terrifying when you are a small, old horse. He took a rider and gave his all, a little soldier he was! We raised money for his bail and shipping from our supporters that follow us on Facebook and Twitter. He is now at a home that has a pre-school program including two horses, and the little ones get to groom and ride him. He adores them and is loved by all the little tykes!”

-Gerda Silver, President and Founder

How You Can Help

While Gerda and her team do a wonderful job, they cannot do it alone. Whether you are looking to adopt or want to help out in another way, we hope you will consider Gerda’s Horse Rescue during Adopt a Horse month!

Learn more about this organization at gerdasequinerescue.org. To support GER and two other horse rescues, purchase A to Z Horse Cookies during the month of May! 10% of all proceeds will be split between these non-profit organizations.

Horse Rescue Spotlight: The Retired Racehorse Project

horse and rider

The ASPCA has declared May Adopt-a-Horse Month.

So for the entire month of May, all of our horse treats will be 10% off AND we will be donating 10% of proceeds split between 3 different 501(c)3 nonprofit horse rescues.

Let’s meet our first chosen rescue – the Retired Racehorse Project.

We spoke with the Program Manager, Kristen Kovatch Bentley, at RRP to shed some light on this wonderful horse rescue organization and what it is that they do. Here is what Kristen had to say.

Who is the Retired Racehorse Project, and What Do they Do?

“The Retired Racehorse Project, or RRP, takes a market-based approach to Thoroughbred aftercare: we seek to increase the demand for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in second careers, inspire equestrians to seek out a Thoroughbred for their next competitive or recreational partner, and educate equestrians to help them transition these horses from the track to new jobs.

We achieve this mission through our banner event, the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, which is held annually in October at the Kentucky Horse Park. We welcome trainers who apply to compete at the event with a recently-retired racehorse with no more than 10 months of retraining for a second career, and they compete for over $100,000 in prize money over the course of a week of preliminary competition. The top five in each of 10 disciplines (barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, ranch work, show hunter and show jumper) come back for a Finale competition, and from the 10 discipline winners, a Thoroughbred Makeover Champion is named. Our 2020 competition was postponed due to the pandemic, so we are expecting a “mega-Makeover” this year, with TWO competition years running during the event, October 12-17 — over 900 horses will go through the Makeover process this year!”

-Kristen Kovatch Bentley, Program Manager

@019 Barrel Racing Champion and Ruder

Photo credit: CanterClix

A Unique Approach to Horse Rescue: The Thoroughbred Makeover

“The Thoroughbred Makeover also includes a vendor fair, the Makeover Marketplace (where horses who have graduated the Thoroughbred Makeover are listed for sale), the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit (a networking and educational event for those with a professional interest in Thoroughbred aftercare), and a seminar series on Thoroughbred health topics. The Makeover also includes the Master Class, which is an innovative clinic/demo in which trainers assess unstated prospects and then demonstrate their individual approach to the first ride and early retraining live in the arena.

While we’re best known for the Thoroughbred Makeover, that’s just one portion of the work that we do: in a typical (non-pandemic) year, we host retraining clinics and demos including the Master Class format all around the country; we publish a quarterly magazine called Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine; and we host and maintain the Thoroughbred Sport Tracker, a user-driven database of Thoroughbreds in second careers.”

-Kristen Kovatch Bentley, Program Manager

English Rider and Horse

Photo credit: CanterClix

RRP’s Impact on Horse Rescues

“To date, over 3,000 horses have been directly impacted by the Thoroughbred Makeover process (have been registered to compete in our event). The average price for prospects coming right off the track has increased over the past few years, indicating that the value for ex-racehorses is rising. Anecdotally, we know from our partners working directly in aftercare organizations that the RRP has helped increase the appeal and demand for off-track Thoroughbreds among equestrians. We have plenty more work to do, but we are proud of how far we’ve come!”
-Kristen Kovatch Bentley, Program Manager

While the RRP is unlike a traditional horse rescue that houses horses in need under their care, they have done some truly amazing work in promoting the OTTB’s in need. This 501(c)3  charitable organization has shown equestrians from all disciplines the impressive athleticism and trainability of the breed in second careers. We are proud to be their supporter, and hope you will consider an OTTB for your next riding partner in the future!

