Caring for a new pony can be a little tricky until you get the hang of what it likes and dislikes. When your pony does well, you’ll probably want to reward it, and that’s a common practice. But what treats would your pony like? Toy treats? Food treats? In this article, we’ll cover the right treats to give to your pony, and the frequency with which you should give them out.
It is important that you do everything with your pony in moderation. That includes treats and toys, even if they enjoy the treats immensely. Giving a pony treats too frequently will cause it to become greedy and possibly nippy about food. When treating your pony, you should follow a few simple rules to prevent your pony from becoming a nuisance over treats.
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What Sort of Food Treats can I Give to my Pony?
The best treats to give your pony are healthy fruits and vegetables. However, not all fruits and vegetables can be digested well by your pony, so it’s important you understand which treats are good for him, and which ones to avoid. Let’s start with the list of fruits that your pony may enjoy.
Fruits for a Pony
Veggies for a Pony
It’s important that treats are cut into small pieces, ideally 1″ or so, and given carefully to the pony in the beginning to see how they do with the treat. Your pony probably won’t like all of the fruits and vegetables that you offer to him. Over time, you’ll be able to identify his favorites so you can keep those on hand to reward him.
Ponies can quickly become obese and develop problems like metabolic syndrome, especially if they’re given too many sugary treats. Be incredibly cautious when opting for premade treats. If you’re not certain of the ingredients, don’t feed it to your pony.
There are many commercial salt licks, sugar licks, and other feeder toys that contain syrup, sugar, honey, and salt. These are all acceptable for your pony, as long as it’s in moderation. There are many things that you don’t ever want to feed your pony, and we’re going to provide a brief list. However, because it isn’t all inclusive, it’s best to do your research before you feed your pony something new. If you have any doubt, ask your veterinarian prior to giving it to your pony.
Don’t Ever Feed Your Pony:
All of these foods can give your horse excessive gas, and cause digestive issues. Also, no bread or doughnuts. Bread and doughnuts can get doughy in your ponies intestines, and cause a major blockage. Don’t give your pony any unpitted fruits, as the unprocessed pits can cause digestive issues, not to mention the damage that can occur to his teeth.
How to Feed Pony Treats
To start with, you want to be certain that you’re offering small amounts cut into bite-size pieces. This is the case no matter which food you’re giving to your pony. If your pony isn’t snippy about food, then you might decide to feed him treats by hand. However, if he starts to show signs of getting pushy or nippy, don’t give him treats by hand any longer. Instead, put the treats into a bucket or trough so that he must grab them himself.
It’s ideal to provide treats as a reward for training well. If you don’t want to do “treat training”, you can decide when your pony is going to receive treats, but be sure to follow the moderation rule. You don’t want to give your pony treats everyday, or even every other day. A few times a week should be the maximum for giving your pony food treats so that they don’t become overweight or develop health issues.
What Other Kinds of Treats can I Give my Pony?
Toy treats are an excellent choice for rewarding your pony, or just bonding with him. Toys promote healthy herd play, and they assist with proper digestion. Ponies have a natural desire to play, and even though they’re calmer than horses, they can really get excited when presented with toys.
Toys will keep your pony entertained, and help your pony use his body and mind in conjunction with one another. This will prevent boredom, and keep your pony from becoming lazy or lethargic. They also teach your pony to play independently, ensuring he isn’t bored and unhappy.
There are many different toy options on the market, so we’re going to cover a few of the most popular types of toys for ponies, and some of their benefits.
Oversize balls, similar to yoga balls, are great toys for your pony, and they’re one of the best ways to encourage physical play from your pony. It’s important to watch your pony carefully when you give them the ball to ensure that they don’t get frustrated attempting to figure out how to play with the ball. Some of the balls have a handle on them that allows your pony to pick it up and flail it about, but some ponies don’t enjoy the taste or texture of the rubber.
If it seems like your pony enjoys the oversize ball, encourage him to kick it around, nudge it with his nose, and run and let it bounce off of him. Many ponies and horses enjoy playing with these toys, and it’s really fun to watch them have a great time with these giant rubber balls.
These toys are a great choice for a treat, because they encourage your pony to figure out how to obtain the prize by learning to operate the puzzle. They will need to figure out a latch or compartment to get to the treat inside of the puzzle. This can frustrate some ponies, though, so it’s important to observe them with the puzzle once you give it to them. However, many ponies enjoy the feeder puzzles a great deal, and it seems to entertain them for long periods of time.
Slow feeders, often in the form of salt rock or sugar cube toys, allow your pony to lick the treat at will, and often include pull rings or ropes so your pony can play and enjoy a treat at the same time. Many ponies enjoy these treats, and they’re a great way to entertain your pony without having to hand feed them a treat.
Giving Your Pony Treats and Toys (Some Hints and Tips)
Although ponies are typically not as fond of running as horses, toys encourage your pony to be active and engaged for periods of time. As long as they don’t become frustrated with the toys or puzzles that they’re given, it should be quite an enjoyable treat for them. Some ponies won’t engage in play while they’re alone, and require either other horses or their owner to play with them. It will be easy to tell what type of activity level your pony prefers once you present them with the toy simply by how they react to it.
Unlike treats, toys can be enjoyed on a daily basis by your pony. As long as it is a toy designed for use by horses, you can allow your pony to play with it for as long as he desires without worry. Be careful, though, if you have more than one pony together. They may not share well when they’re first given toys, and it will take a little bit of playing referee to get them to understand the premise of playing with others.
Most ponies do really well when presented with toys, and it doesn’t take them long at all to figure out toys like slow feeders and puzzle toys. As long as they seem to be entertained, they more than likely are. It’s up to you what type of treat you want to present to your pony, and there are several different types of food puzzles that you can choose from. Many of the puzzles with tugs or ropes attached seem to be a favorite of ponies, because they can sling them around and not lose their grip on them.
Be prepared to try several different types of toys to find the one that your pony really enjoys. If they prefer to have treats in the form of food, spend some time giving them small pieces of different fruits and vegetables to determine which ones they really like, and then keep some of them on hand to reward your pony with. A combination of toys and treats would be a wise choice, simply because you don’t want to overfeed your pony at any point.
Toys and treats are a fantastic way to bond with your pony, and he will learn how to play independently and entertain himself for long periods of time with the use of puzzle toys. So, go ahead and reward your pony and watch him figure out how to play and snack all on his own.
Your pony will feel well rewarded with food treats and treats that improve mental stimulus. The old axiom that ponies love carrots is trued and after all who ever heard of feeding ponies tomatoes? It turns out there’s a good reason.