Doing It Yourself: Tips and Tricks from NAYC Medalist Gracie Allen

Gracie Allen helped Zone 2 claim the Young Rider team bronze medal at the North American Youth Championships (NAYC) on August 2, before she was also presented with the Style of Riding Award.

Even without her well-earned medal and award though, Gracie would have still been a winner in our books!

While the majority of competitors at the NAYC have the assistance of a groom or trainer to care for their horse, Gracie is a standout. The 18-year-old from Moorestown, NJ, is largely the sole caretaker for her medal-winning mount, Rivage de Lormay. Gracie has had the ride on the 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding, owned by Horseware Ireland, for the last year and a half, during which time the gelding has lived at home with Gracie at her family’s Woodedge Farm in Moorestown, NJ.

Gracie says, “I take care of him and prepare him for competition, and that allows me to really get the best out of him in the ring. I know him like the back of my hand, so it really allows me to know what’s going on with him. If he even looks at me funny, I know there’s something wrong.

“I feel like he knows me really well, so it plays a huge role for us,” continued Gracie. “I know that whatever success I have in the ring is because of the effort I’ve put in with him.”

Gracie Allen (second from right) with her Zone 2 teammates after claiming the Young Rider team bronze medal at the 2019 North American Youth Championships in August. Photo by Jump Media

Caring for Rivage de Lormay herself has not only helped their partnership in the ring, it has made Gracie quite the knowledgeable horse woman.

Couple that with pointers and expertise from her riding instructor parents, Bob and Maureen Allen, and lessons from Olympian Anne Kursinski, and Gracie has garnered quite a few tips and tricks!

“I started taking lessons with [Anne Kursinski] when I was 14,” said Gracie, who then spent a summer as a working student for Anne and now lessons with her on occasion. “Anne’s very big on horse management; it’s a big part of her operation. I worked as a groom and a working student for her for a while when I was a junior, and it was an invaluable experience for me. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. It really gave me insight into how to take care of my horses. My parents teach beginner lessons, which is a wonderful part of our industry, but being able to be there with Anne and see her system and how she does everything was incredible.”

 Here’s a bit of what Gracie had to share!

On preparing for and competing at the NAYC:

“It definitely gives me a big sense of pride taking care of him myself, especially coming here [to NAYC]. I really planned my show schedule around this competition, and it’s been a really big goal for me. To be able to come here and medal is a big accomplishment for me. When I do go in the ring and do well, I know that all of that is because of the hard work that I’ve put on, along with my parents and everyone who helps and supports me.

I came into these championships thinking that this was an opportunity that I really had to take advantage of because I don’t own any of my horses myself, so I don’t always know what the future is going to hold. I’ve been riding him twice a day to get him fit, and I’ve been feeding him every meal to make sure everything is completely compliant with [Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)] rules.

“I used the FEI database a LOT. My horse’s feed has about 25 different ingredients, and I was typing them all in. We have a lot of boarders, and if anyone sprayed anything near him or tried to feed him anything, I would have to keep an eye out for that. I was feeding him every meal and turning him in and out and making sure no one touched him. We had a day camp at the farm, with little kids, and I had to make sure they knew not touch him too! It was a little stressful getting ready for it, but now that I’ve done it and I know what I can and can’t use [under FEI rules], it’ll be easier next time.”

On time-saving tips:

“I always work on time management. That’s something I learned when I was working as a working student for Anne. I think drying a horse’s legs is very important, and we have a lot of fans in the barn so the horses can dry faster. It saves you time to put a fan on them after they have a bath or you wash their legs.”

Gracie Allen and Rivage de Lormay. Photo by Jump Media

On organizing her day:

“My main philosophy is to make everything simple. I tell myself that all the time on the way to the ring: ‘This is simple.’

“I really try to organize things very well for myself. When we’re at a show and I have multiple horses, sometimes the days can get really packed. I have to make sure I’m organized, and I know where I have to be and when. Being organized and making everything as simple as possible, not only for me, but also for my parents when they have to help me take care of my horses, is so important. They have to know where everything is and who goes when.”

