Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Purina!
I love incorporating my animals into holiday cards, and I get asked from time to time how we actually get some of them done, especially the photos of the pony in Christmas lights and eating the snowman’s nose.  Here are my secrets:

Step one- Delegate: Get your poor husband involved and make him do the heavy lifting and construction-

Purina Ambassador Guest Post - Boyd and Silva Martin

Good nutrition is a key factor in performance, and we have been very happy with the Purina products that we have been feeding for the past several years. With two barns full of horses competing in both eventing and dressage, from greenies to world-class horses, as well as few older campaigners on maintenance diets, our horses’ nutritional needs cover a broad spectrum.

For instance, Boyd’s four-star eventer Trading Aces, who competes all over the globe and was the leader of the US team at the 2013 Boekelo CCI4* in the Netherlands, is on a high-energy diet of Omolene 500® horse feed. Some of the hotter event horses who need plenty of fuel for cross-country but have trouble containing all that energy in the dressage are on Purina Ultium® Competition Horse Formula.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Purina Ambassador Shawn Flarida Guest Post

Hi Purina fans! My name is Shawn Flarida and I am the National Reining Horse Association’s Leading Rider with $4.9 Million Dollars in earnings. I have been partnered with Purina for several years and it has been one of the best relationships I have had with a company. I spent many years experimenting with different types and brands of feeds before I discovered Purina and their great products. We also have the same outlook on what we do. Both Purina and I want to be the best at what we do and we work hard to make sure that we are providing a great product for our customers.

My training program has everything from yearlings, two year olds, three year old futurity horses, breeding stallions and aged horses in it so I need a company that can provide a wide variety of high quality feeds. Although my facility is focused on show horses, my wife Michele and I own several broodmares and raise four-five babies each year too. Horses need different feeding programs depending upon where they are in the growth cycle as well as the training cycle.

Monday, December 2, 2013

5 Tips for Preparing Your Horse (and Yourself) for Winter

Winter is just around the corner, and it is time to start thinking about how you are going to keep your horse in top health during the season. There are many aspects to your horse management, nutritional and veterinary health programs that should be assessed prior to the onset of cold weather. Here are 5 tips that may help you “winterize” your horse and get your management practices geared up for the weather changes ahead. 

1.  Water, Water, Water. 
Providing a clean, abundant water source in the winter can be a real challenge. But adequate water intake is especially critical in the winter as dry cold air can cause a horse to dehydrate quickly and additional hay intake increases the horse’s need for water. Most instances of impaction colic occur in the winter and the middle of summer because this is when horses are most likely to not consume enough water which compromises gut motility, fiber digestion and the movement of manure through the small colon. Consider adding Purina® HyrdaSalt® supplement to your horses’ daily ration to encourage maximum water intake. Be sure your horse always has easy access to water; avoid overflowing your water troughs and creating ice around them; and make sure tank heaters are in good working order and that electrical cords are out of reach of the horses. Some horses have a strong preference for a particular water temperature. Water that is too cold or too warm may make horses back off from drinking. Providing water at the horses’ preferred temperature range will help to encourage drinking.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Purina® Hydration Hay® Blocks Improved Hydration Levels During High-Heat Transport

Since we launched Purina® Hydration Hay® in early 2013, we have had numerous reports of horses benefiting from the combination of quality hay immersed in water for an all-in-one meal. Horses during transport, at horse shows, in the veterinary clinic, during cold snaps and more were staying hydrated and healthy from this innovative product. But with most things at Purina, we love to rely on hard numbers and scientific experiments. We had completed a lot of manufacturing trials and field study work with this product, but wanted to follow it up with a controlled experiment looking at hydration in horses, especially during transport, comparing Hydration Hay® to long-stem hay. I am happy to report, the data are now in! And it’s very “cool”:

  • Horses eating Hydration Hay® before, during and after transport averaged a 3.3L higher water intake than horses eating long-stem hay
  • Horses in the Hydration Hay® group during the first (higher ambient temperature) haul had lower rectal temperatures during transport
  • Horses in the Hydration Hay® group had lower respiratory rates by the end of the trailer ride compared to horses eating long-stem hay
  • Horses in the Hydration Hay® group had a trend for lower packed cell volumes during transport

What does this mean? Horses that received Hydration Hay® during transport demonstrated multiple improvements in hydration status compared to horses with access to long-stem hay. Overall, these horses arrived back at the university cooler and less stressed than their hay-eating counterparts.  These are very exciting results with implications for helping horses to remain hydrated and healthy on the road, especially during long trips under high temperatures. 

