Home Horses Do Horses Like Sugar Cubes?

Do Horses Like Sugar Cubes?

by Lucy

When we think about horses and their eating habits we often associate their diet to consist of mostly hay, grass, and concentrated feed. It’s true to say that this theory is true and the majority of a horse’s diet consists of roughage. That doesn’t mean to say that horses can’t eat other food types and fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots are perfectly safe for horses and seem to go down very well.

Recently were made aware of an owner who was feeding their horse sugar cubes and it immediately sparked our interest. Is it ok for horses to eat sweet treats? Is it safe for them? We decided to delve into this topic a little bit further?

So, do horses like sugar cubes? Yes. Simply put, most horses love sugar cubes for the very same reason that humans do. They are sweet and they taste good. Sugar cubes, however, should only be fed to horses as an occasional treat. In large quantities, they can cause serious tooth decay and can make your horse sick.

Keep reading to learn more about feeding sugar cubes and other candies to horses.

Can Horses Eat Sugar Cubes?

Yes, horses can eat sugar cubes in the right quantities. Sugar cubes should be viewed as an occasional treat and should not be fed daily or in large amounts.

You certainly wouldn’t want to provide your horse with sugar cubes as their main meal since roughage is what the horse’s body needs to stay fit and healthy.

It is true to say that horses do really like the taste of sugar cubes and will practically pickpocket you for them. They can smell them a while away thanks to the sweet smell and they seem to really like the taste of them too.

There are not many horses I have come across that will turn down the opportunity for a sugar cube.

Are Sugar Cubes OK For Horses?

Sugar Cubes in general are ok for horses to eat. They are not toxic and in small enough doses will not cause any serious harm to your equine friend. They should not present themselves daily in your horse’s feed, but every now and then should be ok providing your horse does not have any ailments that may cause an issue (more on this below).

Overfeeding sugar cubes to horses can be risky business. You wouldn’t think that just feeding a few small cubes of sugar would be that much of a problem, but unfortunately, many problems occur in general when feeding horses.

Horses have a very delicate digestive system that can often cause complications like colic as a result of feeding incorrectly. Colic can be pretty life-threatening and is usually an owner’s worst nightmare in terms of equestrian ailments.

Let’s look at some of the main reasons, in addition to colic, that it is not a good idea to overfeed your horse on sugar cubes and other sugary snacks.

Obesity

It’s important to note that if you have an overweight horse you should not feed them sugar cubes. This is in no way shape or form going to help get your horse back into shape and lose any weight.

In fact, feeding your horse too many sugar cubes is also risky as they are likely to put on too much weight which could result in obesity. If your horse isn’t doing enough work to burn these types of calories off with ease we recommend holding back on the sugar cubes and other sweet treats.

Laminitis

If you have a horse with laminitis or one that is very prone to this disease it is in your horse’s best interest that you do not feed them sugar cubes or other sweet treats. Laminitis is a painful condition that is often recurrent. It is an inflammatory condition that affects the tissue from the hoof wall right through to the pedal bones.

Sugar cubes contain bacteria that release toxins into your horse’s gut. This often creates a reaction that disrupts the blood flow which in turn can trigger laminitis.

Tooth Health

Keeping a horse’s teeth healthy is as important as keeping your own teeth healthy. We have always been told to avoid sugary foods and drinks to keep our teeth healthy and strong. The same goes for your horse.

Sugar cubes in large quantities are known to destroy teeth and cause decay. Your horse is no different. Try to limit the number of sugar cubes you provide your horse and how frequently to help prevent tooth problems later down the line.

Glucose

Horse’s that suffer from IR (insulin resistance) should not be given sugar cubes. The risk of laminitis is very high and causes you and your horse lots of problems.

Horses with IR need to release more insulin into their system to be able to remove glucose from the bloodstream. This results in a high circulation of insulin which is a great ideal starting point for laminitis. This is just not worth the risk in our opinion.

Food Aggression

Lastly, food aggression in horses is a real thing. This does not just relate to sugar cubes, but also sweet, great-tasting snacks too.