More information can be found at TheRRP.org. To support RRP and two other horse rescues, purchase A to Z Horse Cookies during the month of May and 10% of all proceeds split between these non-profit organizations

All images courtesy of CanterClix

5 Reasons You Should Feed Your Horse Low Sugar Horse Treats

feeding horse low sugar horse treats

Low-sugar horse treats are not just a passing equine diet fad. But anyone who has been around a horse knows how hard it is to resist the temptation to want to give them a yummy treat. We just love to see their eyes open up wide as their warm muzzle reaches forward to take the treat. The way their teeth chomp and lips smack while their ears are locked on you, asking for another.

But have you ever thought about what might be in those equine treats you’ve been feeding your horse several times a week, if not every day?

We horse owners spend valuable time and money to ensure our horses stay healthy. The treats we feed them should be looked at just the same!

Here are 5 reasons why you should feed your horse treats or cookies that are low in sugar and carbs:

1. Feeding your horse too much sugar disrupts the horse’s normal digestion process.

When too much sugar and starch enter a horse’s digestive system, the excess sugars and starches leave the foregut, where they normally would be absorbed for energy, into the hindgut. This can cause digestive upset and other issues such as laminitis or colic. According to Kentucky Performance Supplements, this is especially true for a horse who already has a sensitive or compromised digestive tract.

2. Sugary feeds and treats can be detrimental to the health of horses with insulin resistance.

Insulin plays a vital role in the horse’s body. It is the hormone that helps carry glucose, which is made in the digestive tract from digesting simple sugar and starches, to the rest of the body’s cells. Horses can become resistant to this hormone, usually due to either genetics or obesity. When insulin cannot do its job properly, the body thinks that there is not enough of it and keeps pumping out more and more insulin.

The more sugar horses eat, the more glucose is produced, and the more insulin is required to carry that glucose. While insulin is a normal hormone created in the body, too much of it is not good for the horse and can result in problems like laminitis or other metabolic conditions. This is why even a small amount of sugar in a horse with insulin resistance’s diet can have a very big effect on their health.

For more information on insulin resistance in horses, read the October 2019 TheHorse.com article, Grasping Insulin Resistance in Horses.

3. Almost everything your horse eats already has sugar and carbs in it.

Low-sugar horse treats help to limit the extra sugars and carbs your horse is given. This is important considering there is no such thing as a “sugar-free” diet for horses. According to SGS AgriFood Laboratories, hay and pasture both contain sugar and carbs, as well as ingredients found in supplements and processed feeds. So limiting the extra sugars and carbs we give horses is critical to their overall health. It’s like limiting the amount of chocolate cake we eat daily!

4. Excessive sugar can cause stomach ulcers in horses.

In part as the result of a 2019 equine health study by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, we now know that stress and restricted forage are both inducers of gastric ulcers in horses. Another big contributing factor is diets high in sugar. Selecting a low-sugar horse treat for your animal can help.

5. Diets high in sugar can lead to overweight or even obese horses.

Back in 2007, Equine News reported that horses who are overweight are at a higher risk for several health concerns including founder (laminitis), different metabolic conditions, colic-causing lipomas, increased stress on organs, reduced reproduction performance, heat stress, strain on joints and connective tissues, and more.

More recently Dr. Tom Lenz wrote in an article on obesity for the  American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), “Fat horses are at greater risk for exercise intolerance, founder, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, the formation of colic-causing lipomas (fat tumors in the abdomen), joint and bone problems, reduced reproduction efficiency and increased stress on their heart and lungs.”

The most important reason: A longer, happier life for your horse.

It is clear to see that too much sugar in a horse’s diet can lead to many different health problems down the road. This is true for horses of all ages, breeds, shapes, and sizes. Limiting the amount of sugar we give our horses, even in their daily cookies, can help ensure they will live a long and healthy life!