Horses are grazing animals. Their bodies were made to browse and graze all day and all night and all day and all night. The way their digestive system works centers around them having their head down, nose in the grass.
Horses get ulcers for a few reasons, but the main reason is that because horses are made to graze all day, it’s not healthy for them to have an empty stomach. For example, the owner or trainer will feed the horse in the morning, then work it in the afternoon, then feed it in the evening. The horse is worked on an empty stomach and those stomach juices jouncing around in there cause ulcers. It’s such an easy thing to avoid… by using a slow feeder.
It’s also been proven that having access to 15 to 20 pounds of hay a day will help with sand colic, sand build up in the gut. The hay works more efficiently at pushing sand out of the horse’s digestive track.
And movement. Movement is extremely important for the digestive track as well. But movement with a full tummy.
Most horses are kept in such a way that they can’t graze 24 hours a day and they don’t get to move much. Sometimes this can’t be avoided. When I first got Billy I had to board him at a stable because we didn’t have a pasture to put him in. I took my responsibility very seriously and made sure I took Billy out of his pen every day to move. Even if it was just to let him beat up his ball a bit.
I did set up his stall so that he could eat 24 hours a day however. To do this I had some help from my Father-in-law. We made a slow feeder out of an old galvanized stock tank, a hog panel and a couple pieces of wood with carriage bolts.
My Father-in-law pulled out his welder and he cut the hog panel to fit inside the lip of the stock tank. Then he welded two panels together to make the spaces in the “grate” a bit closer together. He welded the edge smooth so there are no sharp spots anywhere on the “grate”.
He installed the small pieces of wood just under the lip of the tank so that Billy couldn’t pull the grate out. I have to put one side of the grate in at a time and then, depending on how full the feeder is, I have to stand on the grate to pop it in.
The feeder will hold 75 pounds of hay!
As you can see the spaces in the grate are about 3 inches by 2 inches. I haven’t had any trouble with Billy scraping off the enamel of this teeth. People ask me this often. I think it’s because the spaces are big enough that he can get the hay out without pressing on the metal.
Proof of his enamel! LOL Just look at those baby teeth!