BioStar interviews Claire Thomas: dressage rider and horse owner who found that changing the diet for her horse, Denali, helped him break through stiffness and overall health & performance.
Claire also shares with us about her own whole food treat business inspired by her own desire for organic, low-sugar treats and the nutritional food concepts she’s learned through BioStar.
What inspired you to change your horse’s diet?
Claire: I have long been aware of and believe in the importance of whole foods nutrition in my own eating habits. When I found out about the BioStar program through a seminar with the local dressage society, I was intrigued by the opportunity to try this approach to feeding my horse Denali.
I had been trying various commercial feeds and supplements over the years to help Denali through his stiffness and sluggish approach to his dressage work with minimal results. At the seminar, I made the decision to change Denali’s diet.
How easy or difficult was it to make the changes onto whole food?
Claire: The transition to the whole food diet was relatively easy. The biggest challenge I thought was having the barn staff have the time to soak the feed or feed twice daily.
I chose to use the copra meal as the base in Denali’s program, due to it’s minimal soaking time, it soaks instantly. Preparing a week’s worth of daily feed baggies at a time and keeping jugs of water in front of his stall has made the barn’s process simple.
I also chose to feed his whole food supplements once a day, versus twice, for a simpler routine for barn staff. At first Denali picked at the new mixture, but within a couple of days he was happily eating it all up right away. I guess it was kind of like taking a child away from candy bars and give them a salad instead!
I like the whole foods program as it can be custom tailored to each horse, and adjusted as needed.
What results have you seen?
Claire: Denali has improved in the physical comfort in his body. His flexibility has improved. He can now reach back with his nose to his flank on both sides; something he could not come close to doing before. He is happier overall and more willing to move forward. The grouchiness I had seen for years while grooming has become much less. He gets a massage monthly, and his report cards have been consistently improved since being on the whole foods program.
You started a small whole food treat business that caters to horses. What can you tell us about your products and how you came up with the different formulas?
Claire: I have been making horse cookies for many years, including a low-sugar version, with an emphasis on high quality organic ingredients.
I have developed new whole foods formulas in conjunction with the nutritional concepts I’ve learned through BioStar. Flavors include coconut, banana and seasonal formulas geared towards equine health in winter, spring, summer and fall. These cookies are unique and horses love them.
I like that I can provide healthy and tasty treats to horses.
What advice do you have for people considering switching to whole food for their horse?
Claire: Think about the importance of healthy eating in your own life and apply that same thinking to your horse. We ask our horses to physically and mentally perform for us, thus we should be providing their bodies with the nutrition to do so.
Claire is a busy accounting professional who also rides and makes horse cookies. She’s been riding for 35 years; starting in hunter/jumpers, progressing into eventing and then into dressage. “It’s the beauty and challenge,” says Claire about dressage, “and the physical effort it takes for horse and rider.” Claire resides in Northern California and is married with 3 teenage stepchildren and 2 jack russell terriers (also big fans of Optimum and the horse cookies).