Thursday, May 24, 2012

Horses and Astronauts: The Effects of Inactivity on Bone Strength and General Well-being

What do horses and astronauts have in common? Early in the space program astronauts were found to have significant loss of musculoskeletal strength and other health issues after spending time in space. Horses kept in confinement for extended periods have been found to have similar problems, with losses in bone strength, joint health and reduced function in other organ systems. Both horse and human bodies were designed for movement, and anything that limits activity can have a negative impact on strength and overall health.

Wild or feral horses routinely travel 3 to 10 miles per day to graze. Herds of horses also participate in group activities of mock fighting chasing, bucking and rolling. They spend the majority of the day in motion. This is in stark contrast to the activities of many stabled horses. Horses kept in stalls may stand around for 23 hours a day, with possibly one hour of riding or turnout. Because this is not what horses were designed to do, inactivity can have a negative effect on their physical and mental soundness.

Bone is a living tissue that must be “stressed” by movement and concussive forces to maintain strength. When gravity and activity are lacking, significant losses in musculoskeletal strength occur quickly and cannot be overcome by nutritional supplements. Researchers at Michigan State University have conducted investigations into the effects of confinement on bone mineralization in horses. Stalled horses, from weanlings to mature horses, were reported to have a lower bone mineral content (BMC) than their pastured counterparts as early as 28 days into the study.  Weanlings housed in stalls had lower BMC and smaller cannon circumference at 28 days than weanlings maintained in pasture full time and those pastured for 12 hours and stalled for 12 hours a day. Horses pastured 12 hours a day had similar measurements to those pastured full time. After 28 days of total confinement in stalls, weanlings began to show increased activity, rearing, bucking and running around in small circles in their stalls. Interestingly, that level of activity resulted in increased BMC measures by day 56 of the study.

Highly conditioned horses at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University were kept stalled for 12 weeks and walked on a mechanical walker for two 30-minute sessions every day. Bone mineral content began to decline at 3 weeks into the study, with more significant loss by 12 weeks.  An earlier study reported that short, vigorous sprints were the most effective way to increase bone strength. It was evident in this study that an hour a day on the walker didn’t combat bone demineralization. In another study, horses being conditioned experienced increased BMC when fed a higher calcium diet (0.69% vs. 0.35%). However, feeding higher calcium didn’t prevent the decline in BMC in stalled horses in the latter study, indicating that diet supplementation cannot overcome lack of activity.

Inactivity is detrimental to the entire musculoskeletal system, including bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. People confined to bed rest for a week to 9 days have been shown to lose as much as 20% to 30% of original muscle strength. Ligaments have been found to undergo biomechanical changes as early as 2 weeks after immobilization. Joint cartilage, which does not have its own blood supply, relies on synovial fluid to provide nutrients. This action requires joint movement. When horses stand still for most of the day, nutrient delivery to joint cartilage is diminished and may damage joints.  

Along with the potential problems confinement presents for the musculoskeletal system, the digestive system may be affected as well. When the body doesn’t move, the motility of the digestive system declines, which can increase the risk for impaction colic in horses. Confinement also tends to increase the incidence of stress-related behaviors. Cribbing, weaving, kicking and even gastric ulcers have been associated with being housed in stalls. There is no doubt horses living predominantly in stalls potentially have more health problems than horses kept in pasture for most of the time. The research shows that living in a stall and walking on a walker for 2 hours a day just doesn’t do the job.

While many horse owners cannot keep horses in herds out on pasture, the research suggests that consistent, ample turnout and regular exercise can contribute significantly to keeping horses happy and healthy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trailering long distances…what I learned from personal experience.

The photo above is of my mare, Tia Maria, as viewed via a wireless video camera as she trailered from Florida to New York. This was the first time I had trailered horses more than 6 hours at a time myself, and I fretted about the best way to do it. Previously, when my horses needed to ship long distances I hired commercial shippers with larger trailers and air-ride systems. I had used shippers that drove straight through to the destination and ones that did stop-overs at barns along the way. Unfortunately, when I shipped my horses to FL in November of 2011, Tia had complications during the trip that made me want to take full control of the trailering situation. I knew my two-horse bumper pull trailer was not the best way to go, so I gladly went shopping for a trailer that would be more up to the challenge (I was glad about it, my husband not so much). I settled on a gooseneck 2+1 design that allowed me either to pull the horses side by side as a straight load or convert the trailer into two box stalls. But now that I had this option, I truly had a hard time deciding whether to haul them straight or in box stalls. I polled a lot of people I know. I called commercial shippers and asked them, and I scoured the scientific literature for research on trailering horses. Here is what I heard and what I found:

1) The commercial shippers strongly believed horses shipped better in box stalls. From their personal experience, they thought the horses arrived more fresh and relaxed than horses shipping in straight stalls. Remember box stalls in commercial rigs are very expensive- over $2000 for one horse, one way from FL to NY.

