Horse Care Other

3 Easy (Nicker-Worthy!) Homemade Horse Treats

horse treats in ceramic bowl
Written by Heather Heinrichs

Make your own horse treats from the heart

While store-bought horse treats are readily available, they can often come at a hefty cost and are not always the healthiest option for our equine companions. We all love to treat our horses and give them the best possible care we can afford, and homemade horse treats are a great way to do that.

Homemade horse treats offer a cost-effective and wholesome alternative to retail packaged items, allowing you to save money and provide your horse with nutritious rewards. Keep reading for three simple, easy recipes.

horse snout eating cookie out of gloved hand

Photo Credit: Jennifer Knappe

No junk food for your horses

Aside from saving your money, homemade horse treats offer several advantages over their commercial counterparts. Freshly baked homemade treats contain the maximum nutrition possible versus the treats having sat on a truck and, likely, on the shelf for a long time before you buy them. Not to mention the preservatives added to keep them fresh on the shelf.

By making treats yourself, you have complete control over the ingredients used.

This allows you to tailor the treats to your individual horse’s dietary needs to address specific health concerns and preferences.

For example, if you have an older horse that is struggling with joint pain, you could include ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin that help support joint health.

You can even incorporate medicinal herbs or supplements to boost your horse’s immune system, like rosehip powder.

Healthier ingredients

Store-bought treats often contain unnecessary additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors. All of these can be detrimental to your horse’s health in the long run. Opting for homemade treats allows you to substitute those potentially harmful additives with nutritious alternatives, such as all-natural fruits, vegetables, and grains.

If you want to spend a little extra money on the quality of the ingredients, you can also buy organic. When choosing ingredients, here are some ideas of what to use and how much to use them.

Oats: Packed with fiber and nutrients, oats are a favorite among horses.

Molasses or honey: A touch of this sweetener can make your treats irresistible to horses. Regardless, use sparingly due to sugar content. If you have some old honey hanging around that’s gotten hard, just warm it up to make it liquid and easier to mix.

Peppermint: Many horses enjoy the flavor and it can aid digestion.

Flaxseeds: High in Omega-3 fatty acids, good for a shiny coat.

Salt: A small amount can help replenish electrolytes.

Bran: It’s high in fiber, but should be used sparingly due to its high phosphorus content.

Camelina oil: This type of oil is a non-GMO oilseed featuring nutritional benefits such as Omega-3 and Vitamin E, as well as a balance of Omega -3, -6 and -9 fatty acids.

Hemp hearts: Hemp seed meal is beneficial for recovery from a variety of illnesses or injuries, such as equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID). It’s also great if you are simply looking to improve your horse’s hoof health, or mane, tail, and coat.

Peanut butter: A great addition to any horse treat but make sure to use a brand that uses only peanuts to avoid unnecessary preservatives and not-so-healthy ingredients. The ingredient list should say peanuts and nothing else. It’s also quite easy to make at home with a good blender.

Carrots and apples: Horses love these fruits and vegetables. They provide natural sweetness and are packed with vitamins. Like other sweets, just don’t feed too much at one time due to the sugar content.

apples and carrots in a red bucket

Source: Canva

Cost and time effective

Homemade horse treat recipes often use common household staples so that you can create delicious treats without breaking the bank.

Whether it’s using kitchen scraps or repurposing leftover fruits and vegetables, homemade treats can substantially reduce your horse-related expenses while still delivering a tasty reward.

Easy Peasy!

It’s very easy to make homemade horse treats. You don’t need to know much about cooking or baking to do this. There is a plethora of simple yet nutritious recipes available online and in equestrian magazines.

Making homemade horse treats is as simple as mixing a few ingredients in one bowl, scooping the mixture into small piles on a baking sheet, and baking it.

One recipe included below doesn’t even require baking! 

Bonding with your horse

There’s something special about feeding your horse something you made with your own hands. And it matters to your horse too!

Animals build deeper levels of trust and love with humans who feed and take care of them.

Don’t be surprised if your horse seems to be a little more eager to see you when you start showing up with treats in your pocket.

girl feeds horse a carrot

Source: Canva

Precautions when Making Homemade Horse Treats

While homemade horse treats provide numerous benefits, it is important to exercise caution and adhere to certain guidelines to guarantee the safety and well-being of your horse. 

