A Unique Path to “Perfection”


By Kari Hagstrom    Originally published in the November 2013 issue of The Valley Equestrian Newspaper  www.theveonline.com ©2013


If you ever have a conversation with Cindy Besser, owner and founder of Roasted To Perfection horse feed, brace yourself:  She is a dynamo of energy, who talks a mile-a-minute, with knowledge, humor, compassion, and conviction.  Her experiences have led her on a unique path, and her knowledge has been earned.


Raised on a farm with a love of horses from youth, Besser rode the wooded trails near her Minnesota home as a young girl. Horses returned to her life when her daughter, Robyn, then 14, said, "Can you and I get horses, because Dad and Blake are always hunting and fishing?" A year of 4-H then some barrel racing led Besser to quarter horse racing and an adventure the family would not have imagined when it all started.


Her daughter later bought a quarter horse brood mare, Hempeness (Bailey), which the family bred. The family owns all seven of her babies.  In 2001, Besser saw an ad for a young stallion, Feature Mr. Jess. “I fell in love and told my husband, Lorin, ‘If ever I could have a foal it would be by him!’  Lorin asked, ‘What would you do with it?’  ‘I would race it!’ He said, ‘I would love to have a race horse.’"


Mixing good experiences with the not-so-good, and demonstrating that one thing does lead to another, Besser’s range of experience changed when one of her young horses fell ill.  As a testament to her love of horses and to her persistence in not giving up on the young horse, she struggled for over a year-and-a-half to find a healing treatment for young Fritz.  When many people would have given up on Fritz because it was too expensive, too hard, too time-consuming, just too much to deal with, Besser persevered in daunting circumstances. 


Fritz struggled with diarrhea for a year and a half before we figured out why.  I spent thousands of dollars on vet bills, tried every product that ‘claimed’ to cure diarrhea.”  Fritz’s belly was always bloated and he passed tremendous amounts of gas.  He would lie in his stall and groan. Fritz’s manure never got better than a firm cow pie with some loose form of horse apples.  I washed his butt so regularly, that he would turn it to me when I went into his stall. On Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, 2005, he started with a bad bout of diarrhea.  By Friday morning his tail was completely frozen with manure.  He could not lift his tail to go anymore, manure just squirted out, ran down his legs, and onto his sheath.  Our neighbors have a heated indoor arena; I went there to clean him up.  I spent over four hours soaking and scrubbing Fritz; I went back on Saturday and spent another four hours.  I wrapped his tail in a towel and vet wrap and spent the next two weeks going to the barn five to six times a day washing him and changing the towel, before he was back to ‘his normal’ cow pie.”


“My husband was sure Fritz would die after he shed his stomach lining.”  Besser tells about the experience of finding the stomach lining: “I was cleaning his stall and found what I thought was a snake skin, before the rational side of me kicked in: snakes hibernate this time of year. I called two vets and was informed he shed his stomach lining. They said he would probably die. For weeks I held my breath when I went into his stall to see if he was still alive or had passed.”


Fritz had a mold allergy, Besser learned. “There is mold and mildew on grain when it is harvested.  Mold grows at 45 degrees and runs rampant at 90 degrees.  I spent hours and hours researching, trying to figure out why Fritz had diarrhea.”


In December, 2005, I heard about roasted feed, something I had not tried with Fritz.  I ordered a pallet --- the results were overwhelming, life-

changing for Fritz!!! Within four days his manure started looking like a horse’s.  By the end of two weeks his bloated belly was gone; he looked like a tucked-up race horse.  Fritz had a normal pile of manure.  He started to play with another two-year-old, something Fritz had never done before.


After ten days of eating roasted feed, my husband asked what else I did to Fritz.  I told him, ‘Just that feed.”  Besser became a dealer of the roasted feed, but a few years later the manufacture was sold, the feed was eventually changed and later discontinued.