2) The Quarter Horse road warriors I talked to all gave a thumbs up for slant loads. Since I did not have a slant load trailer, this may have seemed a moot point, but shipping them in box stalls would allow them to orient themselves on a slant if they wanted to be.

3) Based on personal experience, I was leaning toward shipping them straight. I hypothesized that the chest, side bars and rear of the trailer would add stability for the horses if they wanted to lean on something. I also cared for a horse once that was shipped via a box stall and he stumbled in the trailer and cut his head so badly we could see his skull when we unloaded him. Shipping free in box stalls seemed a little scary to me.

4) As for the research, there was some interesting information to consider, but overall a good review article summed it up by saying: “Orientation either toward or away or diagonally from the direction of travel does not seem to significantly affect a horse’s ability to maintain its balance. Allowing horses the ability to raise and lower their heads or hind quarters and to take at least one step in any direction seems to be the most important factor in their compensating for changes in inertial forces.” (T. H. Friend, Journal of Animal Science 79:E32-E40). Furthermore, work in the early nineties by Clark et al. (Applied Animal Behavior Science 38:179-189) showed that horses did not brace themselves on the sides of the trailer or against saddle compartments, chains or other restrictions. In fact, horses tended to attempt to minimize any contact with the trailer.

So, armed with this information, we chose to ship the horses loose in box stalls without tying them. And what direction did they travel in? They traveled in the direction that allowed them to have their hay directly in front of their noses at all times. So based on the way I placed the haynets, Tia rode backwards and Pizzaz rode forwards. And they each hardly moved around at all. We rigged up the wireless baby monitor camera and watched in anticipation as we pulled out of Loxahatchee, FL. And we quickly got bored. They hardly shifted from side to side, didn’t seem to have any troubles with the starting, stopping or turning, and just kept nibbling away at their hay. Nobody banged their head, thrashed around or caused a raucous. Pizzaz did choose to walk around in a circle from time to time, probably 10-12 times for the entire 24 hour trip. Tia never turned around at all. And we got extremely lucky with weather and traffic, hitting some rain in Florida and Washington DC, but nothing horrible and no major accidents. We drove straight through with 3 drivers and some coffee, junk food and 5-hr energy. As expected, the horses were a bit sweaty in FL when they left, as it was over 80°F, but they were shivering in NY when they arrived the next morning at 46°F. They had not been shivering in NJ a few hours earlier!

And since I am an equine nutritionist, let’s talk about feed and water during trailering. I typically do not recommend changing the horse’s diet before shipping. I am not a fan of oiling or fasting horses or giving large amounts of bran mashes. I like to keep things as consistent as possible leading up to the trip, the same as the horses are used to. On the day of the trip, I may choose to withhold concentrate feed or decrease the amount of concentrate feed before the horse loads up. Some people like to administer electrolytes for horses that are difficult drinkers on the road, but you should never load your horse up with electrolytes without providing them access to fresh water at all times. Since my horses typically only have intermittent access to water during trailering, I don’t give my horses electrolytes before the trip. I do however, take the following steps to ensure my horses eat and drink well on the road:

1) I bring water they are used to from the farm and offer it every 3-4 hours during the trip.

2) I bring the hay they are used to from the farm and also bring enough hay to properly transition them to any new hay they may be receiving at the new destination.

3) For horses that are bad drinkers on the road, I have soaked the hay to help get water into them, but make sure the horse you are doing this for will eat soaked hay. Some horses hate it and then won’t drink or eat on the trailer.

4) On this trip, I used a new product we are working on that encourages hydration in horses. By using this product, my horses drank at least 6 gallons of water while traveling in addition to the water I offered at gas stops.

5) I like to feed succulent treats like carrots and apples while they are traveling. A few carrots or an apple at each stop shows me they are still bright, happy and interested in food. You can also throw apple or carrot pieces in the water bucket and sometimes the horse will drink while he goes searching for the treat.

