Skip to content

Other Resources

Ep. 062: Equine Science Society Symposium Presentation Highlights

On this episode, co-host Katy Starr and guest expert Dr. Stephen Duren, PhD, MS, PAS, discuss current research that was presented at the 2023 Equine Science Society Symposium held in Grapevine, Texas.

Episode Notes

** We will be taking a mini summer break for the month of July! After episode 62, the next episode (Ep 63) will release on Tuesday, August 1st. Catch up on past episodes if you haven't had a chance to listen in yet!**



Co-host Katy Starr and guest expert Dr. Stephen Duren, PhD, MS, PAS, discuss current research that was presented at the 2023 Equine Science Society Symposium held in Grapevine, Texas. 


They discussed what the Equine Science Society is and the value it offers to the horse industry and horse owners. Some of the research highlighted in this episode involves potential livestock models to study bone and joint health in growing horses, hay nets and slow feeders and the impact on dental health, body condition score, weight and behavior, exercise intensity as it influences gastric ulcers in horses, algae as a source of DHA and EPA (which are important in the metabolism of omega 3 fatty acids) for anti-inflammatory effects on joints and joint healing, looking for fiber markers in forage that can predict digestibility of forage, equine gut microbiome including specific microbes and what they do from an individual standpoint and how they function as a community for certain activities, standardizing credentials for equine nutritionists, and so many other topics!


Have any topics you want to hear more about? Let us know at


Episode Notes: 

In December of 2022, the University of Minnesota Equine Extension program Facebook page was hacked, and they have unfortunately not been unable to get it back. They have started a new page. Go follow and connect with them – 


 – @UMNExtEquine




  • *Views and opinions expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Standlee Premium Products, LLC.*

Katy Starr (00:01):

Hi, I'm Katy.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:02):

And I'm Dr. Cubitt. We're going Beyond the Barn. Come join us on this journey as we bust equine and livestock nutrition myths and interview some of the most intriguing experts in the country.


Katy Starr (00:15):

We'll go behind the scenes of how premium Western Quality Forage is grown and brought to your favorite farm and ranch retail store. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to another episode of Beyond the Barn, and Dr. Duren is joining me this week on the podcast. It is good to have you with us, Dr. Duren.


Dr. Stephen Duren (00:37):

Thanks for having me back.


Katy Starr (00:39):

Today, we are coming onto this recording quite early to make this happen, but Dr. Duren and I are attending the 2023 Equine Science Society Symposium that is being held in the Dallas Fort Worth Texas area this year. And we thought it would be an interesting episode just to kind of chat a little bit about some of the topics that are going on in the latest research in equine nutrition. So for those that are unfamiliar with the Equine Science Society, can you explain who makes up this group and their purpose?


Dr. Stephen Duren (01:22):

Yes, this is a group, it is called the Equine Science Society, and it's a group of scientists, university scientists, private research facility scientists, graduate students that are training to be scientists and then industry professionals that are all members of this organization. What they do is a meeting every other year where they present and publish original research. So it's a conference that's been going on for over 40 years. Again, it's every other year is the actual physical meeting and it brings scientists not only from the United States, Canada, but also Europe and Australia together to share what they're doing in research and present that so we can move forward with the health and longevity basically of the horse.


Katy Starr (02:16):

Right. And I thought it was interesting to get us started yesterday when we attended the first day one, they did a talk, kind of like a panel discussion where they talked about the past, the present and future of the program and everything that's gone on. And I found it really fascinating to hear Dr. Coleman discuss just where the Equine Science Society started from and just the changes that they've gone through all these years. Because when you think about all of the stuff that they've put together for all of this, like now currently they give us this really nicely printed booklet that includes all the proceedings that go on during the symposium and just hearing him talk about how it used to be. And at one point there was some of the stuff that was like handwritten and just to see how long it's been around and the need that they saw for something like this. And just like where they see things going in the future, I just found that to be really interesting.


Dr. Stephen Duren (03:22):

That is interesting the way it's kind of evolved over the years. But I think what it underscores is in order to move science forward, we've got to communicate with our colleagues. What are you working on? What are we working on? What have you found? And share information so that we can, you know, move the goalposts forward, so to speak, so that we accomplish our research goal, whatever that is. It's the sharing of information and how much work it used to be to have to share information where it's much easier now to share information, but there's so much more information now that can be generated. It is very interesting how it's changed.


