According to research “up to 93% of horses in training have ulcers which develop within a week of the horse going into training – brought on by a number of factors including the nutritional management of the horse in training”. A 28-day course of treatment for ulcers can cost over €1,000 but ulcers can be managed more naturally. Horses are designed to trickle-feed, grazing for up to 18 hours per day when at grass. When they are put into training, their routine changes to one of intermittent feeding and reduced forage.
There is an abundance of research to show that hay is a key component in the successful management of ulcers and recent research has shown that a small amount of hay given before exercise is also beneficial to the horse as a means of helping to reduce ulcers as it helps to buffer the acid in the stomach.
The Equus Live 2013 Innovation award winner Harmony Equine Feeder, the brainchild of veterinary physiotherapist Michelle O’Connor, is a truly revolutionary way of feeding hay that minimises waste, and mimics natural grazing patterns providing constant access to hay.
With testimonials from leading trainers and also the Army equitation school, the feeder was in trials in a number of yards in the lead up to the launch at Equus Live. The result today is a feeder that allows the horse to eat naturally at ground level, that controls how much the horse can eat (by a variable size rubber mesh) thereby mimicking the natural grazing pattern of ‘little and often’, that only needs to be filled once daily and that can be removed easily from the stable for cleaning and filling. Dust/fines fall through a hole in the bottom plate thus preventing inhalation of dust into the nostrils.
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Published European Trainer Issue 44 Winter 2013