Have you ordered anything from us in the last few weeks? If so, you will have noticed the cute little bag of horse treats that came with the package as a gift. :)
These sweet bags come from the start-up Knusperpony. The founders Mariella and Julia bake the horse treats themselves from natural ingredients! We are really happy that we now have such a great and sustainable start-up at our side and we took the opportunity to ask them a few exciting questions:
Hi Mariella, hi Julia, you are also still a very young start-up - in this respect we would of course be interested first of all in how you came up with the idea of founding Knusperpony in the first place and what motivated you to do so?
"Knusperpony wasn't planned at all at first and was basically "just" a spontaneous idea. We just tried it out for ourselves to see if it was possible to make horse treats ourselves. There are endless recipes for this on the internet - so find one out and try it out During an exchange about our (failure) successes in the Stallgasse, we realized quite quickly that the "0815" recipes on the Internet did not quite meet our expectations - some very questionable flavors and then also often large quantities of sugar beet syrup processed "Isn't that healthier?" "What makes a good and useful horse treat?" "Are there other riders who would be interested in it?"
On your website you can read your motto "Horse treats without ChiChi" again and again. What exactly do you mean by that? Why are your horse treats so special and so healthy?
"ChiChi is another word for frills - that's exactly what we want to do without when it comes to treats. With our horse treats, we want to concentrate on the essentials again and not artificially exaggerate with unnecessary additives. It is very important to us that we absolutely avoid artificial sugar and molasses We also make sure to combine the ingredients used in a sensible way, in the best case the raw materials used complement each other and have a health-promoting aspect for the horse/pony."
What different types of natural horse treats do you offer? And what are the differences? Are there varieties that are for specific needs or is it “just” about different flavors?
"We currently offer four fixed varieties in our shop:
- Carrot Pumpkin Seed
- Flaxseed Apple
- Rosehip Peppermint
Each variety combines raw materials to support specific needs. Our beetroot crunchy balls are our "metabolism & immune system" boosters. Beetroot also has a blood-improving character, where sunflower seeds provide high-quality proteins and essential amino acids.
In our shop it is always clear which positive properties the raw materials of each treat have. So the owner can look for the right treats for his 4-legged friend."
In fact, we not only had our horses test your treats, we also tried them ourselves and think they are really tasty! What is your personal favourite? Do you sometimes snack a bit yourself when you produce the treats?
"Yes, our treats are a tasty snack for both horse and human. We don't just snack while producing, our horses have to share their treats with us on a regular basis.
Julia's favorite variety: beetroot
Mariella's favorite variety: carrot-pumpkin seed"
You always have a small sticker on your treat bags that says “Handmade with love”. We absolutely love the sticker because you can just tell how much love is in your horse treats. Where and how can we imagine your production? And have you always had a passion for baking?
"Initially, we actually started in our own kitchens (of course approved beforehand by the feed authority for hygiene and storage!). After our treats were very well received, we had to look for an alternative where we could produce larger quantities. We are currently using one Industrial oven, which we rent for this (because we don't yet have a suitable place for our own installation).Our crispy balls are 100% handmade.Crush the raw materials, weigh them, prepare the basic mixture, shape the treats and finally put them on a baking sheet in the oven - that's it These are roughly the steps we have to take to get a finished treat. Both of us have had a certain affinity for baking right from the start. Mariella and her husband are generally very versatile when it comes to culinary delights and they also bake super delicious croissants and Bread. Julia has tended to lean towards the sweeter baked goods—cookies of all kinds or macarons."
Do you always produce the horse treats in pairs or is that not possible in terms of time? You're still working full-time in your previous jobs "on the side", right? How can all this be combined and mastered?
"The balancing act between "normal" full-time job and crispy pony is sometimes not easy, but so far we have mastered it quite well. In fact, we always produce together, because we no longer produce in our home kitchens, but use an industrial oven with a higher capacity That's why we have a fixed production day once a month when we don't do anything else for 8-10 hours except mix and bake, and of course that's the most efficient way as a team."