On what she never goes to the ring without:  

“A chain. And treats. And a fly sheet.”

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Gracie!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – The Vacation Horse Sitter Checklist You Need!

Liv Gude’s advice on the information you should be leaving for your horse sitter! 

Your flights are booked; your bags are packed, and you’ve made arrangements with a trusted friend to look after your horses – but have you provided him or her with all of the information that may be needed?

Here’s a checklist of the details that you may want to leave your horse sitter before you head out of town!

– Emergency contact phone numbers for you, someone else in town, the vet, and your farrier.

– Clear feeding and care instructions, including any details of your horses’ daily routines.

– Your horses’ vital signs including heart rate, temperature, and respirations.

– Your horses’ particular ways of telling you that they don’t feel well. Each horse has their own language.

– Your horses’ medications and when and how to administer. Most horses have that one way, and one way only, they will take something.

– Any quirks that might put your horse sitter in danger – like his tickle spot that makes him kick out.

– A detailed plan of what to do in various emergencies, be it colic, hoof issues, not eating, acting weird, or lacerations and first aid. (Be sure to let your horse sitter know where the first aid kit is!)

– A plan if your horse needs a refill of food, fly spray, etc. Do you have an account at your local feed store where your sitter can just zip over or have you checked your current stock on everything that may be needed?

– Detailed information about what is safe and not safe for your horses to eat as a treat. We so often want our horses to be spoiled when we are away, but not spoiled with something they are allergic to.

– Instructions on how to handle your horse if he is acting like a fool, won’t be caught, is pawing at the gate, you name it. If you are in the middle of training or un-training a behavior, you want your horse sitter to be able to reinforce the same actions.

Now that you’ve left behind the proper information, relax, and enjoy your vacation!

Liv Gude, a former international dressage groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Eight Barn Hacks to Save You Time and Money!

We’ve surveyed barn managers and grooms, scoured the internet, and put some of them into practice: here are eight time or money-saving life hacks that could help make your barn more efficient or your horse habit more cost effective!

Feeding and Watering

1) Add a second water bucket.

If your horses’ stalls each only have one water bucket, it may be time to consider hanging up a second one. By filling up both buckets at the same time, you could save yourself from extra fill up time later in the day.

2) Deliver all of your horses’ meals by wheelbarrow or storage cart to save time and streamline delivery.

Rather than making trips back and forth to a feed room, prepare all of your horses’ meals and place them into a wheelbarrow to drop off along your way down the aisle. Alternatively, filling up a compartmented storage cart with the feeds and supplements that you need and portioning them out accordingly at each stall is another great option for streamlining feeding time.

Tack and Equipment

3) Cut designs into the end of your polo wraps to easily identify matching sets.

This tip from ProEquineGrooms is a great one if you’ve ever found yourself wasting time attempting to roll up and match sets of polo wraps! Instead, cut a small, matching design into the end of all of the polo wraps in a set. This could be a small triangle cut out of the middle of the end, the corners cut off, or something similar – anything that will allow you to easily recognize which polos go together.

4) Make a list of which horse uses which tack and equipment.

Whether this is a physical list hung in the tack room, or a list easily accessible within the BarnManager app, top managers like Courtney Carson recommend creating a list of which horses require which tack, that way, there’s no confusion for any students or staff unsure of what to use. If you’re the barn manager, this could save you a lot of time in answering questions and finding tack!

5) Don’t throw away your old clipper blades just yet.

Even after they’ve past the point of being useful for clipping, your clipper blades could serve a new role as mane thinners or shorteners, so it’s worth holding on to one or two for this use.

Grooming

6) The sweat scraper doesn’t have to be for just after a bath.

You probably only use the sweat scraper when you’re done bathing a horse to get off the extra water, right? Next time try using it mid-bath before you hose of the shampoo suds! By instead scraping some of them off with a sweat scraper, you’ll save yourself both time and water.

Riding Apparel

7) Make your own boot trees using pool noodles!

