Fecal Matters, LLC was founded by Lisa Sikes in 2010.
Lisa Sikes, founder of Fecal Matters, LLC, tells her story of exactly how this clever and convenient business got started:
“I guess I’m just like untold numbers of women who were born horse crazy. It must be in my DNA. I cannot remember a Christmas when I didn’t have a meltdown because Santa didn’t bring me a pony. Well, that pony finally arrived when I was eight years old (and when my parents couldn’t take another meltdown). His name was Pretty Boy. Growing up in a rural farming community in south Georgia, my family believed in the country way of learning how to ride by simply learning how to stay on. Lessons? Who needs lessons?! Lessons or not, I did spent most of my free time with my horse. When not on, under, or around horses, I was busy studying civil engineering. The last 30 years of my career were spent working on technical bridge construction projects. One might say I have a good idea of how “things work.” Believe it or not, the leap from bridges to equine physiology is not that far.
The two defining moments in my horsemanship journey were when I attended my first Buck Brannaman horsemanship clinic, and when I met Dr. Peggy Flemming from the Florida Equine Acupuncture Center. My horse, Justice, had a tough case of COPD and was treated by specialists from equine hospitals in from four different states. We tried everything that western medicine had to offer, with no results. Dr. Flemming helped me to understand that my “by the book” deworming and vaccination schedule may have been having a negative effect on Justice’s sensitive immune system. She recommended an alternative treatment program that included acupuncture and homeopathy. She also suggested taking another look at medications I was pouring into my horse. Her advice saved my horse.
As time went by, I became more judicious and careful with any drugs I give to my four horses; and myself, for that matter. Understanding the systemic effects that a range of drugs had on my horse’s overall health and wellness was the key to my reevaluating the classic deworming schedule so many of us horse owners followed. Rather than medicating without a specific target, I opted to follow the recommendations of emerging research that showed a growing body of knowledge that parasites are developing a resistance to deworming medications (creating a need for stronger meds), and horses were developing all sorts of problems secondary to the frequent administration of medications.
I knew that a fecal egg count test would validate a need for worming, but I couldn’t find a local veterinarian who offered the test. Those I consulted with just said, “De-worm your horse every 5 weeks.” This was exactly the kind of horse management practice I was hoping to get away from.
After more research, I found a mail order fecal egg count service, but questioned the time interval between taking the sample and testing the sample. There was also the problem of exposing the sample to high temperatures while en route to a laboratory. Remember, I’m an engineer, and we are all about details and accuracy!
So, one morning while I was waiting to collect the last of my own horses’ manure samples (and being late for work), I thought about a simpler way to get all of this done (including the triplicate paperwork involved!). “Wouldn’t it be great,” I thought, “to have someone come my barn on a regular basis and test my horses’ manure for parasites?” It would make healthy horse care so much easier! And that is when the idea for Fecal Matters was born. In that moment (can you see the lightbulb?), I decided to become a specialist in equine parasitology, and get the education and training necessary to perform the McMaster Quantitative Egg Count Procedure – the foundation of the Fecal Matters Mobile Lab.
I love horse people. I understand them. The soundness and wellness of our horses is very, very important to us.
The goal of Fecal Matters is to help owners affordably and effectively make better health care choices for their horses. Most importantly, it is a way that I can give something back to the horses who have shaped my life, and perhaps repay some of the debt I owe to them for all of the healing and joy they have brought to me.