Dr. Robert Franklin, DVM, DACVIM was recently a guest on The Equestrian Podcast, hosted by Bethany Lee, where he shared about his inspiration for becoming a veterinarian and also for starting the equine nutritional supplement company, FullBucket Health.
Dr. Franklin began by telling listeners about his background with horses, explaining how he made the decision to become a vet at age 16 after attending a summer horsemanship program in Cody, Wyoming. A local veterinarian had come out for a call at the ranch and this man really made an impression on Franklin. From that moment on, his future profession was set.
Franklin grew up in Texas but attended Colorado State University to get his undergraduate degree in equine sciences. He then came back to Texas A&M to finish his veterinary degree and graduated in 1999. He would go on to do a voluntary one-year internship in Ventura County in southern California and then a three-year residency at the University of Florida in order to become a board certified specialist in equine internal medicine.
Franklin then moved to Australia to practice veterinary medicine for a few years before eventually returning to his home state of Texas where he now has a practice in Fredericksburg and treats a wide range of horse breeds from different disciplines.
“We have a very long learning curve,” Franklin stated on the podcast, referring to the time it takes to not only learn their skill set as a veterinarian, but also earn their clients’ trust. “Horse owners are very different from companion animal owners in terms of being very choosy about their equine veterinarian, so we go through a period where we’ve got to earn those stripes.”
Aside from practicing veterinary medicine and being a co-founder of FullBucket Health, Franklin was also recently elected as vice president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), an organization he has volunteered with for years. He relayed that the AAEP’s primary goals are to provide continuing education for veterinarians and to stand up for the welfare of horses.
In 2023, Franklin will step up to serve as president of the organization which he sees as a great honor.
Franklin relayed that he and his former fraternity brother and colleague, Dr. Keith Latson had an interest in starting some type of nutritional supplement company in the mid-2000s, but he became inspired after reading a book called Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms shoes.
Around this time, Franklin and Latson had the opportunity to spend a week volunteering their time and veterinary services in Central America where they quickly realized that helping working equids was something they wanted to do, or as Franklin called it: “a gap we knew we needed to stand in.”
They started FullBucket with the goal of not only providing nutritional supplements for performance and pleasure horses here in the U.S., but also for working equids in Central America.
Franklin said that while we’re mainly accustomed to using horses for pleasure here in the U.S., there are over 100 million working equids worldwide—horses, donkeys, and mules that are used for transportation, hauling trash or crops, doing farm work, etc.—and one of FullBucket’s missions is to provide vital nutrients that are badly needed for many of these working animals.
Therefore, whenever someone purchases a product from FullBucket, a supplement will also be donated to a working equid. In fact, FullBucket makes unique products in Central America that are designed specifically for the needs of the working equids there.
Franklin relayed that he and Latson continue to volunteer their veterinary services in Central America when they can, leading teams of other veterinarians and staff to help educate people on equine nutrition and care.
Franklin said their goal is to “provide a stream of care, and education is the most sustainable help we can provide.”
You can listen to the full podcast episode here.