HayLo Horse Feeders – Medical | Physical | Behavioural


COLIC is basically a digestive upset/stomach ache in your horse. A very painful and serious condition characterized by pawing, rolling, and sometimes an inability to defecate. Degrees of severity can range from mild to fatal. Colic is the number one medical cause of death in horses.

1) Sand Colic – HayLo keeps your hay contained and off the ground so that sand/dirt and debris doesn’t get ingested accidentally whilst eating loose hay/haylage
2) Grass Colic – Introducing your horse to spring grass slowly and using a HayLo feeder in between turn out times can really assist with avoiding the occurrence of grass colic, caused by a horse suddenly having too much fresh spring grass which overwhelms the digestive tract.
3) Gas ColicFeeding your horse little& often from the HayLo feeder can avoid a build-up of gas in your horse, thereby helping to prevent Gas Colic.
4) Impaction Colic – The HayLo feeder is designed to feed your horse regular small amounts, thereby avoiding the ingestion of large amounts of forage in a short period of time, which can cause fatal blockages in the digestive tract.
5) Twisted Gut ( Displacement/Torsion Colic) – Twisted Gut, which can occur as a result of both Gas and Impaction colic, is perhaps the most serious of all colics, often resulting in the death of your horse; so feeding from the HayLo feeder can help to avoid this potentially fatal condition from occurring.

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CHOKE is a term used to describe an obstruction or blockage in the horse’s oesophagus, the tube which takes food from the mouth to the stomach.

Most commonly stemming from swallowing food which is too dry, as is often the case in greedy eaters who bolt their food, and/ or horses& ponies with poor teeth who do not chew and moisten their food sufficiently. The effects of choke can range from mild to severe, and in certain cases prove to be fatal.

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Feeding your horse from the HayLo feeder slows down each mouthful your horse can eat, encouraging him to chew more slowly thereby mixing enough saliva with his forage to prevent choke from occurring. The hay soaking feature can also help with preventing the onset of Choke.

LAMINITIS is an extremely painful condition of the foot, occurring when the sensitive laminae tissues lying between the pedal bone and the hoof wall become inflamed. Characterised by reluctance to move, and in severe cases to even stand.

The disease at its worst can often result in the euthanasia of the horse. While there can be several causes of this condition, one of the most common is horses grazing on lush spring or autumn pasture, overloading their digestive tract with rich grass, leading to excess weight gain and causing an overload on the feet.Limiting turn out time during spring and autumn and feeding hay OR soaked hay from the HayLo feeder in between turn out times, can significantly help to keep your horses weight down, whilst also helping to maintain a healthy gut bacteria, therefore reducing the likelihood of this painful condition occurring.

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GASTRIC ULCERS are the most common type of ulcers, caused by an accumulation of unbuffered hydrochloric acid in a horses empty stomach, irritating the thin and sensitive membrane of the upper stomach. It is estimated that between 60-90% of all stabled horses have gastric ulcers ranging from mild to severe.

Insufficient dietary fibre in the form of hay/haylage, high starch based (ie hard feed) diets and Stress, can contribute to an increase in stomach acid and ulceration. A dull coat, colic, limited appetite, back or neck pain, difficulty maintaining weight, a decrease in muscle tone despite exercise, bad temperament and poor performance can all be signs of ulcers.
Autopsies performed on horses that die from colic most always reveal ulcers read more about colic & ulcers.

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The HayLo feeder provides a consistent supply of fibre, which when chewed creates the alkaline mixture of saliva and forage needed to create a buffering effect on stomach acid, bringing the stomach PH into balance. The feeder also simulates natural grazing practices, which in turn help to alleviate stress.

PARASITE INGESTION  There is a strong likelihood that parasites may be ingested in higher than normal quantities by your horse when hay/haylage is fed off the ground.

Hard hitting chemicals in the form of excessive worm dose administration can have an adverse effect on your horses’ health, but so to can the parasites themselves if left untreated.
HayLo keeps your forage contained, allowing your horse to access small amounts at any one time. Hay/haylage is taken directly into your horses’ mouth from source, thereby preventing it from being dropped and eaten off the ground. This limits exposure to the parasites environment, helps to control infestation and limits the administration of chemicals, thus helping to insure your horse’s optimum health.
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CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD) is when the horse/pony produces a constant, chronic, deep and hollow cough; caused by the inhalation of dust spores, often to be found in stable dust, and also in hay.

The horse will generally appear out of breath , often wheezing badly. When these spores are inhaled they can irritate the lining of the respiratory tract and cause an allergic response in the lungs.
Feeding from the HayLo feeder can significantly help this condition as HayLo has been designed to enable you to soak and drain your hay. Soaking hay causes the spores to swell which prevents them from being inhaled by your horse, reducing the likelihood of unpleasant and strained coughing occurring. The containment of your hay within the feeder also prevents the inhalation of dangerous amounts of dust, pollen and mould which can occur when your horse searches through loose hay.

