Miniature horses are an excellent addition to any family, even if you only own other minis or regular-sized horses. To give them a happy life of up to 30+ years old, their treats and overall diet are essential. Celery can be a major part of that diet since horses are herbivores, which only eat plants.
Yes, celery is an excellent treat for minis, but you cannot guarantee they will like it. Celery is a great treat because it is a low calorie and low sugar food that is comprised of around 95% water. Given the number of calories burned while digesting it, celery is considered a zero-calorie food.
Now for the lengthier and more scientific version. My answer to this question is still ‘yes,’ only in many more words!
Celery Health Benefits
Crispy, crunchy, and known for being a low-calorie food, celery has amazing health benefits to all humans and animals, like miniature horses. Celery is comprised of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that make an excellent raw treat for horses beyond the usual grass mixture. Yum! Sounds like a considerable upgrade in the diet!
Due to the phytonutrient antioxidants, celery contains anti-inflammatory properties. In a study conducted by the journal Nutrition and Cancer, researchers found that celery is a significant source of phytonutrients including, phenolic acids, flavonols such as quercetin and kaempferol furanocoumarins, phytosterols, and dihydrostilbenoids, and flavones like luteolin.
A separate study published by Planta Medica found that the luteolin found in celery could inhibit the manufacturing of COX-2, an inflammation-triggering enzyme. American Veterinarian confirms that COX-2 also exists in horses.
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
The fiber content of celery can help lower cholesterol levels since it scoops up cholesterol compounds in a minis gut and moves them to the elimination process. A University of Chicago study found that phthalide, a chemical in celery, reduced bad cholesterol by 7% and blood pressure by 14% in animals.
Phthalide acts to decrease stress hormones within the blood resulting in the expansion of blood vessels due to the relaxation allowing more blood to flow throughout the body. A different study conducted published in Pharmacognosy Magazine concluded that celery successfully lowered bad cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing good cholesterol in rats.
Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of celery, it is unsurprising to see the cardiovascular support the vegetable provides. The root cause of many cardiovascular diseases is inflammation and oxidative stress in the bloodstream, as previously mentioned.
Most animal studies are showing promising connections between a decreased risk of cardiovascular inflammation and pectin-based polysaccharides. Celery flavonoids also further decrease the risk of cardiovascular issues.
Any food containing fiber provides exceptional digestive benefits, and celery is no exception. It keeps a horse’s bowel movements regular, thus decreasing constipation, which aids in weight maintenance.
Therefore, if your mini is constipated, celery may be a great natural cure since it contains fiber and is mostly comprised of water. In a study found in Pharmaceutical Biology, researchers determined that lab rats consuming celery extract showcased higher protected stomach linings and, therefore, fewer ulcers.
The concluding hypothesis was that success was driven by apiuman, which is a pectin-based polysaccharide in celery.
Believe it or not, I was surprised as well, heartburn is a common affliction for horses, just like in humans. Around 50% of horses experience gastric ulcers in their lifetime, and that figure is higher in competitive horses. Celery is an ancient remedy for heartburn and other gastric issues due to its low acidity
A horse’s body is comprised of 70% water, which is 10% more than humans. Naturally, they require a considerable amount of water to live normal lives. Luckily for horses and us, celery is comprised of around 95% water , so consumption is a great option for maintaining fluids. Due to its high water content, celery is a great treat or snack on a hot summer day to limit dehydration.
Lower Cancer Risk
Although this research is indefinite, flavonoids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients can reduce cancer risks. Two recent studies have specifically reviewed celery’s apigenin and luteolin as protective qualities of the vegetable.
Published research in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that apigenin was protective against pancreatic tumor formation. A different study found in Food and Chemical Toxicology determined that apigenin and luteolin helped kill pancreatic cancer cells.
Unlike other vegetables, celery retains a high percentage of its nutrients, even when chopped up into smaller and more digestible chunks. According to an article by the World’s Healthiest Foods, celery should be eaten within a full week of purchase to maximize the nutritional value.
The article found that after five-to-seven days, a large amount of the antioxidants disappeared. Also, a higher percentage of flavonoids are in the celery when freshly chopped instead of sitting in storage.
This information applies to any being consuming the vegetable. Celery contains essential vitamins and minerals like manganese, potassium, and Vitamins A, B2, B6, and K. Due to its fibrous composition, celery is an excellent source of fiber. Horses can eat the stems and celery leaves without issue. Just chop them up into smaller pieces.
Of course, all these benefits are amazing, unless you have a fussy mini that just plain does not like celery. Just like humans, horses have their personalities and may not like every food you give them, regardless of the health benefits!
Before starting to feed celery to your minis, there are a few considerations to note, including the parts of the celery for the mini to eat, amount per day, the preparation, etc.
Horses can consume the entire vegetable, leaves, and all. Regarding the amount per day, only feed the miniature horse celery twice per week. The serving should only be done in small amounts that do not exceed two pounds in one feeding.
To prepare, always thoroughly wash the celery with water, as you would for human consumption, and dice it into small pieces then feed it to your mini slowly.
Substitute Celery for Store-Bought Treats
Diabetes is a regular condition in all horses because their bodies have difficulty processing sugar. Grass and hay, their primary diet, contain sugars and carbohydrates, which can lead to a disease known as laminitis.
If your mini is diabetic, you need to eliminate substances that can cause harm from its diets, such as store-bought treats, which are high in sugars and carbohydrates. An excellent substitute is celery that is high in fiber and low in sugar.
How to Feed your Minis Treats
Treats can be fed to the horse in a feeding trough, bucket, or by hand. Horses that are hand-fed often become nippy while other minis may have better manners.
While the best option is a bucket if you wish to feed the celery by hand, put the treat in the middle of your flat hand and guide it slowly toward the horse’s mouth, instead of withdrawing as the horse reaches for the treat.
This action commonly leads to the horse lunging toward the treat. Do not give treats after every lesson in the ring or daily because the horse will begin to expect it at a specific time, which could lead to behavioral issues.