It will not come as a surprise that the type of food we put into the horse is of great importance to your success of growing a healthy gut. You have to be very aware of what is natural to the horse and what is not.
A Healthy Horse Diet is all about growing a healthy gut.
We know that the green grass our horses love so much is absent in wild horse country. And so are metabolic disorders like Laminitis. Two important clues we MUST consider!
So what’s a natural diet then?
What the natural diet is for equines, we don’t know exactly. Unfortunately not enough research has been done to conclude what they eat and how much. So when reasoning from a natural perspective, which I try to do, what we have is mostly observational information.
Yes, there is plenty of scientific documentation out there on what horses eat in the wild, but there is no genuine research available conducted by botanists and/or biologist aimed at the equine diet in a specific environment representative to the wild horse.
And THAT is super important if you want to draw conclusive conclusions!
So.. we’ll have to go with observations, experience, the available science and a bit of common sense to find our way through the jungle of information on the equine diet.
Observations tell us that horses eat grasses, shrubs and trees. In terms of plant life.. they will eat pretty much anything they can get their hooves on!
Experience tells us that plants (especially grasses) from non-high desert environments can cause great metabolic distress (e.g. Laminitis) in horses.
Science dictates that the horse is an animal of movement with highly organized social structures that basically functions as a huge fermenter capable of converting low energy, fibrous material into nutrients and bio available energy.
Common sense can then only conclude that the safest way to feed horses is by keeping them on a highly fibrous, low energy diet (HAY) with little or no additives, in an environment that allow social interaction (AKA: incentive to move!).