How can one imagine a typical working day for you at Knusperpony? And how is your task distribution?
"Due to our "normal" jobs, there is no such thing as a typical working day. On a production day, we meet in the bakery around 9 a.m., heat up the oven and start mixing and forming the first treats. Depending on the daily goal (how many kg per variety do we want to produce? Do we have a large order to process?) we produce 8-10 hours at a time. In between there is a short lunch break or we film stories for our community. And of course there is always motivating music playing.
On other days we usually work late afternoons/evenings for a few hours - depending on what we have to work on. Packing orders, creating image and video content for Instagram, answering customer inquiries, developing/testing new products.
Our areas of responsibility are divided up a bit, but in some cases these boundaries become quite blurred and we work through a lot as a team. Julia mainly looks after the social media area and customer inquiries, Mariella takes care of our product portfolio, such as further development of the product and packaging."
And how did you develop the natural horse treats? Do you have your own horses that were lucky enough to test your treats?
"Team Knusperpony also includes our own two horses - Crime Time and Sidney. They were definitely our biggest critics. With every type of treat that had already been developed, we first did the taste test and only when we were satisfied as humans did we carry out the second taste test with ours horses and also with friends' horses, so that we could test as many tastes as possible. Our goal is that our healthy treats should taste good for every horse or pony."
Of course, we also think it's particularly great about your concept that sustainability is so important to you! What exactly does sustainability mean to you and how do you implement it at Knusperpony?
"In today's world, the word sustainability is used for so many things - on the one hand we think it's good that awareness of this is being raised more and more, on the other hand this word is also sometimes misused. Something is presented as "green" and sustainable, although it which is only real to an insufficient extent.It is therefore important for us to present our contribution to sustainability to the end customer in a transparent and comprehensible manner.
For us, sustainability doesn't stop with the ingredients of the treat, it only starts here. How do we pack our products? Where do we source our ingredients and packaging? How do we ship? Can we create a closed product cycle (keyword: cradle-to-cradle principle)? These are all issues that we consider to be important when it comes to sustainability and that need to be solved in the best possible way.
Our contribution to a more sustainable future is that we ensure that the supply chain is as short as possible when procuring the raw ingredients, packaging and flyers. Our raw materials, such as oat flakes, beetroot, etc., all come from regional suppliers (1-2 hours' drive from Munich) and we only buy so much (especially the "wet" ingredients - such as carrots, apples, etc. ) as we actually consume. However, we are not yet at the end of our path for a "greener" treat future, there are still levers in our start-up that we need and want to improve. And that is exactly what sustainability is all about for us: recognizing where the company could be even more environmentally friendly and then changing this for the better."
Was it difficult to find suitable packaging that is biodegradable?
"In fact, it wasn't that easy and we're still working on improving it. It was important to us that our packaging was either biodegradable or simply recyclable. In addition, one premise was to find a regional supplier for this, because we're also here a direct and short supply chain is important."
Now we would be very interested in what your vision for crispy pony is? What do you want to achieve with the healthy horse treats?
"The fact that larger equestrian sports stores also have our treats in their range or that we present our healthy crunchy treats with a small, fine stand at large equestrian sports fairs - that would be somewhat bigger visions of the future for Knusperpony. For the near future we simply want even more riders for our healthy ones Inspiring horse treats, because being healthy and environmentally friendly doesn't have to mean doing without. We would also think it would be great if more people began to appreciate manual work even more, even with such "inconsequential" little things like horse treats."
Many thanks Mariella and Julia for the great interview! We really enjoy working with you :)
And if you've gotten curious now, feel free to take a look at Knusperpony's website:
We are really happy every time we put the little bags of Knusperpony in your packages or feed them to our own darlings. Knusperpony is a start-up that has an incredible amount of passion and great values: natural ingredients, loving production and healthy and happy horses - what more could you ask for? Mariella and Julia have turned their hobby into a start-up and we wish them both a lot of success and a great future with crispy ponies and natural horse treats.