Fillers, by their very definition, lack a nutritional purpose. Most feed manufacturers use fillers as a cheap ingredient to bulk up a horse treat that will make its other, more costly, ingredients stick to it. That gives fillers a human purpose, but not a worthy, nutritional purpose.

Some of the more commonly used fillers used in “natural” horse treats include:

– rice bran

– molasses

– soy

The deceptive thing about these ingredients is that they do have a natural, pure form. But that natural, pure form is rarely, if ever, used. Instead, these foods are almost always genetically modified or chemically modified, or at the very least, so overly processed that there is absolutely no nutritional vitality remaining in them by the time they hit your local feed store shelf.


Processed rice bran is a cheap and useful filler for manufacturers because it has a consistency much like a gritty flour. Nutritionally, rice bran is touted as a food rich in Vitamin E. In its pure form, this is true. But few, if any, manufacturers use unadulterated rice bran. Instead they process mass quantities of rice bran with heat, which causes it to lose its natural source of Vitamin E. That’s why on package labels you will often see the phrase “fortified with Vitamin E.”

“Always, always, ALWAYS — when you read the word fortified with vitamins and minerals,”that means that they have synthetically applied a vitamin after the food has lost its natural source in processing. This fortification process gives you a substance (a filler) from which horses’ bodies must work hard to absorb nutrients,

How do you know if the rice bran in a cookie or treat you are buying is natural or fortified? Unless you contact the manufacturer, you probably won’t know. But you can generally rule out a natural source of rice bran if the cookie is inexpensive. Real food costs more because real food makes a real difference and because there is something to it.


There are two kinds of molasses – plain table molasses and unsulphured molasses. Unless a molasses is specifically labeled as “unsulphured,” it is merely the by-product or “waste” from processing sugar cane or beet into table sugar. Refined table sugar creates blood sugar and insulin instability while providing no nutrients. In fact, if consumed in great enough quantities, refined sugar is known to pull nutrients, especially minerals, out of the body.

Unsulphured, black strap molasses is high in iron and contains folate, a natural source for folic acid, along with some other B vitamins. Some high quality feed manufacturers are willing to spend the extra money for unsulphured molasses. Others are not. Again, it is very important to read labels.


Invariably, soy is genetically modified.

A leading cause of allergies in horses, soy is known to cause all kinds of chaos in the human body, It’s not in a form the body can process. Soy is absolutely contraindicated in cases of horses due to its endocrine disrupting effects – there is also studies recently released linking unfermented soy to breast cancer in women – there is an enzyme inhibitor in soy that disrupts all kinds of metabolic pathways in mammals so I strongly suggest that if you can’t find the source of the vegetable protein in the feed that you are giving that it is likely to be soy and you should stop using it. Lectins- a toxin that many plants use as a defense is that is in the outer hulls of the soy that is the main issue.

Soy can also promote inflammation in the body which will exacerbate a host of issues like allergic response, ulcers, and laminitis .


The bad news is that you likely won’t find any truly natural treats at your local feed store, as natural treats do not contain preservatives, binders or, as it turns out for the reasons explained here, fillers.

The good news is that natural treats contain real, whole foods. These will help your horse thrive.

Some manufacturers are willing to take the time and the money to make natural treats. You just have to recognize them when you see them. Become an astute label reader on the lookout for the real names of fruits, for example, instead of words like “flavors.”  Remember to skip phrases like “fortified.” Avoid soy altogether. But be willing to give a second look to the descriptions that raise the high-quality flags: descriptions like “organic,” “unsulphured,” “whole food” and “non-GMO.”