In conducting the study, we collaborated with a colleague of Dr. Vineyard’s at Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dr. Jackie Wahrmund. We felt the high Texas heat was a perfect place to test Hydration Hay® in action.  Next, we designed a cross-over study looking at feeding Hydration Hay® before, during and after trailering, compared to feeding typical long stem hay. Then we measured many variables related to hydration status before, during and after long transport of approximately 9 hours.  Some of those measurements included body weight, water intake, heart rate, rectal temperature, respiratory rate, blood urea nitrogen, creatine, packed cell volume, skin turgor and capillary refill time.   As predicted, it was hot and humid during our two hauls. The ambient temperature for the first haul was 105º F with a heat index of 109º F!  The second haul a week later was thankfully about 10 degrees cooler.

Visit for a $10-off coupon on Hydration Hay® and get your horse ready to roll for his next trip!

H.N. Graham, J.L. Wahrmund, M. E. Gordon, K.R. Vineyard, K.L. Dowdle, and L.L. Walton. Effect of Hydration Hay™ on blood metabolites, vital signs, and bodyweight change of horses transported long distances during summer conditions. American Society of Animal Science Meeting (Southern section).
 H.M. Huff, J.L. Wahrmund, H.N. Graham, M.E. Gordon, K.R. Vineyard, and K.L. Dowdle. Effect of Hydration Hay™ on Water Intake, Blood Urea Nitrogen to Creatinine Ratio and Vital Signs of Horses Transported Long Distances During the Summer.  American Society of Animal Science Meeting (Southern section).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2013 Purina Equine Veterinarian and Vet Technician Conference – Another great meeting!

The 14th Annual Purina Equine Veterinarian Conference, held at the Double Tree Hotel within the historic Union Station, downtown St. Louis on October 11 – 13 was by all reports, a resounding success.  Consistent with the standard that Purina has set over the years for hosting a high-quality, informative yet fun meeting, this year’s conference was rated highly by over 350 attending veterinarians, vet technicians and vet students.  The group was hosted by over 30 Purina Sales Specialists and the entire Purina Horse Business team.  We all learned a great deal and had a wonderful weekend. 

The meeting kicked off on Friday evening with a joint presentation by Dr. Mike Pownall, DVM and Mr. John A. Chalk, Jr., CPA, JD, CFP who talked to the audience about tools for managing and even building business in today’s tough economy.  The presentations on Saturday and Sunday were focused on equine endocrine and myopathic conditions, topics that were timely and important to the attendees.  Purina was very proud to have Dr.’s Dianne McFarlane, DVM, PhD, DACVIM  and Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PhD, DACVIM present the latest research findings on conditions including PPID, EMS, PSSM, Shivers and other equine myopathies, along with case-based information and experience to help practitioners with differential diagnostics and treatments.   

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Red Maple Toxicity (RMT) – A Fall Danger for Horses

The drought in Missouri has caused an early leaf change in our trees this year at the research center.  As I got into my truck this morning, there were fallen leaves from the huge silver maple that sits next to my driveway stuck in my windshield wipers and it got me to thinking about the dangers dead maple leaves can pose to horses and I decided to write a blog post about it.

Red maple tree just beginning to show its’ fall colors – Photo by K. Williamson

Red maple trees (Acer rubrum) are absolutely gorgeous in the fall when their leaves turn bright flame red, which is one reason why they are among the most popular ornamental trees in the United States.  However, red maples can pose a serious health risk to horses.  The dried or wilted leaves of the red maple contain an unknown oxidant toxin or combination of toxins which cause damage to red blood cells leading to a condition known as acute hemolytic anemia and/or increased formation or abnormal accumulation of methemoglobin (an abnormal form of hemoglobin that is not capable of carrying oxygen).  Horses are more susceptible and commonly affected by RMT than other species.  Red maple toxicity may occur throughout the growing season but cases are more common during the late summer and fall.  The seasonal increase in cases of RMT appears to be due to 2 main factors:  First, the toxic principle(s) in the leaves appear to increase later in the growing season and are especially abundant in the fall.  Second, horses have more access to the toxic leaves during the fall months when the trees are shedding their leaves which may fall or be blown into pastures.  Consumption of as little as 1 gram of red maples leaves per kilogram body weight can result in fatality.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mottled Muzzle Puzzle???

