HayDown's Story

Final prototype Pony+ Stable installed
Final prototype Mini Shetland+ Field 4

How it all started

The request: My sister has had horses since the early 1980s and used to write articles on horse healthcare in our local paper. In 2008 she asked me if I could design something to deliver hay at regular intervals at ground level.  Loose hay on the floor was wasted, contaminated, and eaten too quickly.

Finding the best solution: I found products in the USA that did this for $3,000! I started searching for simpler ideas.

Life: Then I was made redundant from my daytime job as a design engineer, my children were very young at the time so I became a full time at home dad.

Finding the best solution continues: In 2012 I found that simpler idea, again US products, a box on the ground full of hay and a sliding lid/grid with holes in it, they called them slow feeders! At first, I thought they looked easy to make, so after two days of euphoria I resumed sketching. For a quick test I made a wooden box with a metal grid and found a friend with a horse to try it. It worked in some ways, but the wood got chewed and stinky and we didn’t totally like the metal grid. Life balance: With the kids now in pre-school and infants and my wife working hard, at a job she enjoys, I had a bit more time available, certainly not more energy!

Thwarting horses devious abilities: One of the hardest design challenges was finding a way to make the top easy to open for you and impossible for a horse, we tried many creations. Another was stopping them from pulling hay round the board edges, not that many did anyway, but I was were fretting. The final biggest challenge was a way for you to easily remove a stable feeder from the corner, without a horse being able to do it too!

Years of prototypes and life: At the end of 2019, after many prototypes and different materials, and years of patient help from one kind owner and their various horses, it was time to try with more horses and their owners.

Success: Willing volunteers were not hard to find, and I am so grateful to them all. And yes, my sister has one too. And they are all still being used in 2023. New products take a long time to get right, especially where horse health and safety is involved, and their devious abilities at opening things!

We hope you and your horses enjoy using your HayDown trickle feeder hay savers as much as our testing volunteers do.