"The level of quality from Platinum is so consistent, and we can actually see a difference in the horses." — Traci Brooks
Balmoral is a place where things bloom. It could be the farm itself, with not one but two stunning California locations in Malibu and West Los Angeles, that nurtures both horses and their riders. But more likely it is due to the unsinkable glass-is-half-full attitude of Traci Brooks and the other-worldly connection that her husband, Carleton, has with the horses. Whatever it is, it works, and horses flourish in their attentive care as they have trained horse and rider combinations to countless championships at shows across the country, including the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Capital Challenge, the National Horse Show, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the Washington International Horse Show, USEF Junior Hunter Championship and the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, as well as having coached many recipients to the USEF Horse of the Year Award. This dynamic husband and wife team run their successful hunter/jumper/equitation business like a well-oiled machine, relying heavily and equally on horse sense, teamwork and always plenty of fun.
Traci and Carleton Brooks have a lot going on. They start riders, children and adults alike, and train them up through polished division riders, teach clinics, ride, judge, produce young horses—and don’t forget about the year-round horse showing. They are in the business of educating and are always game to do interviews for articles, podcasts and social media outlets, as well as making time to run their own BalmoralTV that features video training clips and tips. They also make it a priority to give back to the sport that has built their careers, and both are active in the hunter/jumper governance, sitting on several boards and committees for USEF, USHJA and the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association. Carleton is quick to credit “the boss,” Traci, with making the business run smoothly. “Balmoral is special because there is amazing symmetry between Traci and me,” he says. “We trust each other impeccably, both personally and business-wise. And with that trust, you can build a strong foundation.” It takes a village to do the great big things that they accomplish seemingly seamlessly, and the Brooks rely heavily on their “village”—the greater Balmoral team of managers and assistant trainers. Carleton originally founded Uphill Farm, Inc. in 1981, and then established Balmoral Farm, Inc. in 2008 with Traci. Several employees have worked alongside of them since the early days, including Carleton’s right-hand man, David Vega, who has been with him for 27 years. Carleton describes him with sincere affection, “David has been with us through some of our biggest successes and failures. He always has our best interest at heart.” He adds emphatically, “We simply do not have a farm without the people that make it up.” This interwoven and close-knit team extends to their veterinarians, shoers, chiropractors, bookkeepers and accountants. And most importantly, their incredible customers, and the wonderful horses that have brought them to the top of the sport.
Carleton Brooks, known throughout the hunter/jumper industry as “CB,” is a horseman of the old school, and he takes immense pride and responsibility in that role. Everything in his life revolves around horses, their care and well-being, and their confidence. He understands them in a way that not just any horse lover does. People are aware of this deep connection and top professionals across the country consistently reach out to him for advice, particularly with difficult horses. CB has a soft spot for “do-over” horses that lack confidence or self-esteem. “There are no problem horses,” he says. “Just ones that are unique. When they don’t understand the question, the horses know we’re going to pause and give them a chance to understand, and that resonates through the stables. Some days I’ll get on the horses and try to teach them something, and you can tell they’re a little perplexed and they need some time to figure it out. And that’s ok. If they need time and understanding, then that’s what they get.” Happy, confident horses that understand their job is a hallmark combination of Balmoral horses. Some of them take a little bit longer to figure it out, and the Brooks’ program allows them all the time each horse requires in order to reach their full potential.
His career in the irons has produced incredible horses such as Trinity, Vested, Sparring Partner, Penn Square, Center Stage, Corporate Profit, Pritchard Hill and many more. He has earned titles such as Grand Champion Leading Hunter Rider at The National Horse Show, been the four-time winner of the Pacific Horse Shows Association Don Tipton Award, presented to the professional or amateur who wins the most championships in rated divisions for the competition year, and won countless champion ribbons at individual shows and circuits along the way. Recently, Carleton was inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame, and in 2021, he received the Eugene R. Mische Perpetual Trophy, the USHJA Lifetime Achievement Award.
