Doing Good

80 MILLION

That's the estimated number of horses, donkeys and mules that are used daily by impoverished familes around the world.

These animals are essential to sustain life. And, they lack the proper nutrition and healthcare to keep them healthy and alive.

The question we set out to answer... "Can we use our business, FullBucket, to help people who are in desperate need?

That is the question we set out to answer with FullBucket. Turns out, we can.

This is the rest of the story... (click to read below...)

The scene was nearly heartbreaking...

A bedraggled burro gamely carried his passenger, an amputee, into the makeshift veterinary clinic.

Dismounting with his crutches, the elderly Mexican man looked to veterinarians Rob Franklin and Keith Latson for help.

The people in Veracruz rely on their equids for transportation, work and sometimes MUCH more!

“The burro had a huge saddle sore on his back and was clearly undernourished,” said Latson, an orthopedic equine surgeon practicing in California.

“For this man, the burro was more to him than the burros and horses we see in the U.S. This burro was his transportation, companion and provided a way for him to make a living for his family.”

Over a period of four days both Keith and Rob, who practices equine internal medicine in Texas and is the President of the Texas Equine Veterinary Association, treated more than 1,000 equids in Mexico for a variety of ailments, and provided basic services, such as floating, or filing, the sharp points of teeth, and de-worming to rid the animals of potentially fatal parasites.

Co-Founder Keith Latson, DVM visits with 2 young locals about their donkey's health problems.

That experience in October 2011, an “Equitarian Initiative” mission sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, proved to be a bit of an epiphany for the two former Texas A&M University roommates and fraternity brothers. Already working together to produce a superior probiotic product, the pair realized that by providing such a product to underdeveloped regions dependent on burros and horses, the people would be better able to care for their animals and families. The question then became, “what to do about it?” The answer: FullBucket Nutritional Supplements.

FullBucket Probiotic is the first in what will become a full line of products developed by the veterinarians to not only provide a superior quality product to horses and other equids in the United States, but to underdeveloped countries, as well. With the purchase of one FullBucket in the United States, another FullBucket will be provided at no charge to treat horses and donkeys in these regions through the company’s Giving program.

FOR EVERY FULLBUCKET YOU BUY, WE GIVE ONE TO AN ANIMAL IN NEED.

However, the product we distribute for these animals is not the same product we sell here in the US. These animals have very different nutritional requirements.

During our first Equitarian experience, we wondered if there was a way to extend the benefit of dental work in horses that couldn't masticate, of deworming equids so burdened that they couldn't absorb nutrients presented to the gut, and of B-vitamin injections which may be quickly metabolized/excreted. We partnered with an equine nutritionist in Mexico who has taken many equine hair and feed samples in the areas where we work to determine specific nutritional deficiencies in the population.

From the analyses, we work with in-country premix companies to develop a palatable nutritional supplement to address the specific nutritional needs. This is the product, our "Giving" product, that we distribute, not the commercially available digestive support supplements available on our website and through distributors in the United States.

While probiotics for both humans and animals have been on the market for years, many horse owners aren’t aware of the value of the product in their animals as part of a health care maintenance program. Plus the word “probiotic” isn’t necessarily well understood. “Any horse that has been exposed to antibiotics or is under stress from travel, training or intense feed programs, should be on a Probiotic.

A probiotic helps with nutritional balance.” Said Latson. Probiotics, live microorganisms, have been scientifically proven to beneficially affect horses by improving the intestinal microbial balance. For humans, probiotics are often marketed in yogurts and dietary supplements.

In horses, they come labeled as a nutritional supplement and the formulas vary – a fact Latson and Franklin discovered while treating animals after surgery. “Keith and I got really frustrated with the way our patients were responding to surgery and the problems some were having with gut issues and diarrhea,” said Franklin. “I recommended a formulation of probiotic that was surviving medical scrutiny in humans and with some modification would do well in horses. For the most part, the problem was solved and we began working on developing a more effective model for horses.”

Rob & Keith examining a recipient mare.

Through careful scientific exploration and formulation, the pair captured what they believed to be the most concentrated and effective formulation and began to share with their fellow veterinarians, who responded with “overt” excitement. “Once the formula got out there, other veterinarians began to tell us this was exactly what they had been looking for and it has become their ‘go to’ product,” said Franklin.

“Veterinarians have since discovered that if they have a horse on an antibiotic, that horse needs to be on a probiotic. Antibiotic associated diarrhea can be devastating.” Premier veterinary practices, including Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., Littleton Equine Medical Center in Littleton, Colo., and Mid Atlantic Equine Veterinary Center in Ringoes, New Jersey, have consistently relied on FullBucket Supplements.

"We think it's important for horse owners to know that even though our corporate mission is to deliver help to these amazing working animals in poor countries, we also have the best-in-class products available. We have made a pledge to create ONLY products that are REALLY needed and we will make the the BEST in the industry." says partner Rob Hendrickson.

Rob Franklin and Rob Hendrickson operate on a rescue horse for a group of young enthusiasts who hope to become veterinarians someday.

FullBucket Probiotic is not only for the high-level performance horse, but is effective for all classes of horses.

That's TROTT's founder, Bonnie Adams, in front of Bob Baffert's barn at Santa Anita. She's got a couple of tubs bound for Stonepine Training Center in Carmel, CA for former racehorses.

“Horses are exquisitely sensitive to stress,” said Latson, “and that stress can come from being hauled for an extended period of time to changing pastures with more aggressive horses in the mix.” As the FullBucket nutritional line of products expands, Latson, Franklin and Hendrickson intend to continue providing assistance to underdeveloped countries through the Care+Care program. Having witnessed the conditions in which these animals exist, they believe they can serve the dual purpose of helping animals and horses even more effectively. “Right now our priority is to invest back into the Care+Care program first, then into the company and lastly ourselves. We are third.” said Latson. “We hope this program will encourage people to get engaged and will help them satisfy their inspiration to help animals.”