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Equine Scientist Eyes Vieux Fort Project

Image: EquidGel being presented at a seminar in Gros Islet on December 18

St. Lucian In UK Develops Nutrition System for Horses.

THE multi billion dollar Pearl of the Caribbean planned for Vieux Fort is set to get off the ground this year with a horse breeding component but it is already generating widespread interest.

St Lucian Sandra Murphy who holds a B.Sc .(Hons.) in Equine Sports Science and is a Senior Equine Nutritionist based in the UK.visited St. Lucia over the Christmas period and brought with her a new revolutionary hydration and nutrition system she developed which is being distributed worldwide.

Image: Equine Nutrition training at Atlantic Shores in Dec. 2016.
Equine Nutrition training at Atlantic Shores in Dec. 2016.

Although, Murphy lives in the UK at the moment, she has widespread family connections on the island. A dynamic entrepreneur who appeared on the BBC’s Business programme ‘Dragons Den’ back in 2007 in the UK, Murphy has gone on to produce a completely new innovative product that is being rolled out across the globe called EquidGel.

In the UK, she is the CEO and Senior Equine Nutritionist at Equidiet (UK) Ltd. Not only is she a successful business woman, she is an active member of Endurance GB, a breeder, trainer, equine coach and a former NSEA Equestrian Team Manager and is considered by many to be an expert within her field and extremely knowledgeable with over 45 years of practical equine experience.

Murphy formulated and produced the revolutionary hydration and nutrition system in 2014 and since then it has gained momentum as it is used extensively in all disciplines as a daily ration and in many top equine hospital across the UK and in Europe as a clinical nutritional management system.

EquidGel is the only complete, balanced, fibre based, liquid feed for horses which is highly palatable and encourages voluntary uptake of large amounts of fluid or that can be administered via naso-gastic tube by veterinarians if a horse is unable eat or drink.

What is ingenious is that EquidGel is a completely 100 percent natural feed that comes in the form of a powder with a one year shelf life, when it is mixed with water it makes a liquid feed that the horse drinks…

Therefore… “you can lead a horse to EquidGel and you can make him drink”

Image of Sandra Murphy
Sandra Murphy

EquidGel is a perfect solution for horses living and working in hot climates, where dehydration, colic and poor condition can be a major problem. EquidGel is not only a complete ‘all in one’ fibre based feed for horses with all the necessary energy, plant based protein, vitamins and minerals, and Omega 3 oils for health and condition, it also increases water uptake helping to reduce the detrimental effects of dehydration.

The use of social media meant that before her trip to St Lucia, Murphy made direct contact with Josh and Keri De Freitas, the Estate Managers at MorneCoubaril in Soufriere.

It turns out that Murphy and Keri both studied at the University of Lincoln, which helped to ‘break the ice’. However once Murphy explained the concept of EquidGel to both Josh and Keri it was like a ‘Eureka’ moment. EquidGel started to tick many boxes for the couple, so they contacted Jeshurun Andrews, Chairman of NEWSA and a local horseman, who was more than happy to make some arrangements for Murphy to do a seminar to present EquidGel and talk about the benefits of fibre and water for the horses on the island. Fortunately they were able to speak to several equine professionals and stable owners at very short notice to ask if they would like to attend a meeting.

Having been given a great opportunity to ride out from the MorneCoubaril Estate earlier in the week, Murphy spent a day at the stables gathering knowledge and details at a local level so she was familiar with how things were done, the typical workload, how the horses were fed and what they were fed on in St Lucia.

Equipped with this local information, the seminar took place in Gros Islet on December 18 and was a huge success as Murphy was able to pass on some valuable information on equine nutrition and answer numerous questions presented to her by the local horsemen and women.

Murphy’s visit could not have come at a better time as she had read about the plans for the ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’ project in Vieux Fort. She said: “EquidGel is an advance in equine hydration and nutrition, which is now being recognised around the world and is set to benefit the horses on the island and those visiting the island”.

Image: EquidGel being presented at a seminar in Gros Islet on December 18
EquidGel being presented at a seminar in Gros Islet on December 18

EquidGel is multi-faceted and can be used as a complete diet for any horse, not only allowing them to look and perform in a healthier way, but it would also show that St Lucia is at the cutting edge in equine nutrition with the proposal for 1000 thoroughbred racehorses being housed or transiting the island.

Murphy is not only a skilled Equine Nutritionist, she is also heavily involved in the training of basic knowledge of horse care and management skills and has drafted a proposal to the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) in the UK for an “Equine in Safe Hands” campaign which she hopes to roll out across the country before 2020.

Sandra noticed, from her interaction with the local horsemen, that there seemed to be a ‘skills gap’ with regards to the basic academic knowledge of horse care and management which would need to be dramatically reduced to enable the local horsemen to be positioned to apply for the proposed job opportunities that may accompany this $2.6 billion project.

She said while in St Lucia, she noticed that the local horsemen were incredibly skillful when it came to riding and handling horses, but did not have the fundamental knowledge that must be present to underpin their practical skills to enable them to compete for jobs that require at least a basic standard of horse care and management.

Murphy said: “The worrying thing would be that local horsemen would miss out on the opportunity to apply for these positions due to a lack of training.” Therefore she suggested that with the support of Keri and Josh De Freitas, it may be a good idea to provide a training programme to enable those wishing to work with horses an opportunity to gain the relevant knowledge required to pass a standard test to become competent grooms and to be able to apply for opportunities attached to the Vieux Fort project.

Murphy said: “Having met some of the local horsemen here, I feel that they are very keen to learn more about the management of horses as their passion for the animals is extremely apparent. Therefore I am willing to help as much as I can to enable them to get a head start and to be prepared when the project commences”.

Murphy is hoping to revisit St Lucia in this year, to formally introduce EquidGel and to provide some useful training and knowledge in Equine Nutrition.

For more information contact Keri and Josh De Freitas on 712 5808 or Sandra Murphy on 0044(0) 1472 859593, by email equidiet.org@gmail.com by Facebook ‘Equidgel’ or visit the website www.equidiet.org.uk.

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