Liv’s Tips: Avoiding Frostbite on Your Horse

When tiny cells in your horse becomes so bitterly cold that ice begins to develop inside of them, it causes the expansion and rupture of the cells, which is what causes what we best know as frostbite!

Imagine this in a whole region of cells, like in your fingers or your horse’s ear.  These ruptured cells are now dead, which causes the area to have decreased blood flow and swelling and a whole mess of dead tissue. An important note here: this tissue will NOT grow back!

Major problems follow as the dead tissue can leak toxins into your horse and cause gangrene and massive infection, famous for being gross and black and generally dangerous.

Horses are typically susceptible to frostbite on their ears and their penises.  This is usually seen when a horse is sedated with certain types of drugs that relax the muscles that hold the penis in.  Then, the exposure sets in and you can only imagine…

A horse is at most risk in extreme cold, especially when there is no relief from the wind, or your horse is damp or wet.  A horse that is already compromised by being a hard keeper, or a horse without enough forage, or a horse with some medical issue going on is also at risk.  Some toxins found in plants and rancid feeds can cause vasoconstriction, which increases risk.

Fortunately, frostbite in horses is not extremely common and can be prevented by ensuring that your horse has shelter from the wind if it is turned out in extreme cold and that it is able to stay dry, to take in adequate calories, and to forage to generate normal body heat.

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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!

Giving Thanks for Our Horses

We strive to practice gratitude and thankfulness all-year round, but each year as we head toward Thanksgiving, all that we have to give thanks for is even more prominently at the forefront of our minds.

We have so many people and experiences to be thankful for, and, of course, we have our horses. These four-legged friends and family members give us endless reasons to be thankful all year, including these six that we’re grateful for this Thanksgiving

1. They relieve our stress. 

At the end of a long workday or amidst the chaos of life, our horses can be better than any therapist. They provide us with a safe place to leave the rest of the world behind and focus only on the horse beside or underneath us. A study from Washington State University even showed that children who spent time grooming and working with horses saw a significant reduction in stress. (Be right back as we head back to the barn!)

Photo by Vicci Valenti

2. They teach us. 

Some days our horses teach us patience or what happens when you miss a distance to a fence. Most days, they teach us responsibility; they teach us to forgive like they forgave us for the poor ride the day before. They also teach us love, trust, compassion, and what it means to experience great joy.

3. They help us to be our best. 

When it’s hard to get out of bed at 5 a.m., it helps to know that it’s because there is a horse out there waiting for you to care for it to ride or to show. They give us motivation to show up every day, and they drive us to work hard to continue the privilege of having them in our lives.

Photo by Caroline Adams

Through hours spent in the saddle, leading horses, lifting hay bales, cleaning stalls, or filling water buckets, they guide us to be the best physical version of ourselves. Through their companionship, they help us to be the best mentally healthy version of ourselves.

4. They’ve brought us together with friends and family. 

We owe many of our closest friendships to the bonds formed on the back of a horse. Our horse friends know us and understand when and why we would rather be in the barn. They get it when you say you would rather buy your horse a new blanket than go out to eat this week, and for that we are thankful.

Photo by Jump Media

5. They allow us to experience some of our greatest moments. 

Whether it’s a major victory in the show ring, a trail ride in a spectacular location, a fulfilling job that we love in the equestrian industry, or a special time spent with just our horses and our friends, many of our greatest moments in life are because of these animals that we love.

Photo by Jump Media

6. They’re our best friends.

Our horses love us unconditionally (but especially when we have treats). They never judge us. They accept us as we are. They lend us an ear when we need someone to talk to and a shoulder when we need one to cry on. At the end of a good day or a bad day, our horses are the ones that we want to have around.

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 Tips: Three Rules for Decorating the Barn at Holiday Time

It’s beginning to look a lot like…the time to decorate for the holidays! If your barn, or even just your horse’s stall, are on your list of areas to decorate this year, you may want to keep in mind these three rules from Live Gude of ProEquineGrooms.com!

