Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dream Ride in the Kansas Flint Hills

This past week was a great week. I started out in St. Louis for our Horse VIP meeting where I was able to catch up with some of our ambassadors that have been with Purina almost as long as I have. Clint Haverty, very successful reining horse trainer from Krum, TX made his first trip up to see our research farm and he's been feeding Purina Strategy GX for nearly 15 years! It is great to see how much of an impact what we do here at Purina has on those that get to see it first hand. Hearing about the knowledge, research and dedication to the horse that goes into our products from someone else or in an advertisement just doesn't do it justice. Seeing what we do first hand and meeting the people that make it happen, like Mike Jerina, that's impressive, even for a long-time customer and very successful trainer like Clint. Thanks to Clint and all the other attendees for taking time to attend our meeting and reminding us how important what we do is to them and their horses.

Now, to get to the title of my blog....

After the VIP meeting in St. Louis, I went to Kansas for the 11th Anual Dream Ride in the Flint Hills. This event is a wonderful trail ride hosted by Ernie Rodina and his great crew. This year's event was a Purina Pink 50 event, where the emphasis was on breast cancer awareness. There were pink shirts, pink ribbons, pink splint boots on horses, pink saddle pads....it looked like a sea of pink rolling over the Flint Hills. This was special because it was not only a coming together of people who enjoy the outdoors and their horses, it was a coming together for the common cause of helping fight breast cancer and so many people on the ride had been impacted by this terrible disease in one way or another.

Now, if you love to ride and you have never been to the Flint Hills of Kansas, you are missing out. I know because I've been riding for all my life, mostly in competition of one type or another, not as much as a trail rider, but I've seen some beautiful country from the back of a horse. This was my first trip to the Fint Hills and it was absolutely special. You get to see that there are still vast, wide open spaces in this world. And, the folks that come to this trail ride, including the Best of America By Horseback crew, are great people. There's just nothing like spending a weekend horseback amongst the nicest people you'll meet, provided the best food you 'll eat and listening to fabulous campfire music. I so appreciate all the hard work that went into this event for all of us to enjoy, I totally enjoyed my ride.

I have to thank Dr. Katie Young for providing me with a great horse to ride this weekend, Ghus (Celtic spelling for Gus I think?), is a beautiful bay gelding that was just a joy to ride. I spent the weekend riding Ghus in Katie's fabulous dressage saddle, and by the way, I've never ridden a dressage saddle before this weekend and found it to be quite comfortable. I was glad though, that Ghus was smooth and dependable other than one little fun "celebration" he did after we crossed a gully, since there isn't quite as much leather available for grabbing in situations where you'd like to grab a little leather! Katie took pictures and video of the ride and I'm sure she'll find a flattering shot to post on here for me :-)

Katie and I enjoyed visiting with people on the ride about feeding their horses. There was a fabulous gelding there that was long-time Purina Equine Senior guy. You'd never have guessed he was 28 years-old. He was so bright, sound and happy on the trail ride, really cool. It was also neat to see all the people feeding out of Purina Strategy GX and Equine Senior bags at the trail ride, all pink bags for the Purina Pink 50 Campaign for breast cancer awareness month.

Just a great weekend on the Dream Ride in the Flint Hills of Kansas. What a fabulous time!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Busy Time of Year - Heck isn't it always busy...?

We just finished up two big guest events here on the farm. First we hosted a group of 25 veterinary students from Purdue and Michigan State University. They were primarily interested in livestock research and medicine but there were some who had an equine interest as well, and they all really enjoyed the chance to see our equine research facility.

Next we hosted about 140 horse owners and feed dealer employees for a two day conference. Lectures were given by myself, Dr. Karen Davison, Dr. Randy Raub, Dr. Kelly Vineyard, Mike Jerina, Dr. Kent Lanter, as well as Equine Specialists. (Equine Specialists are uniquely qualified and trained members of our sales force, most have a background in the horse industry and many have advanced degrees in animal science and nutrition). The guests had a great time attending a reception and dinner in their honor, followed by a day here at Longview featuring lectures about feed manufacturing, feed tags, nutrition and other aspects of horse health and management. A Q & A session allowed them to ask any questions they liked, and they ranged from inquiries about how to feed a particular horse to how to best prepare a mare for breeding. It was a great event and I really enjoyed getting to meet all of these wonderful horse people from around the country. As usual, our top-notch staff at the equine research facility had the horses, barns and exercise physiology lab looking their best and were on hand to answer questions about our herd and our day-to-day operation. Thanks to them and my fellow Horse Business team members for another successful event.

Next up here at Longview ---we are hosting close to 500 equine veterinarians, veterinary technicians and 4th year veterinary students for our annual Equine Veterinary Conference. The conference features guest speakers who are the top veterinarians in the country in their specialty disciplines. Attendees receive continuing education credits for their attendance, as well as the opportunity to learn more about equine nutrition and findings from our recent and ongoing research projects. This is an event I really look forward to as it allows me to reconnect with colleagues and make new contacts with"soon-to-be" veterinarians. The students really enjoy the event because it allows them to meet future colleagues (and potential employers) in a fun and relaxed environment, and it also provides a much needed respite from the rigors of their final clinical year (think the interns on the old TV show ER). The veterinarians also enjoy a brief interlude from their practices and the opportunity to enjoy the one of the best times of the year in the St. Louis area.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wow. It is already September. College football (a favorite of mine) debuted last night. Leaves are already turning. And I have hardly noticed that the summer has gone by. We have been so busy here at the farm, researching new diets and hosting events for customers and employees all the while keeping up the with daily work of operating an equine facility.

I was lucky enough to be the designated escort for Dr. Temple Grandin when she was here at Longview last week. She is an extraordinary person with a breadth of knowledge on many subjects. A conversation with her makes you truly appreciate the incredible journey her life has been. We were very grateful that she would make time in her busy schedule to visit with us. She was very excited about her upcoming trip to the Emmy Awards presentations in California and extremely proud that a movie showcasing her life and work was so well received. She felt it was a big step in her continuing mission to educate the public about animals in agriculture and humane animal handling practices. Congratulations on 7 Emmy wins.