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Profile On: Sara Bernard, Equine Vitality

Sara was kind enough to answer some questions about her newly set up business that focuses on equine nutrition.

Equine Vitality

What is it exactly that you do?
I provide a nutrition advice service to horse owners. This includes providing a detailed analysis of the nutrient needs of the particular horse in question, preferably using a forage analysis as a starting point. I base my advice on the nutrient requirements from the NRC (2007), the Dutch nutrients requirement tables and further information from the scientific literature (for example the book Equine Applied & Clinical Nutrition and scientific journal articles) or personal communication with established professionals.

The nutrition advice can range from high level sport horses (especially endurance or eventing) to recreational horses or horses with clinical problems such as tying-up, laminitis, gastric ulcers, EMS, obesity or underweight etc.

I am also starting to write some up to date articles on aspects of nutrition for my website (Energy & Nutritional demands of endurance, Recurrent Rhabdomyolysis, balanced nutrition…).

I also provide a translation service (Dutch to English for equestrian related websites), I’m currently busy translating and writing content for a major Dutch feed company. In addition I can also provide readings or lessons in specific aspects of nutrition, for example in November I will provide schooling for ongoing education points for the Dutch Association of Equine Physiotherapists.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earn a liveable income?
I have just literally started out on my own. I don’t think I will be able to earn a full time liveable income (which includes two horses!), but do believe that I can earn the part-time salary which I need. At the moment I have decided to remain totally independent of any equine products so do not earn an income from selling my own or anyone else’s products. This might change in the future to increase my income, although only products that I believe are useful addition to a horses diet!

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
In the Netherlands there are no official steps to becoming an equine nutritionist. The steps I have taken include spending several years learning and reading scientific based literature about equine physiology and nutrition. Last year I started the Masters of Equine Science from the Royal Dick Veterinary College at the University of Edinburgh to further my knowledge on equine science. I have now successfully completed the exercise physiology and nutrition modules.

Favourite horse memory?
I have lots! But I think my most is seeing my thirteen year old daughter coming over the finish in her first 80km endurance race this summer on our super cool Arabian Eenhoorn’s Tabal.

Future Goals?

  • To finish the Equine Science Masters
  • To complete the 100 mile endurance ride over Dartmoor next year with a good friend.
  • To write a book about Equine Nutrition for horse owners.
  • To keep on enjoying what I do!

Best thing about your sport/profession?
I’m an endurance rider and hope to complete my first CEI* next year. The best thing about endurance here in The Netherlands is that we are quite a close-knit group and most of us are willing to muck in to organise competitions and help out with crewing. The best thing about my profession is that I am working in an area where my passion lies and do not feel constrained by a 9-5 mentality.

“Show me your horse, and I will tell you who you are.” – Author Unknown

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