In need of new boot trees to keep your tall boots in good shape? Rather than purchasing boot trees, cut costs by picking up an inexpensive pool noodle and cutting it to fit inside your boots! By taking care of your boots now they’ll also last longer and save you even more money in the long run.

8) Salvage your white show shirts with lemon juice.

If you’ve ever had sweat stains threaten to ruin your expensive, white show shirts, this one’s for you! Soak them in one part lemon juice and 10 parts water to eliminate the stains and save you money in not having to purchase new shirts!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

A Quick Conversation: Ali Ramsay

Throughout the year, the BarnManager team is sitting down with accomplished riders from across equestrian disciplines to learn more about how they got their start, their typical days, their biggest advice, and more!

At 27 years old, Ali Ramsay is one of Canada’s biggest rising stars to watch.

As a junior, she topped the CET Medal (Canada’s most notable equitation honor; think of it like the Canadian Maclay Finals!), and since then, she’s been a force in the show jumping ring!

Ali made her Nations’ Cup debut in 2006 riding Hermelien vd Hooghoeve, the same mount she went on to ride to numerous Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) wins.

After recently selling Hermelien vd Hooghoeve to Jennifer Gates’ Evergate Stables, Ali is concentrating on the development of her horses Casino, Lutz, and Bonita vh Keizershof Z at the international level.

When we caught up with her, she had just won back-to-back CSI3* classes at the CSI3* Ottawa International II in Ottawa, ON!

Ali Ramsay and Casino at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON. Photo by Jump Media

Q: What was the first horse or pony that got you started?

 The first pony that I ever rode was named Buttons. I used to fall off her all the time because she would put her head down to eat grass, and I would just fall over the front!

She was probably 11 hands tall. My first pony that I ever owned was Spencer. We did the pony hunters in Victoria, BC.  I used to also fall off of him all the time too!

Ali Ramsay and Casino. Photo by Jump Media

Q: What’s your favorite riding moment or memory?

I would honestly have to say, winning the CET Medal because that was something that I worked toward for many years when I was a kid. I mean, winning grand prix and FEI classes is pretty up there, but that one was a big one for me. It was a huge accomplishment because it was something that I’d worked toward for a lot of years.

Then also, my first FEI win was pretty cool too. It was at Caledon with my horse Hermelien vd Hooghoeve. Everything with that mare was special.

Q: What’s your number one goal right now?

Everything kind of changed in the last couple months after selling Hermelien vd Hooghoeve [to Jennifer Gates]. I’ve actually got a really cool group of horses coming up, we’re just not on that same level together. My big goal is to get solid and try to jump some bigger shows and keep up the consistency that I had – not just be a one-horse rider – and be able to be successful with all of them!

Q: On a typical day at home, what’s your schedule?

Again, something else that’s changed. I’ve just started my own business [Ali Ramsay Equestrian] so I’m on my own right now with only my horses. I’m helping other clients here and there, but lately it’s been my three horses. It’s just me and my girl, Megan, who helps me, so between the two of us, we get the chores and everything done. It’s pretty relaxed right now. We’re kind of working on building the business up. I think it’s the calm before the storm right now, and I’m just focused on enjoying my own horses.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young, up-and-coming riders?

I would say be confident and work hard. I see so many people doubting themselves – in the ring and out of the ring. You see somebody go in when they’re nervous, when they don’t believe in themselves and that’s when they make mistakes. If you feel confident and believe that you can do it, and you work hard to do it, I think the success will be there for you.

Photos by Jump Media

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part Two

We’re excited to share week two in our Eventing Tips and Tricks series! Last week, we caught up with Courtney Carson, barn manager for 5* eventer Doug Payne, and this week, we’re sharing insight from Emma Ford, the incredible top groom and manager who has been behind the scenes for Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton for more than a decade!

Meet This Week’s All-Star Barn Manager

 

Emma Ford – Emma Ford has been an integral part of the team at Phillip Dutton International since 2005, including traveling with the two-time Olympic gold medalist to multiple World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. She took a year off in 2013 thinking that she was ready to slow down, but she missed the action and soon returned in 2014 and has been a top go-to for eventing grooming tips and tricks ever since!

