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Equestrian traditions run deep in Alison Firestone Robitaille’s blood. The international show jumper grew up fox hunting and amid her family’s Thoroughbred racing endeavors that included owning 1980 Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk.
Along with carrying on her family’s legacy in the horse world, Alison is creating new traditions in caring for the string of rising jumping stars at her Newstead Farm in Upperville, Virginia. Haygain Steamed Hay is one of them.
“Haygain has become an integral part of our program because our horse’s health is a top priority,” Alison explains. “There’s never a guarantee when purchasing hay, especially when travelling. Haygain is a way of ensuring we are doing everything possible to keep our horses at their best.”
Haygain has become an integral part of our program because our horse’s health is a top priority.
Haygain came to the attention of the veteran U.S. Nations Cup rider when Alison was coaching up and coming show jumper Jamie Barge during last year’s Winter Equestrian Festival. Jamie relayed how switching to steamed hay had helped her horse, Leubbo, finally get rid of a persistent cough he’d picked up in Europe.
“It’s actually amazing how good the horses look,” says Alison’s stable manager, Will Simons, of how quickly the Haygain benefits revealed themselves in their horses. For one horse with bad allergies that led to “sneezing and blowing hard,” those conditions “went away instantly,” he reports. Another frequent sneezer is much better, too. Along with better breathing, the horses simply look and feel “super healthy.”
“They destroy the hay!” Will says of their appetite for steamed hay. Even the picky eaters: it’s gone!” Two of Alison’s young jumpers, Flairvona and Gingerpop, fell into that picky eater category, but no more. “Flairvona never really filled out and now she’s eating all her hay and she looks so great. Gingerpop was never really interested in eating his hay, and now it’s gone.”
It’s actually amazing how good the horses look!
Both horses are following in the hoofprints of Ace, Alison’s partner in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Paris. The mother of two pre-teen daughters, Alison is thriving in her return to the highest levels of the sport. Along with several Nations Cup appearances, Alison was the top American finisher in the 1998 World Equestrian Games, a team silver medalist at the 1999 Pan Am Games and an alternate for the 2004 Olympic team. Shortly after that, she took a break from top sport to start her family.
Fully back in the chase now, Alison is enjoying her return trip to the highest levels and she’s happy for Haygain’s help getting there with healthy, peak performing horses.