As a veterinarian who works for an animal nutrition company, I frequently have the opportunity to interact with customers who have questions about health issues that may be nutritionally related. I frequently hear from horse owners whose horse has developed white spots on their face, usually around the muzzle and/or eyes. The conversation typically goes something like this: “My horse suddenly developed white spots on his muzzle and around his eyes. I read on the internet how this was called vitiligo or leukoderma and is caused by a deficiency of vitamin A (or copper or zinc or iron or vitamin D or….). How could this be since he is on Strategy® horse feed and excellent pasture, and I know he is getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs? I tried to find more information about this online, but couldn’t find much that was very scientific. When I asked my vet, she told me that it was a cosmetic problem that won’t affect his overall health and that not much is known about what causes it or how to treat it. I’m confused, and don’t know what to believe or what I can do about it. Can you help me?”

The confusion is understandable. There are at least two distinct conditions which result in virtually identical outward clinical appearance: depigmentation (loss of color) of pigmented bare (no hair cover) skin. As a result, there is a great deal of uncertainty about which term should be applied and what the inciting cause of the depigmentation may be. Therefore the terms “leukoderma” and “vitiligo” are often used interchangeably, even though leukoderma and vitiligo are definitely not the same. And misinformation propagated on the Internet further muddies the waters.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Purina ambassador Guest Post – Beezie Madden

Purina has been our choice of feeds through the past two Olympics, numerous World Cup Finals, including one fantastic win and through the development of many top horses. I have been honored to represent Purina® products since 2007 and this relationship has always been about providing the best for the horses. John and I made a decision to feed Purina® products for an entire year before signing a sponsorship deal, to make sure we were happy, our staff was happy and most importantly, our horses were happy. At the end of that test year, we were convinced that Purina offered products, research and service that we could feel confident lending our names to.

We always say that winning is just a byproduct of what we do every day outside of the show ring. We strive to provide the best in care for the horses in everything from shoeing to vet-work to consistent training. Our feed program naturally fits into this. Purina products, especially the Enrich Plus™ ration balancing feed we've been using recently, have offered our horses consistent quality. It is great that our staff can be secure knowing that whether we're at our home farm in Cazenovia, New York, our winter home in Wellington, Florida or at any of the many other shows we frequent throughout a show season, when we pick up a bag of feed for our horses, we know the feed will have the same quality products inside.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Purina Ambassador Laura Kraut – Guest Post

For as long as I can remember the red and white checkerboard has been part of my life. We fed my first pony Purina® horse feed. I’m not sure which type we used, but I remember the checkerboard on the label and the great smell when we opened a new bag.  My pony loved it of course, and I was very proud to feed him grain made by such a famous company. Now, many years later (more than I want to count) my horses are all fed Purina® products. From my pony, “Siamese Kat,” at the barn down the road, to “Cedric” at the games in Beijing and countless international competitions, Purina has been with me every stride along the way. 

My stable in Wisconsin was a test barn for Strategy® horse feed over 20 years ago. I found this to be an interesting process during which my sister and barn manager Mary Elizabeth and I learned a great deal about equine nutrition. We were happy to be part of the team who helped bring the Strategy® formula to market, and now, many years later Purina® Strategy® horse feeds have provided over a billion feedings to horses across the country. We also utilize other grains such as Equine Senior® horse feed, Ultium® Competition Horse Formula, Omolene#100® and Omolene #400® horse feeds and the recent addition of Strategy®Healthy Edge® horse feed. Horses have different nutritional needs depending on their age and level of work, but we have found that these products meet the needs of everyone in the barn. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis continues to be an issue in 2013: are your horses protected?

2012 was a fairly bad year for Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) in the US.  209 cases were reported to the USDA-APHIS Veterinary Service.  This was a marked increase compared to the 60 cases reported in 2011, but still not quite as high as the 2 previous years.  (For a breakdown of the historical cases of EEE in the US for the last 10 years please visit: ).

As of August 13, there have been 55 reported veterinary cases of EEE in the US.  Florida leads the way with 25 cases, and Georgia is second with 10.  Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Maryland are also reporting cases.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Purina Ambassador Brittany Pozzi Guest Post

Hi Purina Readers! My name is Brittany Pozzi and I am a 2x World Champion and 9x NFR qualifier for Victoria, TX. I have been teamed up with Purina for about 7 years now and would not feed any other product. Purina strives to be the best and I want to give the best feed on the market to my horses. Before Purina ever became one of my sponsors I was on the test program for Ultium® Growth Horse Formula and loved it.

My small operation that I started with has grown to a semi large operation with 11 broodmare, 2 studs, 30 horses in barrel training, race horses on the track, and 3 full time rodeo horses. Needless to say that is a lot of horse to feed and take care of and make sure they are always on top of their game and with Purina I can do that. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ration Balancers - What are they and how do I use them?

Note: This is an update to a blog originally posted in March 2011. Purina Enrich 12 and Enrich 32, mentioned in the original blog, have been discontinued and replaced by the new and improved version of Enrich 32, Purina Enrich Plus. 

