I spend a lot of time doing research on supplements. I don’t like to jump around from one thing to another, but I do like to be aware of how my horses are doing and then adjust to what they need. When Mikey came here last summer there were quite a few red flags that went up as I watched him and interacted with him.

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  1. He was extremely anxious and spent most of his time pacing. He would pace when in his own area and pace when out on the track.
  2. He would paw aggressively when it was time for food or when he THOUGHT it was time for food. He pawed for grain, he pawed for hay, he pawed if he thought there were cookies involved.
  3. He had some fat pads over his hips, on his neck and over his shoulders. Then he lost a bunch of weight and got ribby.
  4. He was always spooky. Extremely spooky.
  5. He HATED to be brushed or touched. He is not a pony that likes to be petted or snuggled. But he is totally fine for harnessing. He will meet me at the gate if it’s time to go for a drive.
  6. He hardly ever pooped a regular size amount of poop just just two or three little balls of manure. He also had the runs often. That may seem like TMI but it’s significant.

Interestingly Mikey was great when I had a halter on him or when he was in harness. Not spooky or reactive at all. He was confident and seemed very happy to get out and do things!

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When tied up he was/is a basket case if he can’t see the other horses, but if we are in cart he doesn’t care at all about leaving them when we are at home. If I take him out to other places to drive then he is more herd bound.

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I had my equine body worker come out and work on him. He had lots going on physically and there were audible pops and cracks while she worked on him. He went from feeling anxious about having her touch him to feeling better, so looking forward to having her work on him. He was still doing a few weird things with his body but my body worker said physically he was great!

I started him on Magnesium powder right after I brought him home as well as Crypto Aero mixed with some grass pellets. He was also getting California Trace mineral. After a few weeks I also put him on B1 pellets hoping that would help as well. None of the supplements I was feeding seemed to help him with his anxiety at all.

So I called my vet and ran a few of his behaviors and the state of his manure past her. As I was suspecting she said “ulcers”. Sigh. Such an expensive problem to have! But also very painful and would make many of his behaviors understandable.

So she had me start him on Gastrogard (Omeprazole). He had to have the paste once a day for 4 weeks and then I tapered him off by giving him a dose every other day for 3 weeks. During the tapering off time I also started feeding Uckele’s GUT supplement. After a few days on the Gastrogard his manure became normal and quite a few of his behaviors stopped. I was relieved thinking, “what a simple fix! A little medicine and everything is better!”

Then, I was visiting with a mini horse friend while at my first Combined Driving Event, and we started talking about the dreaded ulcer. Mikey was done with his Gastrogard and seemed like some of his behaviors were coming back. Was this because he had the ulcers so long, ‘learned behavior’? Or were his ulcers coming back? She told me about Purina’s Outlast pellets. This supplement is also a gut support supplement and aside from the wheat middlings, didn’t have anything I wouldn’t want to feed in it! Such a rare thing in supplements!supplements

During all this juggling of meds and supplements I noticed that Mikey’s hair coat was not soft and silky any more. Also he had some hot spots where the skin felt very warm and he was rubbing the hair off. Typically if I start seeing skin allergies the first thing I try is removing Rice Bran. For some reason I have known quite a few horses that were sensitive and even allergic to Rice Bran. So I had to take Mikey off the Crypto Aero and California Trace mineral. Both have Rice Bran in them. Sigh. Back to the drawing board!

As with many things in my life, timing is everything. I had a reader email me asking about a vitamin mineral she wanted to try with her minis, High Point Grass-Mixed Hay daily Vitamin/Mineral. And walla! The perfect supplement for Mikey. And this one even has Probiotics and Prebiotics great for gut health! Thank you to Victoria for that email!!

So over the summer and into the fall I switched Mikey from Crypto and California Trace minerals to plain timothy grass pellets from Standlee, topped with the High Point minerals, GUT from Uckele, the B1 pellet and some Outlast pellets. He didn’t have the bloom I wanted so I also added in some ground flax and chia seeds. For a little while during the switch over it felt like he was getting a supplement BOMB every day! Even Bonnie’s breakfast wasn’t so complicated.

