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Success Story: Sonia Zugel and Ungarro

Tigger Montague

Sonia Zugel was born in Cork, Ireland, and currently lives in Holmdel, New Jersey with her husband Christian and two daughters: Ashleigh and Lucia. Sonia grew up fox hunting in Ireland. She rode in amateur steeplechase events in California, and competed in eventing in New Jersey. She made the switch to dressage in 2005 and competes as an amateur for Ireland in the FEI small tour (PSG/Intermediare 1) and Grand prix. Sonia trains with Vera Kessels-Barisone.

Whole Food Success Story: Sonia Zugel and Ungarro
What first caused you to get into the Whole Food Diet for your horses?

Sonia: I started reading about BioStar on the Dressage Daily website. I was impressed with the BioStar Team of riders. As a family we live our lives eating healthy food. It made sense to feed our horses with minimally processed ingredients. We don’t eat junk food, and the horses don’t need to eat junk food either.

Whole Food Success Story: Sonia Zugel and Ungarro

Ungarro | Photograph by: Terri Miller

What kind of feed program were you on before?

Sonia: A basic, processed pelletized feed. The horses were all having training issues: one horse was hyper and couldn’t focus, and all three of my horses just didn’t seem to feel good about their work.

How long before you noticed a difference, after you switched to whole food?

Sonia: Within two to three weeks I saw a change in their attitudes.

So how long have you been feeding whole food and BioStar?

Sonia: 90 days. Truman, my eleven year old Dutch horse by Metal, is now more focused – not spooky. He’s built muscle and strength, he’s happy to work. All of his apprehension is gone. Ungarro, my Belgian warmblood by Weltmeyer, is 13 and competes in the small tour. He was grumpy before we changed his diet. Now he is easier to train. He was stubborn and his neck muscling was upside down. Now his neck is correct, and he has really developed. Naomi, my dutch warmblood mare by Zeolit, really wants to work now. Her body looks amazing. She looks like a 10 year old and she is sixteen. She is lighter in the bridle, and doesn’t grind her teeth anymore.


Ungarro and Sonia were reserve champions in the East Coast Riders Cup at PSG/Amateur. In the Open East Coast Riders Cup on the first day of competition, they were second overall in this highly competitive Prix St. George class.

How significant was the diet change for Ungarro at Saugerties?

Sonia: [Saugerties] was the first time I could ride Ungarro off my seat. Now he can bend through his body. He fell apart a year ago and now he’s like a new horse. Before he would brace against me, and now he’s soft and forward, getting 7′s and 8′s on gaits. He has changed so much since being on this diet and BioStar.

Which BioStar product is your favorite?

Sonia: I love them all! Tum-Ease has been great for Ungarro; gave it to the horses throughout the hurricane plus Colostrum-38 and they stayed totally calm and happy with no stress. All the horses get the hemp seed oil, chia seeds, Optimum, and Tum-Ease.

When I started the program I put them all on the Colostrum-38 to restore balance to their digestive tract, and support their immune systems. Truman is on Equilibrium and along with the diet he’s just a different horse.

We use more Tum-Ease when we ship because trailering is so stressful. Ungarro had huge ulcer issues before, and now his stomach is just fine.

What are your upcoming plans for the horses?

Sonia: We have a farm in Palm Beach Point which is east of Wellington. So we will spend the winter down there. Ungarro will do the small tour, Truman will do the small tour a little later in the winter season, and Naomi will compete in the Grand Prix.

What would you say to a fellow amateur rider thinking of changing their horse to whole food?

Sonia: Don’t wait to change the diet!

The whole food feed program balances the horse, makes the horses easier to ride, and that’s what we amateurs need. There’s too much sugar in processed feeds. It makes a big difference to feed whole food.

And BioStar is such a responsive company. You get consultations and support whenever you need it.

In the beginning, I called Tigger a lot to review things with her, even called her on a holiday weekend (Memorial Day) and she answered the phone! BioStar really cares about the customer and the customer’s horses.

I know people are afraid to change, but when you make the change to whole food, you will see improvements in your horse. And to see how happy and healthy the horses are is gratifying to all us amateur riders.

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