You may have heard the term “ration balancer” before, but do you know what it means and how to use it in a feeding program? Even though I’d been around horses most of my life, I had never heard the term until I was in graduate school. Feeding a ration balancer is a relatively new concept in feeding horses, and it is one of my favorite products in the Purina line because of its versatility of use. A ration balancer is a concentrated feed (usually in pelleted form) designed to be fed at a low feeding rate (~1 – 2 lbs/day) that supplies protein, vitamins, and minerals at the correct level to balance a forage-based forage program. There are several scenarios when you may want to consider feeding a ration balancer, such as Purina Enrich Plus.

The Easy Keeper
Does your horse maintain bodyweight on plenty of good quality forage? Is he currently not in work or only ridden lightly? Then he is the perfect candidate for a ration balancer. Many people think that these types of horses do just fine on forage alone, but this is not necessarily the case. Yes, these horses do not need extra calories from a grain concentrate, but they still need essential amino acids like lysine, vitamins, and minerals like copper and zinc that are not present in adequate amounts in forage. Even though it may look like a horse is “fat and sassy” on forage alone, they could be suffering from a deficiency that would not show itself until the horse becomes stressed (i.e. exposed to a virus, hauled somewhere new, etc.). A ration balancer won’t contribute a significant amount of calories to the horse’s diet because of the low feeding rate, but it will provide the essential nutrients to “balance” a ration based on forage. You can almost think of a ration balancer as a horse’s daily multi-vitamin (+ protein). Many easy keepers are also suffering from metabolic syndrome, and Enrich Plus is low in soluble carbohydrates and appropriate for horses requiring a carbohydrate-restricted diet.

Feeding below the Recommended Feeding Rate
Did you know that feed manufactures have a minimum recommended feeding rate for their feeds? At Purina, we pay close attention to this. We formulate feeds to be fed at rates ranging from 0.3 lbs – 0.9 lbs/100 lbs bodyweight, depending on the specific formula. This information can usually be found as a sentence on the feed tag stating “do not feed less than 0.X lbs per 100 lbs bodyweight per day”. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this and end up underfeeding their horses. For example, if you are feeding a 1000 lb horse 2 lbs per day of Strategy (this might equate to ~1/2 “scoop” per day, depending on the scoop size), you are most likely not meeting all nutrient requirements, since the recommended feeding rate is 0.3 lbs/100 lbs bodyweight. I see this even more commonly with complete feeds like Equine Senior or Omolene 400. The minimum feeding rates for complete feeds are a bit higher at 0.6 lbs per 100 lbs bodyweight. This means that a 1000 lb horse should be receiving 6 lbs per day. Many horses are fed well below this level. This is where a ration balancer comes in handy. Enrich Plus works really well to “fill in the nutritional gaps” of a diet where a horse is only being fed a small amount of concentrate.

I find that I use a combination of Enrich Plus and Ultium frequently for Warmblood horses in light to moderate work (i.e. low level dressage). Warmbloods tend to be easy keepers, but those that are working do benefit from some of the unique attributes of Ultium. However, if you fed the minimum recommended amount of this calorie-dense feed to an easy-keeper 1500 lb Hanoverian (6 lbs/day), that horse could quickly become obese! In order to be sure all nutrient requirements are met while avoiding unwanted weight gain, this horse could be fed 1 lb Enrich Plus and 2 – 4 lbs Ultium per day. This program can work quite well in many situations and is not just for Warmbloods or limited to Ultium, but for any easy keeper horse with any feed you prefer.

Feeding Straight Grains or other Unfortified Ingredients
Many people like to feed straight oats, barley, beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, etc. These are all great ingredients, but unfortunately they are not nutritionally balanced by themselves. Another great use for a ration balancer is to supplement this type of a feeding program. Basically, the plain ingredients are used as calorie and fiber sources, and the ration balancer is used to “fill in the nutritional gaps” of these ingredients, supplying essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Feeding as a protein supplement
Sometimes, a horse may benefit from additional high-quality protein in the diet. Perhaps he is returning to work after a long lay-up and needs to rebuild muscle. Perhaps he has lost muscle due to an injury or illness, and needs some additional protein in his diet to help him recover. Enrich Plus can be used in this type of situation as well, simply by top-dressing ½ - 1 lb per day over the horse’s regular daily feed.

But isn’t 32% protein TOO MUCH???
This is something that horse owners usually are concerned with if they are not familiar with a ration balancer. To understand why 32% protein is most definitely not too much, you must consider two very important things: 1) the horse’s daily protein requirement, and 2) the recommended feeding rate.

