I was reminded of this seeing the recent article from Kentucky Equine Research (KER) - Feeding Practices May Impact Horse Dental Health which explains how many modern diets and horse keeping practices can affect our horses' teeth.
I'm fortunate in Arizona to not have the lush green pasture often prized by many horse owners. As some owners with "easy keeper" horses discover, this beautiful pasture can be far from ideal for their horses' health and they find themselves ripping out grass to make "Paddock Paradise" tracks and dry lots.
|My Arizona "Pasture"|
Along with good dental health, I haven't had sand issues from ground feeding, either. I attribute this to always having hay available so their gut is never empty, feeding a substantial amount of (molasses-free) beet pulp daily with their supplements which supplies some pectin and mucilage, and never clipping muzzle hair. I don't advocate direct ground feeding for show horses which may be clipped as they are lacking vibrissae - the essential, extremely sensitive whiskers which allow the horse to feel tiny differences - such as separating a flake of food from a grain of sand. Because of the importance of the facial vibrissae to the horse, including for protection from eye trauma, trimming equine facial whiskers has been outlawed in Germany. See the fascinating discussion of sensory perception in the horse at the link below.
Patti in Sunny, Warm Vail AZ
KER article: Feeding Practices May Impact Horse Dental Health
Vibrissae - general in mammals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskers
Vibrissae - importance to perception in the horse http://www.us.elsevierhealth.com/media/us/samplechapters/9780702026348/9780702026348.pdf