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Now things are settling in and he gets 1/2 a cup of the Outlast pellets, 1/4 cup grass pellets, 1/4 cup alfalfa pellets, 1/2 scoop of the High Point minerals, 1/3 of a scoop ground flax and 1 Tablespoon of the Chia seeds, all soaked in water, once a day.

Sky and Zorro get a variation of this a well, less Outlast and Sky doesn’t get the alfalfa pellets. So far they are all looking great and Mikey has completely quit pawing when ANY food is present. He just doesn’t do it anymore. He still has some anxiety but I think that will continue to get better and better with more time. He is still settling in here and we have quite a bit of ground work, in hand work and driving to do yet before he I would consider him completely settled and confident. But we are on the right path now. And at least I know his behavior is no longer associated to pain in his body!

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I know I sound like a broken record around here. Feed your horses low sugar low starch hay because that is what they have evolved over thousands of years to eat. Low sugar, low starch hay, blah, blah, blah.

Even though I share this all the time I consistently see people saying they don’t need to feed their horses and ponies low sugar, low starch hay. But then I see how FAT their horses and ponies are.

Equines in general have evolved over thousands of years to thrive while foraging in the high plains, the natural grasses, bushes, plants, etc.

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Do you see thick lush green grass here? No. Horses would need to forage and dig and browse through here.

Then we humans came along and needed our small acreages to produce more. More grass, more hay, more, more, more. So we fertilize, we spray and kill the weeds, we plant more high powered grasses. Then we turn our horses out on that grass 24/7 because horses are grazers after all and need to eat 24/7.

Ländliche Idylle, Panorama mit weiten grünen Wiesen und blauem Himmel

BUT they are not equipped to deal with the richness of the grass we are giving them. Especially ponies and easy keepers. Of course there will always be the exceptions to the rules. Those hard keepers that can eat all the grass all the time and still need to put on a bit of weight. Just ask people with those types of horses… they are not necessarily easier to manage than the easy keepers.

The thriftier horses, the metabolic horses, the native type horses need us to help them. They need us to give them access to LOW SUGAR, LOW STARCH hay 24/7 and supplement with some grass/alfalfa mix hay for protein for older and younger horses. Supplement with vitamins and minerals to help them balance the forage we are offering. No horse should be given rich hay 24/7. It will catch up to them eventually.

A fat, shiny horses does not equal a healthy horse. If they are not getting the exercise to burn off the calories you are feeding then you need to back off the calories. And sugar and starch ARE added calories.

HERE is an article on the SafeGrass website. It’s very sciency, but ends with a very interesting paragraph:

Where I live, very sunny, and extremely dry, hay cures in a couple days, and growers bale only in the wee hours of the night in hopes of getting some dew to keep the leaves on the hay. Consequently the San Luis Valley of Colorado is well known for producing some of the highest quality dairy hay in the USA. We also have more than our fair share of laminitis and colic. An Amish horse trainer who recently moved here from Minnesota told me he’snever encountered so much laminitis since he has lived here. After a year, they also started seeing EPSM in their draft horses. Data from research trials conducted at Rocky Mountain Research & Consulting, Inc., in conjunction with USDA showed that oat hay maturing in the fall at my facility contained levels of total carbs and fructan specifically that are surprisingly high, even when extremely mature. I have tested improved grasses from the research plots here that are up to 39% NSC dry matter! Surely destiny has a hand in putting me and my insulin resistant ponies in the Founder Fodder Capital of the world.

