Picky Eater? Add Anise Flavoring to Your Horse’s Feed

A researcher tested common oil-based palatants to find out which horses liked best. Here are her results.
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Picky Eater? Add Anise Flavoring to Your Horse
Francis found that horses selected anise more frequently (65% of the time) and banana and orange least. | Photo: Courtesy Kelby Fenton

Manufacturers often add palatants such as peppermint to feeds and medications to make them more appealing to horses. But which flavors do horses truly like?

Jesse Francis, a graduate student at Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, tested common oil-based palatants to find out. She shared her results at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina.

In her study Francis presented 10 mature stock-type horses with pelleted feed top-dressed with six flavors—anise, apple, banana, orange, peppermint, and spearmint—plus a corn oil control in paired comparison preference tests. They were allowed 15 seconds to sniff the palatants, then three minutes of access to consume the one(s) they preferred

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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