Katy Starr (04:02):

Right, yeah, that collaboration piece, they discussed quite a bit about, you know, the future of, you know, science and equine nutrition and everything and collaboration is such an important thing and knowing, I think it was, was it Dr. White Springer? I think she was the one that was talking about that. Just how important it is that we understand, you know, we have our certain strengths and everybody around us has strengths. And I think that's a really good mindset to have just in general, like working in any career path, right? Or in life and just understanding that each of us kind of has our own strengths and we're much stronger together rather than thinking that we have to go it alone. You know, the project at the end is going to come out better because we're working together and kind of multiple brains working on projects and making things happen. Especially when, you know, certain university programs or anything like that maybe have availability, certain availabilities that others don't. So yeah, that's a really important thing that they've been hitting on, which I think is really key.


Dr. Stephen Duren (05:06):

There's no question that we're stronger together than individuals and using your strength with other faculty members' strengths and faculty members from different universities and different departments, even different species that have a technology that we don't yet utilize in equine research and technique. And not only applies to research, it applies to everyday horse owners too. If you don't know something, ask a question. I mean, the community is strong and there's lots of good information out there.


Katy Starr (05:38):

Right. And I don't know if you attended this one, but there was one of the talks that I sat in that just talked about kind of like the role that extension plays in all of this and that there seems to be a lot of people that aren't aware of equine extension and the support that comes from that side. I think many of us are familiar with, you know, 4-H and FFA, Pony Club, you know, things like that. And so there's that 4-H component that is supported from the universities in their extension programs, but there's that adult aspect as well that it's in all of the states and each of the counties, you know, has an extension program and obviously some are more geared to certain species than others. And on our last episode that I did with Dr. Cubitt, we had Laura Kenny with Penn State Extension on, and she also talked about this, that, you know, if somebody doesn't know, you know, something in their specific area, that's the neat thing about Cooperative Extension is it is in fact cooperative. So they can find those answers for people that they may not have if they don't have a specific like equine specialist there at their extension office. But it's just knowing that you have these tools and resources available to you, check them out and you can never stop learning. I mean, look at us here, look at you here, Dr. Duren being the expert that you are still going to learn and, you know, grow your knowledge and always just staying up with what's going on in science. I mean, it's just, it's never ending.


Dr. Stephen Duren (07:18):

Yeah, that's very true. It continues to march forward, and I think both the extension University extension programs as well as your responsibility at Standlee and different feed manufacturers to take this information that the science has provided and disseminate that to the people in both written form, in electronic form, in new products and new innovations. And that's where the, the research moves from the laboratory to the barn, so to speak.


Katy Starr (07:48):

Right. Gives that more practical aspect there. So how many years have you been attending the symposium event? Because, you said it, it's a every other year thing. How many years have you been attending?


Dr. Stephen Duren (07:59):

Yeah, that's interesting cause I was actually thinking about that and the very first one I attended as an undergraduate student was in 1983. So do the math. This is 40 for me.


Katy Starr (08:12):

Yeah. Wow. That's incredible. Man, this is my first year attending and I've just been soaking it all in a lot of information, but I've really, really enjoyed it. A lot of great information that's been coming out through all of these research projects. What do you look forward to the most with this event?


Dr. Stephen Duren (08:34):

Certainly the science. I like that a lot of the science is presented by the graduate students. So this is in a lot of cases, their first opportunity to get in front of their colleagues, their peers, and present the stuff that certainly their major professors or principal investigators have helped them develop and do. But some of their first, you know, presentations to people that they've cited in the research are sitting in the audience. So it's a lot of pressure for the students certainly. The other thing that's really important, and my dad was very big on this, he said, certainly you'll learn lots of stuff sitting in the sessions, but you also learn lots of stuff visiting with colleagues in the hall, people that you haven't seen in a while and catching up and learning what's going on with them. And that's also a very important aspect that I look forward to as well.


Katy Starr (09:28):

Excellent. And we've talked, you know, a little bit about, you know, what the Equine Science Society does, but to you, what value does the Equine Science Society offer the horse industry and horse owners?