To easily illustrate this, let’s take a hypothetical 1000 lb Quarter Horse in light work. See the table below to see where the dietary protein and lysine would come from:

Protein (g)
Lysine (g)
1 lb Enrich Plus (32% protein; 2.7% lysine)
3 lbs Strategy (14% protein; 0.9% lysine)
12 lbs grass hay (10% protein; 0.4% lysine)

Horse’s daily requirement

So, as you can see, the amount of protein contained in the recommended amount of Enrich Plus is actually LESS than the amount of protein in the recommended level of Strategy for this particular horse. You can also see that the majority of the protein requirement would be provided by the forage, but that forage alone does not meet the horse's lysine and protein requirement. Feeding either Enrich Plus or Strategy would meet the horse’s daily protein and lysine requirements, and the decision on which to feed should be based on his body condition and calorie requirements.

There are a variety of uses for a ration balancer, and many times it is the most appropriate choice for your horse. If I had one Purina feed product that I could not live without, it would definitely be Enrich Plus!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feed Fit for a King - Purina and the Budweiser Clydesdales

Ok, I admit it.  Even after a year of working with the Budweiser Clydesdales, I am still the worst stereotype of a horse-crazy tourist—taking pictures with my phone of the horses, the dogs, the wagons, me with the horses, and the dogs, and the horses again, etc.  Lucky for me, the folks who work with the Clydesdales are some of the nicest, most patient people I’ve met.  And the horses are absolutely magnificent!  How can you not be awestruck when you’re standing next to Big Jake, and can barely reach his withers standing on tiptoes?  And the yearlings are as big as my own full-grown horses! To top it off, the horses are really as great as I ever dreamed they would be—sweet, kind, and endlessly tolerant of their admirers. To me, spending time with the Budweiser Clydesdales is pretty much as good as it gets.

So what is Purina doing with the Clydesdales?  About a year ago, we started working with the horses at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, and with the horses on the traveling teams. The folks in charge of the horses were looking for a consistent feed program, and while various Purina® feed products have been fed to the Clydes for quite a few years, this was the first time that the Purina equine technical and research teams put together an organized feeding program and started collecting data on the growing and mature horses.  Mike Jerina (manager of our Equine Research Unit), Tim Maxey from Straatmann Feed, Tod Wideman (Purina local sales specialist) and I have been meeting with Dave Hennen of Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale Operations and his team monthly for the past year to weigh, measure and determine body condition scores of the young Clydes at Grant’s Farm, and make sure that they are on the best feeding program to support growth.  I can’t speak for Mike and the others, but it has been a great learning experience for me!

One of the early issues that emerged from our monthly meetings is that even though the horses are so much larger and heavier than the light horse breeds, many of them are VERY easy keepers and require very little feed to maintain appropriate body weight and condition, especially since they are fed high quality hay and have free access to pasture during much of the year.  This was even true for some of the young growing horses, so we had to make adjustments to the original plan.  We started with Ultium® Growth Horse Formula for the youngsters, but switched to Enrich Plus™ ration balancing feed for several of the easiest keepers to keep them from gaining too much weight. Like all growing horses, it is extremely important to provide essential nutrients in correct balance with calories to support optimal growth.

The Clydesdales on the hitches are a mixed batch.  Since they are working horses, we are feeding a combination of Omolene® horse feed, some Amplify® High-Fat Supplement, and some Enrich Plus™ feed along with high quality grass hay.  A few of the hitch horses are again such easy keepers that Enrich Plus™ feed and hay is enough to maintain body weight and condition.  Of course, it is very important to everyone involved that the horses always look their best, are happy and healthy, and receive the highest quality nutrition possible.

An especially memorable experience took place on January 16 of this year, when Mike and I traveled to Warm Springs Ranch in Booneville, Mo., the Budweiser Clydesdales breeding farm.  We arrived about 5 hours after the birth of the first filly of the year, and enjoyed taking pictures and watching her figure out where to find breakfast (Mama’s elbow was not very rewarding for the little girl).  Little did we know that we were in the presence of a future TV star – the baby was Hope, the star of the Budweiser commercial for the Big Game!

