There is a LOT of literature out right now that talk about the benefits of slow feeders for horses, Im talking:
Reducing the possibility of gastric ulcers
Reducing the likelihood of colic
Reducing anxiety related to feeding time
Reducing undesirable behaviors
Reducing the length of this blog
Those are quite a few common problems being decreased just by mimicing the horses natural grazing patterns. Duh, right?
There are also A LOT of slow feeding products on the market now, giving horse owners a few choices. The Porta-Grazer is exactly what it sounds like it is, a portable slow feeder for your ponies. This is a larger "furniture" item, becoming a fixture in your stall or pasture. Another cool option is the Hay Pillow. The Hay Pillow is a feed bag that is safe enough to toss on the ground and has a small footprint for those who need the space.
BUT. If you jump right into slow feeding your horse after they have been free grazing for years, then the potential for stress is pretty high and stress is what were trying to avoid.
I am going to show you how to introduce your horse to the idea of slow feeding,. If you make it too hard, too fast you are going to have a pissed off and stressed out steed on your hands. Say hello to gastric ulcers if you jump in too quick!
All you'll need is:
- 1 hay net with large holes
- 1 hay net with small holes
If your horse isn't accustomed to hay bags, that's a great place to start. Feeding out of a hay bag with large holes gets them used to the game but makes it easy enough to keep stress at bay.
Next, bring out a second hay net with smaller holes. By doubling the nets, we've introduced the concepts of:
Working a tad harder for breakfast AND
Taking a bit longer to be satiated
...over time this is going to help them adapt mentally and physically to this new feeding routine.
After the horses are accustomed to eating from the doubled hay bag...THEN go nuts and find the slow feeder that fits your barn, your horse and your lifestyle.