Overall, I am very grateful that we had a safe and uneventful trip. The horses arrived happy and fresh. Let’s hope we can repeat it in the future!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Plants that are Poisonous to Horses

There are literally hundreds of plants that are either outright, or potentially, toxic to horses. There are several factors that contribute to toxicity. First, the plant must contain a substance that is toxic to that particular species of animal (susceptibility). Secondly, the amount of plant (and by extension toxic substance) ingested must be sufficient to cause toxicity (dosage). This second factor is influenced by the relative toxicity of the substance (potency of the toxin) and the size of the animal. Toxicity occurs if the animal ingests a sufficient amount of a toxic substance to which it is susceptible. Due to their size, horses generally must ingest large amounts of a poisonous plant in order to become sick. However, there are some plants to which horses are particularly susceptible and/or which contain such potent toxins that ingestion of only a few ounces may cause toxicity.

Many plants that are potentially toxic are commonly ingested by horses and only pose toxicity issues under certain specific conditions. In many cases, these plants only become toxic if infected with funguses (fescue, red or white clover) or if they undergo stressful growing conditions, such as excessive moisture or drought, which cause them to accumulate toxic substances. Many toxic plants are unpalatable, and therefore, horses rarely choose to eat them. However, when driven by hunger horses will often eat these less palatable plants or they may be baled in hay where their lack of palatability is masked. Another common avenue of exposure for horses to toxic plants is via the provision of tree, shrub or grass clippings.

Due to the large number of poisonous plants found in North America, in this article we will focus on 12 that are either extremely common or considered to be extremely toxic to horses. You are encouraged to contact your local agricultural extension agency to obtain a listing of poisonous plants in your area and familiarize yourself with them.

Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
AKA: brake fern, eagle fern

Range: Coast to coast, except for desert Southwest, often found in landscaping, gardens.
Toxin: Thiaminase which prevents absorption of vitamin B1 which is necessary for the maintenance of nerves.
Susceptibility: Horses need to consume large amounts (20-25% of diet) for several weeks.
Signs: Blindness, incoordination, weakness, depression, weight loss, jaundice.

Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
AKA: Hemlock, spotted hemlock

Range: Throughout US, especially in ditches and uncultivated areas.
Toxin: Conine (a neurotoxin) found in leaves, stems and seeds.
Susceptibility: 4-5 lb. is lethal. Not very palatable
Signs: Fast onset (15 min.) of tremors, salivation, nervousness, incoordination, dilated pupils, weak pulse and respirations, death (in less than 3 hrs.)

Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobata)
AKA: Groundsel

Range: Many different species of Senecio are found throughout US, common in pastures.
Toxin: Pyrroliziding alkaloids, cumulative effects on dividing cells, especially in the liver.
Susceptibility: 50-150 lb. consumed over time.
Signs: Appear when liver damage is already advanced – jaundice, fever, photosensitivity, weight loss, poor appetite, incoordination.

Johnson Grass/Sudan Grass (Sorghum spp.)

Range: Primarily the southern half of the US. Nontoxic hybrids are grown as forage crops.
Toxin: Cyanide compounds in leaves and stems which inhibit transport of oxygen– young shoots are highest in toxin. Nitrates also can accumulate in this grass.
Susceptibility: Horses less susceptible but can develop neuropathy signs affecting the back half of the body after weeks to months of eating fresh or baled wild Johnson Grass.
Signs: Ataxia and incoordination of hindlimbs, difficulty backing, dribbling urine, fetal damage. Bladder and kidney infections are common. Damage is irreversible.

Locoweed (Astraglus spp. Or Oxytropis spp.)
AKA: Astraglus – milkvetch, Oxytropis – white, wooly, purple locoweed
Range: Western half of US. Many different species all containing the same toxin.
Toxin: Swainsonine- an alkaloid that disrupts brain cell functions.
Susceptibility: Very palatable and addictive to horses.
Signs: unusual behavior, head bobbing, exaggerated gaits, staggering, falling, abortion, birth defects. Damage is irreversible with advanced cases.

Oleander (Nerium oleander)
AKA: Rose laurel, adelfa, rosenlorber, white, red or pink oleander

Range: Southern US, also ornamental, potted plants in cooler climates.
Toxin: Digitalis-like alkaloid in all parts of plant (even dried leaves) – disrupts heart beat.
Susceptibility: 1 oz. (30-40 leaves) can be lethal.
Signs: Colic, sweating, difficulty breathing, tremors, irregular heart beat seen within a few hours of ingestion.

