Welcome to The World of Real SlowFeeding.
Earlier most people thought that Slow Feeding meant “Hide the horse’s hay in a Small Mesh Hay Net to reduce the waste” or maybe “Make the hay last for a couple of minutes longer”
I define “Real SlowFeeding” as:
“Reteaching the horse to eat in a natural way by making it possible for him to have continuous access to his hay without eating too fast or too much.”
Real SlowFeeding doesn’t only reduce the wasting of hay, it cures EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome) the most common health issue among domestic horses. Scientific studies have shown 96% occurrence in competing racehorses and more than 2 out of 3 in non competing horses.
- 86% = 297 of 345 horses Begg & Sullivan, 2003
- 73% = 52 of 71 horses Bezdekova et al. 2007
- 71% = 132 of 187 horses Murray & Grodinsky, 1989
- ”Boyd et al” published a study 1988 showing that horses prefer to eat 68% of the time between 8 pm and 4 am but only 31% of the time between 8 am and noon.
- Videla & Andrews 2009 showed in a study that 75% of the horses being fed twice per day suffered ulcers but “only” 58% of the horses being fed three times per day suffered ulcers.
This makes it clear that traditional feeding routines are not only wrong but also dangerous to horses.
EGUS thrives as soon as the horse is deprived of eating for more than 4 consecutive hours. It doesn’t matter if this is during the day or night. EGUS is created when the horse’s continuous production of burning stomach acid fills the stomach to a level above where the protective glands protect the stomach wall from the burning acid. The passing feed is supposed to both keep the level of stomach acid constant and mix with the acid to make it less harmful. The reason competing horses are over-represented in the statistics is because when the horse tightens his body while performing the stomach is compressed which presses the acid even higher up the stomach walls. This makes it extremely important that competing and performing horses are allowed to eat prior to performing.
Real SlowFeeding makes it possible for the horse to have continuous access to his hay, with natural eating angles, without eating too fast or too much. Reteaching the horse to stop overeating works on all sound horses but he must first forget that there ever can be an end to the supply of feed and to do that the supply of hay must be absolutely seamless.
In the above picture you see 4 resting “SlowFeeding Arabians”, and one in the distance that has not yet understood that this is a SlowFeeding farm where the feed is available 24/7/365. Horses stop overeating when they have forgotten that there ever can be an end to the supply of feed.
A horse that is forced to watch the feed come to an end will believe he is going to starve to death which will make him eat both faster and more the next time he gets a chance. Horses do not understand the concept of time.
Extending the eating time with some 35%, like old fashion SMHN (SlowFeeding 1.0) do, have no real health effect since extending the eating time from 3 to 4 hours or even 5 to 7 hours still leaves the horse starving for at least 17 hours.
Did I hear you say that “that might work on Arabians but not on my horse”?
The above pictures show an absolutely grass free paddock where 5 barefoot Shetland ponies are kept. The only feed available is the netted round bale in the center of the picture.
My SlowFeeding 3.0 has now been on sale for some time and the feedback is nothing short of amazing. Horses that earlier were gobblers have stopped overeating and don’t even finish what have been made available when enjoying SlowFeeding 3.0 both day (outside) and night (inside).
– By the way, we had 14 ponies in continuous turn out at our farm but not a single one is fat because they enjoy continuous SlowFeeding for 6 months per year and graze enormous pastures during the other six.