Designed to promote natural equine behaviour, licks and stable toys can be an excellent way to enrich the horse’s environment and diet. Plus treats can be more useful than you think!
Licks are designed to promote natural behaviour in the stable and field whilst in many cases providing nutritional support. For many people, a hanging lick or perhaps one attached to the wall is an everyday addition to the stable and now there is more on offer than just salt and mineral licks, although these are still popular.
Stable licks and toys
Some types of lick come in interesting toys that make the horse work for the reward. The holders also play an important role in how the product is regulated, for instance the Horslyx 5kg holder is available with restrictor grills so that the horse cannot access the whole lick and consume too much in one go. Most horses will self-regulate, however there are some greedy equines that will need to be monitored.
In the case of horses or ponies on a restricted diet it is advisable to offer Horslyx for regulated periods of time as a hungry horse is more likely to over-consume. Portion control is important, so if your horse is a greedy guts only give the lick for a short amount of time per day, feed with a dispenser that has a restrictor grill or feed the lick from a hanging ball or other toy that doesn’t allow the horse to get hold of the lick and bite it.
If you feed a forage only diet and your horse lives out, you may be looking for a way to balance the diet effectively and some licks can take this role. A well-formulated, palatable lick can provide many benefits, however it does depend on the type of lick. Some licks only offer one or two ingredients and these will be limited with the nutritional benefits they can provide. Other licks can provide a low calorie method of balancing the diet and encouraging a natural, trickle feed pattern, which complements the equine’s digestive system.
Some licks will provide essential vitamins and minerals for maintenance or light work, which can be especially important where grazing is restricted to control bodyweight which increases the risk of nutrient deficiency. If your horse or pony is prone to laminitis however, try one of the salt or mineral licks just in case.
Treats can have a more important role than just a feeding as reward and there is now more on offer that have been designed to treat the horse whilst being nutritionally sound – unlike polos! Small rustling packets of horse treats can be a useful tool to tempt a reluctant loader or a horse that’s tricky to catch, whilst a small tub lick or longer lasting treats can keep a fidgety pony still for the farrier or clipping.
Hand held licks have a wide range of benefits and can be a useful aid to many daily tasks. A lick is less likely to be snatched or consumed in one mouthful so provides a longer lasting reward during jobs such as catching, loading, plaiting, clipping, applying first aid or distraction during visits from the vet, physio or farrier. All of these treats are also useful for encouraging the horse to do stretch exercises to keep them supple after exercise.