Gosh, I bet my horses WISH I followed the protocol your barn seems to. My guys are expected to go to work, and do so willingly, whenever I pull them out. It was hard for a while when everyone else was getting fed and buckets were banging, and they knew what time it was. But after being asked to focus on me regardless, it’s not been a problem.
I would hesitate to say that there is any kind of definitive link between no grain feeding schedule and colic rates.
I WOULD say there is a link between colic and feeding regimens as it pertains to what the horse’s gut was designed to do. I.e., if you turn out regularly, feed plenty of good quality forage and provide regular opportunities for the horse to move about at their leisure, it general won’t matter much if you feed right on time every day. I would even go so far as to say that the majority of horses (save for those high anxiety types) won’t care if there is a schedule at all.
But that’s because we know that the horse’s gut was designed to have forage entering it upwards of 20 hours a day. It was designed with vast amounts of movement in mind. Put a horse in a box stall 24/7 or severely limit movement, feed minimal forage and large quantities of grain, yeah, you can definitely cause colic that way. But it doesn’t have a lick to do with what time you feed/how consistent your schedule is.
So if your barn is sticking to a strict feeding time thinking it will prevent colic, they are going about their prevention the wrong way.
It’s in the same boat as those who say that you must absolutely not offer horses cold water when they are hot and sweaty, might cause colic. Or you must wait at least a 1/2 hour after your horse has cooled out and isn’t sweaty before feeding grain, might cause colic. It’s just misplaced worry and ignorance about the systems at hand.