Michigan 13 year old TWH

Question: Will treats cause my horse to founder?  The owner of the barn where I stable my horse has told another horse owner that her use of treats has caused her horse, an Appaloosa, to founder.  Can apples, carrots and an occasional molassas/apple treat cause founder?

From Panelist Nancy

Absolutely not!!

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Liz

An occasional treat will not cause founder to a horses. I myself enjoy feeding treats . Treats given too often and incorrectly can cause some bad manners if not handled correctly. Treats given free choice or large amounts yes could cause problems.


From Panelist Theresa

Founder,a condition in horses, is a circulatory condition causing inflammation. It is typically induced by a bodys hormonal response, chemical imbalance, or stress.

Some horses that are prone to founder conditions (thyroid, previous founder, or severe imbalances in their chemisty) may need to be kept on a strict eating schedule. This could include timing of meals, quantity, and what they are eating.

Horses suffering from mechanical (stress) founder typcially are managed through corrective hoof work, bute/banamine and usually are not affected from minor dietary changes.

In general, occasional cookies, carrots, apples and other treats are fine for the horses. Stallions or young horses, and mouthy horses should be fed chopped pieces in their feed mangers, versus hand feeding so they don't develop dangerous habits.

Hope this brief overview helped,


From Panelist Liz

Just about anything fed in excess will cause a horse to founder.  An occasional apple or carrot (one a day) won't harm your horse unless he/she is obese or has an allergy to those things.  A bushel basket of apples or carrots could indeed make a horse founder.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Erica

Occasional treats will not cause a horse to founder (as long as they are not HUGE amounts of anything - especially molasses and grain). 

Founder is caused by many different things. The most common cause of founder is
being overweight. You need to watch your horse's weight carefully and adjust it 
accordingly with exercise and a proper feeding program. There are a lot of books out there with more information on founder and laminitis that you may wish to look through that are very informative.

Erica Frei

From Panelist Carol


I 've never heard of treats causing a horse to founder, although it might be possible if the horse ate a whole bushel of apples, for instance.  I seriously doubt if treats caused the founder. 

Carol Camp Tosh 

From Panelist Stella

It would have to be some incredibly ENORMOUS amount of apples or sugar 
treats (like leaving them in a ripe orchard!) - since carbohydrates are the culprit, not protein...so I would say she's trying to pass the buck...as the greater likelihood is either overload/sudden change of feed, grass (like  none/poor to very rich), or drinking too much cold water when hot, overwork....things that shock the system, more or less causing a
"processing overload" that the simple design cannot handle in ridding thebody of 
excesses and toxins.


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