 

 

Q: What’s one thing that you don’t go to the ring or start box without?

For the dressage and show jumping phases a towel, hoof pick, and fly spray are always in my backpack in case dirt needs to be wiped off. For horses that don’t like to be sprayed, I use the towel to apply fly spray to their heads and ears.

When heading to cross-country at the larger competitions, I always have spare studs and a wrench in case studs need to be changed in the warm-up.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

Truly bonding with each horse. Knowing them well enough that a slight change in attitude or eye alertness means catching a health problem before it becomes too big.

I like to know what makes each horse tick. Each horse is an individual; what they need to perform their best at championships is paramount. Some horses love the individual attention, whilst others want to be left alone. I have one horse that has to be hand-grazed first thing in the morning otherwise he is anxious for the rest of the day.  Another horse gets very nervous before cross-country, and taking him out for a hand-walk prior to tacking him up seems to relieve some of his tension.

Q: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of the job?

Learning to delegate and communicate. I am on the road with the advanced horses a lot through the show season. Being able to establish an at-home team that can keep the barn running smoothly is key. Over the years I have had to learn to trust people within the job to take care of the horses as I would – but also to not micro-manage!

Q: What items do you use most often in the barn?

My Multi Radiance M4 Cold Laser. I use this to help heal cuts, address sore muscles and acupuncture points, and rehab soft tissue injuries.

The Posture Prep Cross Fiber Groomer. It’s a grooming tool that allows me to massage the horse’s body to help release fascia whilst lifting dirt and bringing out the natural skin oils.

Towels! I’m endlessly drying horses’ legs, applying sprays, removing dust, and cleaning boots and surfaces – there are never enough towels!

Q: What is your biggest time-saving trick in the barn?

Thinking ahead! We have a training log book. Each day I try to list everything that needs to happen, lesson times, medications, icing, wrapping. This helps the staff to look at the day “as a whole” and be more efficient. Knowing these things ahead of time helps us to do day turn-out effectively and determines when horses are to be ridden (i.e. night turn-out horses get ridden earlier in the day). Rather than continually having to ask me what needs to be done, staff can go to the book and work it out for themselves.

Q: What’s your best grooming tip?

Allowing your horse to dry in the sun after bathing. This could be hand-grazing or letting them rest on cross-ties outside to dry. We are fortunate enough to have a horse walker. Many skin issues are caused because horses are put in stalls while they’re wet and without good airflow. The skin remains warm for a long time and provides a great environment for fungus and bacteria to grow and cause havoc wherever micro-abrasions might be present.

For more from Emma and clinics on horse health and management visit www.worldclassgrooming.com!

Photos courtesy of Emma Ford

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part One

We’ve shared tips and tricks from some of the top hunter barn managers in the country, and some of show jumping’s “grooms to the greats” shared their insight with our BarnManager team. Now, we’re excited to learn from the barn managers behind some of the best eventing riders in our new Eventing Tips and Tricks series of blog posts!

First up, we caught up with Courtney Carson, barn manager for 5* eventer Doug Payne (who was recently named to the U.S. team for the 2019 Pan American Games to be held this August)!

Meet This Week’s All-Star Barn Manager

 

Courtney Carson – Hailing from Illinois, Courtney has spent the last three years based in Aiken, SC, as the barn manager and head groom for Payne Equestrian and eventer Doug Payne.

Q: What’s one thing that you don’t go to the ring or start box without?

“I always have a rag with me. Even if I can’t get baby oil or something out of my pocket, I make sure to give their noses and mouths one last wipe and tell them to “be good.” I also try to check their girth one last time just in case. Plus, I always have cookies waiting for them at the end!”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

While doing well at the big events such as Land Rover Kentucky are great, most times it is something as simple as a four-year-old doing its first show.

We just had a six-year-old do his first CCI-L back in May; he was the first horse that Doug broke from nothing since I had started, and he was amazing all weekend. To see how far he had come in a short amount of time, and to see the potential that is there, was incredibly rewarding. I remember when we couldn’t turn him out without a halter and lead rope attached because you couldn’t catch him!

