California Riding Magazine • April, 2009

SLC Warmblood
Jumper trainer Christian Croquenois
sets up shop in Rancho Santa Fe.

by Kathleen Burke Jensen

 


The large jumping course at Rocky Mountain Warmblood Farm,
home of Christian’s jumper training business SLC Warmblood.


SLC Warmblood is the jumper training business of Christian Croquenois. Based at Rocky Mountain Warmblood Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, Christian specializes in the development of young horses.

Christian and his wife Sandrine, who helps him with the business, moved to the United States from France last year and they love it. “We always liked the U.S. but San Diego County is wonderful. It’s so green and beautiful and just the perfect place to ride,” says Christian. Sandrine works for the Italian custom riding boot company Milo Felline that is staring to import their quality product to the U.S.
Riding since the age of 10, Christian has nearly 35 years of experience. He lived everywhere in France, spending his youth just outside of Paris. Then he lived for 10 years in Normandy, a locale well known for breeding horses. Most recently he lived in the famous wine country area of Bordeaux.

There are currently half a dozen horses in training with Christian, in addition to 10 of his own, but he has room for more than twice that amount and is interested in adding to his client roster. “I really like to school and teach young horses,” Christian explains. “And I enjoy helping riders progress and have fun riding their own horses both at competition and at home.”


Christian aboard Dior,
his 6-year-old 17hh Belgian Warmblood gelding at HITS Arizona.


Christian has trained many riders to their top level. His biggest success is his daughter, Lauren, who competed in her first international CSI** Grand Prix in Europe at the young age of 14.
His time in Europe was divided between being a trainer and being a veterinarian, giving him unique insight into the body development of young horses. “I’m very focused on the muscle development of my young horses,” says Christian. “I know how to keep them in good health and how to train them to protect them from injuries.”

In addition to muscle development, stretching is a key focus of the SLC Warmblood training program. For example, Christian is a proponent of alternating canter work between a compact frame and stretching out.

Out & About

He’s a fan of trail work, too, for both body and mind development. “We used to canter 15 minutes around the big golf course in Normandy,” he says. “It’s good for horses.” With nearly 60 miles of groomed trails, Rancho Santa Fe provides endless opportunities to trail ride. One of his other training routines is to ride exercises and combinations in a line, allowing the horse to learn by themselves and building balance and coordination.


Christian Croquenois riding Triviant,
his 9-year-old 17.5hh Dutch Warmblood gelding in the HITS Arizona Grand Prix.


Christian recently spent time competing at the HITS circuits in Thermal and Arizona. His horse Triviant is young for the Grand Prix ranks and Christian was pleased that he consistently went around the course clear and on time. Though he does compete, Christian makes a point of never being away from the barn for more than five days in a row. “I ride three to seven horses a day, seven days a week, and most of the time I’m still at the barn at 7 p.m.,” he says with a grin.

In addition to his jumper training business, Christian works with a well known stud farm in the heart of Limburg, Belgium. The farm boasts quality breeding stallions such as Nonstop (Darco), Arco and Cumano. Christian currently has two broodmares and a few other horses for sale that are at the barn in Belgium. “French riding is one of the finest but I by far prefer the northern European breeding horses and all of mine are Belgium or Dutch Warmblood,” Christian explains.
Christian shares Rocky Mountain Warmblood Farm with Mandy Porter and Craig Star. Because both trainers are jumpers, the large arena is always set with big jumps and ready to go. The top quality property features pasture, turnout, outside stalls, big indoor box stalls and a beautiful barn with all the amenities. The setting is idyllic with trees and grass everywhere and there is a track around the arena.

For more information on SLC Warmblood contact Christian Croquenois at 858-703-7511 or e-mail at usch@ymail.com.