As many horse owners will know, a picky horse can be a cause for concern. A horse needs energy to perform and to thrive and if they don’t eat enough or put on condition this can have numerous effects on their health. The role and lifestyle of the horse has evolved and changed drastically over the years from grazing in the wild to being stabled and fed concentrate feed. With this change come obstacles such as pleasing the tastes and preferences of each horse with flavourings.
Plusvital has been making supplements for horses since 1975 and we realise the importance of nutrition to the health and wellbeing of the horse. Over the years we have incorporated a range of flavours to our products to make them palatable for every horse. Flavourings have long been used to entice the fussy eater to consume its daily feed. For example, garlic has been added to horses diet for centuries. However, up until recently, research surrounding the flavour preferences of the horse was scarce.
A study conducted by Goodwin et al., 2005, ranked the top 8 flavour preferences amongst horses, with some interesting results. These included a range of herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables. The results show that like a lot of the human population, horses are particularly partial to spice in their diet, and have a greater range of tastes than just the traditional carrot and apple. The following are the list of flavourings ranked by popularity in the study:
The results of this study were further backed up by a duo of Irish Students who recently looked at the flavour preferences of 60 horses and ponies. This insightful project used three flavourings, Caramel, Vanilla and Fenugreek and like the above study, fenugreek was the most preferred flavouring, further highlighting its benefit as an appetite stimulant for horses.
So what is Fenugreek? Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum- graecum) is a spice that is commonly used cooking, especially Indian cooking. The Fenugreek seed has been widely used by humans for many years and has many health benefits. Some reported benefits of fenugreek include anti-oxidant activity. It can be used as a digestive stimulant and can also be used in a poultice to help clear infections and inflammation. Fenugreek has been reported to aid in the milk production of lactating mares, however, care must be taken to avoid feeding Fenugreek to pregnant mares, as it is a known uterine stimulant. One of the reasons fenugreek is a popular digestive aid is that it contains the glycoprotein mucilage, which aids in digestion and absorption of food in the intestine.
Most feeds will not contain flavourings and if your horse is a picky eater, a supplement containing a palatable flavouring is a good way to introduce all the nutrients your horse may need as well as make the meal more enticing to the horse. At Plusvital we have been using these flavourings in our supplements for many years, especially Banana & Fenugreek, as they are the most popular with horses. Cherry, Apple and Garlic are also used in our products as horses do vary in their preferences, much like people.
Learn more about Plusvital’s full range of supplements here.