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CUSHINGS is a complex, progressive disease of the pituitary gland; usually only occurring in middle aged, to older horses & ponies

A hormone related condition, affecting the hormones which are largely responsible for controlling biological processes in the body such as-Regulating body temperature; Blood pressure; Thirst; Hunger and the Sleep/Wake cycle. Symptoms can be seen as excessive thirst, urination, sweating & weight loss; prone to infection, mouth ulcers and reduced exercise tolerance .One of the most obvious symptoms can be seen as changes in the animal’s coat, such as excessive hair growth and difficulty shedding winter coats.
It is common for horses with Cushings disease to be prone to Laminitis, and so interspersing turn out with feeding hay OR soaked hay from the HayLo feeder can help to support a healthier digestive system and improve overall wellbeing

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Metabolic issues

INSULIN RESISTANCE is a physiological condition in which the horses’ cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin.

The body becomes resistant to the insulin produced and is therefore unable to use it effectively, and in some cases over produces insulin to compensate. This condition can lead to very high blood sugar occurring, causing problems such as laminitis to develop. Insulin resistance can arise in response to other disorders but for the vast majority of horses it is simply part of their metabolism.Management and care are the only real ways to help a horse with Insulin Resistance as no cure is currently available.

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EQUINE METABOLIC SYNDROME (EMS) describes a characteristic collection of clinical signs and changes in the horse. Horses with EMS are typically obese, with an increase in appetite.

Laminitis and sometimes insulin resistance can develop, along with other weight related conditions such as joint problems. Infertility can often be common in the mare..
Affecting horses/ponies from 5 to 16 years old, the underlying reason as to why some develop it and some don’t is unknown, but affected horses do not properly metabolize dietary carbohydrate and many horses exhibit exaggerated responses to both glucose and the hormone insulin, with a slow return afterwards.
Hence horses with EMS are often advised to have restricted or no pasture turnout due to the carbohydrate content in the grass and their inability to metabolise it.

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Feeding from the HayLo feeder can really help to support your horse’s metabolism. Slowing down the rate of eating extends the length of time the forage lasts, and provides the steady stream of food necessary to stabilise blood sugar levels without having to provide an increased supply of forage which would only exacerbate over weight issues.


Weight Management – Maintaining your horse or pony at their ideal weight can be tricky, and being either underweight or overweight to the extreme can be detrimental to both their well-being and performance.

In the case of the overweight horse, the old fashioned myth and practice of STARVING your horse or pony to get the weight off, only exacerbates the problem, playing havoc with an already weakened metabolism.When not provided with enough food to maintain their systems, the metabolism begins to slow down and go into ‘starvation mode’ whereby it hangs on to every calorie consumed, upsetting the hormone balance and dramatically slowing down weight loss, regardless of how little forage is given. The most effective way to help the overweight horse to lose weight, coupled with a progressive exercise programme, is to provide an adequate supply of forage and slow down the eating process thereby extending the period of time that the horse is actually eating for. This helps to regulate the metabolism and allows for naturally occurring weight loss. Extending the length of time the forage lasts means the horse can eat more regularly without increasing the number of calories.
In the underweight horse, providing a steady stream of hay/haylage helps to regulate the metabolism, whilst promoting a healthy digestive system. This is a much more effective way to condition your horse then providing say two large feeds/day.

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Feeding from the HayLo feeder can help to assist your horse with maintaining the correct weight by feeding as nature intended. It provides small amounts of hay/haylage consistently on a ‘little and often’ basis. Feeding in this manner helps the thin horse to put on weight and the overweight horse to lose weight.

Increased Fertility Rates in Mares –  In 2013 a science trial was conducted to show the effects of timing patterns with regards to feeding forage to horses, and the impact that this had on reproductive success in mares.

‘Ensuring semi-continuous feeding by providing roughage may be a way of fulfilling the basic physiological needs of the horses’ digestive system, reducing stress and associated inhibitors of reproduction.’ The trial showed that a continuous foraging pattern INCREASED conception rates, pointing out that this positive result was largely linked to a decrease in stress in the continuous feeding mares, stress being known to suppress and interfere with hormone secretion and balance

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Feeding from the HayLo feeder allows a natural pattern of foraging behaviour to occur and so helps to decrease stress in your horse. Aside from the psychological benefits, feeding from the HayLo feeder supports your horse physiologically, an easy and efficient way of helping to increase fertility rates in the brood mare

Alignment – When the body of the horse is correctly aligned it is free from physical tension and stress.

With its head in the correct low position when eating, the muscles of the jaw, neck and back are relaxed, and the hind legs are placed correctly underneath their body, insuring for an even distribution of weight on all four legs. Eating regularly from an unnatural and elevated position, such as from a haynet or hay rack, can cause the horse to become misaligned due to twisting of the neck, unnatural jaw action, tightening of muscles, hollowing of the back, and strain being placed on the hocks. Misalignment causes discomfort and pain, affecting both the horse’s performance when ridden and also their temperament.

