Soaking hay before feeding is one way to lower the sugar levels, but it reduces more than sugar.
Soaking hay is one way to reduce the amount of sugar in the hay, but it should only be used as a stopgap method until a more appropriate hay can be found.
It is recommended that you soak hay for short periods of time: 30 minutes when soaking in warm water and 60 minutes when soaking hay in cold water. The hay must be completely submerged in the water during soaking and completely drained before being fed.
While soaking hay can result in lower sugar levels, it also decreases the amount of minerals and calories the hay provides. Magnesium and phosphorus are particularly susceptible to leaching during long periods of soaking (over 1 hour). This loss of minerals can cause imbalances in your horse’s diet. A decrease in dry matter can result in weight loss due to lack of sufficient calories.
Owners of sugar-sensitive horse should purchase hay with a known sugar level or have their hay analyzed. It is impossible to tell the sugar level in a hay by visual inspection.