I also love when our students come back from a show or a round, and they are so excited to tell me about how they did. These guys work day-in and day-out for me, so to see their work pay off is one of the best things.

Q: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of the job?

Keeping all the wheels moving in the right direction. We are a 60/40 split between 3-day event horses and hunter/jumpers, so there is always a lot going on. This keeps us on the road quite a bit with very little turnover time while at home. It is very important that I have a good crew at home who communicates well, and we all work cohesively together. I would much rather hear from six people that we need to order hay or grain than come home to nothing, and I have to jump in the truck immediately and go pick some up as soon as the store is open. Doing the multiple disciplines means that the type of care and body maintenance is different – my event horses are kept much more lean than my jumpers (and especially compared to the hunters!!), so staying on top of that and keeping mental notes in my head is difficult. Thankfully we have a great team, and I own a million white boards!

Q: What items do you use most often in the barn?

A good rubber curry comb is at the top of my list. Between the sand in Aiken and my desire to have them all as shiny as possible, I use my curry comb a bunch. I also like to keep a ton of Show Sheen or some kind of mane and tail detangler spray. I don’t brush tails unless we’re going somewhere or while at a show, but I load their tails up with the Show Sheen every day to keep them from getting dreadlocks. We also go through a lot of fly spray with the bugs in the South East.

Q: What is your biggest time-saving trick in the barn?

If it is finished, put it away! I try to write the daily list so that we would ideally be using the last dressage saddle before the first jump saddle makes an appearance for the day. This way all of the dressage tack can get cleaned and put away while we are tacking up horses who are jumping. I have a list of “standing chores” which includes hay, water, stalls, and laundry. If it is just me in the barn because the kids are riding, I may go ahead and tack up two of Doug’s horses then have a third one groomed off, so when he comes in and I need to bathe, get the next one tacked, etc. I am already ahead of the game. Then I can take care of the horses the way I want. I’m thankfully pretty good at multitasking, so it works. But as long as the kids are moving productively then it gets things done. Probably my biggest life-saver is that I put together a binder which lists all the equipment the horses will go in for each phase/type of ride. That way newer students don’t wander around the barn looking for someone to show them what tack to use.

Q: What’s your best grooming tip?

Pay attention to detail. Get to know your horses – their legs, coat, skin, eating habits, turnout behaviors, etc. and use it to your advantage. I have one horse that is super sensitive to the sand, skipping one day of washing his legs and skin funk shows up, but then the only thing that works on it is Micro Tek. I’ve tried every other anti-fungal shampoo with no luck.

I have another horse who eats half of his breakfast every morning, goes outside for a couple hours, gets ridden, and then will finish breakfast. All of these things are normal, but it scares everyone when they first start working for us. Don’t let the little things get to you, because horses spend every day of their lives trying to hurt or kill themselves, so things are going to happen that are out of your control.

Love them like they are your own. Communicate with your boss about how they want things done, and remember that everyone is on the same team. Never stop learning though, talk to other grooms, talk to vets and farriers, read articles, and keep an open mind. Things will work for some horses and not others, that doesn’t make them wrong. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Most importantly, find out what kind of treats your horses like the best and keep those on autoship through Amazon, Chewy, or Smartpak!

Photos courtesy of Courtney Carson

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Five Ways to Make Your Barn Manager Your Best Friend

A good barn manager can be the backbone of any large boarding operation or show barn, and a good relationship with your barn manager can go a long way in creating an enjoyable barn atmosphere!

While many barn managers have suggested baking them delicious food or bringing them snacks as ways to get on their good side, here are five other ways that you could make your barn manager your best friend – or at least be a better boarder and client!

1) Know and follow the rules.

Perhaps your barn does not allow dogs; maybe there are certain areas of lawn that horses aren’t to be walked or grazed on, and no one is to be mounted on a horse without a helmet. Whatever they may be, your barn likely has rules that allow it to run smoothly, and your barn manager is likely partially responsible for enforcing those rules. Having to reprimand you for not following the barn guidelines or continually having to remind you of the rules isn’t fun for them, and it’s no way to build a good relationship.

