From Endurance to Dressage
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!
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
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: