It’s not exactly ‘home on the range’ and the horses don’t have names like Buttercup and Ginger, but tucked away in the hills where Bonsall meets Oceanside is a place where both horse and rider strive to become champions. At Liz Bolton Stables, horses with names like ‘Ruler of the Roost’ or ‘Ninth Edition’ are groomed for a life of championship. Recently, both horses took home honors. ‘Ruler of the Roost,’ ridden by Suzanne Federico in Del Mar’s Snowball Show, took home the ‘Grand Champion’ honors and was also chosen ‘Three-gaited Country Pleasure Champion.’ ‘Ninth Edition,’ ridden by Carolyn Hohenberger, took home the ‘Show Pleasure Novice Rider Championship’ and ‘Reserve Grand Champion Open Pleasure’ in the same show.
Liz Bolton Stables is a place where clients learn the finer points of riding a stately horse called the American Saddlebred. Formerly situated in Rancho Santa Fe, Liz’s training center recently relocated to North County. The facility offers twenty acres, which includes an outdoor arena, indoor riding area and thirty-eight stalls. Developed in 1985 by Robert and Jackie Tanner, the couple hired contractors from Kentucky in an effort to emulate the typical Southern-style stalls. The stalls are fashioned from oak, which gives them an ‘Old Kentucky’ flavor.
The center not only trains horses but also prepares students for competition. Some students begin as early as four years old. “I like teaching the children and making their dreams come true,” said Lindsay Allen, one of Liz Bolton’s trainers who lends her expertise to the stables.
Lindsay has been around horses all her life and was raised in the Cheshire farmlands of northern England. After her arrival in the United States in 1986 she worked as a trainer and riding instructor for such establishments as Holidays on Horseback and Rancho Del Mar before accepting a position at Liz Bolton Stables. She has taken horses to the World Champion Horse Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
Born to be champions, the American Saddlebred horse became popular in the early to mid-19th century, especially among Southern plantation owners. During the Civil War, both General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee rode American Saddlebreds.
This high-stepping, high-motion horse is overflowing with grace and energy. “They call them the peacocks of the show ring,” said Lindsay. The horses compete ‘on the rail’ in order to demonstrate the various gaits. The American Saddlebred is trained to perform five gaits, which include the walk, trot, canter, slow gait, and rack. “The brilliance of the movement is exciting,” Lindsay commented.
Readying the horse for show is an exercise in perfection and the groomers pay particular attention to the mane and tail. The mane and tail of an American Saddlebred are usually naturally flowing; however, in some competitions the mane is roached (shaved) in order to fully appreciate the lines of the neck. The tails are grown as long as possible and flow to the ground in competition but are usually wrapped when the horse is not in the show ring. “It takes a long time to get a horse ready to show,” explained Lindsay. “The ‘turnout’ of the horse is important and we are not really happy until we’ve tried everything.”
Lindsay Allen is obviously zealous in regards to the American Saddlebreds. “We want to encourage the public to experience the breed,” she said. “Once you’ve ridden a Saddlebred you won’t want to ride anything else!”
Liz Bolton Stables can be reached at (760) 967-8212.