How to Tie a Hay Net

How to Prevent a Hay Net From Being a Hazard

Palomino pony eating hay from a net.
Make sure your hay net is tied at head height and no lower. David Handley / Getty Images

Hay nets are frequently used for temporarily feeding horses hay while at an event. You can’t rely on their being suitable grass at any even venue to feed your horse all day, and your horse shouldn’t go all day without feed. If you’re at a horse show, your horse will probably have time to eat between classes. The advantage of hay nets is the portability. The disadvantage is a horse can easily become entangled in a hay net if the net is tied too low.

This is an all too common accident at events and it is a hazard to both horse and the humans that must untangle it. There's no foolproof way to make hay nets absolutely safe. But here’s one way that may keep your hay net tied high and out of the way. Hay nets should not be used on a daily basis.

Here's How to Tie a Haynet Safely

  1. Fill the hay net with hay. They usually hold about 3 to 4 flakes from a small square bale.
  2. Pull the drawstring so that the top closes.
  3. Tie a knot so the bag will stay closed. The material hay nets are made of is quite slippery and rarely do they knot so tightly that you can’t undo them easily when you are done with them..
  4. Loop the loose end of the drawstring through the ring or over the rail that you wish to hang the hay net from. Whatever you are tying to should be slightly higher than, or at the horse’s head level. If you’re tying to a rail, be sure it is very sturdy as a pushy horse could tug on the net hard enough to dislodge a rail.
  1. Now find the metal ring on the bottom of the hay net.
  2. Loop the drawstring through the bottom ring and draw it back up to the ring or rail you are tying to. Pull the bag upwards so the rings on the top and bottom of the net are as close as possible.
  3. Knot the drawstring with a quick release knot around whatever you are tying to.
  1. Now as the bag empties it will fold in half rather than sag downwards.


  1. Hay nets shouldn’t be used for regular feeding as horses have to eat with their head and neck up, rather than in their natural grazing position. Feed from a manger, from the ground, or put hay in a wide tub or feeder. Learn why your horse should eat with its head down for good health.
  2. Check hay nets frequently and tie them up if they begin to sag. 
  3. A safer alternative is a flake bag made of fabric. These are easy to make out of a feed bag for a temporary quick feeding, or you can purchase them pre-made.
  4. Learn to tie a quick release or safety knot. You can also use panic snaps attached to the hay bag.

What You Need

  • Hay net
  • Hay
  • Tie ring, post or sturdy rail.

If you are considering purchasing a hay net, consider buying a hay or flake bag instead. They are a bit more expensive but are somewhat safer. They're also easier to tie and fill, especially if you only have large round bales to work with. There is less chance of them sagging and less chance of a horse getting a foot caught in them. Because the hay can't shake through then as easily, ​there may be a bit less waste, especially if your horse is the type to toss and push the bag around a lot when it eats.

The combination of a flake or hay bag and a bale bag is a good way to take feed to events.