Red Maple Trees (Acer rubrum)

Range: Throughout US
Toxin: Unidentified – oxidant that breaks down red blood cells. Wilted and fallen leaves are most toxic. Silver and sugar maple leaves may have the same toxin but in lesser amounts.
Susceptibility: Only horses are affected – 1.5 lb. of leaves is toxic, 3 lb. is lethal.
Signs: Lethargy, off feed, dark red-brown urine, increased heart and respiratory rates. May be reversible if treated promptly and exposure stopped.

Water Hemlock (Cicuta spp.)
AKA: spotted water hemlock

Range: Throughout the US, in wet areas – marshy areas, irrigation ditches, streams.
Toxin: Cicutoxin alkaloid – one of the most toxic plants in the US. All parts toxic but especially the roots.
Susceptibility: Less than 1 lb. of leaves or stems is fatal. Fairly palatable
Signs: Excessive salivation, dilated pupils, nervousness difficulty breathing, convulsions. Signs appear within 1 hour of ingestion and death occurs within 3 hours.

Yellow Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) & Russian Knapweed (Acroptilon repens)
AKA: Barnaby’s thistle

Range: Western half of US
Toxin: multiple toxins that affect the brain
Susceptibility: Must consume 50-200% of body weight over 2-3 months for toxic effects.
Signs: Lockjaw, unable to chew, incoordination. Damage to brain is permanent.

Yew (Taxus spp.)
AKA: Japanese yew

Range: Throughout US. Common ornamental bush/tree.
Toxin: Taxine – respiratory and cardiac collapse. Toxin found in all parts of plant, even dried leaves.
Susceptibility: Extremely toxic to horses. One mouthful can be lethal in minutes.
Signs: Sudden death is common. May see tremors, colic, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate.

Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)
AKA: Prairie berry, silverleaf nettle, white horsenettle, silver nightshade

Range: Central, south central and southwest US
Toxin: alkaloid. When even a small amount of this toxic plant (fresh or baled in hay) is ingested in combination with ivermectin administration, ivermectin toxicity may occur.
Susceptibility: This phenomenon has only been observed in horses.
Signs: Neurological signs include depression, weakness and ataxia. Liver signs include jaundice and weight loss

Blue-green Algae (Cyanobacteria spp.)

Range: Throughout US. More than 30 toxic species. Fresh water sources that are nutrient rich, during warm, sunny weather.
Toxin: Multiple neurotoxins and liver toxins
Susceptibility: A few ounces to gallons of affected water, depending on the type and concentration of the toxin present. Horses are less sensitive than ruminants.
Signs: Occur in minutes to hours. Diarrhea, coma, tremors, paddling, labored breathing.

Plant toxicities can be prevented. Here are some tips for how to prevent plant toxicities in your horses: Learn about the toxic plants in your area and how to identify them. Assess the landscaping around your pasture for potentially toxic ornamental plants and never dump clippings into a pasture. Monitor your pastures for potentially toxic plants and eliminate them. If you use a herbicide such as 2,4-D, toxic plants may increase their toxin load and become more palatable so limit access until the weeds have completely died off. Try to avoid overgrazing of pastures. If pastures do become sparse, offer supplemental hay to the horses so that they are less likely to sample non-forage plants out of hunger. Be especially vigilant about toxic plant surveillance in pastures close to a natural water source or marsh (hemlock and blue-green algae).

There are many different types of plant toxins that can cause a variety of clinical signs ranging in severity from mild weight loss to death. Unless ingestion of a toxic plant is witnessed, diagnosing plant toxicities can be very difficult. If you suspect your horse may be suffering from a plant toxicity, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One Word: Rolex

Hi, readers! Kimberly James here. Since last I wrote, I’ve tacked on a few thousand frequent flyer miles and heard a lot of good news about Purina Ambassadors. Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut have made the trip to Europe with Cortes C and Woodstock O. Chris Hickey and the US Team won the Nations Cup at the Global Dressage Festival. Kiaran McLaughlin is getting ready to run for the roses this weekend with one of his top horses, Alpha. Be sure to watch the action this Saturday on NBC at 5 p.m. EST.  Our cutting ambassadors, Matt Gaines, Kory Pounds and Roger Wagner, also had strong showings at the NCHA Super Stakes, and Shawn Flarida won his second NRBC title in Katy, Texas.

