"It's a lot drier in Eugene than western Oregon, about half the rainfall of the coast"
Isn't everything west of the Cascades considered Western Oregon? :o) Now, Medford/Ashland, you're getting dry! :o) But that's still southwest. We live about 35 miles SE of PDX and experience roughly 100% more rain. And Santiam Pass is considered the most dramatic climate change point in the world, with rainfall decreasing roughly one inch for every 15 miles! So it's hard to make generalizations about the weather. Some areas are in rain shadow and receive much less rain. And perhaps a picture of Central Oregon isn't quite representing Eugene. It's probably a 2-3 hour trip over the Cascades to get to land that looks like the pics. I'm just trying to say that owning a horse without transportation can be complicated by a lack of out-the-gate riding opportunities, vast public lands notwithstanding.
"Founder and insulin resistance are not related to where you live. They also are related to management and are common everywhere if people use the wrong feeding practices."
F and I are very much related to where you live, especially if you live in the NW. I'm not being a smarty so please don't take offense. I concentrated on growing nutrient dense hay here for years and made a deep study of it. I can fully account for my statement. If you like, I will be happy to supply some interesting reading that you won't find collected elsewhere into one place. Founder and insulin resistance here are related to the fact that Oregon soils are so leached of minerals, except potassium, that hay grown here cannot convert the sugar of photosynthesis into protein and other phytonutrients. C. Or. orchard grass...you know how they're producing low carb hay? By cutting it, then irrigating it to wash the sugar out. Along with all the other water-soluble phytonutrients.
Even the Department of Agriculture admits that it is nearly impossible to grow decent hay in western Oregon and Central Oregon grows problem hay due to cultural practices.
The other thing about Oregon hay is the excessive levels of potassium native to the state's soil, augmented by relentless fertilization with yet more potassium. C. Or hay routinely runs in excess of 3% potassium, without nearly enough calcium and magnesium to offset the destructive behavior of excessive K in the gut. It interferes with Ca and Mg metabolism (known laminitis triggers) and encourages the proliferation of opportunistic pathogens in the gut, which can contribute to a toxic cascade of events that trigger laminitis. A deficiency of boron in Oregon soil leads to the inability of grasses to translocate sugars from the leaves to the roots at night, so the suggestion that grass is safer to graze in the early morning may be gravely misleading to the Oregon horse keeper. You can do everything right here and still suffer metabolic disease, particularly with sensitive breeds. Some blame needs to be shifted away from owners and onto growers. But growers only care about yield, not nutrition, so they will never take ownership in health problems that their product creates.
There's a lot going on with hay and pasture in this state that can't be blamed on owner negligence.
Any time you want to shake out the problems with Oregon hay, I'd love a conversation! I have about 95% of a book written on the subject.
How about ash content of 15%? Anything above 5% is dirt, the rest is mineral nutrition. Oregon livestock ARE dying from such excessive ash. Partly because of the dusty, volcanic ash common to C. OR hay, as well as the use of disk mowers that suck up so much more dirt than older equipment.
This year the hay I'm getting has a lot of sugar and starch washed out of it, but they also managed to wash out a considerable amount of protein (C. OR orchard grass). But the potassium's still there. So I'll be juggling to supply calcium, magnesium and protein this year.
But every area has it's horsekeeping challenges! :o)