If I were a horse, I would want to be friends with Dr. Frank Gravlee.

When I met him at Life Data Labs in Cherokee, I thought he was a cross between Sean Connery and Indiana Jones. He had the white beard, the sharp eyes and the jacket that needed elbow pads.

Gravlee was raised on a farm in rural Alabama, where his father was a farrier in World War I. Healthy horses with healthy shoes were a major part of Gravlee’s life growing up, and he continued the tradition into adulthood. He obtained his DVM from Auburn University and practiced in Florence for a decade. Learning about the problems farmers encountered with hooves and feet of horses, he got a nutritional pathology residency at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“After practicing for 10 years, I created a commercial product that targeted the feet/hooves of horses, specifically the dermal tissues that would strengthen the hooves. Our product is sold worldwide in about 30 countries, and 35% of our production is sold internationally,” says the Hall Of Fame veterinarian.

Life Data Labs began in a humble shack as Gravlee experimented and did his research. Today, it sits on 10 acres and provides nutritional supplements to keep horse’s hooves and feet healthy and strong all over the world.

“Farrier’s Formula feeds 40,000 to 50,000 horses a day across the world; that’s one thing that makes me proud of Alabama and proud to be from Alabama,” Gravlee says. “At least once a day, a person somewhere in the world opens a bag that says ‘Made in Alabama.’ I can’t think of better marketing for our state.”

Life Data Labs, which sponsors the Burney Chapman Memorial Lecture at the International Hoof-Care Summit, is a family-run business. Gravlee’s wife, Linda, is the chief executive officer, while his son Dr. Scott Gravlee, is the nutrition consultant.

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