Horse’s love nothing more than a sugary treat and will often do everything in their power to get these from you. That coupled with the fact that you will most likely use your hand to feed them can be a bad combination.

When horses are used to getting treats regularly from you they come to expect it. They can often get nippy and try to bite in anticipation or frustration. This is one of the reasons why many horseback riding centers do not allow you to feed treats to horses.

How Many Sugar Cubes Can You Give A Horse?

A small handful of sugar cubes is sufficient enough. About 4-5 cubes are usually enough to provide a sugar fix, although you can be sure your horse will always want more than that.

It is not a good idea to provide your horse with sugar cubes every day and some believe that these types of treats should only be used as praise and reward for training and doing a good job.

Always stick to plan and don’t let your horse make you feel guilty for only providing a few treats at a time. They are very similar to young children in that respect and will always try to push the boundaries and make you feel somewhat guilty.

For the benefit of your horse’s health and wellbeing, do not give in to the sad face and puppy dog eyes.

Can Horses Eat Candy?

I would go as far as to say that candy, in general, is not good for horses and there are many other types of sweet-tasting snacks and treats on the market that will be far better for your horse in the long run. However, some candy in small doses is ok for your horse as long as you limit their intake.

There are some types of candies on the market, including chocolate that contain toxic chemicals to horses. One of those that is seen frequently in candy is a chemical called ‘theobromine’. Horses should avoid this chemical at all costs as it can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and heart.

Xylitol is another popular ingredient used in candies. Research has shown that horses exhibit sensitivity to this ingredient and it is also a well-known fact that Xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs.

It is however true to say that if it was down to your horse they would eat anything and everything that tasted good regardless of the consequences.

It’s always best to try to feed your horse more natural sweet treats such as fruits. You will often find your horse is just as excited about an apple or a handful of raisins as they are candy.

Can Horses Eat Mentos?

When looking at all the different types of candy available mints are usually one of the safest for horses to consume. However, Xylitol is the number one ingredient in Mentos which could cause your horse some sensitivity particularly if they have received a large portion of this treat.

Natural sugars are usually best which is difficult to find in most treats. If you can it is recommended that you avoid feeding your horse candies such as Mentos as research is limited and the consequences are still unclear. It is true to say though that horses that suffer from IR or are prone to Laminitis should avoid this treat.

Can Horses Eat Twizzlers?

Twizzlers are not necessarily a common treat to feed horses and there are many more types of treats that are much more suited to an equine diet. Twizzlers are very high in sugars, artificial colors, and flavorings and quite frankly this is just something your horse can do without.

Gummy candies such as Twizzlers are never recommended for horses. They can be aggravating for their delicate stomachs and complex digestive system and we can’t help, but think overfeeding on these types of candies could result in colic.

It is always best to leave well alone and opt for more natural treats or ones specifically designed for a horse’s diet.

Safe Vs Unsafe Candies For Horses

Unsafe candies for horsesSafe candies and treats for horses
MentosSugar Cubes (in moderation)
TwizzlersPeppermints (in moderation)
Chocolate (any kind)Fruits 
SkittlesVegetables
SmartiesCommercial Horse Treats
Jolly RancherRaisins
Jelly BeansPitted Dates
Tootsie RollsSunflower Seeds
Chewing gum (any kind)Chamomile
Hard Boiled Sweets (any kind)Fenugreek
Candy CornApple sauce

In conclusion, it is always best to avoid feeding candy to your horse if you can. The occasional sugar cube or mint is usually ok for most horses however most other types of candy have the potential to cause stomach upsets and digestive problems.

It’s always important to note that once a horse’s food has passed through the esophagus the muscles contract and close so food is unable to come back up if needed.

Horses can’t throw up any bad food and therefore the sickly food must pass through the gut which can often cause problems such as colic in a bad situation.  

Always be mindful of what you are feeding your horse and how necessary it is for them to have said food.

Up Next: The 5 Best Salt Blocks For Horses

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