The slow feeding movement has been quick to catch on, thanks to pioneers like Monique Warren.
The concept of slow feeding has quickly moved from “out there” to commonplace over the last several years. And there’s really no question why – it makes sense for horses and guardians alike, from many standpoints. The question now becomes less about whether or not use a slow feeder, and more about what slow feeder to choose.
Innovation is born out of necessity
Monique Warren, owner of Hay Pillow Inc., was dealing with the latter question when she decided to make the switch to slow feeding with her own horses. “After learning the importance of slow feeding, a natural lifestyle, and eating from ground level, I could not purchase a product that slowed down my horse’s consumption rate enough to be confident about offering free choice hay 24/7,” says Monique. “In addition, ease of loading, the feeder’s weight (to offer multiple locations), durability and closures became key challenges. I invented the Standard Hay Pillow in August of 2011. My intention was to meet my own needs; when my invention was complete I knew other equine guardians would love it as much as I did!”
And indeed, the response has been very positive. “TheHayPillow.com website was launched in April 2012 with the Standard and Hanging Hay Pillow available in four mesh sizes,” says Monique. “Since then, we have designed and added six additional products in five mesh sizes, totaling 26 products (all made in the USA).”
Benefits of slow feeding
The science behind slow feeding is vast, and the benefits are usually immediately obvious. Monique explains some of the main benefits of feeding horses this way:
- Eating from the ground enables the mandible (jaw bone) to come down and forward in the atlantoaxial and temporomandibular joints. This allows the mandible to move up and down, side to side, forward and back, without any restriction, facilitating the natural wear of teeth along with optimum mastication, reduction of particle size, and increased saliva-to-dry forage ratio.
- A natural grazing position permits nasal passages to drain effectively, thereby minimizing the inhalation of dust and particles.
- A horse’s emotional state is reflected in body position and posture. Feeding from ground level encourages a more relaxed state, and puts less strain on the skeletal system and soft tissues.
- It reduces the risk of ulcers and colic.
- Slow feeding allows for weight management.
- There is little to no wasted hay, and it discourages vices.
- It reduces stress in your life and helps save money (less wasted hay).
Thanks to horse guardians like Monique, who have paved the road for the slow feeding movement, making the switch to slow feeding means you don’t have to go through the process of trying to create the ideal feeder. There are plenty to choose from that suit every horse and situation. And with all the benefits for your horses and yourself, how could you not be convinced to give it a try?