Whatever the price, you need to supply them with more forage/hay. If you can't afford to feed them, you really need to think about cutting down the numbers that you own. (Sorry, it's the simple truth.) Horses don't get "used to" not having forage in front of them all the time. Their body doesn't just produce stomach acid when they eat, they produce it all the time and they are designed to eat at least 14 HOURS a day. Horses need to have a minimum of 1% of their body weight in forage a day and that's really not sufficient to maintain most horses with hay. (1% of the "average 1000lb horse's" body eight is 10 lbs) If you are trying to put on weight, you want to go up to close to 30 lbs in hay a day! They are simply designed to need that much forage a day to meet their nutritional needs and maintain body weight.
The attititude may be disrespect but it may also be due to developing gastric ulcers from the lack of forage. Because of the continual acid production, horses that don't get fed appropriate amounts of forage tend to develop gastric ulcers and can show lots of attitude changes like getting irritable.
Licensed Veterinary Technician