Let's Chat a bit about the horse's needs:
For the stalled hoof, there are 3 major components to its health; diet, movement and trim. (Let's be honest, most horses in our area are in stalls).
Movement: Movement, movement in any way possible is best for the hoof! It is really important for your horse to be able to move comfortably and daily.
Hand walking, riding, pasture turnout, and even better, a track system (google Paddock Paradise). However, true exercise for a horse is continuous movement that increases their heart rate for a minimum of 20 mins daily is vital, especially for the IR/EMS horse. The more movement a horse gets, the more blood flow to the hoof, the healthier it can be!
To encourage movement in a turn out or pasture, If possible, hang hay bags/nets (with small holes) and put water in various places so that you horse has to move to eat and drink! Yup, this is more work for you, but isn't your horse worth it!?
Diet: We can tell what a horse eats just by looking at the hoof!
In the wild, horses are naturally grazing and browsing over a variety of plants. Meaning, they forage! Their digestive system is intricate with a Foregut and Hindgut always moving food throughout. The digestive system is made up of the Esophagus, Stomach, Small Intestines, Large Intestines, Cecum, Large Colon, Small Colon and Rectum and all have different yet important roles.
Horses should be fed with small frequent meals to allow for food to "stay" in their system. In nature, horses feed on a variety of plants, bark, and grasses. They are able to self select what they need and they do it all in movement.
Unfortunately, stalled horses don't get that opportunity to move and self select. Stalled horses are feed meals, usually 1 to 2 flakes in their stall. Always in the same place and time. This can be hard on their systems. They will end up waiting long periods of time between meals which means food isn't continuously moving through their system. In addition, they are just standing around in their stall. This routined feeding and lack of movement does not help the overall health of the horse. They are meant to move!
There is no blood flow to a hoof if a horse is just standing around, not to mention the lack of food being processed through the digestive system!
Grains and other feeds that are high in starch and sugars should be avoided at all costs (in my opinion) for the regular horse! Horses that are riding for Endurance events would be the exception during times of work. However, if out of work, then that high sugary energy meal should be avoided.
Fresh grass pastures should be avoided in our areas. Most of us don't have the ability to rotate our horses on different pastures. When grass is long the stem is not in crisis. The shorter the grass is, the more it holds onto to sugar (photosynthesis) for energy to recover and grow more. This is the grass that your horse loves! Why wouldn't they, it's high in sugar! In addition, green grasses don't provide the necessary wear on the horses incisors.
Teeth is an another important topic, just ask me about it or search Dr. Teskey!
In an ideal world, testing the feed (hay or grass) would tell you the nutritional profile of your feed. I provide Hay Testing Services!!!!
Hay analysis would then tell you what you would need to supplement for the horse's diet. If a horse's feet look unhealthy (chips, cracks, waves, event lines, stretching of the laminae), then most likely there are missing certain nutrients and what they might be eating is too high in sugars. If you don't test your hay or can't because you board your horse, then there are a variety of supplements (ration balancers) out there, and my suggestions are Arizona Copper Complete, CalTrace Plus Pellet version, or Vermont Blend. My horses love the CalTrace Plus Pellet version.