Equine Nutrition Seminar Tonight at Stillpoint Farm!
If we are to believe the old Zen saying, “We all create our own reality” then for Arlene “Tuny” Page she not only created a reality for herself but also for some of the key people in Wellington who live, train, and breathe Dressage. At Tuny and David Page’s Stillpoint Farm Dressage, on South Shore Drive, Tuny developed a facility which reflected all that she liked, and discarded all that she did not like about the training facilities she has been throughout her lifetime career; from her New England roots in Hamilton, Mass, to extended months in training in Europe with Klaus Balkenhol during his tenure as US team coach. When the new world class show facility for the Global Dressage Festival began development less than a mile from their farm, the Pages added their support as one of the first key sponsors. We caught up with Tuny at the GDF Dressage Classic where she competed Wild One in the National Grand Prix, winning their first outing of the season, after an extended time off from shows since the National Dressage Championships, and asked her about what went into the process of bringing a high performance dressage athlete like Wild One, back into the competition ring.
DressageDaily: Wild One looked super at the GDF Dressage Classic winning the Open Grand Prix in the National Show, then went on to finish in the top six at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI. His last serious competition was at Gladstone for the National Championships in September, what was your program for him to prepare for the busy winter season in Florida?
Tuny: I have focused on increasing his fitness in the last 4 months so that I could come into this season very seriously and competing him nationally once before starting in the CDI's is part of this conditioning process.
DressageDaily: When you mentioned re-grouping, addressing nutritional and dietary changes, what did you work on with Wild One which you feel has made a difference?
Tuny: We have been strategically comprehensive about handling Wild One's physiology by consistently doing blood work so that we are on top of his overall health. I have addressed the nutritional concerns several ways. One is that we have taken him to more of a whole food diet including oats, hemp oil, chia seeds, and alfalfa hay under the guidance of Tigger Montague of BiostarEQ. I had been full circle with multiple feed companies in the last three years and I have finally come back to Purina because, quite honestly, my horses looked their best back in the days when I fed Purina exclusively. Now Wild One gets a mix that includes Wellsolve low starch.
DressageDaily: When training and campaigning a High Performance Grand Prix horse, what is it with this particular horse you have focused on in his career?
Tuny: It always comes down to the same simple things when preparing a Grand Prix horse for shows...knowing what to prepare for and then being prepared for it! For Wild One this means having him fit and happy in his work. "VV" is a generally happy horse so sometimes just changing up where he works is enough to keep him fresh. I don't show him a lot but before an important show or at the start of the season I like to do a national show to "field test" my program from arrival at the show to feed schedule, hand walk schedule, and the duration of work outs.
DressageDaily: Who has been helping you in your work with him and is there any specifics in training strategies you have applied which contributed to such a positive experience this week?
Tuny: I am quite lucky in my situation at Stillpoint because there is as much interaction with top trainers as I could ever want. That said, I do most of my own training and analyzing with use of the video. Robert keeps an eye on things and rarely lets me leave the arena without thoughts for the next work out and he watched both tests at GDF giving me great feedback. Oded is quick to do the same with me and VV and he also helps with a couple of our sale horses so I feel like together we stay on top of any bad habits and, I hope, create a few good habits! I am also taking advantage of the elite rider training sessions with Steffen Peters (Thank You Betsy Juliano by the way). Steffen is always entirely clear and simple about the truth of your work and he was very positive about Wild One.
DressageDaily: Stillpoint Farm is one of the early sponsors to get on board with the Global Dressage Festival. From your position what is your take on the growth of this venue?
Tuny: When Equestrian Sport Productions announced their plan to develop the old polo stadium grounds into a World Class Dressage (mainly) venue IF local farm and business owners "put their money where their mouths were" I jumped on it because I believed that ESP had proven that they could deliver on such a proposal. The venue that is now called Global Dressage Festival is completely user friendly to not only riders and horses but to spectators (at every level), sponsors, vendors and the press. Over the past 10 years when, I have been a full time Wellington resident, I have become affectionately (I'm sure) known as the "footing Nazi" and I come by that honestly. Right from the start ESP promised that GDF would be prepared and maintained like the top European shows and they have fully delivered on their promise...the footing at GDF is very very good. As a trainer and rider I absolutely believe that the warm up and then competition arena on top footing will bring out the best in the horses and riders, especially when they are there competing for 3-5 days.
With the Global Dressage Festival Show-Grounds bringing all they promised and more to the Wellington community, future plans including full time stabling and a hotel may attract some of Stillpoint’s winter residents to the actual show facility where full time accommodations are provided. But that does not concern Pages who “put their money where their mouth” was and supported the venture early on. “We offer a unique environment which will always be a desirable place for riders and horses to train and prepare for shows, “ said Page where from the covered arena one can view the activity and population growth in an eagle’s nest perched in the tallest treetop overlooking the facility.
Visit the in DressageDaily's Virtual Vendor - BioStar Performance Whole Food for more articles on Nutritional programs.