Dr. Stephen Duren (09:43):

Yeah, the science. If you look at what's been accomplished over the years as far as defining nutrient requirements and different management strategies to keep horses healthy, it has paved the way for better health. The reason horses are having a longer lifespan or longevity and better health is from the very information that's coming out of these meetings. And so it's very, very important to share what these different laboratories are doing to collaborate and say, okay, what pieces of the puzzle are we missing and how are we going to find those answers?


Katy Starr (10:23):

So day one, what research stood out to you the most?


Dr. Stephen Duren (10:30):

There probably isn't a single paper that stood out the most, but there were a lot of papers that I found really interesting. One paper that was done by Michigan State University, they continued to work on models to study bone and bone health, including joint health in young horses that are starting their training career and even mature horses. So they're trying to get a better handle on how can we see what kind of damage exercise is causing. Exercise, whether it's in a straight line or in a circle like many of us lunge horses or ride in circles with horses and what damage that potentially does to bone and joint. Well, this is very expensive research if you're using horses. And then also, with horses it's very invasive. So they've looked for other livestock models that could model that, that could be evaluated more critically. So in this particular study, they were using young sheep growing lambs that they had in an exercise program as a model for joint destruction in young horses. And I found it very fascinating.


Katy Starr (11:45):

I noticed that there was a handful of research that came from day one surrounding the use of hay nets or slow feeders. I think I attended most of them and just kind of like their impact on saliva production and the mouth. Some were in regards to like behavioral activities related to the type of slow feeder that was used and how it changes horse, you know, how it impacts horse's behavior and then also horse hay usage on body weight and body condition score and things like that. So I kind of thought that that was a little bit interesting from day one on my side, but yeah, I thought it was pretty good.


Dr. Stephen Duren (12:27):

Yeah, those studies in there were a number of them that are looking, are all rooted in a couple basic premises. First that forage is the most important component of the diet. We've certainly realized that. And then they've realized that a lot of horses because of different stabling methods or inactivity have become overweight. So we know that the value of forage and that horses need to chew forage to produce saliva to reduce the incidence of gastric ulcers, but how can we keep forage in front of them but not let them consume such a massive amount? So now enter different slow feeder types, whether it's a hay net or a multitude of different products, what they're trying to do from a science standpoint is figure out does the use of these hay nets first, save hay or reduce intake or reduce waste? And they absolutely do that. And then they are looking at other things now, kind of in the second wave of the studies, what impact does it have on dental health? What aspect does it have on posture of the animal, of saliva production, any changes to the mouth, the tissues from, you know, having to fish the hay out through the, you know, the small squares of the hay net. Does that cause any damage? So a lot of studies that are being done on that, that will ultimately, they'll make these slow feeding systems better for our horses.


Katy Starr (14:00):

Right, right. Especially in our constantly changing modern society, right?


Dr. Stephen Duren (14:06):

Yeah. We get busy and unfortunately we may not get to, to ride as much as we want and have other responsibilities. And a horse that's inactive and fed, high quality forage, you know, certainly can gain weight. And if that goes on for a number of years, then fortunately we have to turn to some different management strategies to, to help that horse so we don't get a number of diseases that are associated with obesity.


Katy Starr (14:30):

Right. Is there anything else that you wanna touch on from day one before we get back to the next day's activities?


Dr. Stephen Duren (14:40):

Couple interesting things that I found. Penn State continues to do some work on exercise intensity as it influences gastric ulcer score. In other words, you know, if you exercise a horse, do you have an increased likelihood of them getting ulcers? Ulcers are extremely common in a lot of our performance horses. So I think that's a study that's going to continue to gain traction. A study out of Canada that I thought was really interesting, we know the potential benefit of omega-3 fatty acids and in this particular study they were looking at algae not as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but a source of DHA and EPA, which are two intermediaries in the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids and looking at their anti-inflammatory effects specific to joint and joint healing. But something interesting that they said in that research is everyone tends to think of inflammation as bad.


