In a discussion about round bales on another forum, someone mentioned that ponies sometimes make a hole in a round bale to get at the yummy stuff inside. When they stick their heads in to eat inside the bale, they can breathe in the hay and get heaves.

This possibility scares me because I went to the barn yesterday and found my horse with his head buried deep inside the hay bale. He was standing in the feeder (tombstone feeder... the horses break the 'tombstones' off as fast as the barn owner can have the feeders repaired *sigh*). He had made a hole down the middle of the bale and had his head in it, eating what he considers the yummy stuff from the middle/bottom of the bale. I was concerned because he has already given his leg some nasty scrapes from dragging his legs along the feeder as he crawls in and out of it. Now I am also terrified of him inhaling dust/hay etc and getting a respiratory illness. He is also currently in a snit because I hauled him out of the feeder and had the nerve to tell him to eat from the outside of it.

Aaargh! Does anyone else have issues with horses doing this sort of thing (standing in feeders, injuring themselves on feeders, eating quite deep down into the middle of the bale). If so, how have you dealt with the issue? It is an especially difficult situation because he is currently being boarded, so I am not sure what I can do about it. :(

We do hope to eventually get a farm of our own, but even when we do, it seems that it is going to be a challenge to find a feeder that works. I don't think that a Bale Buddy is an option as my horse is the sort to typically tear and/or drag anything remotely resembling a tarp. The barn owner also found that they were not durable enough to survive her herd (my horse included). I like the look of the Duplessis feeder, but it does seem light enough to be something that my horse would tip over and/or destroy... especially considering that he and his buddies break sturdy metal tombstone feeders just by leaning on the bars! Any suggestions?

Goofy horse! He is way too curious, playful... and determined to get the specific bits of hay that he wants! *sigh*

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My horses eat out of drum feeders. I'm sure they are breathing in hay. They don't have heaves. Toby is 27. :) Oliver, my mustang, one time, he got his shoe stuck on the outside of the feeder.... the drums are sort of thin and he got his shoe stuck between the shoe and the hoove...... I got him loose. I'd maybe get mats and lay his food out on mats mama.....
Thanks for the reply Jennifer. All of his herd eat out of the tombstone feeders and they are all fine too... but my brat is the only one that I have seen bore a tunnel to the bottom of the bale and plunge his face into it! It was a surprise to see him with his head and neck buried deep in the bale. Once we convinced him to get out of the feeder, we could see his "feeding station". It was as if someone took a core sample from the centre of the bale... a head-sized hole to the very bottom of the feeder! He seems to really want that chaff at the bottom! He is quite determined... the feeder is a little tall for him to easily climb into (even when the horses break off a tombstone), so he will actually lift his front end (not quite a full rear) and then will hop into (and out of) it.

I am probably worrying unnecessarily about respiratory issues (I hope). My serious concern is the fact that he is injuring his legs getting in and out of the feeder. Every time that I visit he has a new big scrape, and I worry that he is going to eventually do some serious damage. :(

He is on 24/7 turnout with a herd of nine horses (very large field), and now that they are in the winter field and the pasture is done for the year, the herd has free-fed hay (two feeders). It is going to be a challenge figuring this out, especially since he is being boarded. *sigh* I like him being with the herd, but if he keeps this up I may have to consider moving him. Grrr. Goofy horse.
I read your post on the "other" forum but feel more comfortable responding on here. Personally I have never had any problems with a feeder but we haven't been using one in a while anyways. Our horses don't waste hay and eat every strand so we don't bother. I know that your horse is boarded out in a herd you don't really have that option. But maybe you could ask the barn owner to try without the feeder for a few days. At least for the safety of your horseys feet and legs. Maybe offer to cover the additional hay costs (if any).

And I don't know the exact feeder that you are taking about, but if that doesn't work you could try slightly elevating the feeder on a solid platform. Obviously well secured so it can't fall off.
Thanks for the reply. We are thinking that we may not bother with a feeder once we have a place of our own, since my brat and his herd-mates pull a lot of hay out of the feeder and drop it on the ground when looking for the "choice bits".

The feeder is the sort that is a metal ring with pipe 'tombstones' standing up around the top so that there are only small gaps between. However, my lad and his friends break off the tombstones so it looks a little like this one (not ours, but one I found in a blog post discussing problems with feeders):

Once the 'tombstones' are gone, there is enough space to allow a horse to get into the feeder, and there are sharp edges that can abrade/cut their legs etc.

I know many people who use these feeders successfully... my mischief-maker just seems to be going through a brat phase ("How can I make Mom worry about me today?!). *sigh* I will discuss the problem with my barn owner this week... hopefully we can figure out a solution.
well, if the feeder is broken, then it shouldn't be in use at all. It is unsafe. But, if your horse is the one that keeps breaking it, I wouldn't push that point too hard. You don't want to have to pay for a broken feeder.

Anyways, I hope you can figure this out, it isn't fun having to worry about your horses all day.

And when we used one, we used one like this and never had any problems. They come up for sale around here pretty cheap used and even cheaper at auctions. I can't compare it to any of the other ones because this is all I have ever used, but it came with the farm and has seen many years of use and weather and is still rock solid and easy to use. Maybe try to find a good deal at an auction and then take it with you when you move your horse.


Again, I am sure there are better options, just offering my opinion based on my limited experience with feeders.
You might ask if the owners can roll out the bale of hay rather than putting it in the feeder. I board at a barn that had some similar issues with horses crawling into the feeder, producing hurt legs and sometimes stuck horses. New management produced a new suggestion which was to roll out the round bale over a a large area on the ground. Fixing 2 problems at once, the total removal of the feeder itself and the chance of the horses burrowing into the bale. Since the bale is spread out the horses are then spread out while eating as well so it also stops the bickering between herdmates and the horses that are less dominant get a better chance to eat...
Hi , I board horses and use the feeders made out of tractor tires. They are less likely to hurt themselves and they are indestructable and cheap. They can toss the hay around but it stays in the tire, less waste. Elandra

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