As frequently happens in my role with Purina, I get the pleasure of mixing my personal and professional passions, and this past week was no exception. Last Monday kicked off my first trip to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, or known by many horse people as simply, “Rolex.”

Rolex was the cause for my first trip to the Kentucky Horse Park as well, a fantastic venue and a must-see for any horse person’s trip through the Bluegrass State. I was joined on this trip by a few folks you are probably familiar with, including Dr. Katie Young and fellow Rolex rookie Dr. Karen Davison. Dr. Young had the privilege of answering a week’s worth of questions about eventing from me, and they both endured ongoing inquisitions about all things equine nutrition. Having Ph.D. equine nutritionists as coworkers is yet another perk of the job for me and my horses.

The week started off with setting up our booth in Tent #3 in Sponsor Village, where we’ve been for the past several years. If you’ve never had to set up a display booth, it’s similar to rearranging your living room furniture—you know the answer is there, sometimes you just have to stare at all the pieces for a while for it to come to you. After an appropriate amount of staring, we got everything together, the feed on display and were ready to open Thursday morning. The weather was a bit of a moving target, with sporadic rain and wind leading up to Thursday’s start of the dressage tests. But by the time the first event started, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Purina National Ambassador Boyd Martin rode Remington XXV on Thursday, earning a score of 45.3, which put him in sixth place going into Saturday.

Friday was the last half of the dressage tests. Boyd and Otis Barbotiere turned in a score of 51 to set them up in 16th place going into the cross-country phase. I was able to watch Boyd and Otis train a few weeks ago at their home in Pennsylvania, and it was great to see how the training paid off at Rolex.

Eventer Kyle Carter stopped by to see us and took a group of fans on an informative cross-country course walk. It is one thing to see these huge obstacles, and another to get the lowdown from a professional on the strategy to get over, under or through it. It was a busy day in the booth, we talked with scores of horse owners who had questions on Purina products and stories to tell about the successes and challenges that horses never fail to provide.

I could listen to our nutritionists talk to horse owners for hours. There can be an unnecessary and overcomplicated mystique around equine nutrition, but oftentimes the answers are simpler than one might expect. While each horse is unique, the common denominator is that they all need safe, high-quality nutrition sources appropriate for their metabolic needs, lifestyle and activity level. It’s always a joy to help fellow horse owners with their feed programs, be it one horse or a herd of 80.

Friday was also the first day of the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, an event held at the park in conjunction with Rolex for two days. When Craig Schmersal and Shawn Flarida stopped by Tent #3 to visit with some fans, we were able to catch up with the two of them for a few minutes. Check out the Q&A at the end of this post. With a score of 223.5, Craig turned in a third place finish Friday night on Whiz’s Katrina. Shawn brought home the win with a score of 228 on Wimpy’s Chocolate Chip.

Another event that is very dear to all of us here at Purina was held Friday night. As many of you know, there is an astounding number of horses in need of homes and second careers each year, and there are several hundred hardworking rescue and rehoming organizations that work tirelessly to make that happen. I had the privilege of announcing to a group of colleagues, industry professionals and media partners that Purina will be donating $125,000 worth of feed to A Home for Every Horse and the Unwanted Horse Coalition this year. A Home for Every Horse is a much-needed and much-appreciated online tool where rescuers can post their adoptable horses at, one of the largest go-to sites for prospective horse owners. For all the details on A Home for Every Horse, check out the full story here.  

Before I knew it, cross-country day was upon us. A clear fan favorite, cross-country day is also the great equalizer in the sport of eventing. No dressage or jumping score can protect a horse and rider from the demand and barrage of challenges that make up cross-country. While fans take in the sun and brews when tailgating all day, these competitors navigate miles of courses through trees and water; around and over immovable obstacles; down galloping lanes lined with fans, dogs, children and terrifying umbrellas, ponchos and cameras. To top it off, there are time faults and only so many refusals allowed, making a leisurely pace not an option. And don’t forget, these horses already have had a day of dressage in the bag.

We staked out a couple of good locations at the head of the lake, the infield and the finish line to watch the steady stream of horses comes through. Some weren’t lucky, many had to retire before even finishing, but both Remington and Otis finished in good form. I’ve said it before, but it’s such a huge sense of pride to know we are fueling the engines it takes to make these athletes successful in three very different phases of competition where recovery, endurance, consistency and performance are crucial. The riders themselves are no fitness slouches either – hats off to Boyd for doing it twice in one day! Boyd even stopped by Tent #3 to sign some autographs and pose for pictures with fans.

