Thursday, December 12, 2013

Friday five: straight into the horse's mouth.

{Obligatory disclaimer: the following is based on our current volunteer experience helping a couple from the UK care for five horses in Turkey. We thought it was interesting and thought you might think so too. There is a LOT of advice on ye olde internet about what to feed - or not feed - a horse; not surprisingly, a lot of it conflicts based on location, season, breed, personal opinion, etc. Please consult your friendly trusted local vet if you have any questions about what to feed your horse(s). Teşekkür ederim!}

Everyone knows that horses love carrots and apples. Did you know they love oranges too? They just chomp down and enjoy - but not before they've squirted juice everywhere, including all over you! They also eat watermelon, cherries, peaches, apricots...

We help feed the horses hay, chaff, bran, and special nutrient-rich foods (besi and kusbi) three times a day.  Here are five more things the horses eat on occasion, in no particular order:
  • eggs and eggshells
  • bananas and peels
  • dried mint
  • boiled lentils
  • ice cream
we hear that Merlin
looooooooooves his ice cream in the summer

As with all mammals (humans included), there are limits to the above list and the general "everything in moderation" rule applies.  And as with all mammals (humans included), horses tend to know what's bad for them and simply avoid it or eat around it.

Our host is trying different herbal remedies on a few of the horses too. A handful of the mint referenced above goes into Merlin and Dervish's food three times a day to help open their nasal passages, and Dervish gets some eucalyptus oil to help specifically with his asthma. The kusbi gets a splash of castor oil to help the joints, coat, digestive system - everything, really.  Our host is also trying linseed (boiled for hours to remove the toxic casing) for general health reasons.  It appears to be a lot like chia seeds, chock full of good stuff and a similar gooey consistency.  And she's looking into turmeric mixed with cracked pepper and olive/coconut oil as an anti-inflammatory.

We have also learned that potatoes are bad for horses (I can relate), as are unboiled lentils, certain seeds and other foods encased in hard shells... er, other than eggs, that is. And like every pig we've met, we've learned that horses don't seem to like onions or garlic. Some people say they're toxic, others say their horses just don't like them. Otherwise most of our veggie compost goes into a few buckets which become a lunchtime treat for the horses the next day.  Up to this point, the horses we've been around have eaten hay.  Sounds like they are missing out.

I find it so interesting that the same things my naturopath probably would've suggested for me, can apply to these beautiful, powerful creatures too.  It's also fascinating that every single aspect of farming - from how you plant a seed, to how you compost, to what you feed your animals - varies so widely from farm to farm, yet the results we've seen so far have always been positive.

More on the horses and our daily chores when we have a chance to do some photojournaling. But we're learning a lot and we're feeling really lucky to be here.  We'll feel even luckier when our toes thaw and we aren't emptying ice from the water buckets in the morning... and when the other volunteers get here and we can sleep in!


  1. also, if you rub some peanut butter on their gums, when they move their mouth it'll look like they're talking

    1. Yes but if I had access to peanut butter, I wouldn't let the horses have ANY of it...