Competition horses -- the ones you see on the race track or at barrel racing events -- need to be calm, cool and collected. That state of mind can easily be broken by the s-word: stress. And stress can lead to bigger issues such as gastric discomfort.
It's taken several years of research and Purina® Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement, hit the market in 2017.
“We tapped into an issue that a lot of horse owners share,” says Kevin Krueger, former associate marketing manager for horse.
And the horses weren’t the only ones seeing results. Sales volume for Outlast® Supplement far exceeded expectations in its first year -- 16 times higher than expected.
“We’ve delivered more than 2.3 million servings of Outlast®,” says Kevin.
Purina is bringing the benefits of Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement to even more horses. Beginning in June, our flagship brand, Strategy®, is getting a new look and will be formulated to include Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement.
And it really, really works
At Land O’Lakes, Inc. Town Hall in February, Chris Policinski, president and CEO, played “Seconds,” a commercial that highlights the link between horses’ stressors and gastric health. The 45-second spot debuted during the National Finals Rodeo in December (generating more than 6.8 million impressions). Since then, rising awareness for the product have contributed to a 32 percent increase in sales.
Horse owners were delighted to learn just how well Outlast® Supplement worked.
- “[My horse] is happy, moving forward, keeping weight on, and jumping like a pro. I recommended it to other trainers in my barn and they have started using it too and have noticed a big difference as well. I would recommend this to everyone who has who has horses with gastric discomfort.”
- “I feed it to my barrel horses a couple hours before their runs and they are calm, cool and focused! It has also drastically improved their hay consumption where as before, I had a hard time keeping weight on them!”
This kind of product success doesn’t happen on its own -- there are many, many people involved.
“From the ideation of the product, to testing, to development communication and selling language, to trials, sales, and consulting with the technical services team on technical language, it's been a truly cross-functional effort,” says Kevin.
The long and winding road (of research)
Sure, there are other gastric supplements for horses on the market. But what sets Purina Animal Nutrition products apart from competitors is the research we put into our products. More than 24,000 animal nutrition research studies have been conducted at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Missouri.
Mary Beth Gordon, Ph.D., director of lifestyle technical innovation, has led many of the equine studies since her start in 2005. Five years ago, she embarked on a journey of conducting research, studies and trials that led to the creation of Outlast® Supplement. At one point during Mary Beth’s research, she reached out to colleagues at Nutra Blend to learn about products being used with other animals with gastric discomfort. That’s when she learned about an ingredient that was used as a rumen buffer for cattle.
“We started thinking this could be something to support horses with gastric discomfort,” says Mary Beth.
Mary Beth and her team initially worked with what is now PMI Nutritional Additives to test the buffer on horses.
“We started testing and thought OK, this is cool, but is it really going to be revolutionary,” says Mary Beth. “Will it test as well as we hope?”
It did, so the team moved to the next phase: feeding trials at the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine.
“When we began this research, we said, let’s go to one of the top gastric guys we can find,” says Mary Beth.
Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, director of LSU’s Equine Health Studies Program, tested the feed formulation on thoroughbred horses and performed endoscopies -- a procedure that provides an internal view of the digestive system -- to see if the buffer worked.
Again, it did. Now, it was off to the races. The New York Racing Association, that is. Since winning racehorses are tested for buffers after each race, Mary Beth and her team worked with the association to ensure that our buffer didn’t produce a positive drug test.
The next stop on the supplement’s journey to market was the Purina Animal Nutrition Center where researchers conducted long-term feeding studies to answer some important questions: What happens if you give horses the buffer four times a day? Are there any downsides to feeding it for months on end? Does it taste good? How does it compare to other supplements on the market?
“We got excited,” says Mary Beth.
Slow and steady wins the race
Some of Purina’s competitors are quick to release a new product. But that’s not how we do things.
“We’re not always first to market, but when we get there, we will absolutely have thorough research and efficacy where others may not,” says Mary Beth. “It’s worth taking the extra time when you see the difference in the animals.”
For owners and their horses, the wait was well worth it.
(Editor’s note: Kevin is now the marketing manager for WinField United crop protection.)
Learn more about the research and offerings available for our full line of animal nutrition products and programs at purinamills.com.