Sunday was a lovely day for Rolex, but it was completely nerve racking, with only a few points separating the top five riders. Boyd and Otis were fourth going in to the jumping phase and Remington was eighth. Before we would see Boyd on either mount, Regional Purina Ambassador Jordan Lindstedt was the first in the arena. While Jordan would finish Rolex 27th overall, the fact that she finished the competition in her first attempt at Rolex is quite impressive for the young eventer. She is certainly one to watch!

Boyd and Remington were in the first half of the ride list, and we were watching and cheering every stride. Although they had one rail down, the pair still rode very well and were a clear testament to the training and conditioning that Boyd and his team invested in. As the last five rides approached, so did the excitement and anxiety. It was a “Who’s Who” of eventing with Karen O’Connor, Allison Springer and William Foxx-Pitt in the mix. Boyd and Otis had a beautiful double clear round that luckily only took a few minutes to complete, because I don’t think I took a breath during their whole ride. Again, Boyd and his horse left no doubt about the care and time it takes to get one, let alone two, horses to the top levels of the sport. Otis looked fit and confident on the last day of a very long weekend. With a rail down by Jonathan Paget, Boyd and Otis would finish Rolex third and in some very good company. Otis and Remington also get to join their barnmates Ying Yang Yo and Neville Bardos on the U.S. Eventing Team Long List for London.

And so wraps up my very busy first trip to Rolex. Congratulations to Boyd, Otis and Remington for a spectacular showing. For those of you who have been there, you know that not one word or one blog entry can quite describe the experience of Rolex. So I encourage you to make plans to go in 2013 and live it yourself. If you do go, be sure to stop by and see us at Tent #3, we’d love to catch up.


Kimberly James:  Tell me a little bit about your recent accomplishments. Shawn, I know you were the recent NRBC champion, and, Craig, I know you are a top performer as well. Can you tell me a little about what that experience is like?

Shawn Flarida:   It was really fun; we just got home about a week ago. I had one horse that was absolutely exceptional and then I actually got three of my horses in the top eleven. So we had a great week, I’m glad to be back home and glad to get this weekend started.

KJ:                     Awesome. How about you Craig?

Craig Schmersal:   Well the NRBC is one of the funnest horse shows every year. I went on a really nice horse a couple of years ago, Boom Shernic, and it’s just a fun horse show. It’s really low key, and plenty of time to ride in the arenas. It’s just a ball to go there every year.

KJ:                        You’re on the road together quite a bit, is there any rivalry between you two or is it a friendly competition?

CS:                       We’re not friends! [laughter] Oh, I don’t know, it’s just competition for us.

SF:                       We actually grew up together, so we’ve known each other for a very long time. We have a lot of respect for each other.

CS:                       We eat a lot of chocolate cake and drink iced tea together. That’s probably how we got our sexy physiques. [laughter]

SF:                        That “sexy” part is debatable! [laughter]

KJ:                        Shawn, you have a younger son, Sammy, who’s been getting involved. How’s that?

SF:                        He’s started showing and, in fact, we’ll be going back next weekend to show again. I’m having a lot of fun with that. He’s doing really good and he’s given me a breath of fresh air to go. It makes me a bit nervous just watching, but he’s having fun.

KJ:                       Awesome, so last question: What does it mean to wear the Purina checkerboard? What does that mean to you guys?

CS:                       Well for me growing up, I’ve seen the Purina checkerboard my whole life, so to be able to be a part of it as an adult is always a thrill for us and I believe it is the greatest feed made today. We’re honored to be a part of it.

SF:                        I think they work as hard as we do at making a great product—as much research, as much energy, as much education that goes into making their product as we put into making our horses good. It’s fun to have somebody that you’re teamed up with that works so hard at doing something right as we do. It’s awesome.

KJ:                       Okay, one more question, how excited are you for tonight?

SF:                       I get to ride an old horse I’ve been around forever, so I don’t know that I’ve got the best horse here tonight, but I love him to death and I think he’ll be good and we’ll have fun with it.
CS:                       Same for me, I’ve got Whizs Katrina here and she’s just been a steady eddy for me and it’s always a thrill to walk thought the gate on her and she hasn’t let me down so far, she’s always been good.