When my son started riding horses in 2017, one of the first horses he rode was a then 29 year old Morgan gelding named Poppy. He was (and is) a special horse. Despite having an incredible amount of formal dressage training and all the “fancy buttons,” he knew when a child was on his back – and he took care of them.
We often joked how Poppy had different standards for adult riders. Grown ups were required to do things the right way. Kids? All they had to do was ask him to do something the best they knew how, and Poppy would do it. My son was lucky to have learned how to post on Poppy’s beautiful trot.
Homemade Horse Treats for Poppy
Being a kid who loves to bake, my son decided he wanted to make something for Poppy. That’s where these homemade horse treats came in. This was the first horse treat recipe we developed and my son aptly named the treats “Pumpkin Poppies.”
Poppy loved them, though it did take a few tries to get the texture right. In our experience horses tend to like crunchy treats, so we had to figure out how to get that crunch without over baking. Turns out the secret is turning the oven off when the treats have finished baking, then letting them sit in the oven overnight. The residual heat and dryness of the oven sucks out any remaining moisture and creates a crunchy treat that horses go crazy for.
Now that we are at a different barn we still make these treats for the current horses in our lives. As you can see below, Mo is a big fan. Between him and Dizzy, the mare who was stalled next to him while he was getting these goodies, the treats didn’t last long.
Ingredients for Homemade Horse Treats
This easy horse treat recipe doesn’t need anything fancy and there are areas where you can substitute what you have on hand:
- Apple Cider – You can also use apple juice.
- Canned Pumpkin – Not canned pumpkin pie.
- Agave – You can also use honey or all-natural maple syrup.
- Canola Oil
- Rolled Oats
- Wheat Germ
- Flax Meal
- All Purpose Flour
- Wheat Flour
- Confectioners Sugar – For making a glaze to drizzle on the treats.
Making These Horse Treats is Easy!
We make these treats often and love taking them to the barn. The horses seem to even recognize the Tupperware containers we usually bring homemade treats in, which just goes to show how smart they are.
We have more horse treat recipes to share and will try to post them soon. In the meantime, we hope you and your horses enjoy this recipe.
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup agave
- 2 TBS canola oil
- 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
- 1/3 cup wheat germ
- 1 TBS flax meal
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1-2 TBS water
- Preheat oven to 300F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- In a large saucepan, combine the apple cider, pumpkin, agave and canola oil. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
- Stir in oats and wheat germ. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the flours, flax and cinnamon.
- Add dry ingredients to the oat mixture, stirring to combine well.
- Divide dough in half and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough is too sticky, dust with more flour. If it is too dry, add water 1 TBS at a time. You want a smooth dough that holds together.)
- Press dough together with your hands and knead a few times until you have a smooth, soft dough.
- Roll one portion of dough at a time in a roughly 9-inch square.
- If making square treats, you can now use a knife or pizza wheel to divide into 3-inch squares. If using cookie cutters like we did, dip the cookie cutter in flour, then press into the dough and jiggle slightly from side to side.
- Slide your knife under each cut treat to make sure it doesn't stick to your surface and transfer to your baking sheets. The treats will not rise or spread much, so they can be placed close together - but not touching - on the baking sheet.
- Repeat process for second batch of dough, flouring your surface again beforehand.
- Bake on separate oven racks for 45 minutes. Halfway through baking, re-arrange the sheets so that the one that was on the bottom rack is on the top rack, and vice versa.
- Turn off oven and let the treats dry in the oven overnight.
- In the morning, remove trays from oven.
- If you would like to make a glaze, combine the confectioners sugar and 1-2 TBS of water to make a thick but pourable mixture. Start with 1 TBS of water and add more as needed, stirring well between additions. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the treat. Allow to set for 3-4 hours.
Treats can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days, or for 1 week in the refrigerator.