1. Keep holiday decorations out of reach.

Garlands, ornaments, and lights will be utterly delicious and irresistible to some horses.  Arrange any holiday decorations away from the reach of every horse, even the least curious ones.  If you have a particularly clever horse that might use his powers of sorcery and contortion for evil and not good, skip decorating around that guy’s house. The trouble with garland and long stringed things is that they can easily create impactions if eaten.

Also think about the barn cats and dogs. Are they going to be tempted to grab some garland and zip down the barn aisle?

2. Don’t burn down the barn.

Sure, twinkly lights are the best!  However, overworked circuitry and extension cords increase fire risks.  If you absolutely, positively MUST have lights, make sure they are the LED version that won’t generate heat.

3. Don’t use poisonous decorations.

Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are all toxic.  Mistletoe and holly are definitely toxic to horses, dogs, and cats.  Poinsettia is mildly toxic.  You may want to stick to artificial varieties of these things.   Same goes for pine – while the real version is lovely, there is a lot of sap involved.

Happy decorating!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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!

Four Ways to Prepare Your Barn for Winter

While many of our BarnManager users are in warmer climates (or escape to them for the winter!), most of us are bundling up in scarves, sipping on pumpkin spice lattes, and preparing for the impending cold weather.

As the temperatures drop and you dig your horse’s blankets out of storage, it’s time to solidify your plans for the coming months. Taking the proper preparation steps now can go a long way in avoiding last-minute scrambling. Whether winter in your region means snow or just rain, the next few months in North America usually brings some type of hassle for horse owners. Take the stress out of your pre-winter prepping by ensuring your horse property is as chore-efficient as possible – we’ve prepared the following check-list to get you started!

1) Order Hay and Bedding

Depending on where you live, hay is likely still plentiful in the fall. But as winter rolls around, it might not be so easy to fill your hay shed for the long, cold months ahead. Get in touch with your hay supplier well in advance to ensure that you have an adequate supply to get you through the season. Remember, you will probably be feeding more hay during the wintertime when grass is less abundant and the temperatures are lower, so it doesn’t hurt to plan for more bales than you think you might need. The last thing you want to do is run low and have to scramble to find another local source.

If you have the capability, try and store your hay in a separate shed nearby, rather than in your barn’s loft. This will greatly reduce the chance of a barn fire. And speaking of barn fires, make sure you have an up-to-date fire-safety plan—a quick online search will give you plenty of resources and checklists for this essential step. Consider hosting a meeting with everyone at your farm to go over the plan, too.

Whether you buy bulk or individually bagged bedding, make sure you’re stocked up there as well. Keep in mind that some bulk bedding suppliers might not have the same amount of product available in the wintertime, so don’t forget to get your order in early. Even if you do buy bedding in bulk, it’s not a bad idea to keep some bagged shavings on hand as a back-up for emergencies.

2) Check Everything is in Working Order

Autumn is a good time to knock out some barn chores you’ve been putting off—you’ll be glad you did when the first snow hits! Clean and mend gutters, fix leaky faucets, and check for loose boards and broken windows. Small structural problems can become magnified in severe weather, so a proactive approach to barn maintenance will save you much more trouble later.

Have an electrician do an inspection of the barn’s electric system to make sure it’s safe, up to code and doesn’t need updates. Similarly, get a plumber to check your barn’s plumbing to see that everything is in working order. Don’t forget about inspecting the outside spigots, automatic waterers (if you have them), and frost-free pumps. To keep your barn’s indoor pipes from freezing, consider detaching your hose, draining it, and storing it inside (preferably somewhere warm). Even though it’s an extra step to your daily routine, having functioning hoses and pipes is crucial.

If you live in a cold climate, you might invest in heated buckets for your barn and floating electric heaters for outdoor troughs. They’re not always cheap, but they will save you a lot of hassle—and can help your horses stay well-hydrated as well. And always make sure to carefully read the safety instructions on these types of products.

3) Solidify Your Snow Removal Plan

It’s essential that you have a plan to remove the snow from your driveway, so that a veterinarian, fire truck, ambulance or any other emergency vehicle can safely access your farm. Do you have a tractor or truck with a snow plow? Great! If not, you will need to line up a dependable contractor who will always be able to clear the snow for you, ensuring that someone is always able to get to the farm and take care of the horses, no matter how bad the weather is.

