Editor’s note: We at The Horse are horse owners like you. Certain equine-care products have impacted how we manage our own animals, and we want to share our experiences with our readers. These select products are ones we use and love every day.
One of the biggest horse-keeping challenges I face is keeping forage in front of my horses for enough hours of the day without having them gain weight. It’s a constant balance, isn’t it? On one hand you want to meet their biological and behavioral needs for round-the-clock grazing, while on the other you don’t want them to gorge themselves into laminitis. Also, as an at-home horse keeper, I need a slow-feeding solution that’s chore-efficient (Because who really has time to feed horses four-plus times a day?) and prevents wasted hay (which is only getting more expensive). A solution I discovered six months ago is The Savvy Feeder.
Over the years I’ve tried several slow-feeding/free-foraging solutions with varying degrees of success and a lot of failure. I’ve tried feeders with metal grates only to listen to my one gelding, Jack, scrape his teeth against them, risking fracturing a tooth or otherwise injuring his mouth. I’ve hung haynets above horse-chest level so my shod horses wouldn’t get their shoes caught in them, but I didn’t like the unnatural head and neck position this configuration caused. Plus, those nets were a hassle to fill. I’ve also used full-bale nets for my barefoot horses during the dry season, but once winter hit, I ended up with wet, unfeedable hay. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, one of my geldings (for once, not Jack) took up straddling and peeing on the hay bales left in nets around their paddock. Gross.
Why The Savvy Feeder?
The Savvy Feeders have a clever, horse-friendly design and are made of a strong, slightly flexible, high-tech poly plastic. They keep hay off the dirt while still allowing for a natural, head-down grazing position. You load them from the bottom with hay—up to 18-22 pounds or as little as 5 pounds if you’re meal-feeding. A spring-loaded latch securely fastens the sliding bottom access “door,” and a floating grate with small holes keeps the hay compacted and slows the horse’s consumption.
I use The Savvy Feeders (one for each horse) in my turnouts and fill them once a day. The feeders keep my horses busy from early morning until they come into their stalls and runs in the evening for their individualized feed/medications and overnight hay. In the future, I plan to add Savvy Feeders to their stalls as well. I’ve found The Savvy Feeders are:
- Easy to use. “I like those feeder things you got,” my husband told me after feeding the horses while I was away for a girls’ weekend. He’s highly allergic to hay, so handling it is challenging for him. Compared to stuffing haynets, he found filling The Savvy Feeders exposed him to less dust.
- Versatile. Savvy offers grates with a variety of hole sizes, meaning you can slow your horses’ eating speed depending on their needs.
- Good for mixed herd of shod and barefoot horses. I’m a big fan two things: keeping horses together for socialization and maintaining them barefoot. However, I relented and had my young dressage horse shod after her feet began wearing too fast in our full training. But I also don’t want to segregate her from the herd all day so the others can free forage from nets. When she comes home in the spring, The Savvy Feeders will allow her to live with her friends safely.
- Durable. Jack the Tooth Scraper has tried his best to destroy The Savvy Feeders. He’s flipped them, kicked them, and—yes—scraped his teeth against them. After six months, he’s yet to damage them, or himself, which leads me to …
- Safe. Even with all Jack’s kicking and teeth scraping, we’ve had no feeder-related injuries. I expected sharp edges to develop from Jack’s abuse, but so far so good.
At first, The Savvy Feeder’s price made me pause. But then I considered the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on slow-feeder products that ultimately didn’t meet my needs, as well as the ulcer medications and gut-support supplements I’ve purchased when I meal-fed my horses. And did I mention skyrocketing hay costs and the need to reduce waste? With all that in mind, I believe The Savvy Feeder is an investment in my horses’ health.