This is terrible to say, but my confidence is not high. Speedy G was an absolute stinker when I rode on Saturday. I am sincerely hoping that he got it out of his system and will be ready to do some honest work at the show.
While I am traveling, I thought I'd leave you with some more information about the Freedom Feeder. Lytha, from A Horse Crazy American in Germany, asked a few questions about the feeder. My mom did too, so I thought I would answer them in a new post.
A horse's digestive system is designed to process food all day long. In the wild, horses forage nearly non-stop which accomplishes several things: the digestive system is called upon to work all day, a horse's teeth get filed down naturally, and bad behaviors from boredom never happen. Domesticated horses, on the other hand, are generally fed only twice a day. When the stomach empties, and there is nothing to digest, horses frequently develop ulcers or experience colic. To alleviate this problem, many owners provide free choice hay so that horses can graze all day long like they might in the wild. This works well for many horses. Speedy G is happy to nibble on his hay throughout the day. Sydney was not.
There are many horses like Sydney. When presented with a big hay meal, they eat rapidly until they are full. The extra, uneaten hay is then stepped on and ground into the dirt which Sydney found unpalatable. With nothing to do, he started looking for his next meal and became more and more anxious as meal time approached. Even though there was plenty of discarded hay on the ground, he didn't find it appetizing.
Enter the Freedom Feeder. Although it seems counter intuitive, the small holes in the net actually mimic the grazing process. Sydney has to use his remarkable prehensile lips to delicately separates the hay from the net, which we keep filled with hay at all times. He uses his lips much like a horse at pasture will. Grazing horses are very adept at picking out the nicer blades of grass from in between weeds or other unpalatable plants.
Separating the hay from the net takes time. It prevents Sydney from getting full too fast. As a result, he spends more time eating which has allowed him to put on a few pounds. And instead of the hay falling to the ground, more of it gets eaten which has also helped him put on some weight. With more time spent eating, he has no reason to feel anxious about his next meal. Since he spends most of his day picking at the hay, he has less time to feel bored. I don't know if nibbling will improve his dental health, but it surely won't hurt.
So there you have it. The Freedom Feeder mimics a horse's natural eating pattern. It helps their tummy's feel better, alleviates boredom, reduces wasted feed, and probably helps their oral health. Man, is that the best $50 ever!
Don't forget to wish me luck and I'll let you know how our day went.