My friend Molly has a beautiful little 32″ miniature horse mare, Goldie. Last winter Molly was feeding a grass/alfalfa mix hay, from a hay supplier she has used for years. When he delivered her a second (or third) batch of hay in the middle of the winter, he said to be a little careful because it seemed to be a bit richer. But horses are meant to graze 24/7 and Molly knew that so was feeding the hay in slow feed nets or feeders so they would have hay 24/7. She has 2 minis, one was a stallion at the time and an older Arab gelding who has a bit of a hard time keeping weight on in the winter time. The Arab and the stallion seemed to do alright, but Goldie packed on the pounds and ended up being about 100 pounds over weight and on the edge of foundering. She was laminitic and very sore footed. This was the end of January.

Molly immediately took Goldie off the alfalfa grass mix hay and bought a couple of low sugar low starch grass hay bales. She added in some HEIRO to help Goldie manage the extra glucose she was obviously struggling with. She started her on 1/4 cup of Crypto Aero Wholefoods.

By the beginning of May Goldie was slim and sleek and ready to do an 8 mile drive with a local driving group. Over Memorial Weekend Goldie drove 15.2 miles with that same group, in mountainous terrain. Molly also noticed that Goldie was acting like the young mare that she is, playing and being very active. Something that she had not done when eating the richer hay. She has energy in a good way. It’s not jittery, wild energy, but calm and focused energy.

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Goldie at the first group drive. She is so slim and in great shape here!! No one would ever believe that just 3 months before this she was 100 pounds overweight!
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Goldie after our 15.2 mile drive. On this day we did a 6 mile drive before we headed home. So she had driven 21 miles total for the weekend!

This just goes to show that feeding a horse properly, balancing it’s vitamins and minerals as best you can and making sure their hay is low sugar low starch hay makes a HUGE difference to the health of the animal.

Another great example is Mikey. He was quite a bit overweight, for his build, when he came here a week ago. I feed low sugar, low starch hay, in a slow feed net, pretty much 24/7. The first day he was here he did not eat and he did not let any of the other horses or drink, so we need to take that into account. But skipping meals does not always mean a horse will lose weight!

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Left is the before photo taken on 6/24/18. Photo on the right is the after, taken today 6/30/18. 6 days on a low sugar low starch diet and a bit of added exercise. He is just as shiny it was just not such a sunny time when we took the after photo. You can see that his shoulders are smaller and he doesn’t have the big fat pads on his butt. He still has a little bit to lose, but will slim up and muscle up when we start driving!

I have him on 1/4 cup of Crypto Aero Wholefoods, 1/2 a scoop of California Trace, 1/2 a scoop of Remission, and 1/2 a teaspoon of magnesium once a day. He is in his own area while everyone gets acquainted, and he is spending some time every day pacing. He is no longer pacing all day, but he does walk quite a bit. This is actually mimicking life on the track. So pair the proper diet with exercise and you get a pony that has already lost quite a bit of weight. He had hard adipose type fat on his shoulders, neck and butt, they are all gone. His neck is soft again and the “swollenness” has gone away. He is feeling better and has settled down emotionally and physically.

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Left is the before photo taken 6/24/18 and Right is the after taken today, 6/30/18.

I am really looking forward to getting Mikey in cart, but he needs a little ground work and some body work done first. He is very stiff in his hind end. I wouldn’t want him to try pulling a cart if he isn’t feeling his best. To have him pull incorrectly to try to balance out a soreness will only hurt another part of his body. So we will go slow and steady!

I love only having the three minis. It has really simplified my life that’s for sure! BUT there always has to be that one horse that is food crazy… around here that’s Sky. She will either eat her feed really fast OR she’ll leave her pan all together to go bother the other horses. I’m sure she is making certain their feed isn’t better than her own. However Bonnie is on Thyro-L now and I don’t want Sky eating that because it will mess with her thyroid. So I’ve had to lock Sky in her “feed pen” where she can just focus on her own feed and let everyone else do their thing.

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed that Bonnie will leave some of her feed uneaten and go push Zorro off so she can eat his, then she’ll go back to hers. Zorro will just wander off and come find me so at least he hasn’t been trying to eat Bonnie’s with her meds in it! But Bonnie certainly doesn’t need anything extra. With all the snow and drifting I can’t build another feed pen and really don’t want the hassle of that so I started looking for a better way to manage their morning feeding.

