Healthy treats for special horses

Published Mar 12, 2014 at 6:25 am (Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm)

It’s hard to deny, but there’s not much that brings on a smile more often than being offered a treat. Candy, ice cream or a decadent dessert makes it happen every time. A hormone must get activated bringing on a pleasant response, replacing stress with a warm feeling of happiness. It’s really not surprising that animals get that good feeling, too.

Household and barnyard animals are eager for a flavorful biscuit along with a pat on the head, adding a little happiness to the moment. I’ve had plenty of experience sharing the joy with pets both large and small.

As young girls, my daughters Susan and Wendy spent their days, evenings and weekends riding and caring for horses at Valleybrook Stables in South Park. Early on, they learned that horses not only loved hay and grain, but carrots and apples and those foods offering a hint of peppermint or molasses. As we traveled to horse shows, I always packed snacks that traveled well for my family and a few extra treats for Wendy’s horse, Melodish, since not much was available at venues.

As eating healthy became a daily focus, pet owners have been giving more thought to wholesome eating for their furry friends, too.

Planning to drive south soon to visit Wendy and Melodish, Susan recently joined me in checking online for healthy horse treats to take to our favorite mare. I was delighted to reach Brenda Carroll, owner of Pink Pony Bakery in Upper St. Clair. Not only does she bake healthy horse treats, but she’s from the South Hills! What a find!

Brenda has always loved horses. As a young girl, her family moved to Peters Township near a farm with horses grazing. Before long, she began riding and caring for horses and was awarded “Quaker,” a horse of her own. As time went on, her equine fun was put on hold as she headed off to college, married her husband, Jack, and began raising her son, Alex, and Leslie, her daughter.

As most girls do, Leslie loved horses, and at age 6 began riding lessons at Pheasant Hollow Farm in South Park. With years of riding and competition experience, Brenda filled much of her time instructing young riders in hunter and jumper classes and traveling to horse shows with her daughter. Fresh and healthy horse treats were seldom available, although Brenda had seen Buddy dog biscuits on television’s Food Channel. No one seemed interested in making treats for horses. How hard could it be, she thought.

Without mentioning her plan to her husband or children, about nine years ago Brenda took the chance with a few recipes. Sometime later, two outstanding treats seemed to be working out. Brenda began making peppermint nuggets and flavor-filled donuts in her kitchen, a great answer to the ultimate horse treat. As taste-testers, a few local horses and ponies quickly munched away, giving her treats a great big stamp of approval. She also took boxes of her gourmet treats to Cleveland or Leslie’s training sessions. The folks at equestrian facilities near Lake Erie began looking forward to her homemade peppermint and oatmeal horse snacks.

Excited with plans to make more and possibly starting a business, Brenda had to decide on a name. Pink Pony Bakery seemed not only appropriate, but fun, and word continued to spread about her moist, wholesome snacks.

Rules and regulations had to be taken into consideration as the Department of Agriculture in each state has strict guidelines for making and selling pet food and treats. Each package is required to provided a list of ingredients, and every year a lab analysis is made ensuring the quality of her treats.

Today, Pink Pony Bakery treats are not only enjoyed locally, but are shipped to cities in Ohio as well as to St. Louis, New York, New Hampshire, Nashville and South Carolina. Just recently, the prestigious Thunderbird Show Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, placed an order.

“I’ve been a horse person all of my life,” said Brenda Carroll. “I love that horses are eager to eat my healthy treats and that their owners and riders know that my products are made with quality ingredients. My treats are always fresh, since I bake horse treats seven days a week.

For a list of horse treats, visit

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