From Endurance to Dressage
More on the Freedom Feeder
It's been quite a while since I've done an update on the Freedom Feeder. Since I just replaced Sydney's old one with a new model, I thought I'd bring everyone up to speed.
If you'll remember, or if you're new here, I bought the Freedom Feeder this past February in an effort to curtail Sydney's hay waste. When alfalfa hit $22 a bale, keeping the feed off the ground became a big priority. Sand colic is not an issue with Sydney; he won't eat hay that has hit the dirt.
For the most part, the Freedom Feeder has saved the barn at least the price of the net. Some hay still makes it to the ground, but since it's usually clean and still tasty, I rake the spilled hay each afternoon and split it between the barn's two older dudes as an afternoon snack. They're happy to munch away, and I feel less guilty about my own horse wasting money.
The Freedom Feeder is not indestructible. I am sure that there are other horses far more aggressive than mine, but Sydney gives that net a pretty good workout each day. He doesn't nibble through the holes like he's supposed to. Instead, he grabs the netting between his front teeth and SHAKES the bag until the leaves fall through.
We discovered his system very early on and tied a large feed tub underneath the net in order to catch what he shakes out. He loves this as the feed falls into the feeder rather than onto the ground. It's quite an efficient system. We also added a flat bottomed cart in front of his stall to catch the leaves and stems that want to fall out of reach. When I arrive in the afternoon, I scoop up the hay in the cart and add it to his feed bin - yet another way we prevent hay waste.
Here is his old Freedom Feeder. Do you see the gigantic hole in the center that he created? Horse teeth can be quite destructive.
Last month, I used baling twine and "stitched" the hole closed. That lasted less than a week. Last weekend, I finally admitted that the Freedom Feeder was no longer doing it's primary job, preventing hay loss, so I headed on over to Smartpak and ordered a new one.
Kind of a side note here: with Barn Saver Shipping (free!) and the USEF 5% discount that I get, this Freedom Feeder cost less than when I bought the first one directly from the maker at Horse Expo. Yah for Smartpak! (I ❤ you Smartpak.)
Our barn strives to be very green. We don't like to throw things away, so the question was what to do with the old Freedom Feeder. Yes, it had a big hole in the center, but the rest of it was still intact.
Speedy G has been put on morning alfalfa cubes. He seems to really like the cubes so it's fine with me. The reason he got demoted to cubes, which are actually more expensive than baled alfalfa, is because he started to waste a lot of his hay. One of the very best things about RM's barn is that the horses get fed PLENTY. There's no scrimping on hay. HOWEVER. Waste is not appreciated so everything is done to minimize the amount of hay that gets trod into the bedding. So Speedy now gets cubes at night and flaked hay in the morning. It's been a good compromise as he is now eating everything and less hay is being wasted.
I decided that the old Freedom Feeder might be salvaged and used as a test version for Speedy G. If it worked for him, a new one could be ordered. With some scissors and a length of twine, I was able to sew up the hole that Sydney created and rehang the bag for Speedy G.
When I introduced Speedy to the freedom Feeder, he spent quite a bit of time looking for the opening. He is quite familiar with hay bags so this apparatus took some thinking. It was actually quite comical. I left him to examine the new set-up while I rode Sydney. When I came back an hour later, I was delighted to find the net half empty. Some hay had fallen into the feeder below, but there was hardly any on the ground and Speedy seemed quite happy.
Hopefully the "recycled" net will last a month or two as I am watching my pennies right now. Be kind to the Freedom Feeder, Speedy G, be kind!
10/28/2012 11:02:25 am
I love the little setup you have for Sydney. Ingenuity goes a long way at the barn and when saving hay!
10/28/2012 11:18:09 am
Thanks, Val! It might look a bit cluttered, but the BO appreciates that we're trying not to be wasteful. If her costs stay down, she can pass the savings on to me. With such a small operation, it behooves me to find ways to save money. I even loaned her my truck over the weekend to pick up hay cubes. It saved her the expense of renting a trailer.
2/1/2014 09:56:27 pm
I love to see people working together / it's all about the horses;
2/1/2014 10:56:03 pm
What a bummer. This is the first barn at which I've boarded where "amenities" are included. Everywhere else has been a "we feed and that's it" kind of place. It's almost better that way since you HAVE to reply on yourself only. It's tough if you're "paying" for perks and don't get them. Sorry your guy didn't get to bask in the sun; we know how much they do enjoy it. :0)
10/28/2012 01:16:16 pm
Freedom Feeders, we love them! Will is a "freedom shaker" too. His diet is primarily timothy pellets and equine senior, which he inhales, so any chance we get to slow him down and "work" for his supplemental hay is worth it. On the other hand, the donkeys are so cute as they delicately work on one individual blade of hay at a time through their freedom feeders. Ah- the donkey's life for me... :)
10/28/2012 10:20:57 pm
I wish Sydney would just pick at it! He doesn't gobble, but he does push his hay around looking for the best parts which is how it ends up on the ground. I do like the FF because it does make the hay last throughout the day - much healthier for their tummies. Glad to hear Will is doing well. :0)
10/29/2012 01:18:11 pm
Thanks Karen. Will is doing better. We hit some speed bumps and I decided not to take him to the Ride-a-Test. I wish we could have participated, but he has been off with hoof wall issues ( or lack there of) and loose stools :0 Everything seems to be back on track now, so we're back in the saddle. However, the absent hoof wall will obviously take some time, but I can tell a difference in his energy level, appetite, and overall appearance. Yeah, for the right supplements! This might sound crazy but someone once told me to be careful to NOT get caught up in the supplement hype for horses. I think that they meant well, and were just trying to be protective, but some supplements are truly beneficial and worth every penny. I now feel like I'd be crazy to not use them. I'm learning more each day, and I'm thankful to be able to care for Will as he advances into his senior years. :)
11/2/2012 11:49:53 am
and Will is no doubt grateful for the fine care he receives. Hope to see you in the spring, or sooner!
11/2/2012 12:27:29 pm
Thank you!!! And, sooner would be better :)
12/29/2012 10:31:51 am
I am the inventor/manufacturer of the Freedom Feeder. I just wanted to thank you all for using the Freedom Feeders for your stabled horses. It's so good to see them being incorporated into barn/stable situations getting horses grazing in a natural fashion through their "Pasture in a Net". I also like your ingenuity.
12/30/2012 03:45:01 am
Melissa, thanks for stopping by! I like the Freedom Feeder because it allows my horses to graze all day. I am a huge proponent of free choice feeding as a horse's body is designed to eat all day long. Neither of my boys gobble their food, but they don't like eating from the dirt so the FF fit right into our feeding program. I see more nets being purchased in the future. :0)
12/31/2012 01:29:07 am
Thank YOU for such a great product! :0)
1/16/2013 05:49:47 am
LOVE that Syndney seems to be enjoying the net. Hope this new one last for a long while. My TB is a Freedom "Shaker" as well, and his has held up well. I think that a lot of people don't realize how much money they could be saving by not wasting hay on the ground that can get walked through and pooped on, even if its another small hole hay net. Love it love it :) plus thank you so much for helping me with the website. If you ever need anything for a deal, let me know ;)
1/16/2013 09:38:39 pm
Reagan - the net does help our barn save money and stay neater! Good luck with your site!
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: