By Kara Pinato Scro / Jump Media
As horse lovers, we’re constantly seeking the very best for our horses in just about every facet of their lives—from boarding barns to riding equipment to their feed, to name a few. This was the case for Liz Ehrlich, lawyer-turned-founder of all-natural equine supplement company, Equine Elixirs, who looked up and down for an effective solution to help her horse, Bella, manage ulcers. When she came up short, she did what she thought was most logical—she made her own all-natural supplement, and Ulceraser was born. That was back in 2016, now, five years later, the company offers six different all-natural, show-safe supplements that have become cult-favorites among Olympians and “weekend warriors” alike.
So how does a former Manhattan-based litigator go from the court room to equine supplement development? Research, of course. A lot of it. Interestingly, though, it wasn’t only about the ingredients. What enabled Ehrlich to begin to meet the demand of horse owners across the country was custom machinery.
In the early days, Ehrlich was mixing together the Ulceraser ingredients on her own. Over time, she enlisted the help of a mechanic to develop a small machine that would expedite the process, but she still found the process to be too manual and time intensive—knew she’d need to automate things with more sophisticated machinery.
After speaking with a machinery consultant who connected her with specialists that could build the machines she envisioned, Ehrlich began from the ground up. Sitting 17-feet tall, the first machine built was a custom assembly line designed to fully automate higher-volume production of Ulceraser.
A Labor of Love
Since then, Ehrlich has developed a number of additional machines that are custom built to accommodate the growing product line’s specific ingredients and packaging requirements. For Ehrlich, the development and implementation of the machines is a true labor of love and one of her favorite parts of the business. “It gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction,” shared Ehrlich of building machines to meet the products’ specific requirements. “I started by experimenting with smaller machinery in a lab and a kitchen and now have specialized machines just for this purpose—it is the culmination of what was once only an idea.”
Like any job, however, the creation of custom machinery isn’t without its hiccups. “The first day we ran the Ulceraser machine, we hit start, but then we couldn’t stop it,” said Ehrlich. “Hundreds of pounds of Ulceraser were pouring out of the machine. There was a problem with the air compressor and the slide gate and we ultimately had to pull the emergency stop button.
“Things like this happen and, of course, we can’t sell the product that wasn’t properly deposited into bags or buckets, so we call it ‘windfall for Bella,’” laughed Ehrlich of her horse reaping the benefits of a glitchy machine.
In another instance, after installing a machine that would facilitate the mixing of Positude, aptly named “Sir Mix A Lot,” Ehrlich and her team were confronted with persistent issues. “We were struggling to fix the machine, but funnily enough, once we started referring to it as ‘Lady Mix A Lot,’ everything started to function again!”
Many Moving Parts
In an effort to avoid outsourcing production, Ehrlich has developed machines that not only mix ingredients and deposit the product into bags, buckets, and syringes, but also handle functions such as labeling. On a daily basis, a number of gauges, motors, and moving parts are monitored to ensure small but critical functions like preventing giant feed containers from clogging with ingredients, ensuring a proper ingredient mixing ratio, and maintaining appropriate air pressure to allow for the slide gate to open and close for bag filling.
As Ehrlich’s business grows, so do the number of machines in the facility. While Ehrlich’s most cherished part of the job will always be creating the highest-quality products that horses love to eat, it’s the machines that feed her imagination and power her innovations that keep horses feeling and looking great.