Homemade Horse Treats

The footing has been so treacherous that it has been too dangerous to ride. Tonka is barefoot, and his feet slip on ice like unwaxed cross country skis. The snow is wet, it balls up in his hooves, and so at times it’s like he’s walking on rockers. But that doesn’t mean that training him has come to a halt. We’re working on all sorts of fun and useful behaviors, like “come” and “stand” and “head down” and “let’s go” (which means walk next to my shoulder, off-lead.) I reward him with carrots, but once in awhile I like to give him a high value treat. Tonka certainly likes commercial horse cookies, but they’re expensive, and I’m not thrilled with their long list of ingredients. I decided to make my own. I developed a recipe to meet my criteria of simple, healthy ingredients, a large batch with shelf-life, and very tasty.

I warn you that these smell so good when baking that your family will be disappointed that they are for the horses!

Healthy Horse Treats
(recipe © Terry Golson at CooperativeHorse.com)

2 carrots
2 apples
1 tablespoon canola oil
2/3 cup molasses
2 cups rolled oats
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons dried peppermint

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line two cookie sheets with

or nonstick liners.
2. Shred the carrots and apples. Please use flavorful apples, like Macouns or Macintoshes. Do not use drab delicious.

grated fruit


3. Put the shredded apples and carrots into a bowl, preferably of a

. (You could do this by hand, but the mixer will create a better texture and is easier. Most handheld mixers aren’t powerful enough for this dough.) Add the remaining ingredients. Cooking tip: measure the oil in the measuring cup and swirl around before pouring out. Next, measure the molasses in the same cup. The molasses will then slip right out into the mixing bowl.
4. Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture until all is shiny.



5. Scoop out small balls, they’ll be uniform if you use a

 (you can make them half the size shown here by using a melon baller.)



6. Bake for 1 hour, or until dry all the way through. If the tops turn dark brown before the centers are done, cover lightly with a sheet of tinfoil. Cool on a wire rack. If the cookies are baked until soft like regular people-cookies, the horses will love them, but they will only stay fresh for 3 days. Baking so that they are dry through their cores give them a longer shelf life.

makes 2 1/4 pounds

After fussing with this recipe, I took the treats to the barn to see what the horses thought.

Mica, Dune and Cisco loved them, but they’ll eat anything.

horse nose


Tango, though, is a fussy thoroughbred. He spit out the first one offered. But then he thought about it and decided that he really, really liked them.



Tonka said that the cookies were a nice change from carrots. Here he is coming when called.



I’ll be writing more about training with treats in future posts. But for now, it’s important to say that I never give food “just because.” Horses are large and potentially dangerous animals. They can get pushy. A swing of a frustrated head, a shove, a bite, can do much damage. With this in mind, I only hand over a treat in response to a desired behavior. Also, how a horse takes a treat is as important as what he does to get it. A horse is capable of taking a treat with the gentlest of lips. Because of my parameters and attention to my horse’s body language, Tonka remains polite and calm, even during training and eating.



The goats also like treats. You might be surprised to hear that they are fussier than Tango! Pip turns his nose up in disdain at wilted parsley, and Caper has refused animal crackers (that his brother would have gorged on if I’d let him.) The ultimate test of this recipe was whether or not both of the goats liked them.

Like my horse, the goats are asked to behave before being fed. Sometimes I have them stand on their stumps, sometimes they are asked to back up. When I came into the barn with these new cookies, they could smell them. Their little tails wagged. They enthusiastically backed up, and then they smacked, crunched and swallowed. Success!

goats eating treats


  1. This sounds like a great recipe. Have you offered the cookies to your canine friends yet? I think my MiMi would love them.

    • Little Scooter says he only eats treats made with meat, and Lily has a super sensitive stomach, so I avoid the wheat. I wish I had a treat that worked for everyone! If your dog likes them, let me know :)

  2. The photos are so cute. Tonka looks in such lovely condition and I love the way his mane matches your hair.

    The goat boys look so happy yet so well behaved. I am glad your cookies are so appreciated.

  3. These sound delicious! Again, the animals in your care are blessed by your love and we are graced by your words and pixs. Seriously, these could be people treats too. Have a fabulous day.

  4. They look like great little treats. I get so tickled when the chickens wag their tail feathers and love it when the goatie boys do it also. Wish the hens did it for the same reason the goats do it for. I forgot to tell you that I was so happy Veronica found her calling in the flock too. She is just a sweetie.

  5. If only children were reared as well as Tonka! His gentleness comes right through the pictures.

    Each year I “bake” dog biscuits for the family dogs using the KAF mix. Will be interested to hear if your readers’ dogs like these. They could be something new and better this year. And Kit is right — no reason people couldn’t eat these although we would probably miss the salt!

  6. I agree with Kit….Those treats would satisfy us 2 legged featherless types, too. My dog`Kitty`, will turn herself inside out for a `treat`. In her case, just the word treat gets her attention and we can get her to do anything. Lucky for us and her she does not have a sensitive stomach, so we can offer her anything we have on hand. She is polite and waits until it is offered….then scarfs it down with major tail wags! Kitty does have a problem though when I offer the hens their treats in her presence. She figures she should be the only animal deserving of special goodies. Her sharing skills need working on. :)

  7. You are going to be the popular ‘mom’ who brings treats to Tonka and his friends!

  8. Yes, goats tend to be picky. Our goats loved apples, but only new ones. Turned noses up at any apple cores we had chewed on.

  9. Who belongs to the fuzzy, wuzzy nose in the 4th picture? I would love to pet it.

  10. I am glad that Veronica did find her place as a reading hen and she has very nice manners when being touched by the children. I wonder if she was born without functioning ovaries. I know it has been theorized that one of the reasons Matilda the World record guinness holder for longest lived hen lived to the age of 16 because she was thought to be born without ovaries and never in her life layed eggs. So maybe Veronica will be one pullet that you will never to have a hen that you have to worry about becoming egg bound or other type egg issues. Luna our chihuahua seems to have an iron stomach and doesn’t care if treats have meat in them as long it is something she can munch on.

  11. I think your next cookbook should be for our pets ;) Great recipes! thx

  12. When I make the treats for MiMi i think I shall use rice flour instead of wheat. I hope it will work.

    • Rice flour has a grainier texture and no gluten. It won’t hold together the way wheat does. I’ll be interested to hear if the treats crumble. At the least, the chickens will enjoy the bits! Cut the recipe in half and try that.

  13. Terry, what kind of animal is Lyrix? I did everything but stand on my head to try and figure that piture out.

  14. Where do you get the dried peppermint? My niece has a horse that refuses apples and carrots as treats but loves peppermint. I’d love to make Jewel some treats!!