Clark, a 23-year-old quarter horse, flinched with pain as Dr. Sally Wade led her pride and joy out of the stall and onto the cement walkway. His hooves had been excruciatingly tender for four weeks now. Over the past 12 years, the farrier had struggled with keeping Clark’s horseshoes from falling off his feet. Now he was in such pain that the vet was debating whether or not Clark should be put down.
Sally had just lost her husband, and she was afraid that she would soon lose her horse, too. In desperation Sally, a teacher with a Ph.D. in reading disorders, related the distressing situation about her horse to the parents of one of her students, Drs. Bo Martinsen and Anne-Marie Chalmers. Sally knew they were working with some kind of fish oil supplement for horses. Could they possibly have a solution?
The search for a simple solution started back in Norway, 14 years earlier, when these two physicians, working in the field of preventive and family medicine, began investigating the research about nutrition and supplements. They were hoping to find a better treatment for their son’s reading problems. His ability to focus and solve problems seemed to vary so dramatically from one day to the next, that they began to wonder if the neurotransmitters in his brain might be affected by the food he ate.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefits
After analyzing thousands of research studies from leading universities all over the world, the doctors were amazed by the multitude of positive health benefits produced by omega-3 fish oil, a substance most commonly consumed in Norway. Not only was it effective for a wide range of cardiovascular problems, it also helped with arthritis, certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, ADD, and many other types of diseases where chronic inflammation could be the underlying culprit. Apparently one of the active substances in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), is nature’s best inflammation fighter, and its cohort, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), makes up 20% of the fatty acids found in the brain.
Using high quality omega-3 fish oil as their cornerstone, Drs. Chalmers and Martinsen developed a nutritional program with the goal of educating fellow American physicians about which supplements were most cost effective and what dosages were necessary to achieve health benefits for their patients. Even though a market analysis showed physicians were eager to learn, they unfortunately have only seven minutes for a patient consultation, and they couldn’t find the time to really discuss nutrition.
Fish Oil: Good for Humans and Horses
Finding it difficult to penetrate the human market, these two Norwegian-American physicians turned their attention to Florida’s growing equine industry and decided to apply their extensive knowledge about the benefits of omega-3 fish oil to horses. Many years earlier, a famous professor at Harvard University, Dr. Alexander Leaf had said, “I started to take fish oil every day when I noticed the dramatic health benefits produced in my laboratory dogs.”
Was enhancing the health of equine super shots the solution to helping the American population understand the benefits of high quality fish oil?
Together with a team of equine veterinarian specialists, Drs. Chalmers and Martinsen did a series of pilot studies on racing and performance horses, ranging from bronchoscoping lunges, taking x-ray pictures of joints, analyzing hoofs, and studying sperm counts and blood absorption. Very low levels of beneficial omega-3 long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids were found, while the “bad” pro-inflammatory omega-6s dominated these horses’ fatty acid profiles. The doctors therefore concluded that fish oil could be a simple and effective method of balancing the immune and inflammatory reactions in horses as well.
These two physicians and their team of equine specialists are finding that fish oil is great for keeping horses’ joints supple. Several nationally known farriers, like Ian McKinlay and Doyle Blagg, have reported back that Wellpride seems to promote good hoof health, and numerous top-level trainers have noticed improved appetites, indicating the inflammation-fighting capabilities in fish oil can play a big role in soothing irritable stomachs. Trainers who consistently use this special formulation at Gulfstream, Calder and Tampa Bay Downs have significantly increased their number of wins, and they swear this Wellpride oil is giving their horses a cutting edge on the tracks.
Now, after two years of religiously using Wellpride, Clark is the pride of the stable. Paul Hicks Dr. Wade’s farrier still laughs with delight every time he comes to shoe Clark. Dr. Wade has cleaned off Clark’s supplement shelf and declared, “I found the solution to Clark’s hoof problems. If you can only take one supplement, it should be omega-3 fish oil. Not only does it target the hooves but the whole body as well.”