One aspect of our relationship with the Budweiser Clydesdales that struck home with me is the similarities between our companies. Both brands share a history that is rooted in St. Louis, Missouri, and is based on a tradition of quality, integrity and innovation.  In talking and interacting with the people who work with the Clydesdales, it is very quickly apparent that they take great pride in their company and its heritage, and are dedicated to the care and welfare of their horses.  At Purina Animal Nutrition, we certainly share the passion for our animals, as well as the pride in our company and its history.  It seems like a perfect partnership for our two companies to work together, and I look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship with the fabulous, beautiful, enormous(!) Budweiser Clydesdales.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Beating the Heat During the Dog Days of Summer: Ideas for decreasing heat stress in horses

As summer drags on the heat can become a serious problem for many horses.  The primary way in which horses cool themselves is through sweating.  While the exact mechanisms for inducing sweat production in horses are not yet fully understood, some experts believe that prolonged, consistently high sweat rates can lead to a kind of “exhaustion” of the sweat glands in horses which may result in anhidrosis (the inability to produce sweat adequately).  Recommendations to help address anhidrosis center on finding ways to keep horses cooler, decreasing the need for sweat production.  Here are a few ideas you may want to try to keep your horses cooler this summer.

1.  Feeding management. At rest, body heat is produced primarily by microbes in the hindgut digesting the forage a horse eats.  Try providing the bulk of the horses’ daily ration overnight.  Ration out smaller quantities of hay during the day and give them the largest portion for overnight consumption. Feed concentrates later in the evening and early in the morning as well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Feeding Program for Orphan Foals

A mare’s death is a tragedy that will be compounded if her foal isn’t quickly placed on an effective feeding and care program.  However, with proper nutrition and veterinary support, orphaned foals can be managed and successfully developed into healthy adults.  To help orphans through the tough early stages of life, an emergency feeding program was developed at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center.

Starting at birth, here are the steps in an orphan foal feeding program:
  • Day 1: The first and most important step is getting colostrum into newborn foals within the first 2 hours of life. This “first milk” gives foals the antibodies they need to temporarily build up their immune systems to fight disease, but after 18-24 hours they can no longer absorb these antibodies. Check with your veterinarian right away to see if foals should receive medication of any kind and if they have achieved proper immunoglobulin levels.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Congratulations Dr. Kelly Vineyard on your book chapter!

Equine Applied and Clinical Nutrition is a brand new text book available from Elsevier Publishing. It is an up-to-date, in-depth resource for equine nutritionists, veterinarians and nutrition buffs; written by experts in their individual fields. Dr. Warren (University of Florida) and Dr. Vineyard are authorities on the utilization and supplementation of fat in horses. I have enjoyed paging through the text and appreciate all the time and diligence that goes into such an undertaking. Writing a book chapter is a labor of love and the rewards include a personal sense of accomplishment and service instead of payment and great accolades. So congrats Dr. Vineyard on your contribution to Equine Applied and Clinical Nutrition, we are happy to have a “fat expert” in the house! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Welcome to the Summer Riding Season

Just past the longest day of the year and the summer riding season is in full swing! Coast to coast, horse owners are loading up and hitting the trails, heading to shows and taking on the competition. Recently we checked in with a few of our national ambassadors to see what they were up to.

First up was the Old Salem Spring Show in New Salem, NY. Many of the top jumper riders make Old Salem a stop on their annual tour of the northeast making for great competition and great spectating. Amid a beautiful setting, both Todd Minikus and Beezie Madden found success on the scenic grass course with multiple wins a piece. 

Next stop was a visit around Texas horse country. We checked in with Lindy Burch, Kory Pounds and Matt Gaines, all of whom are getting ready for the upcoming NCHA Summer Spectacular in July. Not far removed from the Super Stakes this spring, the Purina cutting horse ambassadors are busy with foals on the ground, maintaining their current competition strings and already prepping for the NCHA Futurity this winter.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Sunny Week in Seattle

Last week the annual ACVIM (American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine) Forum was held in Seattle Washington. I was privileged to attend this event both as representative of Purina Animal Nutrition at the trade show that accompanies this meeting, as well as a practicing veterinarian to acquire continuing education. Ordinarily, I don’t mind spending all day inside a convention center when meetings like this are held in Seattle because the weather is usually less than ideal. However this year was different, with bright sun and daytime temperatures in the mid 60’s and 70’s, making it hard to be stuck inside all day. Fortunately, the ACVIM Forum is among the premier veterinary CE events in the country, known for its state of the art presentations by the top veterinarians in the world. The Forum is attended by more than 1300 veterinary internal medicine specialists and general practitioners.

