A friend recently gave me some commercially made anise horse treats. And my horse loved them. So I knew I needed an anise horse treats recipe. As she crunched, a warm, spicy aroma wafted into the air. It brought back memories of black licorice candy I enjoyed growing up.
Now you can make anise horse treats of your own. This anise horse treat recipe uses star anise — the same spice known as a mainstay in Chinese five-spice powder, and loved for its licorice-like flavor.
Star anise originates from China
Star anise is different from aniseed. Star anise comes from the anise tree (Illicium verum) which is related to magnolias, and originates in China and Vietnam. Anise seed (or aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) is an herb related to parsley.
Star anise is often sold as a spice from a dried fruit with about 8 radiating seed capsules. The fruit resembles a star. The whole dried pod is edible when ground. It keeps its flavor longer when stored whole and ground up just before using, which is what we’ll do for this anise horse treat recipe.
Is star anise safe for horses?
To be sure anise seed was safe for horses, I did a little checking first. Illicum verum has a long history of human use in traditional Chinese medicine. Star anise helps to “regulate the flow of Qi” and relieve pain, says Science.gov. It’s used today as a main ingredient in Tamiflu, a prescription medicine for flu prevention and treatment.
More research shows Illicium verum is an active ingredient in Equi-Shield, a nutritional supplement for horses (this is not an affiliate link nor an endorsement). This supplement is made for horses to promote healthy microflora in the gut, and discourage pesky insects.
With this information, I decided to forge ahead with this anise horse treats recipe.
Your own star anise horse treat recipe
The benefits of star anise go beyond its lovely aroma. Here is a recipe for crunchy shelf-stable treats with a licorice-like taste your horse will nicker for.
The secret for lasting crunch and flavor is to bake them at a very low heat until they are thoroughly dry.
The treats stay whole in your pants pocket even if you forget to take them out while riding. They remain firm and crispy even after a month stored in an airtight container at the barn. I can’t say if they’ll stay nice and crispy longer, because ours don’t stay uneaten that long.
You can shape them any way you like. I like to press them into little round nuggets with a half-teaspoon measuring spoon. This gives me about 200 pieces to offer her velvety lips every time she does something good (which is often).
Let me know if you make these. Snap a photo and tag it #stabletableandcrafts on Instagram — I’d love to see you.