I bought biotin today to add to his feed because I read some studies about it being very helpful to hoof health, and I thinking on working something economical out to feed instead of sweetfeed, but that is what ever horse owner I've ever known has fed in this area, and although I read many articles suggesting to steer away from it, I have a hard time leaving it off when so many horses I've known seem to do so well on it. . . Lol,
Yes, biotin is definitely one of the many necessary ingredients for hoof health. It is likely to be lacking if the horse has little green forage. Horses on pasture, getting regualr alfalfa/lucerne hay etc, should be getting reasonable levels just from their diet. Other nutrients that are likely lacking & necessary for hoof health are iodine, zinc, copper & magnesium, among other lesser ones. But be careful about getting single ingredients like that, as it's just as important that nutrients are well balanced with eachother as it is to provide those nutrients, and if some are in overabundance, this can be as bad as not enough. As an aside, speaking from experience, it's much dearer to buy all the necessary nutrients separately than in one *appropriate* mix too. So I would personally get a diet analysis done before deciding on a 'complete' supplement. Biotin is likely to be depleted if the horse has little green forage, but for horses on pasture, getting regualr alfalfa/lucerne hay etc, it should be at reasonable levels just from the diet.
As for other horses & sweet or grain based feeds, yep, it is the norm. Much of the studies done into detrimental effects of this type of feeding, and it's relationship to hooves are relatively recent, so I think the main reasons for continued popularity of these feeds are ignorance and reluctance to change what has traditionally been done. Also much of the understanding about how gut & hooves function and how they're affected by diet is also only recent & many hoof issues still go unnoticed, even by vets & farriers. Even when problems are recognised, the causes are often unknown or misdiagnosed.
Why do some horses seem to do well on sweet, grainy feeds, without problems?(Assuming they are & it's not a case of not recognising probs) I think it's similar to asking why can some people live on junk food without getting fat or diabetic. It's an unhealthy diet, but some people just seem to get away with it. Also, some do enough exercise to burn up all that extra energy. Where horses are concerned specifically & the way their gut works, it's also about digestion, and if the horse is fed very small feeds frequently, rather than large(bucketful) feeds only a few times daily, they will be better able to process the feed & not flood the hind gut with undigested starch.
What is a diet some of you use without grain or sweetfed for non working horses, keeping in mind he needs to gain some weight? I'd say he is a 4 on the body scale.
4 on the body scale sounds too heavy to me.... tho I guess it depends what scale you're looking at, as I don't think there's a standard one. On the below link, 2-3 is healthy.... http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/DPI/nreninf.nsf/v/C63C63B466CD9C1ECA25741D0003622B/$file/Condition_Scoring_and_Weight_Estimation_of_Horses. Pdf
But then your horse is a little on the thin side(but certainly not skinny) if you're going off something like; Body Condition Scoring for Your Horse
All horses should have hay/grass/forage as their basic free choice diet. They will almost definitely need a *good* vit/min supp too, which type will depend on what's in the forage they get, soil it's grown in. Horses that need weight or extra energy can be fed oil, extra alfalfa, copra meal, beet pulp, etc.