Dr. Stephen Duren (15:46):

Well, inflammation is part of the normal healing process. We don't want to totally mute, our inflammatory response is very important, but how can we control inflammation that's become out of control? That was a very good study. And then something that's just kind of a personal interest to me is with the farm bill and the legalizing of hemp production. What are they going to do with all this CBD products and what potential effect can it have on health of horses? So a couple studies looked first at CBD feeding it to stallions. That was very interesting because we know that the active ingredient in marijuana, the THC has a negative effect on male reproduction and they were looking at CBD where it uses some of the same receptors if it also had that negative effect.


Dr. Stephen Duren (16:44):

And it didn't seem to. There was also another study on CBD because of its potential ability to calm or modify behavior, it's a prohibited substance in a lot of racing jurisdictions as well as show jurisdictions. So another study was looking at what's the withdrawal time, in other words, how long does it take to come out of the system? And it surprised me it was over 10 days of withdrawal. Again, for those showing and racing jurisdictions, you know, CBD is not something that you want to necessarily use without knowing A, the rules and B, how long of a withdrawal you have to utilize that product without getting yourself into trouble. So I think there's a lot of things, but those were some of the, probably the highlights from the first day, a lot of basic science still going on. We're still trying to figure out if there's easy predictors for digestibility of hay, if we can use some of the amounts of fiber and determine, you know, how much nutrient these horses will get out of the hay.


Dr. Stephen Duren (17:58):

And ruminant animals, cows, they've been very good at doing some of these studies, equine studies we've kind of lagged behind. So we're using some of the techniques that they had and trying to validate those for horses. So again, that's more basic science that ultimately will get to the end user. Not as flash I guess, but it's very necessary research that needs to be done. A lot of research also focused or research reports focused on very basic science, digestibility of forage and looking for fiber markers in forage that can predict digestibility. So that's something that's very basic, but something that is very much needed so we can determine, you know, quality of forage, digestibility of forage much more rapid. That technology's available in cattle, but it's just starting to be determined in horses.


Katy Starr (18:54):

Yeah, I think that was a really good summary of yesterday's events. I know there were so many that were going on in different rooms, so there, there's no way to be able to go to all of them, but again, it's really nice that they have those proceedings that are available for those attending to kind of look at some of those other ones that are going on. So one other thing that I actually wanted to mention is at the end of the day we sat on a talk that was given by Dr. Krishona Martinson, and I'm sure many of you know who she is. I hope you do, because she was actually on our Beyond the Barn podcast, I think it was last year or episode 37. So by the way, if you have not listened to that one, it's been a very popular episode with our listeners, but it's episode 37, “Navigating When to Soak, Steam, Wet, or Leave Hay Dry.”


Katy Starr (19:49):

And Dr. Krishona Martinson is with the University of Minnesota Equine Extension program. And if you are familiar with her beyond our interview, you know that the Minnesota Equine Extension Program has an excellent social media, content that they put out with great educational information for horse owners, basically taking a lot, I mean, this is what extension's all about, right? It's taking that science that's a little bit heavier and you know, sometimes it's difficult to digest, but they're able to kind of put that out there in a way for us to all be able to easily understand it. And they actually got their Facebook page hacked in December of 2022. If you haven't been seeing posts from them lately. This is the boat I was in. I love their content and I hadn't been seeing it. They got it hacked and they have not been able to recover it.


Katy Starr (20:44):

And so they have had to start a new page. And I love Dr. Martinson and everything that she's been doing. And so I want to be able to support the content that they're putting out there. And so I'm going to put this in the show notes, but if you would like to follow them on their new Facebook page, you can go to UMN extension equine, so it's UMN EXT and then the word equine. And again, I'm going to put this in the show notes so you can easily go to the link there and find them. But if you've always loved their content and the information and the information that they've been putting out, please be sure to go give them a follow and see what they have going on and the great information that they're putting out there. So other than that, I think that's all I have for day one, Dr. Duren.


Dr. Stephen Duren (21:36):

Yeah, another exciting day today, we'll learn more, I'm sure.


Katy Starr (21:39):

Yep, so all right, we will come back with you all for a day two here shortly. Dr. Duren, we are back for discussion about day two of the Equine Science Society Symposium.


Dr. Stephen Duren (21:53):

Yes. Another full day of science.


Katy Starr (21:55):

And well, we had a little bit of fun too, getting to get out and tour some really interesting facilities as well. And so let's talk a little bit about the morning discussions that we were able to sit in on. What did you think about, so we had some workshops and some other talks. What were your thoughts on some of the talks that you sat in on day two?