2) Communicate.

Not able to make it out to the barn at all this week due to a hectic work schedule? Notice a small cut on your horse’s leg? Have a question about the way something is being done? Communicate with your barn manager!

3) Trust them.

Good barn managers are often extremely knowledgeable horsemen and women with your horse’s best interest at heart. (Read what makes a great barn manager here!) If you see a problem or really don’t like the way something is being done, revisit point No. 2 and consider properly communicating that to them; otherwise, trust that they are doing their job well. Coming to your barn manager with 10 different ways of doing things or an idea that you read online that you think may be better than how they do something likely isn’t going to sit very well and isn’t going to help your friendship.

4) Stay neat and organized.

At home, keeping your space in the tack room neat and orderly and cleaning up after yourself when you’re done can go a long way in making your barn manager’s life easier (and in making them think more highly of you)! And the same applies if you’re headed to a horse show. Make a list,  check it twice, and ensure that everything that you need for both you and your horse is packed so that you or your barn manager aren’t left scrambling.

5) Be kind.

If only this one could go without saying, but in any barn boarding situation, it’s important to remember to be kind and polite, not only to your barn manager but also to your fellow barn mates and the entire barn staff.

A smile, a hello, and a thank you can go a long way in making you the kind of boarder or client that everyone loves to have around and a barn manager’s best friend!

 

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – How to Prevent Your Horse from Getting a Sunburn!

Liv Gude’s advice on avoiding sunburn this summer! 

These tips are mostly for the gray and white horses out there, but any horse can benefit from a little cover up in the summer!

– Use sunscreen on noses and faces. The brands that have mostly zinc oxide-based versions tend to last a long time. (You will sometimes find them labelled as baby versions.)

– For socks or stockings, add fly boots.

– Faces and noses also benefit from full protection fly masks, including ears and noses. Add fly sheets, with a neck piece if needed. (Any type of summer horse clothing is best purchased in a light color to help keep things cool!)

Apply sunscreen or use full protection face masks to avoid sunburnt noses!

– Be super mindful of the sun if your horse has braids in; some horses will get sunburned between the braids.

– Get your vet involved if you find your horse has scabs or sores on the white areas, usually on the face or legs. You might think these scabs look like scratches, but horses can be photo sensitive and their pink skin will seemingly boil. It’s quite painful, and UV light can damage the skin quite quickly. Most horses with photosensitivity will despise being in the sun.

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

How YouTube, WIHS, BarnManager, and Stacia Klein Madden Led to Two Sisters Dream Weekend!

Visit the Sisters Horsing Around channel on YouTube, and select any of the videos.

Within 30 seconds, it’s easy to see why our BarnManager team enjoyed meeting sisters Emily, 21, and Sarah Harris, 15, in August 2018 at the Laura Graves “Dressage for Jumping” clinic, presented by BarnManager and the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS); their kind, appreciative, and enthusiastic personalities are contagious!

It’s those personalities, the sisters’ YouTube channel, and the clinics put on by BarnManager and WIHS that – eight months later – led to what Emily Harris said was the “best weekend of her life” with Stacia Klein Madden at Beacon Hill Show Stables.

Before we get to that though, let’s backtrack to the Laura Graves clinic. Emily, Sarah, and their mom, Julie Harris, made the three-and-a-half-hour trip from their hometown in Altavista, VA, to the Aldie, VA, clinic, and it’s there that they also met WIHS president Vicki Lowell.

The Sisters Horsing Around, Emily and Sarah Harris meeting Laura Graves at the 2018 Laura Graves “Dressage for Jumping” clinic, presented by BarnManager and the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). Photo by Jump Media 

Like our BarnManager team, Lowell was extremely impressed by the girls, and, after watching some of their YouTube videos, invited them to attend WIHS in the heart of Washington, D.C. that November. (You can watch video from their WIHS trip here!)

It was at WIHS 2018 that the girls learned the clinician for the 2019 WIHS Barn Night clinic, presented by BarnManager, would be renowned trainer Stacia Klein Madden, and let’s just say, they were pretty excited! (But, you don’t have to take our word for it…watch here!)