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Feeding from the HayLo feeder allows your horse to eat from a naturally low head position, bringing the jaw, neck, back and hocks into proper alignment.

TMJ, Teeth & Natural Jaw Action – The TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint- joins the lower jaw to the skull) could be thought of as the ‘Master Link’ when it comes to considering your horses optimum health.

Its two primary functions are structural balance and the grinding of food. Problems within the joint itself and surrounding area stemming from tightened muscles, often attributed to dental problems caused by unnatural jaw action, can negatively affect digestion, leads, gaits, balance, biomechanics and overall well -being. Pain through the back and an imbalance in the organs, can often unknowingly be attributed to pain in the TMJ and surrounding area.
A natural jaw action is enabled in a low head position, whereby the lower jaw comes slightly forward, perfectly aligning the teeth of the upper and lower jaw, allowing for the proper chewing and grinding of forage and insuring an even ware pattern on the teeth. However, this natural jaw action is impaired when eating from an unnatural high position, as from a haynet or rack; and if done so on a regular basis can lead to dental problems, affect the TMJ and negatively impact on the horse’s well-being as a whole.
Eating in a naturally low head position from the HayLo feeder allows for correct jaw action, chewing & grinding motion and relaxation of the muscles surrounding the TMJ, helping prevent dental problems and pain in the neck and back area.
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Negative Stereotypic Behaviours – Stress is the number one cause behind all Negative Stereotypic Behaviours, which are abnormal, compulsive behavioural patterns displayed by the horse.

These negative behaviours do not exist in wild horses, and have generally evolved as coping mechanisms as a result of domestication, where the horse’s natural needs are not being met. They can not only affect your horses’ well-being, but also its monetary value.
In the horses’ natural state, he will use his mouth and feet to meet his needs for eating- being designed to both eat on the move, and to search for food through movement. Restriction of adequate forage, and being confined to small environments which restrict movement, can see a development of the following:
> Box walking – Repetitive walking around the stable, resulting from an increase in the need to move and search for food.
Weaving –Repetitive rocking from side to side, shifting weight from one foreleg to the other, putting unnecessary stress on tendons, ligaments and joints. Some horses will also bob their head up and down.
> Crib biting – The horse hooks its teeth onto an object such as a fence rail or stable door. Whilst grasping the object he then drops his lower jaw and opens his throat. The horse will then arch its neck, pull backwards and take in air, making an audible grunting sound.
> Wind sucking –related to crib biting except the horse does not actually hook its teeth on to anything in order to arch his neck and suck in the air.
> Stall kicking – The horse pounds his hind feet against walls, either to hear the sound, expend energy or attract attention. Particularly noticeable around feed times.
Certain unnatural behaviours such as destructive chewing and wood biting can be caused by the horse attempting to artificially create the saliva needed to soothe the pain of the build-up of stomach acid when there is no forage available see Why Little & Often

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Feed Aggression can be seen where the horse displays aggressive behaviour, often characterised by kicking, biting and barging, around food and feeding times.

This behaviour can develop from a hungry horse trying to make moves or motions that normally would allow it to eat. If the horse is not able to eat due to lack of forage, it then repeats the motions that it associates with eating, such as biting, chewing, and moving in search of food. These movements can then become repetitive, intensify, and turn into feed aggression. The aggressive behaviour can be directed towards other horses and/or the person feeding. It can often times be extremely dangerous behaviour, and difficult to remedy. Feed aggression can worsen when giving feeds high in sugar content. Insuring your horse has adequate hay/haylage in between ‘hard feed times’ can help with this.

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Ridden problems are a huge area within themselves, and can be attributed to many different causes; but if we look at the horse as a whole, both physically and psychologically,

a large percentage of problems can stem from discomfort and pain, affecting both your horses way of going, and his attitude while ridden. Bucking, rearing, bitting problems, incorrect strike off, uneven gaits, tightness and hollowness through the back, can all be found to have their root causes in the physical and psychological stress placed on the horse through so many of the conditions derived from feeding in an unnatural way. Simply put- if your horse is unhappy in his body and/or mind, this is going to transfer to his performance when under saddle.

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As with all Medical, Physical and Behavioural Problems mentioned on our site, LACK OF FORAGE CREATES A GREAT DEAL OF STRESS TO THE HORSE. As your horses entire make up is designed to follow natural grazing patterns, feeding from the HayLo feeder, which can help simulate these natural patterns, helps to remove and alleviate stress and therefore avoid and help the above conditions. As your horses well-being and stress levels are improved, so too its behaviour

For further information on  Haylo Horse Feeders and The Horse, Visit this page