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Investigating the Foundation of Equine Health with Dr. Randy Raub

Dr. Randel (Randy) Raub, PhD, Director of Research and Nutrition at KNG

Dr. Randy Raub

Director of Research and Nutrition

Dr. Raub started with Kent Nutrition Group in 2020 as Director, Research and Nutrition and leads the nutrition team, including the Kent Research Farm.

From Hollywood horses to the animal feed industry, Sentinel’s director of research and nutrition reflects on his journey in equine nutrition.

When it comes to equine nutrition, Dr. Randy Raub is as much an investigator as he is a scientist and educator.

Since his earliest days working with horses, the director of research and nutrition at Kent Nutrition Group, makers of Sentinel® Extruded Horse Feed, has been drawn to the complexity of horse anatomy and physiology—how everything works together just so. He’s spent his career examining these processes and how nutrition fits as another piece in an immensely complex puzzle.

“It’s still dumbfounding to me,” Raub said. “The deeper you dive into the anatomy and physiology of horses, or any other animal, the more you appreciate the miraculous design. With a perspective of humility and sincere appreciation for the animal you are working with, you can begin to apply nutrition from an investigative standpoint.”

“The deeper you dive into the anatomy and physiology of horses, or any other animal, the more you appreciate the miraculous design. With a perspective of humility and sincere appreciation for the animal you are working with, you can begin to apply nutrition from an investigative standpoint.”

A dietary detective who asks the right questions

How do you investigate equine nutrition? Raub recalls one high-profile case in which a competitive horse had a myriad of health issues. Once at the top of its discipline, the horse’s coat was dulling, it was acting lethargic and in very poor health.

The owner and their veterinarian couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. Eventually, the owners contacted Raub, who went straight to the horse’s diet. What he found was a wide-ranging host of supplements for anything from bone health to hair coat condition. Collectively, they were leading to mineral toxicity.

“Most supplements aren't just a single ingredient,” he explained.

Raub recommended the owner cut out extra supplements, and within a couple of weeks, the horse was back to itself.

“That was great to dive deep and really figure out what was going on,” he said. “To the absolute well-being of this horse and certainly the mental well-being of the owners, that was a good day.”

You are what you eat

Situations like this aren’t uncommon for Raub. Unlike treatment plans and medications veterinarians may apply to care for sick horses, he’ll dive into what he sees as the foundation of their health: nutrition. Raub starts by meticulously assessing all aspects of the horse’s diet, including hay, forage, water and the ingredients of every feed and supplement.

That full nutritional profile helps paint a much clearer picture of a horse’s condition and can sometimes point to deficiencies, toxicities or other health concerns.

“Hippocrates is the father of medicine, and his famous quote is, ‘Thy food is thy medicine, and thy medicine is thy food,’” Raub said. “That’s pretty damn accurate.”

Similar to our own doctors, veterinarians are exposed to very little nutrition during their time in school. This is where representatives and nutritionists from Sentinel can support veterinarians.

“The veterinarian is the absolute go-to resource for their client, and we want to help them any way we can,” he said.

From the big screen to the big U

Raub’s journey in equine nutrition began with his grandfather and uncle. His grandfather worked in California, training horses for Ralph McCutcheon, who owned horses used in famous TV shows, like “Bonanza.” His uncle was a Thoroughbred owner and trainer in California, where Raub spent his summers working at the racetrack with his uncle during the day and moseying on the Del Mar beach from one bonfire to the next at night.

It was a “tough gig for a kid from northcentral Illinois,” Raub said with a smirk. So tough, in fact, he knew he wanted to work with horses as a career. He just didn’t know how.

“You do what anyone does when they’re not really sure—go to college,” Raub said.

Raub attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for his undergraduate and master’s degrees. A lifelong student, he went on to pursue his doctorate at the University of Kentucky, with a focus on nutrition and its impact on animal physiology. After, he was on the faculty for more than a decade at Kansas State University.

Finding light on the ‘dark side’

Raub left academia for “the dark side,” as his academic colleagues jokingly called the animal feed industry, to put his knowledge to use.

“It was anything but ‘the dark side,’” Raub said. “It was very enlightening and the best thing I could have done.”

As a director of research and product development for a top animal feed producer for more than a decade, he continued his pursuit of lifelong learning, this time on the production side of animal nutrition.

Now, as the director of research and nutrition for Kent Feeds, Raub combines his talents as an educator, scientist and investigator. A lot has changed in the industry, with more hobby farms and less production agriculture, but some things remain the same.

He gets to work with “awesome, talented people” to develop some of the best products and services in the industry.

“It comes down to, can you develop something that’s going to improve the health and well-being of the animal and the people that care for them, right? That’s a really great pursuit, and that’s what I enjoy,” Raub said.

Experts like Dr. Raub, Jeanne van der Veen, Kristyn Sturken and the rest of the Sentinel team can help you make the best nutritional decisions for your horse. Sign up for the latest news, research and expert nutritional guidance for all horses.

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