Kathy Holmes grew up riding show hunters and competed in New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. She is married to a chef, and has spent the last 31 years as a real estate agent, specializing in horse farms and properties in Vermont. Zambia is a 14 year old Holsteiner mare by Cassini II, whom Kathy has owned for 7 years. The pair competed in the amateur show hunter division before switching to dressage.
How did you get into feeding whole food?
Kathy: My trainer, Carolyn Tulemello, had started the diet for her horse. His coat was lackluster, and he didn’t have a good topline. Two or three weeks after starting the diet, his coat and topline had really improved. Then another student of Carolyn’s had a horse that is a hard keeper, and has allergy issues, and she switched her horse to the diet and his attitude improved and she didn’t have to lunge him before she rode him, and his coat looked fantastic.
What were some of Zambia’s issues before you changed her diet?
Kathy: She had to live on Regumate. She was unrideable during
her heat cycles. Difficult to even bring in and out of the pasture when she was in season. She lived on 12 cc’s of Regumate every day. Her lymph nodes were swelling, and she was starting to stock up. Vet couldn’t figure it out. I had to lunge her 30 minutes or so before getting on her because she could be such a fruitcake –even on the lunge line. I finally decided I had nothing to loose by changing her diet.
After two weeks on the whole food diet she was a totally different horse. She used to be so tense under saddle, but now she is totally relaxed and focused. She used to lose her mind and over-react, and now she is happy to work. We can lead her and not have to put a chain over her nose. The lymph node swelling went away, and she no longer stocks up.
When you started the whole food diet and added BioStar, what other changes did you make in her feed program?
Kathy: I stopped the Regumate, and the SmartPaks. Her first cycle after she got on the diet she was totally normal, not over-reactive, not difficult to ride. She didn’t need Regumate anymore!
We had started Regumate with her when I started showing her, several years ago, because she used to try to jump out of the stalls at horse shows. At first we just used Regumate when we were showing, but as time went on she needed it daily. Until the diet change, she had not been off Regumate for over a year.
Were you surprised at the changes in Zambia after you changed her diet and supplements?
Kathy: I was blown away that something as basic and simple as food would have such a profound change in the horses.
Back when I was growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s we fed whole grains to the horses. As an adult rider now, I never questioned the pelleted feed of today as being any different from what we fed when I was a kid, except that the pellets were more convenient. Now I realize I have been asleep over what is in the processed feeds and supplements. Now I really read labels.
What changes have you seen in Zambia now that she has been on the diet for several months?
Kathy: She is moving along faster in her training, so she is finally progressing when before she was stuck at Training level. Now she feels better and can carry herself behind, not run around on her forehand. I don’t have to lunge her before I ride her because she is calm and responsive. And she is much more affectionate than she was before I changed her diet.
What is Zambia’s feed and supplement program now?
Kathy: Her whole food diet is molasses free beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, flax seeds, and hemp seed oil. Her supplements are Optimum, and Equilibrium. I give her an extra Equilibrium every day when she is in season. She loves Optimum; she will do anything for an Optimum bar. I’m really amazed that I haven’t needed to give her any Legend or Adequan since the fall because she hasn’t needed it.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about switching their horse to whole food?
Kathy: I tell people to go to the BioStar website, and then I tell them to call Tigger. I understand how nerve-wracking it can be to change feeds, but switching to whole food is so important for the health of our horses. The proof of the diet is worth a 1,000 words. If an owner tries it, he or she will become a believer.