Letters: 04/99

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The View From KER
When Michael Plumb’s Horse Journal started a few years ago I was very encouraged that there was finally a publication that would take an informed look at horse-related products and provide sound advice to horse owners about which products were the best for their horses without all of the marketing “smoke” and unsubstantiated claims that appear in other lay publications.

I founded Kentucky Equine Research (KER) in 1988 with a similar philosophy: the most effective way to influence horsemen’s buying decisions was through education and solid science and facts were the best marketing tools available. Today, KER’s staff includes three Ph.D. equine nutritionists, a veterinarian and a large technical support team. We operate our own research facility where we conduct (and publish) a large amount of research related to equine nutrition and exercise physiology.

Forty percent of the nutrition papers presented at the 5th International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology held this past September in Japan were authored or co-authored by KER nutritionists.

The knowledge gained from these research studies and KER’s experience working with horses around the world is incorporated into a large number of horse feeds that are manufactured by feed manufacturers that we call KER team members. At present, we have 27 team members in the United States and 15 team members abroad.

In your recent article “Does Your Sweet Feed Measure Up'” (February 1999), a sidebar was written about KER. While much of what was said was correct, the conclusion was that “KER team member mills have access to KER recommendations and guidance, but do not necessarily follow them. KER on the label is not a guarantee the product meets all KER specifications.” This is untrue. Feeds that display our logo have been formulated by KER.

The authors of this article assumed that if every feed that is made by a KER team member is not identical, then the feed mills are not following our advice. The most important aspect of our consultation service is that we can customize formulas for specific regions and specific situations.

For example, the feed formulas that we use for David and Karen O’Connor’s event horses are not the same that we would use for general purpose sweet feeds at a local co-op. Likewise, Hallway’s racing feeds (which have fueled the last two Kentucky Derby winners and earners of over $21 million in black type wins in 1998) are also different because Thoroughbred trainers often use different hays and supplements than event riders and the type of exercise performed by their horses is different. Endurance champion Valerie Kanavy’s feed is also different since endurance horses have different nutritional needs as well. My point is that even though team member feeds may be different they still are KER formulas, and we believe they are nutritionally correct for their intended use.

To demonstrate that KER stands behind each of our team member’s feeds, we are prepared to make Horse Journal readers a very special offer. KER has developed an equine ration evaluation software program called MicroSteed. With this program, the total daily intake of 17 different nutrients from forage and feed is calculated and compared graphically to the nutrient requirements of the particular horse being fed.

Nutrient requirements for an individual horse can be expressed as either NRC requirements or those developed by KER. KER will give a free horseman’s version of MicroSteed to your readers so that they can evaluate how our team members feeds work for their horses. All that a horse owner needs to do is contact KER (contact information supplied at end) and let us know where they are located. We will provide them a free copy of MicroSteed that is loaded with forages and grains that are typical for their area and a full selection of KER team member feeds that are also available in their area. With this program, your readers can see for themselves how KER team member feeds work with different hays and pastures. (Sorry Mac users, MicroSteed is a Windows-based program.)

KER strongly believes that our team member feeds are as good as any in the industry and we are willing to prove that they stack up nutritionally with MicroSteed.

We also believe that they are of extremely high quality. The vitamins and microminerals that are added to these feeds are supplied to team members by KER. These premixes are manufactured in facilities with exceptionally high quality control standards that closely adhere to FDA Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines.

We also employ a person whose primary job responsibility is to monitor team member formulas and quality control. I am proud of each of the KER team members that submitted feeds for your February article. We will challenge anyone in the industry when solid nutrition and science are the principal criteria for judgment.

-Joe D. Pagan, Ph.D.
President
Kentucky Equine Research, Inc.

Contact: Kentucky Equine Research, 3910 Delaney Ferry Rd., Versailles, KY 40383; 606/873-1988; www.ker.com.

We’d like to commend those KER team-member feed mills that cooperated with our February analysis of sweet feeds, particularly when some of the national brands like Purina and Blue Seal refused to divulge any pertinent information about the products they sell. We also appreciate Dr. Pagan’s clarification that having KER on the label means a KER feed formulation is used inside the bag. Indeed, KER provides most team-member mills with vitamin/mineral pre-mixes that follow strict, consistent KER quality guidelines. Our comments were based on discussions with KER personnel that indicated KER formally monitors team member feed quality only once a year. It has subsequently been brought to our attention that KER monitors team member feed quality year round through field visits and interaction with consumers. While KER doesn’t guarantee the quality of every team member horse feed per se, they do guarantee that every horse feed carrying the KER logo is nutritionally complete for the use for which it was intended.

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Intermuscular Needle Size
I found the contents of the February 1999 article on vaccine reactions true. However, I want to bring up a point that is so important when giving horses shots whether they be vaccines, antibiotics, etc. All intra-muscular shots should be given using a 1 ??” long needle (gauge of choice). This will help to prevent/reduce any adverse reactions, swelling or tenderness. Most problems are caused by the use of a 1” long needle when administering medicines IM. I think this would be a great thing to advise to your subscribers. Thanks for an informative publication.

-Stacy Burnett
Internet

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Living With Navicular
I agree with the answer to the reader concerned about advanced navicular disease (February 1999), especially finding an outstanding farrier and a good vet who specializes in, or is extremely knowledgeable about, lameness. Every solution will be different, and certainly not everyone has had as good an outcome as I have, but I wanted to offer encouragement to the writer with my story.

My 13-year-old Quarter Horse turned up lame off and on for the first two years I had him. My vet suspected navicular disease and started him on a regimen of Isoxuprine and another drug I’ve now forgotten. X-rays over time showed continued degeneration of the bone, and the lameness persisted.

Another vet specializing in lameness said the bone was completely shot and recommended abandoning the horse’s jumping career, slowly eliminating all medications and using wedge pads and egg-bar shoes. The farrier was happy to work with the vet (some won’t hear of it) to find the right solution. The vet X-rayed the hoof before and after shoeing with the wedge pad to make sure the angle of the bone after setting the we dge was as he intended.

We’ve gone for two years with no lameness and no daily medication. We are schooling second- and third-level dressage movements that require repeated work on small circles. We trail ride on hard and rocky ground every weekend, and I occasionally let him jump a fallen log or two. Deep footing or mud is a no-no and has caused us to withdraw from at least one competition. Uneven ground is also not great. But we are now a happy, productive twosome living with navicular.

-Kathy McHugh
Lincoln, MA

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Sports Medicine Emphasis
Your articles relating to sports medicine are the primary reason I subscribe to your magazine???they are wonderful. I hope to see them for a long time in your magazine. Education is the best way to persuade horse owners to utilize all avenues of injury prevention and rehabilitation.

-Allison Bridgewater
Internet