Most horse owners considered their horses to be pets, not just simply livestock. They spend countless hours taking care of their horses and often give them treats as rewards. Sugar cubes are one treat option, but do horses really eat them?
Do Horses Eat Sugar Cubes?
Sugar cubes are mainly used to sweeten our drinks, however, many horse owners feed them to their horses as treats! Although they are not the healthiest horse treat available, many horses love them. They can, however, be dangerous for some horses.
Precautions must be taken anytime you feed treats to your horse, especially if they contain sugar. Sugar cubes are made entirely of sugar that is pressed together into a cubic shape.
Before you consider feeding them your horse, learn all the ins and outs of this sweet treat, and if it is safe for your horse or not.
Are Sugar Cubes Safe for Horses?
Sugar cubes are safe for most horses despite most of them containing only sugar. When fed in moderation, sugar cubes can be a safe treat for healthy horses. They are small, making them easy for horses to chew and swallow without the fear choking. (source)
Do Horses Like Sugar Cubes?
Most horses, when given the option of a sweet treat, love to eat sugar cubes. Some more picky horses, of course, will not enjoy sugar cubes.
If your horse does like them, just make sure you store the sugar cubes in a safe place, in case your horse ever gets loose and goes on a food scavenging spree in your barn.
Are Sugar Cubes Healthy for Horses?
Sugar cubes usually only contain sugar. That means that they do not have any nutrients or minerals that are healthy for horses.
Sugar cubes can cause weight gain as well as gastrointestinal issues if fed too often. Overall, sugar cubes are not considered a healthy horse treat and many horse owners prefer to give their horses healthier treats. (source)
How Many Sugar Cubes Can a Horse Have Daily?
Three to four sugar cubes is all that any horse should consume daily. That small amount, combined with a horse’s large weight, causes only a small spike in glucose levels.
For a healthy horse, this is not significant at all and they should not have any negative side effects. Overweight horses should not be fed sugar cubes at all because they can cause additional weight gain. (source)
3 Ideas For Using Sugar Cubes For Training
Horse treats like sugar cubes are often used to help when training horses, but they should still be limited to only 3 to 4 each day. Here are a few ways you can use just a few sugar cubes each day to help train your horse.
Putting Bridles On
Some head shy horses resist having bridles put on their heads. You can use a sugar cube as a reward when the horse lets you put their bridle on. Over time, the horse may see the bridle as a positive thing instead of something scary.
Ear Shy Horses
May horses dislike having their ears messed with. Whether you are putting a halter on them or clipping the hair in their ears, you can use a sugar cube as a treat when you are finished.
Positive Reinforcement Training Treats
You can use a couple sugar cubes each day to provide positive reinforcement to a horse for performing other wanted behaviors. Simple things, like coming to you when they are called for, or listening to commands can be rewarded with treats.
Are Sugars Cubes Unsafe for Some Horses?
Sugar cube treats can be unsafe for a horse that suffers from certain sugar-related illnesses. Horses that have insulin resistance, equine metabolic syndrome or laminitis should not be fed sugar cubes at all.
The sugar will spike insulin levels which could make their illness worse and even cause irreversible damage. (source)
Where to Get Sugar Cubes for Horses
Most grocery stores sell sugar cubes that can be easily fed to horses. Just read the box to make sure that the only ingredient is granulated sugar.
If you cannot find sugar cubes locally, have no fear! Sugar cubes can be ordered online and delivered straight to your door!
Make your own
Homemade Sugar Cubes
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 3 Teaspoons Water
Pour water over sugar in a bowl. Use a fork to mix and break up sugar until it keeps its shape when you gently push on it.
Put the mixture in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly to half an inch thick. Cut into small, even squares. Cook on 250 for 1 hour. Let cool and break apart! Store in a moisture-free container. (source)
Possible Side Effects
In most healthy horses, sugar cubes fed in moderation should not cause any negative side effects. Anytime you feed your horse a new treat, you should monitor them for any changes in behavior or body composition.
Sugar cubes can cause weight gain as well as small insulin spikes that are usually not dangerous unless your horse as an insulin-related issue. Watch for changes in demeanor, energy level, or excessive urination. Contact your vet if you are ever concerned about your horse’s health. (source)
Things to Remember
- Feed all treats only in moderation.
- Feed no more than 3-4 sugar cubes a day.
- Monitor your horse for any side effects.
- Do not feed sugar cubes to horses with insulin-related illnesses.
- Do not give horses sugar cubes when they have a bit in their mouths.
Sugar cubes are a popular treat on many farms, but they are not the best choice for all horses. They are not healthy, but neither is the candy that we love to eat! In moderation, sugar cubes are okay for healthy horses, provided they do not have any kind of insulin-related issues. We all deserve a sweet treat every now and then, and so do our horses!