(Also I would love to be able to go away for more than just one day. Bonnie is so scared of everyone but me I don’t think I could have someone come over, put her in a pen and get her to eat her feed without a lot of drama and trouble. She can’t miss even one day of her Thyro-L so I thought there HAD to be a better way!)

I was on the Horse Track Facebook page a couple of weeks ago and an old post popped up where the gal was showing all 5-6 of her horses happily eating their hard feed out of nose bags. Then I remembered my favorite instructors, Lorri Roy and Ethan Zimmerman also feed their horses their hard feed in nose bags and how easy and drama free it was the last time I was there helping feed.

Hmmmm.

I started shopping around for miniature nose bags. They were rather pricey and I wasn’t even sure my idea would work so I didn’t want to sink $25-$30 into one nose bag and have it be an epic fail. After all I was going to need 3 of them! I kept googling around until I found Tammy Hennager at TMH Specialties on Etsy! Her nose bags were only $15! And when I contacted her she was willing and able to make me exactly what I needed size wise and in different colors so I could tell them apart! Whoot!

So Bonnie has a purple nose bag, Zorro has a blue one and Sky has a burgundy one.

nosebagsI popped a peppermint cookie into each nose bag and went out to see what they would think about them!

 

Bonnie eagerly reached out to put her face in hers. She is really good about being muzzled and it looks a lot like her muzzle so she was more than happy to put her face in there! And surprise! There was an awesome cookie.

nosebags(2)Zorro came over and tried to put his face in his right away. No big deal! Sky waited patiently and was happy to reach in and eat her cookie too. Zorro makes a big mess when he eats those peppermint cookies so he figured out how to put the bag on the ground so he could clean up all the crumbs. I think they will be a hit! I’ll know better tomorrow when I feed them their morning feed in the bags. And Sky won’t have to be locked up.

So if you think these would work for you head on over to Tammy’s and order your nose bags too!

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I get regarding feeding with hay nets:

  • Do I hang my nets to keep the horses from eating off the ground and keep the nets clean?

I do not hang my nets as I feel horses need to eat from ground level. They way they are designed, their teeth work best when their heads are down.

The horse’s body has evolved to work most efficiently when eating at ground height. When a horse puts it’s head down to eat the lower jaw drops forward and then when the horse lifts it’s head to chew the jaw slides back. This forward and backward motion helps to grind the teeth and keep them at the optimum length.

This does not occur when the horse is fed with it’s head off the ground from a hay net or rack. This is why it is important to provide food at ground level.

http://www.all-natural-horse-care.com/horse-feeding.html

Their noses drain correctly and they don’t get hay bits, dust and leaves in their eyes, ears and noses when fed at ground level. Horses are not giraffes so they are not designed to graze from tree tops, which is essentially what you are asking them to do if you hang the nets. They will tip their heads, while pulling hay from the net, at an unnatural angle which really effects their poll, TMJ, neck and shoulders.

Horses were made to eat from the ground. They are used to eating off the dirt. If you have sand then you need to put something down like a rubber mat so when they are eating from the ground they aren’t ingesting sand. But horses are used to nosing about in the dirt, browsing for the good bits. They don’t mind it at all!

I do have to tie my nets to posts because of my horse track. The exterior fence is a field fence, but the interior fence is just a single strand of hot wire. It is very easy for them to roll the nets under the hot wire and then not be able to reach it. Before when I just had the big dry lot, I allowed them to roll the hay nets all over the place. It encouraged movement as well as allowing them to eat from ground level. Don’t be afraid to let your nets get dirty!

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  • What size hole should I get?

I’m feeding miniature horses so I like the 1″ holes. That size will slow the minis down and allow them to graze at a flake of hay for several hours. I do have one net that has 1 1/4″ holes but they have that one figured out. It’s usually the first one empty when I do use it! The Hay Chix website does explain what size hole is best for your horse. Do be aware that smart horses figure nets out quickly and you may have to transition to the smaller hole net quite quickly.

