The Feedbag

I think I may have talked here before about how downright violent Presto is with his food. He’s polite enough about actually being fed, but as soon as the food is in his bucket and he’s left alone to eat, my god… it is like a demolition derby. He puts his feet in his bucket, he smashes into the bucket with his head, he puts his head under the bucket and tips it upside down. It’s loud AF, and food goes everywhere.

Over the year and a half that he’s been solely in my care, I’ve tried pretty much everything. Pan on the floor, pan in a tire, food dumped on top of hay, several different kinds of buckets and feeders and different ways of tying them all down. Shit, there’s even been duct tape involved. He can break anything, given enough time. I just kind of gave up and resigned myself to buying a lot of buckets and Sand Clear. And then I had oooonnnee last idea.

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I saw a lot of very positive reviews for the Cashel Feed Rite feed bag, so I figured… why not. Let’s just try it and see. Best case scenario it works and keeps him from putting his feet in buckets/breaking things constantly, and worst case scenario it would be damn funny to watch him eat with a bucket strapped to his head. So I ordered a black one, it showed up a few days later, and I found myself feeling pretty optimistic. It was a nice bag, with a reinforced mesh bottom and lots of heavy duty stitching. The weak point was, IMO, the strap. It was kind of thin nylon with a plastic snap buckle. I figured if he was going to break anything, it would be the snap (oh how close I was to being right).

So, step 1, I took it out to the barn to let him wear it and understand how it works.

feed bag, ready to go

In order to get all the feed out of the bottom of the bag, the horse needs to lower their head to the ground and let the bag rest on the ground. I figured this was the part he’d have a problem with (he is a lot like me in that we tend to just kind of come in like a wrecking ball of chaos with no actual plan) so I wanted to teach him to put it on the ground to get the food. First I had to get him used to it being on his nose/head, which was no big deal. He’ll tolerate a lot of things when there’s food involved.

skeptical of my intentions, but not mad yet

Once he was okay with just wearing it, I set it the feed bag on the ground, held a treat, and led his nose down to the ground and into the bag to get the treat. We repeated that a few times until he was seeking to put his nose on the ground to get the treat. Then I just put a couple handfuls of food in there, strapped it on, and let him go. He figured it out really quickly.

I sat there and watched him eat, feeling semi-victorious. He pawed half-heartedly a couple times, and walked a circle in the beginning, but otherwise the typical bucket-bashing behavior was gone. I had taken all the fun out of it, by giving him nothing to toss around or make noise with. He settled down and ate the food like a normal freaking horse, for once in his life. I was hopeful that we’d finally found a good solution for him.

But in some ways he is his mother’s child through-and-through, and I should have known that my optimism was misplaced. This is a family of destroyers, after all. Remember that time Sadie sat on Michelle’s truck wheel well and smashed it to shit? Or all the baby trees, freshly planted, that she snapped in half with her ass? A natural talent for breaking things – definitely genetic.

After dinnertime that night (his first full official meal with the feed bag) I got a text from the barn owner saying that he’d broken it. More specifically, he’d ripped the strap completely off one side.

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son of a bitch

Of course he did. I was 0% surprised by this of course, although I had kind of been hoping to get at least a few weeks out of the damn thing. I thought that first he’d learn how to flip it upside down and dump the feed out, or maybe fling it off his head. Or… ya know… break the plastic buckle, the obvious weak point. But no, he completely removed the strap from one entire side. Top to bottom. Ripped clean off. How? Who even knows. How does Presto do any of these things that he does?

One meal in the feedbag and Presto was right back to bucket life. Of course, at the new place his feed bucket is screwed down, so it’s not as fun and he can’t tip it over. We’ll see how long it takes him to break that one though (which will probably happen with his feet)… we all know it’s just a matter of when, not if. I give up. You win again, Presto.

16 thoughts on “The Feedbag

  1. Gosh darn it, Presto! Does he destroy corner feeders?? I used to feed pasture horses at the barn I worked at with nosebags. We repaired the bags (which snapped straps a lot…) with a stitch of twine – easy to replace, and works like a fuse so they usually just break in the same place over and over. The ones we had were likely from Schneider’s and had nylon sewn to the top edge of the bag, so it didn’t rip off the whole side.

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  2. Love feedbags but I have one mare that the second she is done she puts her hoof on the edge of the bag and pulls back and slides it right off her head. needles to say she is hard on feed bags but I still use them to prevent wasted feed. Also no more fighting when feeding in a pasture. everyone just gets in line for their feed bag.

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  3. Oh Presto. Eeyore is a nuisance with anything solid in his stall. We have screwed in corner feed buckets and his is cracked in half and barely hanging in there but I refuse to replace it for him to ruin another.

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  4. My horse is like this too. I thought maybe it was an OTTB thing for no good reason, but I guess not. And I am with you, there is apparently no hope just feed everywhere and destroyed items. I have seriously considered a feedbag just to reduce the wasted food and rodent attraction but thank you for saving me that effort!

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  5. You could try repairing it by using a strip of Velcro on the bag and the strap, and when he rips, it’ll just come apart there. They make it with a sticky back so you don’t even have to sew it on! I’m guessing they made it specifically to come apart fairly easily for safety reasons, though.

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  6. Bast also enjoys throwing his food on the floor or putting his feet in it and throwing it ON THE WALL BEHIND HIM. (why, horse? Why?) For awhile he was in a feed bag because the others in his field didn’t eat as much as him and were harassing him while he finished. Now he gets so little grain he’s more interested in hoovering it than throwing it. Thank God. I do think his time with the bag made him less destructive with buckets and tubs.

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  7. Similar issue here, for different reasons. My guy isn’t inherently destructive (unless you mean knocking things over in order to scratch his mighty rear end). We live on 100% sand, so I’m always balancing promoting head-down eating with not slopping food everywhere and attracting possums (EPM). I’ve got a flat-sided bucket secured within an inch of its life over top of a giant heavy rubber feed tub to catch (most of) what gets dribbled or strewn… it’s marginally successful. Good luck ;D

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  8. A friend if mine, who is a breeder,with lots if destructive babies to feed, came up with a genius way to stop the feed bucket crazies. She attached a round rubber ground feeder to a piece of rubber stall mat. She cut an old one into a large enough size that horse has to stand on it to eat out of rubber feeder. Works perfectly for every one of her bucket trashers. I think she put a small bolt or 2 into feeder to attach to mat.

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    1. How do they not break the rubber ground feeder with it anchored down? Presto has literally torn one of those feeders almost in half, without it even being anchored to anything.

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