Dr. Stephen Duren (22:19):

Yeah, so basically what the ESS or Equine Science Society has tried to do is to have some expanded discussion on topics that are relevant topics that are getting a lot of research attention now. So we get those people in the same room and we can kind of brainstorm, if you will, of where we go forward. So I attended two, the first that I went to was one titled the “Equine Microbiome Research, the Present and the Future.” And what this workshop was basically doing is talking about where do we go about studying the equine microbiome. And as our listeners would know, that is the microbial population that exists within the digestive system of the horse. And I think it was really interesting because they did a good job of kind of, hey, what have we done so far? Well, everybody's starting to look at the microbiome and studying it and trying to document which bacteria or which microorganisms are present at what times.


Dr. Stephen Duren (23:24):

And, and if you have a disease, how does that microbiome change? And so we've done a lot of that. What the group had kind of decided is we need to know more about the specific microbes that are there and what they do and which groups of bacteria, if you will, function to do certain projects or certain types of activities within the digestive system. It was really interesting in the sense that we learned, okay, we know that there's lots and lots of microbes there, now we need to learn more specifically about what they do. The other main focus of it is, we said now we've learned that horses that are diseased, horses that are sick or horses that maybe just simply overweight or lean, those horses have different microbial populations than horses that are maybe in a normal condition or a healthy condition. But we need to learn why.


Dr. Stephen Duren (24:24):

What does that mean? If we have a shift in the population or the diversity of that microbiome, what does that mean and how can we figure out or use that as a potential predictor for disease? Then finally, what the group hopes to do somewhere down the road is be able to develop interventions, if you will, be able to go in and correct a microbiome in the sense of a diseased animal, an animal that's overweight or an animal that's underweight and get them to a proper microbial population to restore health. So really fascinating and a lot of different research institutions involved in microbiome research right now.


Katy Starr (25:09):

Yeah, that was a really interesting talk. I like that they're starting to really reach out into their connections and communities and build a larger community who can kind of utilize all of that research that's currently going on instead of being so isolated with it to kind of make that effort stronger, which I think as with as complex is the microbiome, the gut microbiome is, and those concepts involved there, I think that's gonna be really helpful for future research.


Dr. Stephen Duren (25:39):

Yeah, and one really basic thing that they talked about is, you know, how do we prepare samples so that data that you've collected at your university or your research facility that somebody else can use those numbers as well. So everything is standardized, so lots of information and what it's doing is it's paving the way for collaborative effort, which again, as we mentioned in the previous podcast, if you can work together, you're always going to be stronger than if you have to work alone.


Katy Starr (26:12):

Yeah, that was a good trending thought that they've had throughout the duration of the symposium, which it's really great to hear.


Dr. Stephen Duren (26:20):

Yeah I think there's gonna be a ton we learn about the equine microbiome and it's an exciting area of research and I'd like to see lots of good sharp minds in it and lots of young people wanting to further the science of equine nutrition.


Katy Starr (26:35):

Yeah, there's so much opportunity there, like an incredible amount. So it'll be a really good one to get involved with. What were your thoughts on your second talk that you...


Dr. Stephen Duren (26:46):

Yeah, so the second workshop that I went to was one titled “Credentialing for Equine Nutritionists,” and by that they mean what are the qualifications for a person to give nutrition advice? Fortunately or unfortunately, there's many people that portray themselves as an equine nutritionist, and this group was trying to start a dialogue to find out what kind of credentials do you need to be able to give sound, research-supported advice on feeding horses, and is that level of expertise the same if you're doing a small farm or a farm that has million dollar horses? Well then of course that talk spilled over into potential liability. What if you give wrong advice and you end up causing harm? You know, are you carrying insurance and how does that work? So it was a very lively discussion because you have people that are all over the board, if you will, from people in academia that get called all the time for questions and give advice to lay people basically that are giving advice because they have lots of experience and doesn't make them less valuable, but may not know the science as much. To the third aspect of it, professional equine nutritionist or consulting equine nutritionist that make their living at that.


