Little, older, fat pony that does lots of beginner lessons... huge piles of hay in front of him when in stall; in pasture, grass so low, it's irrelevant. It's his sagging belly I am trying to address with barn manager: pony needs to get his hay in moderate amounts instead of gorging, like a true-blue pony, on his piles of hay, which then just get replenished.
So, I keep recommending a small-hole hay net. They keep using, instead, a muzzle on him, because they don't want to ask the groom to fill the hay net. Why 1x/day filling is so difficult, I dunno... I would never keep a muzzle/bucket on a horse for long periods of time if other options available, as it makes for a sore poll and neck, and esp. not on a pony built as unconventionally as he is.
Any other arguments I can use for a small-hole net? Sigh...
My horses have small hole nets, and my barn is great and would do it even if it were inconvenient, but it's SO not. It keeps the stall cleaner and it wastes less hay - so the barn saves money on both hay AND bedding AND time cleaning the stall. I think the key is getting one that is easy to fill. I have both a hay pocket and a nibble net - both work great and are way easier than traditional hay nets to fill. Good luck - I'm a true believer in them! They are so great for not only weight control but also ulcer-prone horses - they keep food in their belly longer.
I second everything said above. I just started using them because I moved from an area where I was able to easily find/feed timothy hay to an area with pretty much only coastal bermuda available locally. My oldest was having colic issues, and someone on here suggested small hole hay nets.
LOVE them and started feeding all three of my horses out of them. They waste much less hay, and they keep occupied all day. The small-hole nets are far easier to fill than the regular ones; I was one of those who never used hay nets because they're a PITA to fill, but these (I have the SmartPak version) are super easy to find the hole and get hay in efficiently. And I fill two bags/horse in the evenings when I have more time, so in the mornings I can just grab the other and hang it. Saves me time since I don't have to count out flakes, and saves me from spreading hay all over the aisle (and my workclothes) when I take it to their stalls in the morning.
Simply take two screw in hooks, and screw them into the wall about, eh, 18" to 20" apart. SImply hook the top of the net on each hook, use one hand to pull net open, and stuff in hay. Remove from hooks, hang up. Super easy. Takes me less than 1 minute to fill two nets.
I have never had to wrestle hay into a net by doing this. I wish I had done this years ago!
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My horses are on hay nets as they just plough through their hay too quickly for my liking. My barn has been great about filing their hay nets (and I know they are a PITA as I try and fill them myself when I'm up to help out!).
What about getting a bunch of hay nets and filling them all up at once and they way they just hang a net up??
My trainer uses these hay nets on all 25 horses and it is NOT a big deal to fill them. It is harder then just throwing flakes of hay but the added benefits are worth it. I don't feed in slow feeder hay nets but I use regular ones in my barn. I started using them after my horses wasted more hay than they ate. Now they eat every stem because it doesn't hit the floor
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I use the small hole nets at home and it takes a little extra time to fill, but for me is worth it as it keeps the stall cleaner and wastes less hay -- otherwise, my one horse would toss his hay all over, carry it to look out the back door and drop along the way, poop and pee on that and not eat it, etc. Since my guys are all on diets to keep their weight just right, it allows me to weigh their rations too. If I am ever tossing out hay, it has to be bad as otherwise they eat every bit out of the nets.
For filling, I put the nets in a clean muck bucket to hold open -- super easy to fill. I just do up all my nets at one time during the day so they are sitting there in stacks ready to feed. I could even do up multiple days worth if I wanted.
Argh, I am having this same issue with my barn. My horse is not fat, but she eats her hay so quickly and then starts begging for more, and tends to weave when she does. Plus I would like her to go fewer hours with no hay in front of her (she WOULD blow up if fed free choice hay, so that is not an option.)
I'm asking it only for the two feedings where she's in her stall. For the other two, she's outside so the hay gets more scattered and she eats more slowly, and there's plenty for her to do, even in her dry lot, when she's done with her hay. So far I've got BO to agree to one feeding, for an extra $10/month. Doesn't matter if I leave pre-filled NibbleNets for both feedings (many barns are fine with NibbleNets when the owner pre-fills them); they'll only do one. (Part of the problem is that my BO thinks I'm torturing my horse with the NibbleNet!) It is *slightly* more work as this barn throws hay down from a loft, and with the NibbleNet you have to go into the stall to remove an empty net and replace it with a full one.
I prefer the NibbleNet over regular hay nets, even though it's way more expensive. It is easier to fill, easier to hang, and very sturdy. The 1.5 inch size holes double to triple my mare's eating time, and there is a 1.25 inch version to really slow a horse down.
Anyway, vent over (sorry, this is really making me mad today! )
I agree with everyone who says nets mean less hay wasted (though this is not an issue with my horse; she will pick through her stall and eat every last scrap of hay), the stall is cleaner, and it's much healthier for the horses to eat more slowly. A muzzle also can rub, and you have to leave the halter on, which is a safety issue.
I'm in the process of making a home-made version of the Cinch Chix Freedom Feeder (scroll down to see the product). My guy hoovers his hay then gets all disgruntled when stalled without anything to munch on. He also has a tendency to throw it all over his stall which ends up wasting a lot instead of it actually getting eaten.
