Trick or Colic?: Halloween candy & horses

My horse will trample pasturemates, dogs and small children for candy corn. But is it safe for him to eat? Here’s a look at a few favorites:

hard candy

 HARD CANDY:  Yes, in moderation.

“Hard candies like peppermints are okay in strict moderation if the horse is able to tolerate small amounts of sugar,” independent equine nutritionist and consultant Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D told earlier this week. Skip it if they have equine metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s or PSSM.




“Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is potentially toxic for horses,” says Getty. “The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains.” The good news is that the darker the chocolate, the better it is for YOU. You’ll just have to bite the bullet, er Butterfinger, and eat the chocolate yourself.

licoriceLICORICE. Yes. But not too much. And not if you’re on the Olympic team.

Rutger’s Cooperative Extension has a handy chart to help guide how much you should freak out if your horse helps himself to something extra. According to “Odd Things Horses Eat,” licorice is safe in very limited quantities, but will cause positive drug tests. Same goes for Doritos, by the way.

gummi bears

GUMMY BEARS. It’s nicer not to.

In the Horse Channel story, Getty recommends against giving horses sticky candies, but not because they’re toxic, but because they’re aggravating. “I would think that (chewy candies) like gummy bears would be very frustrating for horses because the candy would stick to their molars. I would avoid those,” she says.

candy corn

CANDY CORN. Probably, in very small amounts.

Rutger’s says “beware large quantities,” so don’t pour a bag in the bin to cheer up the beet pulp, but a few are OK. Rutger’s says to keep it under two to four ounces a day.

pumpkin smile


OK, technically, it’s not a Halloween candy, but it’s the squash of the season and it’s fine for your pony. But don’t let him eat The Great Pumpkin in one sitting. A few chunks are OK, says Getty. “but don’t chop up a whole pumpkin and offer it to your horse—that’s a colic episode waiting to happen.” Saber the mini LOVES it:

Go Riding.


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