Dr. Stephen Duren (28:20):

So it was a very lively discussion and since yesterday they've already started to form committees to see how we can move that forward and try to establish a credentialing system so that the end user, the consumer, the horse owner that needs nutrition advice can make sure that they're getting sound nutrition advice for their horses.


Katy Starr (28:42):

Right. And not get caught in thinking that they're helping their animals and it's going to end up causing, wreaking more havoc for them in the long run. That'll be good to have some structure there and make it a little bit more clear for horse owners instead of just saying, you know, anybody to be honest, and this happens in the human world too, if you think about it, how many people call themselves nutritionists when, I mean maybe they have experienced personal experiences and stuff that they've been doing, but what has been behind that to kind of support and elevate the offerings that they can give to horse owners?


Dr. Stephen Duren (29:17):

Yeah, so in the human sector you have registered dieticians and you actually have some credentialing in equine nutrition. You know, we certainly have master's levels or undergraduate degrees in horse husbandry, horse management. We have master's degrees that can be in equine nutrition and certainly PhDs or doctor's degrees that can be in nutrition, but no one's really made strict credentials of what's necessary to be able to give that advice. So it's something I'm happy that we're forming a committee, we're gonna look into this more. So ultimately somebody that needs advice, whether it's just a small amount of advice that is pretty simple, you know, for the new horse owner, so to speak, to more complicated advice that's talking about feeding horses in disease states. So we also discussed the connection that equine nutritionists need to have with veterinarians because many veterinarians don't want to give that nutrition advice. They're not trained to give that nutrition advice. So we're working on that as well. So again, another, what I thought was a very useful breakout session or workshop session that hopefully something more tangible will come out.


Katy Starr (30:35):

Right. So is there something currently in the equine world where there's, like, for example, being a veterinarian, you're required to have that continuing education credits, you know, each year, every two years or whatever that is. Is there something like that along the lines of that for nutrition? Or is that kind of what that committee will kind of work to do with those credentials, is actually saying, you know, somebody at this certain level to be able to keep these credentials, they would need to do a certain number of continued education credits to keep up on the latest research?


Dr. Stephen Duren (31:12):

Yeah, so as an equine nutritionist, no, there is not those continuing education credits required, but I also belong to a group, it's called ARPAS, which is the American Registry of Professional Animal Sciences. And then we do have to have continuing education for that. But hopefully, I think that's what this credentialing will do is to say, all right, if you want to give nutrition advice and you want to have credentials, then you have to have taken a certain number of courses, a certain type of courses, a certain amount of experience, and you have to keep up with new things with continuing education credits that are approved. So again, just in the early, early stages in the framework, but again, something I think that's worthwhile.


Katy Starr (32:00):

Yeah, no, that's great. And while you were in that talk, I happened to sit in on a workshop that was discussing “Integrating the Physiology and Nutrition to Help Optimize the Biomechanics of the Equine Foot.” In talking about a lot about laminitis and just the impact, sometimes I think we tend to look just like at the foot, but a lot of what they were discussing is just how much impact there is on like the tendons and ligaments within the leg that are impacted when something like that happens. They actually had a guest veterinarian there, Dr. Sammy Pittman was there. He has his business is the Innovative Equine Podiatry, which is a very rare business that is based there in Texas - Collinsville, Texas. It sounds like he's one of three of those facilities that are in the country that are just super specialized in that area.


Katy Starr (32:59):

And so he's a veterinarian and a farrier. And something that I found to be really interesting is, and this goes along the lines of what I was just saying about, they gave an example about how, and I know Dr. Duren, you're not gonna get this from a personal experience, but for anybody, any of our listeners that have worn high heels, when you think about the length that you have, when you wear high heels for a long period of time, it's not just like your feet that hurt, but up towards your knees and everything because all of that's connected and there's so much pressure that's put there and they were kind of giving that correlation between a horse that maybe wouldn't be if they're not trimmed right, or, you know, the growth on that hoof is just, is not appropriate. It's not just their hoof that's going to be having those issues. There's all sorts of other areas of that leg that are going to be impacted by that and cause other issues. I heard that and I was like, I've actually never heard that comparison before. So I thought that was pretty interesting.