In conjunction with the Forum, the AAVN (American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition) held its 13th Annual Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium. This event gives veterinary nutritionists, animal nutritionists and graduate students the opportunity to present their latest research findings related to nutrition and its effects on veterinary health. This year a record was set for attendance with over 160 veterinarians, nutritionists and students in attendance.  Purina Animal Nutrition was proud to sponsor the AAVN Large Animal/Equine Case Report Award, which was presented to Jennifer Gill from North Carolina State University for her submission entitled, “Evaluation of a potential insulin resistance in an obese Paso Fino mare with bilateral hind limb laminitis.” This year’s symposium featured primarily small animal (dog and cat) research abstracts that were very thought provoking. It can very useful and interesting to hear about advances in research involving other species and then to think about how they might apply to horses. An example of this was a presentation about a study investigating the traditional dietary recommendations for dogs with chronic kidney disease. This study found that protein restriction in the diet is likely not as critical as once thought, particularly with the advance of higher quality protein in most diets. It was a very enlightening talk that challenged one of the old dogmas of dietary management of dogs (and most other mammals) with kidney disease and these finding may have implications across all species including horses.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Time at the Equine Science Symposium

Part of the fun of traveling around the country doing horse research and attending scientific conferences is passing by sights like the “World’s Largest Pistachio.”  We couldn’t help but stop and take this in on our way to Ruidoso, New Mexico to attend the Equine Science Society (ESS) Symposium. The little shop there was full of homemade pistachio mixes from nuts grown on the property, local wine and fun gifts.  I am still enjoying the lemon-lime pistachios I picked up.

What in the world?

As for the conference, we had a great time at ESS and we stayed at the Inn of the Mountain Gods which is part of the Apache Indian reservation just outside of Ruidoso.  We had a busy schedule attending the scientific talks, meeting with colleagues and supplier companies, and catching up with the conglomerate of equine nutritionists that we get to see at this conference.  If you follow this blog regularly, I posted some pictures a few weeks back, which were a “teaser” to the talks Purina would be presenting.  Here is some more information about each one.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What do these three pictures have in common?

They are all from upcoming Purina presentations at the Equine Science Society Symposium in Mescalero, New Mexico!  We have 4 accepted research abstracts on a wide variety of topics, ranging from salt and water intake, how feed additives affect manure stock-piling, and protein supplementation in exercising horses.  Each research abstract will be presented as part of the symposium as a data-sharing PowerPoint presentation, describing the research hypotheses, methodologies, results and implications.  If you would like a sneak peak of the research and other topics being presented, the abstracts and full papers have already been published and uploaded to the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science website at:

More information about the meeting can be found at

Also, we will be sure to blog about the meeting itself and provide insight into all the new and exciting equine research being presented.  The meeting covers everything from nutrition, exercise physiology, reproduction, teaching & extension and more!

Monday, May 6, 2013

2013 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event

Looking at the Kentucky Horse Park’s schedule of events, there’s always something going on at the park; shows, demonstrations, and competitions of all shapes and kinds, not the least of which is the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event – easily one of my favorite events of the year!

Once again, Purina Animal Nutrition was proud to be a sponsor of the annual event. To kick of the festivities, we were treated to a course walk by Olympian and Purina Ambassador Kyle Carter on Thursday afternoon. Kyle took us on a tour of the cross country course with great insights into the strategy and approaches for each obstacle. While some obstacles have a few options to take depending on the rider’s objective, all of them are a challenge in and of themselves. Just walking the course is a huge effort so you can imagine what that translates to on horseback.

I’m not an eventer myself, but I’ve developed an immense amount of respect for what it takes to get a horse to compete at this level.  To go from calm focus on dressage day to watching them gallop through the lanes on cross country day is certainly a sight to behold only to see them come back on Sunday and jump through the stadium course with what looks like ease. Of course there’s nothing easy about a four star level event and it takes a monumental team effort to get there.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Feeding for Shine

Everyone wants their horse to look so good that he/she turns heads. Good breeding, correct conformation, and a strong topline are important, but the traditional hallmark of a beautiful horse is a shiny coat. Even horses without perfect confirmation are eye-catching when they have a shiny coat. A good example is my own horse Roman pictured below….he is an aged 15.3 OTTB with a club foot and a Roman nose, but in spite of all that I think he looks gorgeous (OK, I may be a tiny bit biased, but he does have a very shiny coat).

My horse Roman (photo credit Eve Wheeler)

Even though we can’t control confirmation flaws, we do have some level of control over the appearance of a horse’s coat. Good nutrition shows on the outside, and feeding a balanced diet that meets nutrient requirements is an essential first step to having a horse with a shiny coat.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Challenge of Spring

Most of us associate the challenges of spring on a horse farm/ranch with all of the seasonal changes that take place.  The challenges many of us face can include; getting foals on the ground safely, getting mares bred back for the foal crop of the coming year, starting back up with cutting grass or making hay, trying to keep a close watch on horses on pasture eating that lush spring grass, the list goes on and on! One of these challenges brought me to realize a strong correlation from a discussion we had the previous week about feeding horses properly. We had an additional challenge last week when a group of severe storms came through our area. Strong winds and a tornado were reported right here at the farm. Luckily no people or horses at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center were hurt, but we did lose some trees and fence. One of the trees was a favorite of mine, it has been in countless advertisements and pictures of the farm. The picture below was from a couple of years ago after a light snow.

