If anyone else has a horse on stall rest like I do, you are aware of the challenges of keeping your horse occupied for the hours and hours of confinement. They are no fun for either horse or their rider. There are variety of ways to keep your horse occupied, including hanging jugs with grain inside, balls that roll around on the ground, and adding a plexiglass mirror for “company”.
One of Spiker’s favourite activities are hanging treats, however they can get costly to buy, especially if your horse goes through a lot. I did a bit of research and found a variety of recipes to make hanging treats and treat balls. Most of the ingredients were easy to find/inexpensive to purchase (whether at the feed store or grocery store), and fairly simple to make. I wanted something I could hang on my pre-existing Lick-it holder, but others have created ball shapes on a string or even bowl-shaped hunks that just sit on the ground.
Here is a great, easy recipe to make your own hard, hanging treats!
-11″ x 14″ (4″ molds) non-stick angel food cake pan (I ordered mine online to fit the Lick-it holder)
-2 cups sweet feed (or whatever grain your horse eats)
-1 cup corn meal
-1 & 1/3 cups white granulated sugar
-2 cups corn syrup
-Optional: a handful of something your horse likes (I used peppermints)
Let’s get cooking!
(Prepare your baking pan/bowl with lots of cooking spray, this prevents sticking)
Step 1: In a large pot, melt the sugar and the corn syrup over medium heat. Watch out because sugar A. burns easily and B. can bubble up/overflow in your pot very quickly if the head is too high. Keep stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. (About 10-15 minutes.)
Step 2: Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 8 minutes. The steam generated from the hot sugar is the temperature of boiling water, so be careful when you put your hand in to stir occasionally.
Step 3: Uncover and cook until the sugar is at the crackling stage. This takes approximately 45 mins – 1 hour, depending on the heat of your stove. There are two ways to tell if the sugar is at the cracking stage -
A. Use a candy thermometer. The sugar should be approximately 290*f – 300*f (143*c – 150*c)
B. The cold water test. Take a small bowl and fill it with very cold water. With a cooking spoon, remove a small amount of the sugar/syrup mix from the pot and allow it to drizzle into the bowl of cold water. The cold water will cause the sugar to harden. Put your hand into the water and pull out the sugar; if the result is a hard piece of sugar (like candy), it should easily crack apart between your fingers and is ready for Step 4. If it is soft or pliable, it’s not hot enough yet.
Step 4: Turn off the stove, and quickly mix in the corn meal and sweet feed, as well as any optional ingredients. The sugar will begin to harden almost immediately, so be fast but careful when you are scooping the treat mix into your mold. (I burned my finger on the hot mix, it really hurt!)
That’s it! Now you just have to allow the treats to cool, 4-6 hours is normally enough. Turn your mold over, bang a bit and voila, horse treats.
(One final note, to fill this mold of 6 treats as pictured above that will hang, I doubled the recipe.)