Dr. Stephen Duren (34:01):

Yeah, the connection between the hoof, both the health of the hoof and then the physiologic function of the hoof and the effect that it has on the total horse is amazing. And anyone who's had a horse that has had a hoof issue or a laminitic issue certainly knows that, that it's absolutely devastating. And so anything that we can learn more about the hoof structure and the physiology and biomechanics of it is certainly going to be a help.


Katy Starr (34:30):

Right. And how nutrition plays a role in that as well, because that's pretty, sometimes I think, I don't know if people always think about, but just how much sometimes, and that's what Dr. Pittman was talking about as well. I mean, I'm not always taking into account like there's so many other things, so many other things that people are often looking at when they're trying to fix a horse, when sometimes when you're getting down to the very root of it, the nutrition is just so important to be able to do that.


Dr. Stephen Duren (34:59):

Yeah, there's no question. I mean, it's a living dynamic tissue and because of that it needs nutrients and it needs nutrients every day and even nutrients, you know, to support growth but also repair. So absolutely nutrition is very important.


Katy Starr (35:13):

And so in the later part of the day, we were able to visit a couple of other professional equine facilities, which was very interesting. The first one we visited was Highpoint Performance Horses in Pilot Point, Texas, and it was really neat. We got to see a number of different horses including I know walking along I was checking out some of their nameplates and things like that and Envincible was there and I thought it was funny because they said sometimes they call him the Arnold Schwarzenegger just because I mean, if you know Arnold in his younger days, like just how like beefed up he was and everything and then Repete Offender and Slick by Design. It was really neat to see some of those horses.


Dr. Stephen Duren (35:57):

Yeah. Highpoint stands a number of very high-quality breeding stallions. The first one you mentioned is a halter stallion that they stand and that's the only one halter horse they stand. The others you mentioned are all performance horses, either flat track racing, roping, barrel racing, so they're really handy type horse reining horses. They're really handy horses and have done really, really well. And in that tour, you know, we certainly got to see the stallions themselves, but we were treated to a tour of the laboratory and the sheer volume of collecting semen from those stallions and the effort it takes to ship that semen, not just in the United States and Canada, but all over the world. And it was a pretty slick operation for sure.


Katy Starr (36:44):

Right. And like the timing, how important the timing is because they said when they get an, depending on the number of orders that they have to get out, and they start, I think, didn't they say at like 5:00 AM they started taking samples, but if they had a ton of samples come in, they'd have like a limited time before they had to get it out for shipping. And when they had a ton of samples, like the other day they had like 114 in one day. That's just wild. Just think about that.


Dr. Stephen Duren (37:12):

Yeah. And most of their shipments are of cooled semen, not frozen semen. So yes, there's absolutely a critical timeframe in preserving that semen so that it can be shipped and be viable when it arrives. So the mare at the other end can be inseminated. So yeah, it's something they absolutely have down.


Katy Starr (37:33):

And then another thing that kind of makes them stand out a little bit beyond just their performance horses is they also have a number of exotic species there, which was very interesting to see. We saw camel and tortoises and some, there was a kangaroo there, they had a handful of giraffes. Gerald the giraffe was there too, which was pretty neat. And if I'm saying this right, a tapir, which we also had another talk where we learned about the, well learned, you know, just kind of reminded us about the relation of a number of these animals and the tapir, its closest living relatives actually are horses and rhinoceros, which is, which is pretty interesting.


Dr. Stephen Duren (38:15):

Yeah, there was, I guess the interesting thing that I found there was we actually were able to meet the veterinarian that does the work for the giraffes. And she was talking about some of the thermal imaging, and again, this goes back to the breakout session that you attended on the biomechanics of the hoof. And they were talking about with those particular giraffes, some of the problems that if they're not properly maintained and their feet aren't properly cared for, some of the lameness issues that can be debilitating to them. So she was there and showed us a number of the thermal images, which I thought was really, really interesting.


Katy Starr (38:54):

Right, because you can't CT scan or do anything like that with a giraffe with the size that they are.


Dr. Stephen Duren (39:01):

Yeah, the sheer size of them certainly makes some of those diagnostics very difficult. So they have to use other tools to try to kind of come around the diagnosis from a little different angle, so to speak.


