Mitch might not be much of an internet influencer, but maybe that’s only because his ‘career’ hasn’t really taken off, so to speak. We haven’t quite figured out the concept of product reviews per se, since neither he nor I (but mainly me) have any particular preference towards pushing a particular product. There are things we like (Myler bit junkie here) although being a tackaholic, my gear is mainly a mish-mash of different companies and brands (three different saddle makers after all, to say nothing of all our different branded bridles) that I find it a bit difficult to prefer one product over another. I like them all! (Or most of them, anyway)
However, Mitch is also a recent social media giveaway winner, and since he got a prize that relates near and dear to my heart (slow feeding) I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for us to do a product review Mitch is, as I’m sure we’ve established after 12 years, a Haflinger. And Haflingers love food! They’re very much food motivated, and Mitch is no exception. In fact, he’s so food motivated, he’ll literally try and move pipe corral panels to get to the grass on the other side. In fact, the other day, I caught him in the act, red-hooved, as he was attempting circumvent the space-time continuum in order to stuff his face with green growing grass. Needless to say, his illicit unauthorized grazing forays have been quashed by the addition of wire fencing on the outside of said panels. And he has been ‘knoxed’ up (ahaha, get it .. Fort Knox. No, not funny?) I originally had hot wire there, but my charger—battery powered as I seemed to have issues with solar power … something about the angle of the sun and how the avocado trees on the hill block it until it moves to be blocked by my shed regardless of summer or winter, and therefore the charger could never get any juice—died and Mitch knows when it’s not on. So, wire fencing it was (along with some judiciously inventive use of baling twine when I ran out of wire fencing).
Part of trying to keep Mitch out of mischief and focused on food that’s inside the corral rather than outside has always been to use a slow feeder to keep him eating his hay for as long as possible. He’s a bad candidate for free choice hay because he has NO self-control; he gets free-fed hay in his tub while I muck the corrals and he’ll hoover that stuff up by the time I’m finished with both sides (and I’m by no means a slow cleaner that takes an hour.) He has his porta-grazer, of course, and I’m always trying to find ways to add food-oriented enrichment to his environment (especially now that he has no way of trying to graze through the pipe panel).
One of those toys is his Nose-It. I can toss hay pellets, apple nugget treats (and occasionally generic brand Albertsons cheerios) into it, chuck it into his 75 gallon feeder and let him go to town. He’ll even play with it when it’s empty, because he is always the eternal optimist that food will magically appear. He’s also capable to tossing it out of the feeder and chases it around the corral, which can be fun for trying to find it in the morning. But I digress! Mitch is a social media giveaway winner, and the point of this post is to do a product review on the item that he won (which, since the title gives it away is a Equi-Essential Slow Feed Hay Ball Feeder)
Mitch won it from Riding Warehouse, in their “Win on Wednesday” giveaway Valentine’s week. I love Riding Warehouse. They’ve got great stuff and they’re ‘local’ (hey, only a 2 hour drive). And they have awesome giveaways! I don’t always enter them, but last week’s caught my attention because I’ve always been rather interested in additional ways to utilize slow hay feeding. I’d love a Savvy Feeder, but that price tag’s a bit higher for me than I’d like considering I already have a porta-grazer, and the fact that the big decahedron balls with the holes in them can be rolled about like the Nose-It toy seem to be a pretty nifty way at making a dry-lotted horse move around as if he were grazing. And the contest was pretty easy. Submit a picture of your horse (which I always love doing because Mitch is adorbs) and say why you loved them (and I can go on forever about that). And we won! And being so close to Riding Warehouse, we got it relatively quickly once the weekend was over.
I picked green because it looked so bright and vibrant. That being said, knowing Mitch, it wouldn’t stay shiny and new for very long (but that’s nothing a little water and a scrubby brush can’t fix, right). There are 12 2 3/4″ holes so plenty of spaces for getting hay out of, and the hole for putting hay in is nice and big.
Here’s Mitch trying it out on Wednesday morning. I filled it up with about 2 pounds of teff grass hay and put it out in his pen. He left his porta-grazer to check it out and immediately knew what to do. Because he’s smart like that.
