The importance of a low sugar/starch, mineral balanced diet cannot be emphasized enough. This has become increasingly obvious to me over the years, and I have come to realize that nutrition can be just as important as the trim when it comes to barefoot rehabs.
We have a great hay supplier, who consistently produces chemical-free, high quality, low sugar/starch hay with lower iron than our regional average, so easier to balance minerals per NRC guidelines. We test all hay to ensure it is safe for horses with metabolic issues.
Hay is tested and a custom mineral balancer is made to fill in any nutritional gaps and mineral imbalances. Our area has very high iron forage, so extra copper and zinc are added to offset the damaging effects of high iron and subsequent copper and zinc deficiencies. Our mineral mix also includes optimum amounts of magnesium, iodine, selenium, amino acids, A E & B vitamins, biotin, yeast and salt. Additional ground flax is added for omega 3 fatty acids. We also feed Alltech Bio-Mos and Yea-Sacc as needed, which are pre- and probiotics to help maintain healthy gut flora.
The custom balancer is the cornerstone to our nutrition program, and is fed in whatever carrier is appropriate for each horse. Typically, this may be timothy pellets, ChaffHaye, and/or triple rinsed beet pulp.
There are certainly less expensive ways to feed a horse, but in my experience, perfect nutrition is worth every penny, especially when dealing with compromised hooves or metabolic problems.