Healthy Horses

When Mary Hartman sat down at her kitchen table in Rochester in 2017, she did not know she was about to start a six-figure business. She was just trying to help her horse, Aya, get relief from ulcers and skin sores.

After seeking help from a veterinarian, Hartman did a course of Ulcergard and used topicals on Aya’s skin. The vet did not want Hartman to use Ulcergard long-term, so she needed to find another way to support Aya’s gastric health. The vet suggested chia seeds, but those are light seeds, and Aya blew them out of her bucket. “So I explored ways to use [chia seeds in] a biscuit that incorporated superfoods,” Hartman says.

Hartman formulated a recipe for horse supplements, and Aya’s condition improved. Hartman’s veterinarian, her fellow riders, and a couple of trainers asked her to make the products for them too. Her business, StableFeed, was born.

“When I created the spirulina chia biscuit for a horse with a chronic cough and the cough resolved, things really started to take off,” Hartman says. “That is when I realized there was a need and a niche I could fill.”

In 2020 Hartman moved to a larger production space in Rochester, and then again in the fall of 2021 to her current space in Kasson, just outside of Rochester. Her existing facility houses a commercial kitchen, warehouse, and retail and office space.

In addition to its six chia-based supplements, StableFeed sells a unique ancient forage legume called sainfoin. “It is basically a clean hay pellet,” she says. “We also have a feed blend based on sainfoin hay.”

According to Hartman, StableFeed is the first company to contract the growth, processing, and distribution of sainfoin products into the U.S. marketplace. She hopes to build a commercial market for sainfoin in the U.S. and find more Minnesota growers of the crop. She is also planning to collaborate with an East Coast university to improve data sets on the equine microbiome, which Hartman says is “incredibly exciting for my team.”

StableFeed’s thousands of customers live around the world. Hartman has clients in Canada and Europe, and is now looking to expand into the Australian market.

“Our typical customers are women with one or more horses,” she says. “They tend to have a long history with horses, have seen increased incidences of chronic health issues in horses, and [are] seeking healthful alternatives to over-processed foods and medications.”

“I love it all, to be honest,” Hartman adds. “The most rewarding part is the call from the owner who found success with our products after years of struggling to resolve an issue.”