Tuesdays with Tony
I understand why horses are often, not so affectionately, referred to as hay burners. Especially this time of year, they can really down some hay. I don’t know how, or why, you humans put up with it. Hay is HARD WORK! Something we cats abhor. Not only do you have to buy the hay, but you also have to unload it once you get home, and then schlep it at least daily to your horse’s chosen dining location. That’s exhausting, and you get hay where no one should have hay based on the conversations around the clinic. My understanding is that a piece of hay lodged in a bra is on par with one of Dante’s circles of Hell. And yet here we are talking hay. I’ve talked about a lot of things when it comes to hay, so today I thought I’d get you humans up to speed on new and innovative ways to feed that hay so it lasts longer! Who’s looking out for the humans??
Nothing but net
Step 1 in the efficient hay feeding process involves a device which will slow your voracious equine down. There are many options (don’t worry I’ll hit most of them), but let’s start with nets. Oh, how far the lowly hay net has come from the large, horse-leg-sized holes of my youth. These days hay nets come in every size, shape, and size-of-hole a cat could dream of. Establishing how much hay you want to feed at a time will help you choose, but be aware there are some very, very cool options that could help you get pretty creative here.
Let’s start with the typical hay net.
You’ve got old school:
I don’t recommend this kind. They are made for hay to fall out of, horse feet to go into. They do work great to hang box fans on a stall front. Side note here: don’t leave box fans unattended. They like to catch on fire.
I prefer new school ones like this:
Much smaller holes so no feet can go through. Shoes can get stuck in them so I do recommend they are hung high enough to prevent pawing of the net, or they are located behind some protection like this:
Which brings me to things you can do with netting. Holy human ingenuity. Turns out with some netting and some hardware, you can turn about anything into a slow hay feeder.
Truly all you have to do is decide how much hay you want to feed at a time, then use the Google machine to find an idea for how to do it. There are so, so many ideas out there.
Even more options!
Let’s say you don’t like nets, or, and this is a for-real problem, you have a horse who looks at nets as an opportunity to see how fast they can chew a big old hole in them. We’ve got alternatives! Nylon webbing is a great one to start with. These are along the same idea as the hay net, but use webbing instead. Depending on the type of webbing used, these can stand up to even the most committed hay net destroyer. Biggest drawback is they don’t come in the wide variety of sizes and shapes that nets do. They do last forever though!
Other options are really heavy duty plastic feeders like the Portagrazer and the High Country Plastics Slow Feeder Saver. These are more expensive than the net and web options. However, they offer durability as the tradeoff. Pretty sure these are a one time purchase kinda thing. They are built to last!
I’m going to conservatively guess that 99% of the horses we see here at Springhill Equine are on a diet, but that dang equine gut wants food all the time. Using one of the plethora of options I’ve provided can give your horse hours of entertainment, give their gut the continuous small meals it so desires, and give your wallet a break! What’s not to love about that?
Want even more information? My humans are full of it! Subscribe to Straight From the Horse Doctor’s Mouth podcast, or check out any of the thousands of blogs I’ve written.
Until next week,
P.S. Before you start clicking links to check out those hay feeders, take a second to scroll down and subscribe to my blog. Don’t rely on Facebook to show you the latest post, they’re unreliable. It’s because they don’t have a cat in charge.
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Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!