“Beverley Berns – Chartered Physiotherapist”
Feeding in a ‘Natural’ downward position ensures there is very minimal tension through the neck and back; therefore working as a natural stretch of the horses top line keeping the joints and muscles supple. This natural stretch also minimises strain on the back and neck muscles which is not attainable When feeding from a hay net or similar as the horse has to use their neck and back muscles in an incorrect posture therefore causing unnecessary strain and potential injury.
Feeding at ground level allows the respiratory system to work naturally & most effectively as there is decreased exposure to respiratory irritants. More importantly, a lowered head and neck position encourages natural airway drainage; this is the first line of defence against deep inhalation of food and dust related particles that can lead to chest and lung infection and respiratory complaints.
Feeding in a high head posture (hay net posture) puts an un-natural kink in the horse’s airway which impedes the inhaled air. This means that any dust particles can hit the walls of the airways and embed in the mucous membrane which in turn can lead to respiratory problems including COPD.
In a ground level feeding position the horses lower jaw slides forward and in front of the upper jaw and then when the head is lifted to chew the lower jaw slides back beneath the upper jaw. This backwards and forwards motion helps to grind the horses teeth and keep them at an optimum length. It is also a way of ensuring that food is properly ground and well mixed with saliva and is also the most efficient way gaining optimum nutrition.
This jaw movement does not occur when a horse is fed from an upward position and therefore can lead to dental and skeletal complications.
Feeding from ground level is most the natural, relaxed and protective way for a horse to feed.
Floor feeding allows the horse a vision range of virtually 360 degrees – being a flight animal it is important that the horse has this span of view whilst eating to ensure complete relaxation.
Encouraging a slower rate of consumption (trickle feeding) leads to more thoroughly chewed food which is then mixed well with saliva and is beneficial in increasing the rate of digestion. This increased rate of digestion decreases the chance of choke and colic as well as other digestion related illnesses.
The incorporation of a return lip around the top of the Haycube means that large sections of hay are not attainable by the horse, therefore slowing down the rate of consumption.
The Haycube also eliminates contamination of food which can occur when feeding from directly the floor.