  • Always make sure you are familiar with your horse’s dietary restrictions, allergies, and sensitivities before selecting ingredients or making treats.
  • Avoid excessive use of sugars or salt, as these can be detrimental to equine health in large quantities.
  • Additionally, practicing proper hygiene and storing the treats in appropriate containers will ensure their freshness and maintain their nutritional value over time.

It’s important to be aware of ingredients you should never feed to your horse.

Ingredients that horses should not eat:
  • Cruciferous vegetables: kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, or other things in the cabbage family.
  • Chocolate: It’s a good snack for humans, but just like dogs and cats, chocolate is bad for your horse.
  • Large amounts of fruit: Some apple or other fruit is fine, just don’t feed large amounts at one time—the high sugar content can be harmful to horses’ digestion.

Giddy Up!

With all of this in mind, here are three delicious recipes that are tried, tested and true. I even had help from my two sisters testing these out.

They said not only were they easy and fun to make, but their horses loved them too. Enjoy!

Nickers Bars Recipe

(My sister, Jennifer, made these but she added hemp hearts instead of oats and added camelina oil.)

Preheat oven to 350˚ F; for easy cleanup, line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup whole oats
  • ½ cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 2 TBSP cinnamon


  • Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir
  • Add 2 cups hot water and mix (carefully!)
  • Once the dough has formed, spread it onto a baking tray, making the thickness as even as possible
Horse Rookie Hack: You can also cut the dough into fun shapes before baking!
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes.
  • Cool horse cookies before storing in an airtight container
ingredients for horse treats

Photo Credit: Becky Fremont

Easy No Bake Cookies

(My sister, Becky, made these in a double batch and tested out molasses and honey as substitutes for the powdered sugar and it turned out great!)

Back in 2009, American Horse Daily shared a simple horse treat recipe that doesn’t involve baking. They gave credit to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum for this one. As an added treat, American Horse Daily says that you can enjoy some of this tasty horse treat, too! Here’s what you’ll need:


  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar (Horse Rookie Hack: You can substitute molasses or honey for sugar!)
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • ¾ cup granola
  • ¼ cup apple chips crunched into small pieces


  • No baking needed! Use a large mixing bowl
  • Combine peanut butter, sugar, and milk, mixing well
  • Stir in oats and remaining ingredients
  • Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Let stand until firm
Horse Rookie Health Note: While these can be stored at room temperature, be sure to use them up in a timely manner! To extend cookie shelf life, you can also freeze them.

The Ultimate Horse Cookie

Oven Temperature 325°
Bake Time 30-40 minutes


  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 1 cup molasses or honey
  • 2 ½ cups of oats
  • 2-3 TBSP of vegetable oil (or replace this for a healthier oil like coconut or camelina oil)


  • Preheat the oven to 325˚ degrees
  • Grate the carrot and apple
  • Mix together all of the ingredients
  • Place large spoonfuls on a baking sheet
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown
  • Cool for a few hours in the refrigerator
horse treats in ceramic bowl

Photo Cred: Jennifer Knappe

About the Author

Heather Heinrichs is a horse enthusiast from Alberta, Canada. She grew up riding and showing horses with her sisters and is planning a trip to go riding in Australia where the movie The Man from Snowy River was filmed. She rides both English and Western disciplines, but her favorite is trail riding. You can read more of her writing at her website.

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About the author


Heather Heinrichs is a horse enthusiast from Alberta, Canada. She grew up riding and showing horses with her sisters and is planning a trip to go riding in Australia where the movie The Man from Snowy River was filmed. She rides both English and Western disciplines, but her favorite is trail riding!

She attended Lethrbidge Community College, where she graduated with a diploma in Print Communication in 2003. Heather worked as a journalist for a few years at a small weekly newspaper and also for a year at a daily newspaper, The Medicine Hat News. Then she got married, moved, and started farming with her husband. They had two children and she put down my writing career for a few years.

As an adult, she switched to western riding and has thoroughly enjoyed working cattle on horseback. From dressage and jumping, to sorting and moving cows, horses have taught her so much. They are and will always be a passion that burns in her heart.