Horses just are happier with access to forage throughout the day. That doesn't mean they should get an all-you-can-eat buffet. Small hole hay nets give them the ability to nibble throughout the day like they're supposed to without overfeeding.
The easier you can make it on the BO, the more compliant they'll be. Mine already walks into the stalls to place the hay in the mangers so what I'm building for her won't be any extra steps except to open the net rack/toss in hay/close the net rack.
My horse is not a fatty in need of a diet, so I don't use one on a daily basis. I did, however, buy one when I bought my trailer because it irritated me to no end putting a bale of hay in a hay net, then at the end of a day at a horse show, having an empty hay net. If the two horses sharing the bale had eaten it all, I would be ok with it, but no, they would delight at eating half and then throwing half on the floor, pawing it underneath them and messing on it. Grrr! It is like a game. I can just hear them say, "oh, yeah, you want this mouthful of hay? watch me drop it on the floor" then the other saying, "oh, yeah, watch me paw it under me." and so on ...
My horse gets a bit mad that he has to work for his hay, but he manages ok and the trailer is so much easier to clean!
To me, whether it is trailer, stall, or paddock, I would be happy to do a little extra work if I can keep a horse from wasting hay and keep them from developing vices.
My BO started using them last year for ALL horses...hard keepers, easy keepers, and everyone in between. I tell you, every horse in that barn looked great that winter...slowed down the fatties and kept the engines burning in the ones that normally drop weight in the winter. They are used in the pastures for everybody, and then in stalls just for certain horses. She has a system for filling them, but as others have said, I've found the small hole nets much easier to fill than the regular ones.
I just started using them too, and I love them. I hang them in my run-in shed for my guys that are out 24/7. Instead of running out every few hours to throw more hay, I can just fill the hay net once at breakfast and they're good until dinnertime. The paddock stays cleaner and MUCH less hay is wasted. It is kind of a PITA to fill them, but again, I don't have to feed as often and can clean more quickly, so the work balances out. I wish I had started using them years ago! I may even buy another set so I can fill all of them at once in the morning and just swap out the nets in the evening.
I started using them this fall, and I love them. I just hang mine in the trees in their pasture.
Just a few days ago I figured out the easiest way to fill them. Hook one of those portable tack hooks like these http://www.doversaddlery.com/collaps...deq545q3zh2rfs to a door or rail, or whatever, hook each side of the hay net on the ends, and just stick your flakes inside. I use a double ended snap on the end of the rope, loop it over the tree limb or through a hitch ring, and snap it to the bottom of the net. If whatever I'm tying it to is lower than 5-6', I pull the snap back up through the bottom of the net and clip it back to the top. (or alternatively, you can just shorten the string.)
My horses are actually eating more hay, but not wasting any, so I'm cool with it.
ETA: I have 4 nets for 2 horses, so I hang 2, fill the other 2 for DH or DD to hang in the evenings if needed. If not, I hang the full nets in the AM and refill the empty ones, so I always have 2 nets full and ready to hang. The horses seem to enjoy them, its like a big toy that provides food, and there also seems to be less of the dominant horse chasing the submissive one from pile to pile without letting him eat.
Another plus- if you ever have to soak the hay, it's so much easier in a net. Just stick it in a bin (I use a clean black plastic rubbish bin), add the water and soak for a bit. Then all you have to do is pull it out, drain a little and hang it up.
I fill 6 SMHNs every single morning. From start to finish is takes me less than 1 minute. Seriously. And that includes tying each one's drawstring end to the bottom of each net to form a "strap" that's used to hang them.
I have beaner hooks attached to the stall bars inside each stall. To hang a hay net I walk in with net, slide drawstring strap onto eaner hook and walk out. 2.5 seconds maybe? Ouside nets take a little longer...maybe 3 seconds?
I fill mine the same way Suckerforhorses does...I hav 2 screw hooks screwed into the wall about waist height and aout 18" apart. Every time I remove an empty net I toss it into the hay stall, grab a filled one nd hang that.he next morning I have 6 empty nets waiting, grab each one, toss it on the hooks near the hay bales, grab hay and slide it in the net. Lift net off hooks, loop drawstring and tie to other end of net and done. About 5 seconds per net and that's the entire day's hay for 2 horses.
It cuts my stall cleaning time almost in half (no hay mixed in, no bored horse pacing all night), saves on bedding loss and my hay loss per bale is about 1-2% TOPS. And I have happier, healthier horses. If I toss them an extra flake when outside they'll still finish the netted hay before eating the loose hay.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
My fast and easy net filling method:
Put net in empty muck tub, open net and pull top around rim of muck tub, insert hay, pull drawstring closed.
I hang mine with carabiner clips to eye screws in various places around the barn, paddocks, and in stalls. Very quick and easy, and my horses actually prefer eating from their SMHN rather than loose hay on the ground! I fill several hay nets at a time and leave them in the feed room, so I can just hang them quickly if I'm in a hurry.
AND, keep a host of plain rings with a snap on it or a big ring, hefty size snap to tie to the hay bag as they're stuffed. That way, all you have to do is walk into the stall and snap the bag to a ring instead of fighting the hay weight and the gobble-monster over your shoulder to get it hung properly and safely.
"Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it."