“My family and customers encouraged me to make my own feed. I met with Eric Nelson from Form A Feed to discuss roasted feed.  We created Roasted To Perfection and mixed up the first batch in February, 2010.   I am so appreciative for my customers who give Roasted To Perfection a chance! 


“I would say 100 percent of my new business is word of mouth from horse owners who see results.  I do some print advertising, but, people cannot ‘see’ why RTP is different, unique, what sets it apart from traditional horse feed.”


“Roasted To Perfection's uniqueness is evident the first time you open a bag, look, feel, and smell the feed.  Roasted to Perfection started as an answer to some of the mold and mildew problems facing horse owners. Another benefit is digestibility.  A horse is a grazing animal with a small stomach. The food travels from the stomach to the intestine and cecum relatively fast. If the site of digestion takes place in the stomach, it is easier for the horse to process and utilize the grain, vitamins and minerals. Changing the site of absorption means more balanced energy levels for the horse.”

We feed all our horses RTP: mares, babies, old geldings and the race horses at the track.  Our babies have straight, strong legs and start nibbling when a few days old.  They wash RTP down with a drink of milk.  We do not worry about the babies eating it because RTP is 91 percent digestible.  Roasting reduces that amount of gastric acid needed to break down the food; the hard outer shell is removed from the digestive equation.  The volume of grain can be reduced because of the increased digestibility, it doesn’t pass undigested through the horse’s system, exiting in the manure.


When I met with the head nutritionist at Form A Feed, I wanted to develop a feed that 75 percent of horses could eat.  We added all the "stuff" a normal healthy horse should have in their diet.  If a horse has a specific issue, the owner can address it as needed.  A coffee can full of RTP weighs about two pounds. We use a coffee can to measure, and feed as each horse needs, to our horses twice a day.  The race horse eats three times a day when in training.  We had four babies born in 2011, two colts and two fillies.  When they shed out as yearlings, the colts were thinner than the fillies so we increased the colts to one-and-a-half cans twice a day and left the fillies at one can twice a day.  The colts played much more than the fillies, they needed more food.  It’s no different that children growing,” Besser said.



Besser’s racing dream began in January 2001, when she saw the ad for the stallion, Feature Mr. Jess.  At that time, we did not own a mare.  A couple years later Robyn came home with Hempeness (Bailey).  Robyn bred Bailey to get a new barrel racing prospect.  Lorin and I bought both Bailey and the baby from Robyn when she went to college.  Smoke was our first race horse; he won $18,730 in two seasons.


We bred Bailey to Feature Mr. Jess and God gave us Mr Hempens Feature, the first race horse Lorin and I raised.  Mr. Hempens Feature (Romeo) was born April 10, 2007, six years after we saw the advertisement.  He won a

60-1 long shot race in Oklahoma that Toby Keith had a horse in, he set a track record at Canterbury Park, and won a stakes race.  "What a gift God gave us!”   Romeo's racing career was cut short from a knee injury, he is at home with us, riding and learning a "new" career.  He loves to sneak out of his stall and visit the babies, he is a gentle giant, weighing 1400 pounds. 


So far, three of Bailey's babies have went to the race track; all are money winners, they have paid their way! said Besser.  “One race season we had 5 races: 4 wins, one 2nd place and a new track record --- set on my birthday!


Persisting through good, bad, and unexpected adventures, Besser has “been there.”  Breeding and raising race horses, winning with them, learning about equine health the hard way through prolonged illness, starting a business in a tough market, she’s had the experience.  Besser knows that starting a business, dealing with challenges, or a new adventure is never easy but she believes, “There will ALWAYS be obstacles to overcome!  If you are on the path of God, He will provide you with the help you need to overcome.” 


Motivated by a desire to help horses and their owners, she says, “I pray for horse owners that want healthy horses to buy Roasted To Perfection.”

                      Besser hasn’t lost her sense of humor, either:

                               “Fritz still likes his butt rubbed.”


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