In my ideal world, I would want to have free access of hay for Fordson.
Horses are supposed to eat around 18 hours a day, walking great distances looking for food and water. They’re built for that, so if a horse goes for more than four hours without food, their stomach acid can start causing irritation.
Nowadays, the hay is too good. If I gave Fordson free access he would get really, really fat. So sadly, that’s not an option.
At the stables I keep him at they get fed 4 times a day. 6am, 11am, 4pm and 9pm. One of the first things I did when I moved there was to suggest that we bought in straw – something they could eat when they ran out of hay that won’t make them overweight.
Luckily, I have amazing stable friends so we ended up buying 900kg straw that they always have placed out in the meadow in 2 slow-feed nets, plus in the box during the night.
Straw is really great, IF your horse eats it. Not everybody does, I noticed. But it gives them something to do and keeps their stomachs busy.
I strive towards a ”natural-like” way to keep my horse. In the future, my dream is to have a Paddock Paradise* with at least 2 outdoor shelters that has soft bedding so they horses can lay down there at any time.
It would have free access of hay in slow-feed nets, and the hay would be given 5-6 times a day. Preferably it would have forest in the meadow that provides natural shelter and a lot to do for the horses as well.
Maybe one day. Maybe soon.