He had pretty much emptied it by the early afternoon, so I tried that night with a 5 lb flake of teff and managed to get the entire flake in there (I got mad hay stuff’in skillz). It’s supposed to hold 7 pounds of hay, and I think I could probably have gotten a bit more in there. I did find that you can’t just stuff a flake in there as easily as you can fill a hay net, since the opening is only so big. I had to pretty much shake the flake apart in an Ikea shopping bag (which by the way make really really good bags for weighing your hay because they’re super light and huge enough to hold quite an amount of hay) and then stuff it into the ball feeder. This is not the kind of feeder I can see a barn worker filling, which lands it solidly into the enrichment/play kind of feeder that can be provided by an owner. It didn’t take me very long to fill, which is great if you’ve only got one horse (or two) but it’s not going to be a quick and easy 2-second task when you’ve got an entire barn aisle full of them.
Also, Mitch has gotten it pretty dirty pretty fast, but then he is on a dry lot and that means well … dust. In a pasture with grass, I can’t see the ball feeder getting scuffed up that quickly. But again, a little water and a scrubby brush and it’ll probably be nice and clean again in no time.
I held off using it on Thursday because it was hay delivery day and I had ordered some bermuda grass to put in the ball feeder, and so was able to give him the ball feeder with a mix of bermuda and teff on Thursday night. And boy, did he have fun with it.
Friday, I put bermuda grass in the ball, and Mitch wandered over to check it out, took a few bites and made a bee-line back to his porta-gazer for the teff. I mean, I can’t blame him. Bermuda hay is like rice cakes, and he had to suffer through eating that stuff for months when he was first moved down to self-care and was on that diet. I figured he’d eventually head back to get use it when he was done with his breakfast, and sure enough, when I arrived back at the barn in the afternoon, he was nibbling at the hay in the feeder ball, and there was still a fair amount left (and then he figured out how to push it up against the fence and managed to nearly-empty it). I liked the fact that Mitch knows the hay is there for later, so he usually goes and eats out of his porta-grazer first. It’s all about trying to keep the amount of hay he is allowed lasting for as long of a period as I can make it last.
So anyhow, after it’s been a week longer than I planned it to be to write this product review (sorry, I got caught up with the weekend and riding and then I was lazy and didn’t post videos to YouTube until today) I think that our first week with this thing has been a real awesome blast! I really enjoy filling up the hay ball and putting it out for Mitch to play with, and I think that he’s gotten good use out of it, although I’ve mainly been reserving it for use at night and using a small-hole hay net during the day that I’ve been hanging up from the rafter of his shelter. I’ve been splitting his hay between the haynet, the porta-grazer and the hay ball feeder at night for the last 3 or 4 days, and I usually am finding a little whisp of hay left in the hay ball feeder in the morning (hey, it’s a mouthful, so he does have food all night … somehow). I wish i could feed this guy all the hay all the time, but he is like “wut iz dees self-regulashun u speek of, hooman?” and so he only can have a set amount. But at least spreading it out between three different feeders is helping, and he does kick the ball around to different places in the corral, I’m sure it doubles as a toy.
So overall, my satisfaction with the Equi-Essential Hay Ball Feeder is that it is really awesome as a toy and as a hay feeder, and since i know ‘enrichment’ is the key word that everyone likes to toss around (particularly if you’re a zoo, but also if you’re an owner of a smart-as-heck-but-mischievous pony) then this hay ball feeder does a pretty darned good job at being a great enrichment toy. I think the only thing I’d change about it is the hole where you put the hay. It’s a little tricky, I’ve turned it one way several times alreafy only to find out that it wasn’t screwing on, based on the fact that the “thread” part of the screw is actually on the hole where the lid sits in. I think that if the hay ball feeder had a lid like the Amazing Graze (which by the way, Jet has been using … I’ve got aaaaaaaallll the toys) with a gsket type seal and a screw in lid, it probably would be easier to close up.
But that’s like really the only thing I am not too thrilled about with the feeder, and that’s not even a really big deal. I like having another toy for Mitch, I like that it dispenses food (because that’s his language) and I like that it’s colorful, big and easy to fill. I was thrilled that Mitch won it, because that’s so much fun to win fun things for ponies that can really use them. And I think it’s been great as a distraction from Mitch’s yearnings for green growing grass on the other side of the fence he can no longer reach through. He certainly hasn’t been pouting, which makes our rides more enjoyable. So my favorable rating for the Equi-Essential Hay Ball Feeder is a five-star “would totally buy again if we had actually bought this thing”
Thanks Riding Warehouse! You’ve made a pony very very happy!
What: Equi-Essentials Slow Feed Hay Ball
Where To Buy: Riding Warehouse