CB has a thriving training and sales business, he is a well-respected judge and clinician and sits on several boards in any given year. Currently he is on the USHJA Working Hunter Group and the USHJA Advisory Committee for the Young Hunters. He has been an ‘R’ judge since 1985 and presided over many of the most prestigious horse shows in the country. On top of that, he is a highly sought-after clinician and flies coast to coast to share his knowledge and experience with others, all while doing the same with his clients and their horses at home. Always willing to give back to the sport that has given them so much, Carleton and Traci continue to serve on numerous boards and committees.
Balmoral is known for its attention to detail and high standard of horse care, so it is not surprising that nutrition is taken very seriously there as well. The dietary component of their program is discussed at length amongst Traci, Carleton, and the head staff, right down to the water the horses drink. Traci says, “The nutrition here is a whole comprehensive program that involves the horses getting out of their stalls and putting their heads down to graze. We need the result to be happy horses, and nutrition is a big part of that. It can be a puzzle for each individual horse as to what makes them thrive. We go off feel with it and watch how the horses develop rather than having it all analyzed.” Utilizing decades of combined experience, knowing their horses inside and out, and adjusting to the needs of the individual horses has resulted in some of the country’s most content—and best looking—equine athletes.
“Grass helps the digestive system as much as anything. We take any opportunity when possible to get the horses out on grass, and at shows, even if it’s for 15 minutes. We dampen a lot of the hay so it gets a little bit more like grazing,” notes CB. Where they are located in California, pasture turnout is limited, so hay becomes critical—and the quality is key. Each horse receives high-quality Timothy grass hay daily along with alfalfa as needed, particularly while they are competing. The hay takes on new importance when these Californian horses ship out to compete on the east coast. “When we ship East, we take our hay with us,” CB says. “That seems to make a large difference in their adjustment when traveling. Very few horses can actually switch their diet that much, and then we have time to mix it with East Coast hay to help adjust. The roughage that we bring from home helps them acclimate.” A bran and sweet grain blend is used to maintain condition and to mix in supplements.
The late legendary veterinarian, Dr. John Steele, originally introduced Platinum Performance® to Traci and Carleton. He was a New York vet but flew out to California 4 or 5 times a year to treat the Balmoral horses for over 30 years. “Dr. Steele was the guru of all things ‘horse,’ so if he believed in it, that was good for us. He endorsed the Platinum products and that’s how we started using them,” recalls CB. With the recommendation from Dr. Steele, it was an easy choice and a good fit for the Balmoral program as a foundation supplement. They have been using it since the very beginning, when it was being handmade at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, and they have relied on it for over 20 years as a part of their detail-oriented feed program. “The level of quality from Platinum is so consistent,” says Traci, “and we can actually see a difference in the horses.”
All of the Balmoral horses are on Platinum Performance® CJ, and many of them receive Platinum Performance® GI too. Traci says, “We use a lot of the Platinum GI based on the fact that so many performance horses have some grade of ulcers. We treat a lot of horses for ulcers without testing them. We’ll put them on Platinum GI, or we’ll give them a round of ulcer treatment. It doesn’t hurt, and it helps 99% of them.” CB adds, “I think most horses have a little stomach issue that might not even be ulcers, and the Platinum GI helps to settle their stomachs.” CB supports a consistent feeding program in a world where there are so many ways to feed, and a wide variety of supplements, in particular, to choose from. “I don’t think people always follow consistency of a program. I think they buy a couple containers to try it, and then stop. It’s an ongoing nutritional situation for a horse; it needs to be consistent. A horse is different than a human. That’s important.”
Platinum Performance® GI provides a gastrointestinal-focused approach to total horse health. Equine gut health is not only important for proper digestion but also immune health because an estimated 70-80 percent of the immune system lives in a horse’s gastrointestinal system. This veterinary-developed formula provides omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, trace minerals, along with Bio-Sponge®, prebiotics, probiotics and glutamine for GI support.
Recommended daily dosage for a 1,000 lb horse is 2 scoops, which is 2 servings.
This athlete is a sponsored endorsee and actual client.