Katy Starr (39:13):

Right, right. Yeah, that was really interesting. I loved hearing from that vet. That was pretty neat. And then another facility that we had the opportunity to tour was McCutcheon Reining Horses out of Aubrey, Texas. And for I'm sure many of our listeners it, as long as they're in the western world, probably are familiar with them, but they, they had a chance to have a little bit of a spotlight moment on the show Yellowstone. And so they're kind of well-known in the reining world, but, and Dr. Duren, I know that you said that you had a chance to see a little bit of this horse before, but Gunner’s Special Nite, which is a $5.9 million sire, and we got to see him and Super Marioo was another one that we got to visit as well. And so it was pretty neat seeing their facility as well.


Dr. Stephen Duren (40:00):

The facility not only has, you know, the active reining horses in training, they also have mares, foals, you know, they're actively breeding mares. We're still in breeding season, so we got to watch them inseminate a mare which was interesting to see, you know, horses that were up in the barn, young horses horses that were in training, but we also got to see their physical therapy side of it. Those reining horses as well as any athletic horse can have injuries during training. And so we saw a number of the different modalities that they use to rehab those horses. A cold salt water spa. They had a water walker, they had a vibration plate or theraplate as well as, you know, round pens, mechanical walkers, regular high-speed treadmill. So lots and lots of of technology in there to again, keep these horses healthy.


Katy Starr (40:57):

Right. The tour that afternoon was very, very interesting, just seeing the differences, but then also just everything that's kind of out there. And so Dr. Duren, as we kind of wrap this episode up, what would you say kind of from an overall standpoint is trending, like some of the trending research that we're seeing right now?


Dr. Stephen Duren (41:19):

I would say definitely the microbiome continues to get a lot of research attention and so it should, but I also think that there's a lot of cutting edge research going on in equine. The group at Texas A&M is doing a tremendous job with very basic science on oxidative phosphorylation and energy generation in horses, which is, is cutting edge stuff in any animal species, but especially the horse. So that is some of the cutting edge. But we also had a lot of practical science there. We looked at, at some of the different methods to feed forage, specifically hay with the slow feeder and what does that do to dentition, what does that do to hay wastage, what does it do to posture? Those sorts of things that were fascinating. So lots of good science, lots of interesting stuff. So I would say equine nutrition and physiology was certainly well represented this week in Texas.


Katy Starr (42:20):

Right. And there are a few topics, last session topics that won't have a chance to discuss on the episode for this episode. Missed out on a little bit of that, just, you know, because someone decided they needed to go to Japan.


Dr. Stephen Duren (42:37):

Yeah, exactly. That's my next trip.


Katy Starr (42:39):

Next trip. Are you excited for the trip?


Dr. Stephen Duren (42:41):

Yeah, you know, with all the red meat I ate in Texas, I think it will be nice to have a little bit of fish in my diet and I, a week in Japan will definitely produce that.


Katy Starr (42:51):

Will balance that out for you.


Dr. Stephen Duren (42:53):

Yeah, I think you're supposed to have it like, you know a regular balanced diet, not a week of one then a week of the other.


Katy Starr (43:00):

Do your best.


Dr. Stephen Duren (43:01):

Yea exactly. I'll let you know how that turns out.


Katy Starr (43:04):

Awesome. So the neat thing is though, with the opportunity to go and do this, we really do hope all of our listeners, we really hope you enjoyed learning about some of the latest and greatest research that's coming out of the equine nutrition field right now. So if there's anything that you heard Dr. Duren and I discussing on this episode today or anything else that maybe kind of comes up in what you're hearing about, let us know about any of the particular topics that you would like us to touch on and discuss more about at, reach out at Go ahead and email us. We do plan to cover in more depth some of the topics that we did hear at the Equine Science Society Symposium, and so we're really looking forward to breaking down more of those topics over this next year. So other than that, Dr. Duren, thanks for joining us on this episode today and it's been a pleasure getting to learn more about equine nutrition with you.


Dr. Stephen Duren (44:05):

Well I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for having me.


Katy Starr (44:09):

Thanks for listening to The Beyond the Barn podcast by Standlee Forage. We'd love for you to share our podcast with your favorite people and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform. Until next time, keep your cinch tight and don't forget to turn off the water.


If you enjoy the Beyond the Barn Podcast, please consider taking a minute to rate and review the podcast on these popular platforms.