On behalf of all my fellow equines I have a plea: Let us eat CONSTANTLY! We'll digest better, improve our athletic performance, colic less, and suffer less from ulcers and blood sugar highs and lows. In fact, you'll probably find that we're happier and easier to get along with.
Here's the scoop:
Horses are grazing animals. We evolved as nibblers, constantly eating forage as we wandered about all day long. We have no gall bladders, the organ that, in other mammals, releases bile only when it's needed to digest stomach contents. Instead, we're constantly releasing this acidic chemical into our stomachs. After all, those stomachs are supposed to have forage foods in them all day! If our stomachs are empty for long periods of time in between meals, the acidic bile just sits there with nothing to digest, making harsh gut chemistry and eating at our stomach lining. Ouch! This can make us cranky and more difficult to train and cause health problems ranging from ulcers to muscle cramping.
Slow feeders make us eat at a slower pace, more like our ancestors did in their scruffy natural habitat. Instead of quickly scarfing down a big meal, we nibble for hours. We always have a bit of food in our small stomachs and so that bile has a job to do -- it gnaws at the hay instead of eating holes in our tummies! It keeps our blood sugar levels at a nice, constant level. And it keeps us busy too! My pals with stall vices tend to crib or paw less when they get a slow feeder. You know I'm passionate about mud-free paddocks. Well a slow feeder reduces the amount of organic waste spread around a paddock. And we all know that organic waste turns into mud. So slow feeders are actually healthy for your paddock too!
There are many different types of slow feeders, many of which you can make yourself. If you google slow feeders it'll keep you busy for a while! I promise your horse will be grateful that you did.