Internship: The Mill
Through the Work Experience Program with the Maryland Horse Foundation, I was able to complete an internship focused on equine nutrition, as well as feed and supplement sales. The company I interned with, The Mill, is a major supplier of feed and supplements, not just for equine, but for many other animals including livestock, companion animals, and more. Beneficial to what I was looking to dive into with this internship, The Mill has their own equine nutritionist, Michelle Jennings. With Michelle, I saw how feed plans are created for horses with various needs and I learned about how much goes into suggesting a particular feed or supplement to fix a dietary problem that a horse is having. There is so much background information that is necessary to gather about the horse or herd before referring an appropriate product. Michelle is very knowledgeable when it comes to all of the feeds and supplements sold at The Mill, so she was typically able to give a suggestion over the phone; however, some cases required someone to ride out to their farm and address the problem firsthand. I got to experience this on a ride along with Michelle to a client’s farm that needed their hay tested, to determine if that was a contributor to a problem they were having with their horses. We also got to spend a day weighing foals, which is done monthly to keep track of their average daily gain.
Alongside Michelle, I was able to work with one of the Equine Sales Managers, Kelley Nash, who I joined on the road traveling to different training facilities. Some of the places we went included Delaware Park, Laurel Park, and Fair Hill. At these tracks I assisted Kelley by going into different barns, checking feed and supplement inventory, maintaining records, and speaking with the team to see how their horses were performing and if there was anything they needed to discuss that they wanted to improve on within their herd. Some of the clients had specific issues in their horses that they were looking to fix, and Kelley was able to recommend new products for that purpose. We also worked with a few clients that wanted a topline or overall assessment of their horse from Kelley, which was done through Body Condition Scoring (assessment of fat accumulation, completed by physically looking at the horse).
A major portion of my internship consisted of assisting The Mill with the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds. The Mill is a major supplier for majority of the horses at this sale and I got to experience selling feed and supplies in a fast-paced environment. The Mill had a warehouse for storage of their supplies set up at the fairgrounds, so customers could call in their order and if it was something already stored in the warehouse, we would bring it to their barn for them. The Mill was able to expand on their feed and shavings sales by bringing in other equine products, such as grooming and bathing equipment, wound care products, and special products brought in from the stores upon request. It was great to see the quality of customer service The Mill provides to their clients, as there were many times throughout the sale that I saw Michelle and Kelley go above and beyond for their customers.
I learned a lot from this experience, especially working alongside Michelle and Kelley in interacting with customers, learning about various feeds and supplement uses, as well as experiencing some of the retail and marketing aspects of the business. One of the most valuable things I learned from The Mill is the importance of having strong communication and organization within a team. I got to see the connection between the marketing, retail, warehouse, delivery, and nutrition/feed sales teams and how much coordination goes into successfully servicing their customers. I was also able to make connections with team members from Cargill and expand my network in the animal nutrition industry. Michelle also set me up to attend an online Feed Masters seminar, which consisted of feed dealers, nutritionists, and veterinarians from all over the country presenting case studies on different issues related to nutrition. Some of the topics included feeding challenges, GMOs, allergies in horses, hoof growth and development, and the importance of deworming. Through this two-day seminar, I was able to dive deeper into a lot of topics that are closely related to or affected by nutrition but are commonly overlooked.
Overall, I had a great experience working with Michelle, Kelley, and many other team members at The Mill. I was able to experience parts of almost every aspect of the business and know that I gained a great deal of knowledge on how the industry works as well. With the experience I gained in this internship, I hope to continue to pursue a career in the field of equine or animal nutrition, as I truly enjoyed being a part of the industry. I appreciate the opportunity to have participated in the Work Experience Program and look forward to continuing my pursuit of a career in this industry!