The Harris sisters knew they didn’t want to miss it, so they again made the drive – this time about four hours to Mount Airy, MD – to audit the clinic with Madden. (Read more about that clinic in our coverage here.)

“I was so star struck and speechless!” said Emily Harris of meeting Madden, who she and Sarah had also watched in replays of the Animal Planet series “Horse Power: Road to the Maclay.” “I don’t generally get to the point that I cannot speak, but I was just so happy and overly excited and so joyful to be there that I could not speak!”

Emily Harris did find words to say to Madden before the end of the clinic, eventually speaking with her and getting her autograph before leaving, and after attending the clinic, Emily and Sarah Harris made and posted a video, in which they tagged Madden.

Emily and Sarah Harris sporting their BarnManager hats and water bottles! Photo via Sisters Horsing Around

Madden saw both that video and the previous video the Sisters Horsing Around had made sharing their enthusiasm over her being the WIHS/BarnManager clinician, and she invited the girls to bring their own horses to Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, NJ, for a weekend!

Emily and Sarah Harris could not believe Madden’s generosity, and quickly took her up on the incredible offer, this time making their longest drive yet – seven and a half hours – to bring their horses, Stella and Dancing Shadow, to New Jersey.

“We got there Friday, and the stalls were all set,” said Emily Harris. “It was so nice of them to have the hay and water and shavings all ready for us when we got there, and they had their names on the stalls which was so nice!”

Sarah Harris added, “It was amazing! It was in such pristine condition and order. Everything had its place, and everything was taken care of down to the tiniest detail. Everything was so nice, and everyone was just super nice and friendly.”

At home, Emily and Sarah Harris are members of the Roanoke Valley Pony Club and enjoy cross-training their horses, incorporating jumping, flatwork, dressage, and even some Western riding, but at Beacon Hill, they had the chance to really zero in on their hunt seat flatwork and jumping.

On Saturday morning, Emily and Sarah Harris helped as jump crew while taking in several Beacon Hill students’ lessons before getting on their own horses for their first lesson with Madden.

“The way that she explained things was amazing,” said Emily Harris of Madden’s teaching style. “I have trouble keeping my heels down because my ankles actually are very stiff, and she was able to set right my previous thought on how to get your heels down. I always thought that when you get your heels down, your calf stretching is a result of your heels going down, but it’s actually the opposite. Your heels going down is the result of your calf stretching.”

After enjoying a dinner near the beach with Madden on Saturday night, Emily and Sarah were back in the saddle on Sunday, this time first taking a flat lesson on two Beacon Hill mounts.

Click to watch Emily and Sarah Harris’s video from the Stacia Klein Madden clinic

“Every time I think of that, I’m reliving the moment all over again,” said Emily Harris, who has been riding for about four years, as has her sister.

“They rode so nicely, and they were so well-behaved and everything,” said Sarah Harris.

Following their first lesson of the day, Emily and Sarah Harris enjoyed a trail ride with some of the Beacon Hill students before another lesson with Madden on their own horses.

“She was able to enlighten us further on previous things that we had learned and teach us even more,” said Emily Harris. “We brought back a lot of new things, a lot of new techniques and ways to better help our horses. That was amazing.”

Emily and Sarah Harris not only brought home new lessons when they left on Sunday, they brought home lasting gifts.

“WIHS had heard that we were going there, and they sent us a t-shirt and saddle pads which was really amazing! They were so nice to send us those things,” said Emily Harris.

“Then one of the students there gave us some of her older pony’s tack as a present for when we went home! That was so special,” added Sarah Harris.

“The people were just so nice,” continued Emily Harris. “Down south, there’s southern hospitality where everyone is really nice to each other; being there at Beacon Hill it felt like we didn’t leave home. It was like having that southern hospitality up there. Everybody was so nice and so friendly and welcoming, and the hospitality was just great.

“That was the best weekend of my life!” concluded Emily Harris. “That was better than in our wildest dreams. I’m still in shock at how amazing that was.”

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!