I have 6 different nets. 4 of them are small bale nets, one is a micro mini net and one is a half bale net. Because I have had to limit the amount of hay everyone is getting due to Sky’s weight, I tie a knot in the bottom of the small bale nets to make them smaller so I can put just 1 or two flakes in them. I only have the one half bale net or I would just use that size. But I like the option of being able to feed an entire bale, if I have to be gone overnight for instance, so I like the small bale nets.

  • Are they easy to fill?

I find the nets very easy to fill. The only time I have trouble with them is when they are frozen. Then I can’t get them open enough to stuff the hay in. Sometimes the tie ropes are frozen into the ice around the bottom of the T-Posts as well so then I have to either wait for a sunny day or take a bucket of hot water out and pour over them so I can get them out of the ice. If they are wet I find them just as easy to fill as when they are dry. When the wind is howling I have to use the nets or my hay just blows away before the ponies can eat it!

  • Do they hold up?

Short answer. Yes. I have had a few of my nets for 5 years and they still look new! I have one that is fraying a bit at the seam, but it’s still works and is holding up. My ponies are not easy on the nets as some have assumed. They paw them aggressively, they bite them and shake them. They used to carry them around when I didn’t have them tied. Zorro likes to stand on them while he is eating. So no they are not gentle with them or easy on them.

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A couple years ago I had a Hay Pillow. Aside from hay getting stuck in the zipper, then the zipper freezing in the winter, then the zipper pull breaking, my big horse used it just fine. He wasn’t easy on nets either and would often be seen walking around with the Hay Pillow in his mouth. BUT the very first time Sky used the Hay Pillow she chewed a hole through the netting in about 15 minutes, then proceeded to shred it all over the pen. The zipper was definitely broken then! In my experience the Hay Chix nets hold up very well.

Over on the right hand side of this page there is a graphic you can click on to save 20% on your Hay Chix order! If you are in the Bozeman Montana area, Bridger Feeds sells the Hay Chix nets and you’ll save the shipping price.

Even though I can’t free feed hay right now due to Sky’s weight and allowing them to forage a bit more this winter, I still like using my nets to slow them down. I feed one flake per horse in the morning, three different nets, then 2 flakes per horse in the evening again in the hay nets. Everyone is looking very good and since I’ve started Sky on Chaste Berry Powder she has lost one more hole on the harness girth 🙂 I think her weight gain was stress related but I don’t discount that she may have had hormone issues as well!

 

I thought I would do an update of my tiny track and share how it’s working this winter.

I still love it. The ponies are moving around all the time. Right now they are not using the entire track because one side of it is a big, deep snow drift. Once in a while they will try to come down that side and I cringe the whole time they are floundering through it. It wasn’t so bad when the drift was soft but now it’s hard as a rock!

I feed at the opposite side of the track from the water so they have to walk a bit to get a drink. They all look very healthy and I have to fill the trough every 4-5 days which is about how often I filled it this summer so they are drinking enough. I have loose salt and magnesium in the shed so they have access to that at all times. Because it’s so cold and windy the chickens spend most of their days in the horse shed and then go back into their coop at night. Then the ponies use the shed at night… they are usually covered with sawdust in the mornings so I know they are laying down in there. They also lounge around in front of the shed when the sun is shining.

I put wind breaks around the track so they would have something to back up to when the wind really gets to blowing. If it’s 4 degrees out and the wind comes up to about 30 mph then it quickly drops to minus 10, 15 or even 20 degrees. They have two run in shed options but always choose to stand out in it. This morning the wind was blowing so much snow around that I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me and I found them backed up to the hay stack in the far shelter. They typically don’t like that one when the wind is blowing because the roof is made up of tarps and they flap around a bit. But today they made an exception!!

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This is how they looked after I brought them over to the grain area so they could have their supplements. Even standing under the shelter backed up to the hay they were quite frosty!

