Q and A, Flying Colours Dressage in California!

So as promised, a question and answer blog.

Thanks so much for your questions; here’s the skinny…

Your saddles?

  • We ride all our horses in Regal Saddles.  They are made by Kevin Lote, Victoria BC, Canada.  All our saddles have the Flair System.  With Kevin’s design, they have 4 air bags in each saddle and are wool flocked as well.
  • Each horse has their own saddle that has been built to fit their shape and size.  The seat of the saddles have been fitted to either Lindsey or me.  (we ride in the same saddle size)
  • The saddles are fitted once or twice a year to be adjusted for changes as their backs develop with the work.  We have had the saddles worked on and adjusted while in California by Graham and Sue Newell at Limelite Saddlery ( http://www.limelitesaddlery.com/ ).
  • We have ridden in Regal Saddles for 10 years and love them.
  • Both Kevin Lote and Graham and Sue Newell are awesome, expert saddle fitters.

Your feed program?

  • “Your horses look so great.  What do you feed them?”
  • All our horses are on a high fat/low carb diet.  At home, our complete feed is made especially for Flying Colours by our local feed mill.  Here in California, I have found that Triple Crown Low Starch is a good substitute.  The boys get about 8 cups/day, Fred gets double that amount.
  • All our horse are fed about 1 cup of canola oil/day and 1 cup/day of milled flaxseed.
  • Other daily additives in their feed include glucosamine sulfate, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), iodized salt, aloe vera juice, electrolytes, beet pulp and a mineral supplement.  And carrots, lots of carrots
  • All our feed is fed wet.  Very wet.  It keeps hydration in their feed systems for the picky drinkers.
  • We get lots of comments and questions about Lance’s winter weight.  Lance is a very calm, friendly, happy horse but he is also a worrier.  He is very sensitive to his surroundings and he worries a lot if things upset him.  (He is on Gastroguard daily.)  So his winter environment is a tough change for him.  His summer paddock is 2 acres, complete with a rolling pit (he loves to roll first thing in the morning!!) and lots of grass for him to walk and graze for the 2 hours or so he out each day.  In the winter, because of the ice and snow, his winter turnout changes to a small pen and a flake of hay.  This turnout change is not quite to his liking so to minimize the effect on his digestive system of him being upset about his daily turnout , he has a small bit of hay in front of him all day.  Result…Lance is chubby.  But Winter Chubby Lance is Happy Tummy Chubby Lance so I’m very happy.  It is not ideal to have Lance as chubby as he is in the winter, but it is the lesser of two evils.  As he gets more turnout in the spring or on the treadmill at Arroyo, his weight normalizes.

What happens to the horses on a non-riding day/day off?

  • The horses work in lessons, with Lindsey in the saddle, from Monday to Friday with Shannon or me.  They all work very hard.  As you could imagine, we try to maximize each day we are here to get the best work out of each horse each ride. On a non show weekend, they tend to get one day off with no riding at all.  One day of the weekend may be a light ride or a walk with Lindsey in the saddle around the farm.
  • The horses are not turned out at all while we are at Arroyo.  We have a turnout time around 3pm that we could utilize the pens but as that is a normal feed time around here so the horses don’t relax or enjoy being away from their stalls at that time of the day.  So no turnout.
  • On a non riding or walk only day the horses are each on the Vibe Floor for 20 minutes http://vitafloorusa.com , they are on the treadmill for 24 minutes http://www.horsegym.com , brushed and curried and fed (the staff feed our horse in the morning but we feed them in the evenings on the weekends).  With the two of us, it take about 2 hours to deal with the horses on a non-riding day.  On a “walking” day off, with both of us, it takes about 4 hours.
  • We are at the barn every day.

How did you transport your horses to San Diego?

  • As we have a mare, a gelding and a stallion to transport, the trailer they travel in is an important component in “how?” and “are we able to?” questions about transport.
  • The previous 3 years we have hired Thompson Van Lines to transport them south.   http://www.thompsonhorsevanlines.ca/  They are a fabulous transport company and took very good care of our horses every year.
  • We now have a horse trailer that will work for long haul transport of all three.  It is a Jamco Classic Competitor, 4 horse, head to head, trailer.   http://www.jamcotrailers.com
  • The trailer breaks down into 3 generous box stalls.  Though, the chubbiest horse (Lance) gets the middle stall (the smallest stall) as he separates the mare from the stallion.
  • The trip down takes about 2 1/2 days.  Wetaskiwin to Idaho Falls; http://www.parkwoodjumpers.com/ , ( a big push for the first day, pray for good weather) Idaho Falls to Las Vegas; http://www.equinesuites.com/ , and then a shorter final day, Vegas to Arroyo.
  • Peter and Lindsey drove the horses down to California and will drive them home starting on May 01.

Where do you stay while in San Diego?

  • In past years we have stayed in our  40 ft motorcoach.  It was a great answer to the accommodation question.  Small enough to be affordable and large enough for Lindsey and I to live comfortably for extended periods.  The closest RV park to the stable was in Oceanside.  It was great; close to the ocean and safe.  It was about a 45 minute drive (on a good, light traffic day) to Arroyo.
  • We have sold our coach this year so I spent many hours on the internet looking for vacation rentals in the area.  We came up with a gem.  A smaller home, near the beach with 3 master bedrooms (for 3 families; Argals, Stroh/Plaizier, Stroh/Hoveland) and a very important feature…3 bathrooms!!!  Bonus, (big, huge bonus) we are only about 15 minutes from Arroyo.  Our days are so much more organized around the horses as we can get back and forth to the stable much more easily.

Big shows in California, how do you decide on what shows to attend?

  • We make the decision on what shows to compete at by assessing the footing at the venue, the judging panel for the show and the stabling at the venue.  We rely heavily on Shannon’s recommendation and our past experience.

Sometimes you don’t compete?  Why?

  • We enter each show with the idea of coming down centreline, dig deep, give it a good go and fiercely, whole heartily compete.
  • Sometimes the new level of training we working at before each show in not quite ready for the edge needed in the ring.  So we add a half step and some intermediate questions of the horse and Lindsey.  Can we get the intensity in the work, in the warm up ring, at the competition that we had the day before?  Is everything working and at competition speed?  We have the luxury of adding this step this year as we have no pressure of accumulating marks for making any National teams.  Adding a step is thinking about the future.  Next year is the pressure year and we’ll be ready!!!

So there’s the answers to the questions most asked of us this year.  If you have any more questions, please send them along!!!

The next feature blog will be “A Day in the Life” for us at Arroyo.  Stay tuned!!!


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