You will also need to be able to create safe walking paths to and around your barn and the paddocks. Don’t wait until the last minute (or before an impending blizzard) to stock up on essentials, like snow shovels and rock salt. You won’t be the only one making a mad dash to your nearest hardware store!

4) Strategize Best Ways for Manure Management

Manure management can be tricky during the wintertime, so make sure to have a few options available. If you use a manure spreader, you might not be able to spread if the snow is too deep or the conditions are treacherous. Likewise, if you have your manure removed regularly by an off-site company, it’s all the more reason to ensure that your driveway is safely cleared for them. Be sure to check in with them to see if their policies change during bad weather. You certainly don’t want to be stuck with an overflowing manure pit all winter!

By checking off each of these steps on your autumn to-do list, you’ll feel much more at ease when the first snowflakes fall, and you won’t be rushing to finish last-minute preparations. Best of luck!

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!

Recognizing the Grooms Behind the Horse Show Halloween Costumes

At BarnManager, we know how hard barn managers and grooms work. (That’s why we introduced BarnManager: to help make their lives easier!)

At the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), Lynne Stephens also recognized how hard the grooms work, including when it comes to putting together horses’ costumes for the show’s annual – and highly popular –$36,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class.

With that in mind, Lynne – who works on the WIHS staff during the horse show – decided to introduce a new Best Costume Award for 2019, with a special catch. The $3,500 prize, presented by the Stephens Family, awards $1,000 to the winning rider and $2,500 to the winning groom! Kudos to Lynne and WIHS on the great idea!

Kristen VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili. Photo by Jump Media

After this year’s class, held on Thursday, October 24, we caught up with the inaugural winners, rider Kristen Vanderveen and her groom of 12 years, Luis Salazar, on what went into turning Kristen into Cruella de Vil and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili into a Dalmatian!

“I’ve never actually gotten to show [in the costume class at WIHS], and I love looking at the pictures,” said Kristen. “I always think the horses that are dressed up look the coolest, so I was thinking of all the things that you could do with a white horse. I came up with a cow, which I thought would be offensive to Frosty, or the Dalmatian.”


Luis Salazar and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili. Photo by Jump Media

To pull off “Frosty’s” Dalmatian look, Kristen ordered felt dots of various sizes off of Amazon, and Luis went to work!

“Luis did everything with Frosty,” said Kristen. “He actually helped tape my [Cruella de Vil] hair onto my helmet too!”

“It took a long time – about 40 minutes – because the dots are sticky!” said Luis of the process to transform Frosty into a Dalmatian. “I was a little nervous we weren’t going to make it in time.”

Kristen VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

In addition to the dots, Luis added special black paint on Frosty’s muzzle and a sash that served as the collar before sending Kristen and Frosty off to the ring!

“He’s an amazing horse; he’s easy for everything,” said Luis. “He likes winning in everything!” – presumably even costume contests!

Congrats to Kristen and Luis on the great costume and to all of the grooms and riders who put together great costumes for WIHS this year!

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!

Could Being a Barn Manager or Groom Affect Your Amateur Status?

Suppose you are a barn manager or groom showing your horse in the Low Adult Jumpers. You consider your riding skill level far from that of a professional, so you have no doubts as to your amateur status – until someone complains.

The person complaining states that you are violating the U.S. Equestrian “amateur rule” and should be considered a professional as they have seen you riding other clients’ horses at the barn where you work and helping to instruct younger riders at horse shows. Is the complainer just trying to stir up trouble? Or do they have a legitimate point? Depending on your specific circumstances, they just may be correct.

Let’s walk through the U.S. Equestrian rule book, rule GR1306 (a.k.a. “the amateur rule”) to understand why.

First, the rule reads:

“3. Permitted activities by Amateur. An Amateur is permitted to do the following:

Accept remuneration for providing service in one’s capacity as a: clinic manager or organizer (so long as they are not performing the activities of instructor or trainer), presenter or panelist at a Federation licensed officials’ clinic, competition manager, competition secretary, judge, steward, technical delegate, course designer, announcer, TV commentator, veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator, breeder, or boarder, or horse transporter.”