A substantial oak that had survived who knows how many storms and from all appearances looked rock solid and healthy. When the wind came last week we were left with the image below.

Monday, April 1, 2013

New from Purina Animal Nutrition!

It’s hard to believe we’ve actually done it! Years and years of research, countless ultrasounds, timely breedings, sleepness nights, foal after foal being born….and we have finally figured out how to feed broodmares and combine our breeding expertise in order to guarantee the sex of a foal. We are proud to present Purina Strategy Colt and Purina Strategy Filly! Start using these feeds now to rebreed your mares and get exactly the number of colts and fillies you want on the ground next year. By using these feeds and timing your breeding precisely as we specify, you will have a 90%+ chance of getting the gender of foal you plan for. No more waiting 11 months to find out, no more trying to sex the embryo at certain dates, no more disappointment when you wished for a colt and a filly pops out (no offense to the fillies), we have a feed for you too!

We have been working on this technology at our Purina Animal Nutrition Center for many years. Our statistics show that if we combine an exact percentage of protein, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids, and then inseminate mares on a precisely determined date and time via ultrasound, there is a 91.23 ± 4.5% chance of influencing the sex of the foal. This percentage is statistically significant with a P-value of 0.0496. This is a very strong statistical value and we are now preparing all of our data for peer review publication. We will let you know when the final paper is accepted and ready for print.

In the meantime, some additional statistics include:

40.0% percent of people in the US play April Fool’s Day pranks on their friends, family and/or coworkers. When these pranks are played, it makes 7.0% of people feel paranoid and another 11.0% annoyed. I, on the other hand, think they are great fun! Did I get you? I hope so. Happy April Fool’s Day!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Horses, A Family Affair!

It should be pretty apparent if you have been following our blog by now that everyone in the horse group at Purina Animal Nutrition is passionate about horses and interacting with them. If you are involved with horses you know that it is far more complex than your average job or hobby, it is more of a lifestyle. Dr. Gordon posted a couple of weeks ago about our first foal of the year, we are now up to six on the ground and three more to go. As the manager of our research herd and faclility, one of my responsibilities is getting foals on the ground safe and sound. We use several tools to help us out. We have a special camera system and a birth alarm which are the most frequently used. We make every effort possible to be present at birth just in case the foal or mare needs some help. This past Friday I had just picked my children up from school when the birth alarm was activated, I had only been away from work for about an hour. I raced back to the farm and made it in time for my children to witness seeing their first foal being born. What a great experience, they are still talking about it 6 days later! It can be tough splitting time between the barn and family, but I feel it is important to instill in my kids the passion, time, and committment it takes if you want to spend time with these great creatures. I had lots of help bedding a fresh stall for the new foal and mare.

Then we had to get a chance to say hello for the first time before moving to our clean stall.

Being able to experience these things while at work is a chance not many people get. It is just one of the reasons we all work here, and carry so much passion for the horse with us every day. Raising these foals to become future research horses and eventually someones personal horse is a lot of responsibility, but it is one we take seriously. When someone buys a horse from us for their own personal use I know someday it will be a family treasure that hopefully they can use for their own family experience someday! We still have at least a couple of late nights left to go to get the rest of our foals on the ground, but I know I will miss getting those late calls to  get to the barn once we have everybody safe on the ground!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Winter" Season in Florida

While many parts of the country are weathering spring storms and waiting for mud to vacate, the winter show circuits are in full swing in Florida. Well, winter according to the calendar anyways; you’ll be hard pressed to find a shaggy coat or heavy turnout anywhere in sight so I’ll use the term loosely. I was lucky enough to pack up the sunscreen, leave the snow behind myself and spend some time spectating and catching up with our national ambassadors.

First stop was Wellington and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Our show jumpers keep pretty full schedules throughout their stints there. I stopped by to watch the Thursday grand prix class and see Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut and Todd Minikus in action. It was a big class with 86 entries and a 28 pair jumpoff. There were dozens of international riders also in the class and several Olympians that competed in London last year; as usual the competition in Wellington never disappoints. The jumpoff was chalk full of talent and blistering paces and while we didn’t come away with a Team Purina win, Laura and Cedric held their own with a very respectable fifth place finish from a clear round in 31.468 seconds.