At the Horse Expo, I passed by the booth for the Freedom Feeder, something I've seen before, but never had the need for. I actually kept on walking, but after talking to a lady in another booth about saddle fitting, we started talking about feeding and she actually escorted me back to the Freedom Feeder booth to show me why she liked their product. Once I started chatting with the folks there, I threw caution, and my credit card, to the wind and plunked down the fifty bucks. Yeah, I know. Fifty bucks for a hay net?!
I followed the directions and hung it up on Sunday morning. Everything is hung with break-away carabiners and the netting is too small for a hoof to get tangled in. I wasn't 100% sure that I liked how it hung from the top so I modified it a bit so the the net wraps around the top rail and snaps back onto itself. This eliminated the hoof-grabbing holes that the first method of hanging created - sorry, no updated photo. The way it's hung, the person feeding is able to fill it from the barn aisle without removing the net, which is far more convenient than most hay bags and all other hay nets.
There's more below ...
I watched Sydney work at the bag for the better part of an hour. He didn't seem frustrated by the small bites he was able to get. If anything, the opposite was true. He seemed to enjoy the process. The manufacturer recommends feeding in the previous type of feeder as well as in the net until the horse adapts to the slower delivery method. After watching him, I didn't think Sydney would have a problem. He didn't. I removed the feeder tub mid-week.
This thing has turned out to be a miracle. Sydney is beyond relaxed. He has the calmest, most relaxed look on his face all day. RM, Other Boarder, and Neighbor Feeder have all remarked at his new attitude. And to top it off, he has already gained weight! For most horses that's a problem. For my slow-pokey, never-pig-out ponies whose flesh just barely covers their ribs, this is a great thing.
Who knew that all along the Freedom Feeder was (one of) the solution(s) that I needed? Best $50 I've ever spent!