It’s amazing to me how the morning can be so windy, freezing and snowy and then the afternoon is bright blue skies and beautiful! (The wind is blowing a bit so it is FREEZING out there!)

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This was in the afternoon! From the above photos to this!

All three of the ponies will get a bee in their bonnets and take off racing around and around the track. I love it when they do this! Bonnie and Zorro play with each other, chasing and bucking and rearing up to play bite. Sky watches them a bit annoyed but will run around the track on her quite a bit. I love watching them exercise in this way!

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Here is a little video of my track! There isn’t any music, just the sound of my feet in the snow and the wind, for those of you that read this while at work 😉

 

I love my small bale hay nets. They fit a 65 pound bale easily. My bigger 75 pound bales are just a touch too big but it’s not a big deal to peel some hay off the end and use that to fill another net. Sometimes I will tie a knot in the end of my nets and then I can use them to hold just 4-5 flakes of hay. When I tie a knot I will turn the net inside out so the knot is on the inside, with the hay.

I am gearing up to have a rather large surgery on Friday so am getting things ready around the farm to make chores easier for my family to help me with. I won’t be able to lift anything for 4-6 weeks while I heal and will feel so much better knowing the ponies have full hay nets to munch on. I’m sure they will appreciate it as well.

When I do my own chores I will put out 4-5 flakes for each of the girls and a whole bale for the boys. I go check to be sure they aren’t out of hay often so they never have to have that empty feeling in their tummies. But I know my family won’t be so diligent, even with me asking them to check. So using the nets at their full capacity will mean they only have to fill nets every 5-6 days!

Here is a little video I made showing how I fill my nets. I was always curious about this before I purchased my nets and couldn’t find a video that showed me what I wanted to know… So I made this one!

If you have any questions feel free to email me or leave a comment below! I will have lots of computer time over the next few weeks as I heal!

*If you are local to Montana you can purchase your Hay Chix slow feed nets at Bridger Feeds in Bozeman. They cost the same as the Hay Chix website but you don’t have to pay shipping!!

I have been using some form of a slow feeder for several years now. The entire time I had Billy he had feed 24/7. He had a slow feeder, a slow feed net and/or access to pasture.

Now that I have the minis I did not want that to change. Because I thoroughly understand the importance of a horse having access to forage all times of the day and night I knew I wanted that for my minis as well. I have three hay nets, the 70 pound bale nets to be exact.

Forage is the foundation of every equine’s diet and needs to flow steadily through the digestive tract. Gaps without forage can lead to ulcers, colic, behavioral issues, stall vices, gorging, choke, cribbing, and even laminitis. Truly, the only way to avoid these problems is to allow your horse steady access to forage, free-choice, all day and all night.

The Correct Way to Use Slow-Feeders by Julie Getty, Ph.D.

Horses produce 1.5 liters of stomach acid every hour. Regardless of whether they are eating or not, they are producing stomach acid. This stomach acid can be responsible for stomach ulcers. Saliva can help balance out the stomach acid. Saliva is only produced when the horse chews. So having hay or forage in front of them 24/7 solves this.

Having access to forage also helps with colic. Especially sand colic. It’s been found that having hay in their system will help push the sand out better than the traditional Psylliuym.

Horses in a natural setting eat small amounts of forage as they wander in search of the next tasty morsel. They eat virtually all day and night, taking time to socialize and rest every so often for a few minutes at a time. When they know that they always have access to forage, they become calm and relaxed, rest more often, and walk away from their hay, knowing that it will still be there when they return. In other words, they “self-regulate” and eat only what they need to maintain a healthy body condition.

The Correct Way to Use Slow-Feeders by Julie Getty, Ph.D.

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This is shot of my two dry lots. The mares have their own side in front and the boys have their own side in the back. Both dry lots are huge and encourage lots of movement!

It’s a common thought that horses using a slow feeder will be fat and lazy. If they are locked in a small area this is true! If they are not encouraged to move they will stand around and get fat. I am not a fan of using food restriction to manage weight. I think movement is the only way to regulate weight.

There are some horses, however, who gain weight very quickly when given forage free-choice. The reason has to do with the sluggish metabolic rate they’ve developed over time. When forage is parceled out only a few times a day, the horse responds by going into “survival mode,” where his metabolic rate significantly slows down in an attempt to conserve body fat. A cycle of ever-increasing obesity is created that can be reversed only through exercise and removing the hormonal fat-storing response that forage restriction creates.

The Correct Way to Use Slow-Feeders by Julie Getty, Ph.D.

I’ve been witness to people wanting to try the slow feeder, but not having the patience to wait for their horses to self regulate. This can take time if your horse has been used to the starvation diet of one, two or three meals a day. It takes consistency on your part to make sure they are never without hay in their slow feed nets because if they are out for even 10 minutes their brain will switch back into starvation mode and you have to start the process all over again.

They need to be refilled frequently (unless a whole bale size is chosen). Horses who run out of hay (even for 10 minutes) will never get the message that hay is always there and will not self-regulate.

The Correct Way to Use Slow-Feeders by Julie Getty, Ph.D.

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The girls checking to see if I’m going to give them any more food!

Another important point, from an equine body workers point-of-view, is to be sure your slow feeders are at ground level. Do not hang them so the horse has to reach up to eat. This is not natural for a horse and causes their jaws to misalign, as well as causing them to have to twist their head and neck when eating which causes the TMJ and the poll to go out. This is very painful and can definitely affect your horses attitude about being ridden or driven.

Chewing with the head low is more in line with the horse’s natural physiology, creating even pressure on the teeth and allowing the jaw bone to move freely in all directions. Furthermore, the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and bone structure are not stressed when horses can grab hay in a straight downward motion. Eating with their heads down also protects their eyes and respiratory tract against mold spores and dust and provides for better nasal drainage.

 The Correct Way to Use Slow-Feeders by Julie Getty, Ph.D.

My ponies look great having access to feed 24/7. They all got fat at first and then leveled out. Bonnie is still in the process of regulating, though she will walk away from the hay nets now and hang out. She and Sky can share a net without any food aggression at all. I am very pleased with how my ponies look and how calm they are about food.

Sky is a 13 year old mama. She hasn't been driven for about 7 years and has just been a pasture pet. I know that when I start driving her she will tuck back up again!
Sky is a 13 year old mama. She hasn’t been driven for about 7 years and has just been a pasture pet. I know that when I start driving her she will tuck back up again!
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Bonnie is a 4 year old easy keeper. She is still self regulating and will slim down when I start playing with her more.
Captain Planet is an 8 year old gelding who has always been a pasture pet. Even when he was on the
Captain Planet is an 8 year old gelding who has always been a pasture pet. Even when he was on the “starvation” diet of two feedings a day he looked exactly like this! He has been on a slow feeder for over 2 years now.
Zorro is the baby. He is a yearling and in his awkward gawky stage right now. Every day his belly changes depending on how much he runs around that day!
Zorro is the baby. He is a yearling and in his awkward gawky stage right now. Every day his belly changes depending on how much he runs around that day!

I have at least two if not three hay nets out at all times. I will toss out a flake here and there too. They also have access to pasture for no more than 4 hours in the early morning hours. I get up at 4:30 to let them out and bring them in by 8:30 to ensure they are not out when it starts to heat up and the sugars make their way up the grass stem. They are fed 1/2-3/4 of a cup of Crypto Aero once a day, in the morning as well.

With some patience and education you can be successful at using a slow feeder for your horses too!

Edited on 8/22/18:

After having the minis for almost three years I will say that the key to slow feeding successfully is making SURE your hay is low sugar low starch. DO NOT feed an alfalfa/grass hay 24/7. DO NOT feed an untested hay 24/7 without expecting your minis and ponies to get fat. They just will. Now that I have switched to all low sugar low starch hay my mini and ponies look really good. They still have bellies but they are no longer fat.