Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

Behind The Stall Door With: Baloutinue

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Laura Kraut has ridden many different types of horses over the course of her career, and if anything, all that experience makes her appreciate the thoroughly low maintenance nature of her current top mount, Baloutinue. The Hanoverian gelding (Balou Du Rouet—Utika, Landor S), owned by longtime supporters Barbara and David Roux of St. Bride’s Farm, was very new to Kraut when she qualified for and was selected to represent the United States for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Earning team silver in Japan was just the icing on the cake for Kraut, who made her third Olympic appearance at those Games.

With a few years of experience together under their belt now, Kraut has a deep well of confidence in Baloutinue, 14. Despite his hot nature in the ring, she says he is the gentlest horse in the barn at home. 

“He is such a pet; he is such a schmoozer,” Kraut says. “You can’t believe that he can be so feisty and fierce when you see him being ridden. When you’re on the ground with him, literally you could lay down in the stall with him, he is so sweet.”

Baloutinue—”Boo” or “Balou” to his friends—is feisty in the ring and a sweet schmoozer in the barn, rider Laura Kraut says. Erin Gilmore Photo

He is a friend to all in the barn, she added. 

“I wouldn’t say he has a favorite. I would say he likes everyone. Margo [Thomas] and Alex [Tyler-Morris], who work for me, ride him, and so does my sister, Mary Elizabeth [Kent],” she says. “He knows we all love him, and he knows it’s smart to not choose a favorite—but secretly, I hope I’m his favorite.”

As Kraut stands outside of Baloutinue’s corner stall at their winter base in Florida, he leans his head against her shoulder and lets his eyes close halfway. It seems from the snuggle like there’s a very good chance that she is, in fact, his favorite. 

“He’s feeling like he should have a nap about now,” she notes, “but he does he love his people.” 

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Baloutinue loves his people, including rider Laura Kraut (left) and groom Margo Thomas, shown here at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo Courtesy Of Margo Thomas

We went behind the stall door to get to know the Tokyo medalist, who is Kraut’s top prospect for Paris as she eyes qualification. She used the Florida season as a slow, easy couple of months for Baloutinue with an eye on stepping him back up to top competition in the spring with the goal of peaking closer into the summer months as Team USA targets qualifying Nations Cups and other CSI5* stops on the calendar prior to the Paris Olympics. 

Pathfinders for the U.S. at the Longines League of National Ocala (Fla.) on March 23, Kraut and Baloutinue turned in the team’s only double-clear performance. Kimberly Loushin Photo

The pair showed they are on form when they turned in a faultless performance March 23 while representing the U.S. in the Longines League of Nations Ocala (Florida). Here’s what we learned meeting Baloutinue at his winter base in Florida:

• His full name is a bit of a mouthful, which makes his nicknames, like “Boo” and “Balou,” extra cute. His owner Barbara Roux and Kraut are even known to get away with calling him “Boo Boo.”

Kraut and Boo sharing a quiet conversation. Photo Courtesy Of Margo Thomas

• Unlike so many top-level performance horses, Baloutinue is quirk-free, Kraut attests. And he loves any and all treats that are offered to him. 

• He does have one priority, and that is paddock time. 

“This horse could live out all the time, so we try to get him out for as many hours in the day as we can,” Kraut says. “He will nap in the paddock, lie right down, and eat while he’s still lying down.” 

Priority No. 1 is paddock time for this Olympian, and a paddock with a good spot for rolling is just icing on the carrot cake. Photo Courtesy Of Margo Thomas

• He never misses an opportunity to roll, but he does it politely. When turnout time isn’t possible on the road, when he’s taken out to hand graze, he will lie down and roll at the end of the lead time. 

“He’ll get down and roll, he’ll sit up for a little bit, and he might eat a little, and then he will always quietly get up,” Kraut says. “He’ll do that at shows; he did that at Tokyo.”

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Baloutinue gets plenty of hand-grazing time when he’s away from his paddock, and he’s almost certain to stop, drop and roll—but like a gentleman does—during his time out. Photo Courtesy Of Margo Thomas

• He is unflappable on the ground. Kraut and Boo have now traveled around the world together, and no place has ever bothered him. 

“Indoors, outdoors, he flies, he does everything perfectly,” she says.

 

Sharing is caring, whether at home or on the road: Baloutinue and Confu, another of Kraut’s top jumpers, share a treat together. Photo Courtesy Of Margo Thomas

• The gelding’s winter stall while in Florida is the prime, corner spot with a full view of the schooling ring, and he takes it upon himself to supervise the action there. 

“He watches us when we are schooling horses out in the ring, probably judging us,” Kraut jokes.

Boo supervises everything from his prime corner stall in Florida. Erin Gilmore Photo

• So what is difficult about Boo, if anything? 

“The hardest that he is, is when you’re riding him. And it’s not that he’s that hard, he’s just very excitable,” Kraut says.

“Every side is my best side,” says this handsome Hanoverian. Photo Courtesy Of Margo Thomas

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