Combine the best of slow feed netting with the convenience of a multi-bale feeder
“When we take control of one of these lives, when we say, I will be responsible for this animal, his care and feeding,
his health and happiness, we tacitly promise to give him the very best care that we can. To learn everything we can
about the horse, and how to give him the longest and very best life possible. Not the life we’d like,
but the life we know is right because we studied it and are certain.”
Joe Camp, The Soul of a Horse
When I was growing up, my family would often visit Edwards Gardens in Toronto to take a walk through nature in the city. My sister and I rushed to our favourite place, the wishing well, so we could make our wishes. Mine was always the same. “I wish for a million horses.”
Fast forward to 2009 when I started a horse stable sitting service, which gave me the opportunity to work at over 30 farms of all sizes. One of the things I noticed was how differently people managed their hay feeding routines and how much hay could be wasted. When I was ready to open my own small stable, I did my research and found a hay feeder called the OptiMizer, which was a metal box on legs with a heavy metal grill that floated on the hay bales. Other users had been commenting about a huge reduction in wasted hay and that feeder aggression had reduced. In other words, they were seeing some of the benefits of what is now known as “slow feeding.” I used these feeders for years and appreciated that the OptiMizer was:
Safe for the horses and allowed them to feed in a natural, head-down position
Big enough to hold a day’s worth of hay and easy to refill
Able to keep the hay off the ground to reduce waste and save money
Light Bulb Moment
Over time, issues for our “easy-keeper” horses encouraged me to try slow feeding hay nets. I started to use them around the paddocks and in the stalls. The hay nets were great, but they were very time consuming and awkward to refill. I wished that our OptiMizers, which were so fast and easy to use, could be as slow feeding as the nets.
In 2018, I combined a slow-feed net with a plastic container and was encouraged by the results but thought it could be better. So I asked Matthew Bulmer, the designer of the original OptiMizer, if he could transform my prototype into a feeder that combined the slow feeding benefits provided by hay nets with a lighter version of his OptiMizer that would be easier to move around. Soon after, we started making the new and improved OptiMizer using a roto-moulded plastic base with slow-feeding netting top mounted on a slide arm. Everyone at the farm loved it, especially the horses.
From Wish to Reality
We launched sales in November 2019 at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Since then, I have visited customers at their farms all across North America to get their feedback so we can make the OptiMizer even better. By listening to feedback, we have made changes like adding hand holds to make it easier to move around and sourcing the most durable netting, specifically designed for our horse feeder. Not to mention great usage tips from our customers, which are on our Facebook site.
I named my company Wishing Well Services because I truly wish that all horses receive optimal care. Always making forage available in a natural, slow grazing fashion is a foundational aspect of excellent care. This is what the OptiMizer is all about. And here we are now, producing OptiMizers each day to make them available for “a million horses”. Sometimes, wishes do come true.
Owner & Innovator
So nice, we bought it twice! The Optimizer slow feeder. With the money that we saved on our first purchase, we purchased a second feeder a year later, we monitored the wasted hay from ground feeding, hay huts and the Optimizer. Hands down the Optimizer saved us money compared to the other two hay feed methods.
Very little wasted hay on the ground, to be slept, peed, and pooped on! Or pushed into the mud. I would highly recommend this feeder, especially with the new and improved slow feed net. This feeder keeps horses busy slow feeding, all maintain healthy weight and condition on the slow feeder and the feeder is easy to move if needed.
If you are looking for a safe and reliable hay feeding solution, that will save you money, the Optimizer is the one for you.
- Tracy G, Serenity Stables
My horse is a 17 year old, off-the-track thoroughbred who lives outside all year. She's a hard keeper, but by getting her the right amount of hay, whenever she wanted it, it was the first winter she didn't need an extra blanket.
- Laura T
We use 3 OptiMizers for our herd of 8 horses. We fill them about once a day, even on the worst days, and have found ourselves going through a lot less hay. I'm confident our OptiMizers will pay for themselves in the amount of money we've saved in otherwise ruined hay.
- Heather M
I've always had slow feed bags. I needed five or six a day to feed three horses. Last winter with the OptiMizer I could slow feed two bales in one place. This saved me a ton of time not hvaing to refill bags everday, plus I noticed it was way cleaner in the spring.
- Amanda M