Dr. Kelly Vineyard Ph.D. – Meet an Equine Nutrition Expert at Purina Animal Nutrition Dedicated to Improving Life for Senior Horses – and Beyond

Photography by Keith Ladzinski

BY April Bilodeau

Close your eyes and picture an older horse. Maybe they have a long mane. They’re not thin, but you can see their spine a little more due to a swayed back. They’re a little slower than they were when they were younger.

What if that image of the older horse became a thing of the past? And in its place was a horse with a solid weight, more energy, healthy feet, and all of the qualities at 20 years old that they had at 10 years old?

With the expertise of the six Ph.D. nutritionists on their Equine Technical and R&D team, including Dr. Kelly Vineyard, Ph.D., Purina Animal Nutrition is passionate about finding innovative ways to meet the unique nutritional needs of senior horses through research-based horse feed products.

Purina’s three premium senior horse feeds formulated with ActivAge® prebiotic technology – Photography by Keith Ladzinski

“I am pretty sure that I would do what I would do even if I didn’t get paid,” Dr. Vineyard, Senior Equine Nutritionist with Purina, tells The Plaid Horse. “I have my dream job, and getting to think about and talk about horses every day is a privilege.


Purina has always been at the forefront of senior horse nutrition. Introduced over 30 years ago, Purina Equine Senior® horse feed was the first widely available horse feed specifically designed for seniors. Over the years, the formulation has been continually updated and enhanced, which is why it remains the number one veterinarian-recommended senior horse feed.
As part of these continued innovation efforts, Purina conducted a series of research projects in collaboration with Dr. Amanda Adams at the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky (www.seniorhorsehealth.com).

“We were specifically focused on supporting the aging immune system through nutrition” says Dr. Vineyard. “This is why we decided to partner with Dr. Adams, because she is one of the leading experts on immune function in the aging horse.”
Through this work, it was discovered that incorporating the ActivAge® prebiotic into Equine Senior® helped protect against inflammation associated with aging and supported a healthy immune response.

“I wake up and say, ‘What can I do to make a horse’s life better?” —DR. KELLY VINEYARD, PH.D., SENIOR EQUINE NUTRITIONIST AT PURINA – Photography by Keith Ladzinski

Further studies conducted at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, MO, confirmed these results and demonstrated that ActivAge® also supports optimal mobility and metabolic response in aged horses. These findings are the reason why ActivAge® is currently incorporated into all three of Purina’s premium senior horse feeds, Equine Senior®, Equine Senior® Active, and Enrich Plus® Senior.

ActivAge® is derived via the fermentation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. The unique prebiotic technology is composed of not only the yeast, but also beneficial metabolites generated during the fermentation process.

The research results with ActivAge® were so impactful that Dr. Vineyard worked with the Purina team and secured a patent on the Equine Senior® formula including the ActivAge® prebiotic technology, which means no other feed company can replicate it.


Dr. Vineyard has always had the horse bug. She grew up cleaning stalls in exchange for lessons. When she wasn’t at the barn, she was begging her parents for more saddle time and reading horse books at every opportunity.

Her continued passion for horses combined with her love for science inspired her to study equine nutrition in graduate school at the University of Florida, where she earned both her Master’s and Ph.D. in Animal Sciences.

Photography by Keith Ladzinski

“I wake up and say to myself, ‘What can I do to make a horse’s life better?’ Every single day I’m grateful for this opportunity to combine my love of science and horses,” says Vineyard

“I wake up and say to myself, ‘What can I do to make a horse’s life better?’ Every single day I’m grateful for this opportunity to combine my love of science and horses,” says Vineyard.

Vineyard is a married mom of two boys and has also continued her riding career; she owns a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding named Dibadu. As a dressage rider, she takes regular lessons and continues to show, even recently qualifying for the 2023 Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation Region 3 Dressage Championships.

While Dibadu is only nine, his daily ration consists of Purina Equine Senior® Active paired with good quality grass hay, and supplemented with SuperSport® Amino Acid supplement, Omega Match® Ahiflower® oil, and electrolytes (see below—senior feed is not just for senior horses!).

Vineyard says that the Equine Senior® Active formulation with ActivAge® has been key to her own horse’s healthy weight, shiny coat, and overall health.

Romi is a 21-year-old Grand Prix schoolmaster who eats Enrich Plus®Senior. He is ridden by Susannah Hamlin (Dr. Vineyard’s dressage instructor) and owned by Anne Shermyen – Photography by Keith Ladzinski

“Even though Dibadu is not technically considered a ‘senior horse,’ he can absolutely benefit from Equine Senior® Active with ActivAge®. It is a fantastic performance horse feed for hard-working horses that need extra calories,” says Vineyard.

Canadian eventer Kyle Carter is also a believer in the benefits of ActivAge®. His horse Madison Park (aka Parker), a former 5* Olympic partner, is still in work and in “active retirement” at 25 years old. Parker is fed Equine Senior® Active, and Carter routinely recommends Equine Senior® Active to his clients based on the positive effects he sees in his own horses.


With so many feed options on the market, it’s important to understand the three main types.

A complete feed is defined as a product with forage built in, and it can be fed as the sole ration if needed. Traditional senior feeds are formulated for horses with poor teeth or other digestive complications that prevent them from properly chewing or digesting long-stem hay. Senior horses need to be transitioned to a complete feed like Equine Senior® when they start quidding and can no longer effectively chew hay.

A concentrate feed supplies essential nutrients and extra calories and is designed to be fed along with long- stem forage. Equine Senior® Active is a concentrate feed, and it’s a great choice for aging horses that need extra calories and can still eat hay.

A ration balancer is a concentrated, low-volume feed designed to fill in the nutritional gaps of a forage-only diet. Ration balancers are great for easy keepers, as they provide essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, without additional calories. Enrich Plus® Senior is a ration balancer de- signed specifically to address the needs of the aging easy keeper.

A common misconception is that “senior feed” should only be fed to aging horses when in fact, mature horses of all ages can thrive on senior feed, if it meets their specific dietary needs.

“However, senior feed should not be fed to young growing horses due to their increased nutrient requirements in relation to calorie needs,” says Vineyard.

“Just because a horse is getting older doesn’t mean they have to look it.” —DR. KELLY VINEYARD, PH.D., SENIOR EQUINE NUTRITIONIST AT PURINA – Photography by Keith Ladzinski


Purina Equine Senior®, Purina Equine Senior® Active, and Enrich Plus® Senior all not only contain ActivAge® but
also Purina’s leading gastric support supplement, Outlast®.

These feeds offer many benefits for most horses, and the support they provide to horses in their senior years is unmatched.
With cutting-edge horse feeds containing the ActivAge® technology, Purina continues to work toward making sure every senior horse has the opportunity to continue comfortably working and looking younger than ever.

“Just because a horse is getting older doesn’t mean they have to look it,” says Vineyard. Moreover, with the help of the innovations at her company, Vineyard’s ultimate goal is helping fellow horse lovers gain more good years with their senior partners.

To learn more about Equine Senior®, Equine Senior®Active, and Enrich Plus®Senior with ActivAge®, or other Purina products, visit www.purinamills.com/horse-feed.