Christina Vinios and her Oldenburg gelding, Folkestone OLD, celebrated the end of 2015 with two National Championship titles. Their first, the USA Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Championship in August, was augmented by a second win on Christina’s home turf in Wellington, Florida, as the duo captured the Intermediare I Championship at the 2015 U.S. Dressage competition. The pair also swept the CDI Small Tour classes at Devon in September.
So it’s been a good year for Christina and Folkestone OLD (or “Huey”). The horse and rider pair have been together since 2010, slowly working their way up through the dressage ranks. It’s also got to be a nice validation for Christina, who just one year before buying Huey had been thinking about pursuing a career in show jumping.
“But then the jumps started getting too high, so I thought I’d get more serious about dressage,” Christina says with a laugh. She also ramped up her training at the Wellington-based Stillpoint Farm. After riding in a clinic with four-time Olympian Steffen Peters, Christina decided to bring Huey to California to work at Shannon and Steffen Peters’ facility in San Diego. Shortly after he arrived, the Peters’ head groom recommended putting Huey on SUCCEED.
Trying SUCCEED at the Recommendations of Steffen and Shannon Peters
“Dawn told me that all of the horses were on it and that Huey would benefit from being on it too,” Christina says. “I didn’t ask any questions, because if they thought it was a good product, I figured that was a good sign.”
Steffen and Shannon have been feeding SUCCEED since 2005. During the two years Huey spent at Peters’ barn, he stayed on the supplement throughout training and competition. But when Christina decided to take the gelding back to Florida, Huey’s feeding program changed and he no longer received a daily dose of SUCCEED.
“I don’t use a lot of supplements in general. I find that a lot of them have preservatives and additives and I try to feed as natural as possible. I forgot about SUCCEED for awhile until I went to the SUCCEED-sponsored USDF trainers’ conference and heard [Freedom Health president] John Hall speak,” Christina says.
Staying on SUCCEED to Support Folkestone OLD’s GI Health and Performance
Still, Christina delayed in putting Huey back on SUCCEED, until a few weeks later when her horse’s digestive system started taking front and center at shows. The quality of Huey’s manure started to change, which may have been related to his digestive health. Christina says, “I remembered SUCCEED and wrote John Hall an email to ask more about it.”
Two hours on the phone with John and a case of SUCCEED later, Christina says the results speak for themselves.
“Ever since I started feeding SUCCEED again, I haven’t had any issues,” she says. “All of the horses are on it, along with beet pulp and sometimes oats. They all look beautiful and dapply and have been healthy.”
In addition to the results Christina and Huey were achieving in the show ring, both also benefitted from the peace of mind that comes with having a healthy, happy horse.
“I was kind of obsessed with the manure thing when Huey was having problems,” she says. “We were in the middle of all of this preparation, and I just thought, I can’t be thinking about this! I need to work on my flying changes, not worry about the quality of the horse’s manure.”
Willing Horses, Happy on SUCCEED
Now that all of Christina’s horses are on SUCCEED, she says she also notices that Huey and her young ones seem less grouchy and more willing to work. “Huey’s a really good horse by nature, but if your belly doesn’t feel good, of course you don’t want to go run five miles,” she says. “Now they’re all working well and have really nice toplines. John had said in our phone call that sometimes people don’t talk about SUCCEED because it’s a competitive advantage — and I really think it’s true.”
Huey will be turning 10 this year, with a full season of shows ahead of him, including a possible goal of making the Nations Cup team, as well as a few shows at the Global Dressage Festival show grounds in Wellington. Christina’s three young ones will also have plenty to work on this year.
“One of the biggest benefits about SUCCEED is that I don’t have to worry about digestive health like I used to,” Christina says. “There is so much that goes into caring for the horses, so to not have to worry so much about their guts lets me focus on my program instead. That seems like a pretty obvious benefit to me.”