IN MARKING ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY, CAVALOR® PREMIUM FEED, SUPPLEMENTS AND CARE PRODUCTS CELEBRATES ADVANCES IN EQUINE HEALTH AND LONGEVITY, MUCH OF WHICH IT ASCRIBES TO SCIENTIFIC IMPROVEMENTS IN EQUINE NUTRITION.
In 1989, when the Belgium-based company was founded as the brainchild of young agricultural engineer Peter Bollen, Cavalor® based its formulations on what in those days was an innovative way to feed high performance sport horses – low protein and higher good fats (vegetable oils). This is our interview with Bollen who took further and further to be a top international brand celebrating its 25th anniversary >>http://tinyurl.com/pta6fja
Twenty-five years ago, common nutrition theories were nearly opposite of what Bollen believed. “In those days, high performance horses were fed high protein, high starch, low fat and low fiber,” Bollen recalls from his home office in Drongen, Belgium. “In my master’s thesis at university I wanted to prove that a feeding program of low protein and higher fats, healthy fats, would be better for the horse. My professor said I was crazy to think I would find research to defend my thesis. I travelled all over Europe and North America in search of proof. And now, research and science have shown my theory was correct.”
Simultaneously, in those 25 years, the life of the modern performance horse changed.
“When I started out, horses retired at 14. Just recently I saw a 21-year-old horse jumping at a CSI 3* in Vidauban, France, and he will likely compete in the Hickstead Derby in the UK. Today, horses work and compete more and longer.” Research has continued as the hallmark of Bollen’s company. “I hope to see more innovation, especially with the use of certain amino acids and the combination of specific fatty acids. As customers and horse lovers, we will continue to look for products that make a real difference,” says Bollen who has ridden since he was eight years old. He began competing show jumpers at 14 and bought his first horse at 16. For the past 20 years he has enjoyed owning his own farm. His wife and children also ride. “My business is my way to combine both of my passions: nutrition and horses.”
Current research projects at Cavalor® include:
Herbal Joint Supplement: “We have seen remarkable results with our five-year research trials on a new joint product which is based on herbs such as Boswelia serrate, an herb known for helping reduce chronic inflammation. Cavalor has a patent pending.”
Free Fatty Acids: “Free fatty acids produced in the cecum can influence the digestion in the cecum. If the level of free fatty acids is too low, it can cause digestive problems. We are studying the addition of fatty acids in nutrition to improve digestion.” Spleen Research: “The importance of the spleen in the horse is not commonly understood. We have developed a product which our field trials show stimulates the biological action of the spleen, and we've seen improvements in muscle tone, immunity and recovery time from viral infection. We’ve seen infections, which usually last up several months, subside within two weeks.”
New Ulcer Supplement: “We are investigating a raw material that may be beneficial in fighting gastric ulcers.”
“What makes me happy is when a product I have developed exceeds my expectations,” says Bollen who loves to tell the story of Jos Lansink, a show jumper who did not believe in supplements at the time he was riding for the Zangersheide stud.
“I convinced him that with changes in his horse’s nutrition he could exceed his current results. Based on a feeding program I developed for him, he switched to Cavalor five months before becoming world champion in 2006. “The same happened with Canadian Olympian Eric Lamaze. Six months before the Olympics, his horse Hickstead underwent colic surgery. After, Eric started him on Cavalor Strucomix Original. Within a matter of weeks, Eric and Hickstead won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.” There was the day when the company was a one-man show. “For several years, I developed products, built stands, packaged products, printed labels and personally delivered the product to customers,” says Bollen.
Cavalor® is a 2014 sponsoring partner with Alltech, the title sponsor of the World Equestrian Games, and will be nutritional partners with the Belgian and Saudi Arabian Equestrian Teams as well as a number of individual riders. Further, the company was the official supplier for the Belgian Olympic Team at the 2012 London Olympics. Half of the horses at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 were fed Cavalor® feed.
Today, Cavalor® Premium Feed, Supplements and Care Products is rated as one of the top equine feed companies in the world with products available in more than 50 countries.
Photo of Peter by Peter Van Den Bulck exclusively provided for HORSE TIMES' article with Bollen