Norman finishes winter training in Kentucky
As Norman was on his last leg of winter training in the Alltech Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, he began daydreaming about the adventures ahead of him. Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, as it is commonly called due to the seasonal hue of its grassy hills, is a special place for Norman. It is where his parents met during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. Norman’s father was the American reining champion and he was honored to train on the grounds where his father had once competed. Kentucky is also home to the global headquarters of Games sponsor Alltech.
Just like Norman, Alltech has both Kentucky and European heritage. Alltech was founded by Irishman Dr. Pearse Lyons, who immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s and established Alltech in 1980 in Kentucky. When encountering a challenge, Lyons has always been a man to see the opportunity and so it was with the formation of Alltech. Lyons capitalized on his extensive background in yeast fermentation technology to create innovative and natural nutritional solutions to challenges being faced on the farm.
Today Alltech not only develops nutritional technologies for all animal species, including horses, but is also dedicated to improving the health of people and plants. Originally a small start-up in Lyons’ home, the company is now a $1 billion business with 3,500 employees and a presence in 128 countries.
Norman took some time to tour Alltech’s corporate headquarters just outside of Lexington, Kentucky, the site of the 2010 Games. Norman donned a white lab coat and explored Alltech’s flagship Nutrigenomics Center, where the company’s research team is dedicated to improving animal health by examining the impact of diet modifications to the genetic makeup of an animal. They explained to Norman that it’s about feeding the gene so that he and other horses, for example, can perform at their maximum potential, fueled by natural nutrition.
Norman ventures to the Alltech Equine Research Center and the Alltech Aquaculture Center
Norman then headed up the road to meet a few friends, fellow horses who are involved in Alltech’s equine research efforts. He couldn’t help but be a bit envious of their pampered lifestyle. These horses, several of whom were rescue horses, earn their keep simply by eating. Alltech’s research involves analysis of their diet, which gives the researchers valuable information on how to fine-tune equine nutritional technologies to create a healthier gut as well as improve immunity, hoof health, coat condition, mineral utilization, body score and much more. It’s an easy life for the horses, but the feedback they provide has a tremendous impact on the lives and well-being of horses throughout the world.
Just across from Alltech Equine Research Center is the Alltech’s Aquaculture Center. Here Norman had the opportunity to help feed more tilapia than he could count. The tilapia are a base-model fish in aquaculture that Alltech is currently using to trial diets incorporating DHA omega-3 algae created at its Alltech Algae facility, also in Kentucky. Norman always thought algae was a green pond scum, but he discovered that Alltech’s algae is not even green at all, and it is a nutritional powerhouse for both animals and humans. By incorporating algae into the fish diets, for example, the fish not only benefit, but humans who consume the filets also enjoy the benefits of its high DHA omega-3 status, which impacts heart, eye and cognitive health, and is especially important in the prenatal diet. And algae’s possibilities are not limited to aquatic diets. By feeding a diet incorporating Alltech’s DHA omega-3-rich algae to layer chickens, it is also possible that people could derive all the nutritional benefits of salmon through their morning scrambled eggs.
Norman prepares to neigh goodbye to Kentucky as he begin his global trot
His time in Kentucky was quickly drawing to a close, but Norman had one final stop. He made it to over to the Kentucky Horse Park just in time to watch the sunset in one of the paddocks with some friends. As the sun cast a red-orange glow across the 2010 Games’ Alltech Arena, Norman’s new friends entertained him with tales of the incredible feats that took place on these grounds four years ago during the 16 days of the 2010 Games.
After a very full winter in the “Horse Capital of the World”, Norman sighed a deep and satisfying sigh, proud of his Kentucky heritage and also eager to celebrate the 2014 Games in his Normandy home, the “Land of Horses.” His journey around the world was only beginning.