The Eq Center that I run is probably the biggest barn in our area, with a total of over 40 horses, and I’m certainly not shy about my love for feeding Purina products and how they make my horses look and perform. When our rep, Kelsey, asked Ashley and I if we wanted to go to their professional horseman’s conference, I jumped at the chance!
Ashley and I agreed that it would be the smarter thing to send me to absorb all the information because while I control all the feed schedules, I’m also an uber nerd when it comes to nutrition and research. I LOVE to hear about the new research and gain an intimate understanding of how the products I’m feeding actually work to make my horses feel better.
Once we arrived in Missouri, we had about 30 minutes to settle into our room before we hopped on the buses to the Anheuser Busch factory in St. Louis, where we got to participate in the VIP tour of the facility, learn how the Clydesdale hitch operates, and eat some absolutely amazing food.
(Spoiler alert: they feed us… A LOT)
It was kind of nifty to see the horses housed right in the middle of the factory and listen to the history of how the hitch came to feed Purina. We talked about how closely they still work with the company on a daily basis to provide high quality nutrition to all the horses in the program. The demo horses travel 320 days out of the year!
We also got to learn a bit about the beer making process which was… beer. I was more enthralled with seeing the equine facilities and hearing about how they managed them all. You can take the horse girl out of the barn but…
We bused back to the hotel by 8 and I think everybody was asleep by 830. We had to be back on buses and head to the Purina animal research center by 7am the next more… that was a tough alarm to set, but it was amazing to crash in a giant king bed all. to. myself.
We got to the Research Center around 8 am and dove right into lecture after lecture. We first learned about the history of Purina (fun fact: the checkboard came from a family that was clothed entirely in the pattern. When the founder asked the mother why her whole family was dressed so garishly, she responded that it was so she could find them – as a mother, I feel this woman in my soul. The founder then adopted the patten for that exact reason!) and then the history of the center. Not only do they do equine research, they also have dairy and beef cattle, aquatic… things, companion animals (deer sperm goes for $150k A STRAW, yo. I’m in the wrong business), and poultry.
We then learned about the science behind the their newest (and my favorite) feed supplement, Outlast and keeping sporthorse guts happy. We moved from there to properly fueling/recovering these horses by using amino acids and fats in the appropriate ways. We finished up with an amazing lecture from an equine lawyer, and I think she scared the shiz out of all of us because the only thing that anybody talked about during lunch was revising their contracts and waivers.
After the morning of lectures and an absolutely amazing lunch; we swapped groups and got to go see the actual center. We weren’t allowed phones, but their barns were state of the art. They showed us their most used piece of equipment, the treadmill, and demo’ed it’s use so we could see how they actually can apply the research to a working horse. They have a full breeding program of Quarter Horse’s and work closely with the 6666 ranch for stallions, then send the young horses NOT being used in a study to Colorado State to be started and sold. It was awesome to hear that while they had a high volume of horses, every single one had a plan in place.
From the treadmill and breeding barn, we then went to the barn where they test the feed. After a short lecture on the gut and how it processes feed (microbiomes ftw) we got to see how they do their tests and witness some seriously high tech feed buckets! Not only did they measure weight, but even were so sensitive as to give data on how voraciously the horse ate its food. A barn manager’s dream!
We finished our day two with a Q&A with some of the Purina ambassadors: the Budweiser hitch manager, Amy, Eventer Kyle Carter (swoon), and barrel racer Missy Powell. It was neat to pick their brains and hear how they personally managed their horses during the on and off seasons. Kyle is an absolute crack up, and Amy and Missy were happy to play along.
After MORE amazing food, we hopped back on the buses to head back to the hotel around 8 for a full nights sleep.
Day three was the final day, and they had us hopping with a 730 start time at the hotel conference center.
We kicked off the day with a repro lecture, and learned about how proper nutrition for the mare and stallion were the foundation for producing a healthy foal. From there we went through the stages of gut development through the yearling year and how to feed it for optimal growth and wellness.
The second lecture was talking about equine endocrine diseases, how the diseases worked/affected the horse and how to feed those horses properly. It was fascinating to again learn the science behind all of their feeds and how I can tailor my feeding programs to feed the few horses in my barn who are dealing with this.
We finished the day talking about selecting supplements and how to weed through the massive amounts on the market. They taught us about reading labels and finding the research behind the things that they claim to do.
All in all, it was a complete whirlwind of learning, questions, science, and lots of great food. Purina really does work hard to produce the best line of feed that they can, and their research is unparalleled to any other company. Their PhD’s have a passion for their job that I would have never thought possible, and they really, really care about producing the highest quality product for every facet of the industry. While I was sold on their feed just from seeing the results in my barn, I can guarantee that I will feed Purina for life!