Equine nutritionist and farrier Bill Vandergrift of Elko, Ga., passed away Feb. 9, 2022, in a farm accident. He was 67.
A native of Pittsfield, Mass., Vandergrift graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in horse production from the University of Massachusetts in 1976.
Realizing he had a dream to continue in the study of animal health, Vandergrift chose to attend Texas A&M University where he obtained his Master’s Degree in 1978 and PhD in 1981 in animal nutrition. Upon his graduation, he accepted a teaching position at the University of Georgia where he taught courses in animal nutrition and also conducted research on the effects of animal nutrition on metabolic profiles. While finding this work interesting, he decided to leave the world of academia and accept a position as the director of equine nutrition for Manna Pro in 1984 where he worked until starting his own company EquiVision in 1992. This company fulfilled his passion of not only providing quality animal nutrition in the United States, but provided him the opportunity to work internationally with horse farms, owners and trainers.
Vandergrift was always on the cutting edge of equine nutrition often being the first to present a new concept or theory or develop a novel supplement. This work allowed others to know him as an animal nutritionist and as a caring and compassionate human who demonstrated his intelligence in a professional manner while serving with humility. His vast experience helped his clients win Olympic medals and major international races, including the Dubai World Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Japan Derby and all three legs of the North American Triple Crown series. He was just as thrilled when any of his clients were able to accomplish what they dreamed of with their horses.
Continuing to lead EquiVision, Vandergrift also consulted with Triple Crown Feed from the beginning of this company to the present time and was always a cherished member of this family. Throughout all of these professional experiences, he continued to make lifelong friends with many of his colleagues and clients, many of them calling him, “Dr. Bill.”
Throughout his years as the owner and operator of EquiVision, he developed an extensive line of nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals that helped his clients’ horses reach their maximum potential. EquiVision was awarded the Petfood and Nutrition Innovation Award in 2015, which was one of the many highlights of his professional career. As one client stated, “Dr. Bill’s imprint on the equine industry will not fade.” Another colleague said, “I have never met a man so brilliant that was so humble.” Yet another said, “Words simply can’t explain his role in life or his love for his wife, his friends or those he just met, and his God.”
In 2001, Bill married the love of his life Janice, and together they worked to increase productivity of EquiVision and expand the territory in which the nutritional supplements were available. They moved to Kentucky during the early years of their marriage to allow Bill the opportunity to train racehorses and be immersed in the Horse Capital of the World. This time proved to be beneficial to Bill as he was able to interact and collaborate with some of the best professionals in the horse industry. He also set a track record with one of their own racehorses, as well as showed one of their horses to a world title in halter. It was during this time in Kentucky that Bill pursued his interest in farrier work. This work gave him the ability to treat the feet of horses and advance to becoming a certified farrier. His dream was to continue the farrier work and increase in his levels of certification while providing professional assistance to other owners of horses.
After returning to Georgia, Bill and Janice made the decision to sell the supplement part of EquiVision to Stride Animal Health in 2018 so they could focus on developing the farm they purchased in Houston County and enjoy the horses that both of them loved. It was on this farm that Bill found joy and happiness in planning, designing and developing areas for their horses. Bill had a true passion for animal nutrition; it was never just a job. He also had a love for dogs especially Great Pyrenees. He and Janice fostered for National Great Pyrenees Rescue. This love of dogs and horses continued until his death.
Flowers are graciously accepted or donations may be made to the National Great Pyrenees Rescue, Inc., P.O. Box #86, Nanuet, NY 10954, or the RAM Fund at Colorado State University, the first-ever in-depth equine podiatry course for veterinary students, at University Advancement, Loren Crabtree Hall, 2243 Centre Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80523, to the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Dr., College Station, Texas 77840, online donations https://www.txamfoundation.com/give.aspx select General Memorial and enter in memory of Bill Vandergrift PhD. An Equine Nutrition Research Fund will be created in his name. Contributions may also be given to the charity of the donor’s choice.
The family will receive visitors from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at McCullough Funeral Home. His service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in the chapel of McCullough Funeral Home. He will be laid to rest at Evergreen Cemetery in Perry.
For friends and family unable to attend, the service will be streamed live via the McCullough Funeral Home Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mcculloughfuneralhome/live/.
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