Recent Developments in Performance Horse Health & Nutrition

Posted: December 20, 2022

Guests:

Dr. Joe Pagan, President and Founder, Kentucky Equine Research; Dr. Laurie Lawrence, University of Kentucky and Dr. Steve Jackson, Bluegrass Equine Nutrition

Co-Host: Dr. Kari Estes, Balchem Research Associate

Episode 59: Recent Developments in Performance Horse Health & Nutrition

Podcast Topic

Gathering around the pubcast to discuss equine nutrition in the performance horse arena are Dr. Joe Pagan, Dr. Laurie Lawrence and Dr. Steve Jackson.

Timestamps

Expert in equine nutrition and founder of Kentucky Equine Research (KER), Dr. Pagan led the conversation by explaining the company’s history, his academic background and KER’s innovative philosophy in looking ahead into equine nutrition. 7:27

Also joining in on the conversation was leading equine nutritionist Dr. Jackson who described his leadership at Bluegrass Equine Nutrition and his experience in one of the largest breed industries, the thoroughbreds. 10:28

He acknowledged that with his background and horsemanship experience, most of his clients are usually thoroughbred owners or trainers ranging from central Kentucky to Japan. 12:47

Dr. Jackson added he believes good horses often come by happenstance, mentioning most folks making feed or giving recommendations read from the same book giving management the upper hand in success. 13:45

Innovation and science, the driving force behind equine nutrition success. Dr. Pagan mentioned when he first started, the industry was focused on sweet feed and straightforward programs. He added that it wasn’t until he was in graduate school the emphasis switched to the alternative energy source of feeding fat as a performance source. 18:16

However, he added that many in the industry are uncovering the consequences of feeding extremely high fat diets. Dr. Pagan then mentioned that current studies are taking place on polyunsaturated fats as a solution to help correct some of the diet concerns. 20:12

Professor at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Laurie Lawrence, also joined in on the discussion. She added that from her academic perspective, she believes a lot of nutritional horse practices have been modeled by those of other species. 27:52

What are some examples of low, moderate and high-performance horses? Dr. Estes, podcast co-host and Balchem Research Associate, then asked. 28:47

Giving a few examples, Dr. Pagan said racehorses are in the high category, while polo ponies would fit into the middle, and recreational horses would fit into the low level. He then added that he and his team are focused on utilizing technology to alert horse owners on their typical riding time and a nutritional program that would work for them. 30:20

While many factors fit into the nutritional space, Dr. Lawrence mentioned the importance of selecting long-stem and clean hay for the average horse rather than the suggested green, leafy and fresh hay quality. 31:15

Education is a large factor when it comes to accurate equine nutrition, she added. Suggesting the importance of university research, local agents and the potential that an educational pathway can have in this space. 36:20

Dr. Jackson mentioned that he believes the industry, in general, does a poor job of educating practitioners on nutritional needs and recommendations. He added the importance of continuing education for practitioners on various forage types, fat requirements and more. 43:29

Making sure the body condition is appropriate for the horse type and the condition is necessary, noted Dr. Jackson. He added the importance of communicating with your nutritionist about the horse’s GI tract and forage types. 58:57

Dr. Lawrence rounded out the conversation by mentioning that as nutritionists, there is a lot of room for growth in educating horse owners, veterinarians and farriers. Additionally, she added that the industry has enough information to solve nearly 80% of the current nutritional concerns in the recreational horse industry. 1:02:42

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