There is so much I could write about diet that it is hard to know where to start.
Correct diet is as important to horses as it is to us.
Barefoot horses do not need a special diet, just a good diet that is low in sugar.
I think understanding how your horse digests food and what it needs is more useful than being advised what to feed. Then you can make informed choices on what to feed.
The terminology often used around diet can be quite confusing and some feeds can be quite mind boggling. I once saw some low sugar molasses on sale. In other words low sugar, sugar. I will admit that I was so confused by this I didn’t even bother looking to see what it was for.
Horses require large amounts of “fibre”. Now, “fibre” to us is poor in feed value, we think of “fibre” as a necessary but not very nutritious part of our diets. Fibre however is, by its very nature, packed with energy, just energy that we can’t access but horses can.
To horses fibre is packed with energy which they access through fermentation that happens in the hindgut. When feeding horses high fibre feeds we are feeding our horses high energy feed.
We are generally talking about carbohydrates when we think of energy values. Carbohydrates are everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.
All sugars including starches are carbohydrates, all dietary fibre is again carbohydrates. What makes them different from each other is how the Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen bond together.
Broadly speaking all fibre is classed as Structural Carbohydrate, every thing else can be classed as Non-structural Carbohydrates.