Do Horses Eat Sugar Cubes? Everything You Should Know
Did you know that horses love eating sugar cubes? No, for real. You should try giving 1-2 sugar cubes to your horse and see how it reacts. Horse owners often use sugar as a reward to persuade a horse to do something unpleasant.
For instance, horses are generally scared of bridles. So, instead of forcing it and further scaring the horse, reward it with a sugar cube to promote its obedient behavior.
But is it healthy to feed sugar cubes to your horse? Is there a limit to how much sugar horses can consume? Moreover, are there other treats to replace sugar with, in case sugar is toxic to horses? You’ll find the answers down below!
Why do Horses Like Sugar Cubes?
Horses enjoy sugar for the same reason, humans, like it – it’s sweet and it tastes good. Humans use sugar for a variety of things, like sweetening milk, coffee, tea, and other beverages, or cakes.
If you feed your horse sugar, you’ll notice that it bloody enjoys it. Sugar cubes are some of the tastiest things your horse will ever eat, in fact. So, you may feel compelled to give it some more sugar.
After all, many horse owners treat their horses as beloved pets and want to take care of them. Giving treats to your pet is only natural, and sugar just happens to be very tasty.
But sugar isn’t very healthy for horses and, in large quantities, it can cause irreparable damage to their teeth. Just like it happens with humans. Only that we have toothpaste and we can get filings. Horses don’t have horse dentists to go to.
Are Sugar Cubes Safe for Horses?
In small quantities, sure. You’ll bond much quicker with your horse if you give it such a tasty treat. There’s no risk of choking either, as the sugar cube melts rapidly and the horse can chew on it happily. But in large quantities, sugar cubes can become very dangerous for your horse. It can cause severe tooth decay and other illnesses.
There’s really no benefit to feeding your horse too much sugar because it contains no nutrients or vitamins. Instead, sugar can make your horse fat and even cause obesity if given in large quantities. It can even lead to gastrointestinal issues in the long term. Horses that have some types of sugar-related illnesses are even more vulnerable to sugar.
Think of equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, or even laminitis. If the horse suffers from any of these illnesses, eating sugar cubes will aggravate their medical condition. Especially in the case of insulin resistance, sugar cubes can spike insulin levels, and this will make matters worse.
How Many Sugar Cubes Can a Horse Have?
Horses can safely eat 3-4 sugar cubes a day without any adverse effects. This small amount will barely spike the glucose levels. If the horse suffers from any of the previously-mentioned illnesses, I recommend extreme care.
Even a cube of sugar may have negative effects on the horse’s health. But a healthy horse should have no problems eating 3-4 sugar cubes per day.
You can use sugar cubes during training, to persuade your horse to perform certain tricks or when you put the bridles on. Some horses don’t like having their ears touched, so it can be a hassle to put halters on them.
Even clipping the hair in the ears will be a problem with sensitive horses. But if you give the horse a sugar cube after you’re done, it’ll learn to behave the next time you do it.
Can Sugar Cubes Cause Diabetes to Horses?
In short, yes. Too many sugar cubes may cause diabetes in your horse, and that’s a pretty harsh disease to treat. It’s also called insulin resistance, and it manifests through poor glucose regulation.
Though a rare condition in horses, it can appear due to a heightened consumption of sugar. Watch for these symptoms and you’ll spot a sick horse early on:
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss
- Frequent urination
- High levels of blood glucose
Diabetes mellitus is split into Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 comes from a decrease in insulin that’s produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. This type is much rarer than Type 2, which is non-insulin dependent and combines insulin resistance with a possible failure to produce insulin by the pancreas.
Other Good Treats for Horses
Horses love sweet and juicy food, especially one rich in sugar. It’s not a coincidence they find so much enjoyment in sugar cubes. Apples and carrots are some of the better-known treats that you can feed your horse. Others include:
- Snow peas
Even chocolate is a good treat if you don’t go overboard with it. But avoid chocolate if your horse will participate in an official event and it’ll be drug-tested. Chocolate may lead to a positive test, so just don’t give your horse any chocolate before an event. Fruits and vegetables aren’t prohibited, though.
Generally, you shouldn’t feed more than 1-2 treats to your horse, with a maximum of 4 per day. Don’t give in to your horse’s pleas, though.
Horses are programmed to eat small bits of food constantly, so of course, they’ll want another treat. But don’t give it to him! You’ll only make things worse if you offer too many treats.
Horses eating sugar cubes isn’t anything uncommon. You can let your horse indulge in tasty treats from time to time. It won’t have any adverse effects as long as you keep the sugar cubes intake to a minimum. As I said, don’t feed the horse more than 3-4 sugar cubes per day, especially if the horse is sick.
While sugar cubes are not the healthiest things you can feed your horse, they’re also not the worst. A moderate intake of sugar won’t harm your horse but instead, it may motivate it to listen to you more. During training, treats are a must, though sugar isn’t necessary. Try feeding your horse with apples and carrots!