While barn manager is not specifically listed among the permitted activities, groom is, and it is a safe assumption that barn management falls into the same “safe” category.

However, there is a caveat. The rule also states: “…a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:

Accepts remuneration AND rides, exercises, drives, shows, trains, assists in training, schools or conducts clinics or seminars.”

Let’s first address the riding of client horses at home. If you are receiving any sort of payment for your riding of these client horses or if you are actively training them, it would be in violation of your amateur status.

The exception would be if you are riding them for fun or with no direct compensation.

Armand Leone of Leone Equestrian Law explains: “If you are not receiving remuneration for exercising horses at the barn, and hacking is an informal arrangement for your enjoyment and not part of your ‘job,’ you may be able to ride barn horses and not be considered professional. Again, it all depends on the context. Activities such as grooming, office paperwork, or barn maintenance work are permissible and do not affect your amateur status.”

In this situation, instructing younger riders is likely where you are more apt to find yourself in violation of the rule.

Leone further explains, “The most important thing to keep in mind is that instructing even the youngest, most beginner riders at your barn or helping to train any of your other barn mates would again render you no longer an amateur. Even something as simple as walking a course at a horse show with a younger rider and providing them with input on how it should be ridden while your trainer is tied up at another ring could put you in violation of the rules. Again, the facts matter. Such a scenario could be fine were you not receiving remuneration from your trainer for this activity, because you are…this sort of assistance to your trainer could be viewed as a violation.”

The bottom line: it is important to be cognizant of your actions and to avoid any sort of training – either of horses or riders – for payment or other compensation!

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!

501(c)(3) Feature: Worthy Stables

Through our ‘Free for 501(c)3’ program, our team at BarnManager has had the opportunity to learn more about incredible equestrian non-profit organizations from across the country. Each month, we’ll be featuring one such organization here on our blog!

There’s only one place where Jessie Reeves has heard a child say her first words, seen young people lifted from wheelchairs to run around on four powerful legs, and witnessed military veterans heal from combat-related traumas: Worthy Stables Therapeutic Horsemanship.

The non-profit riding organization was started by Reeves in 2017 and was fueled by Reeves’s desire to share the joys and benefits of horsemanship with the surrounding Mississippi community.

Today, Worthy Stables provides programs to a broad range of individuals, with personalized curriculum designed to help them reach their goals, improve their situations, and become the best versions of the themselves.

“Our broadest reaching program is Exceptional Equestrians, serving individuals with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Downs Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, and many others,” explained Reeves. “We also serve our military families with programs for veterans who have experienced trauma. Our military veterans program has three levels beginning with Boots on the Ground, an unmounted program in which the participants learn to work with untrained horses on the ground and progress into riding as they develop their skillset, confidence, and passion.”

Worthy Stables also serves children who have experienced foster care or developmental trauma and women who have survived assault, as well as offering camps and classes for children who homeschool.

“The heart of Worthy Stables is inclusivity,” said Reeves. “It is unique among equestrian centers because qualifying participants are not turned away if they cannot afford our services. We are donation funded, volunteer staffed, and our horses are donated, rescued, or on loan from friends of the organization.”

Presently, Worthy Stables is home to seven full-time therapy horses, two horses in training, and two therapeutic donkeys.

When doing an online search for software to help keep the horses’ information organized, Reeves and the Worthy Stables team discovered BarnManager.

“For the first time since opening Worthy Stables, I recently had to travel for over a week,” said Reeves. “Being able to share horse care information so easily was a lifesaver and provided much needed peace of mind that my horses would be well cared for and my volunteers would feel confident in caring for them.”

Learn more about Worthy Stables by visiting www.WorthyStables.org.

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 Tips: Winter Grooming for Fuzzy Horses

With unseasonably warm temperatures surrounding our BarnManager home base on the East Coast as we post this, it’s hard to believe that we’re talking about winter, but coats are growing in and the winter months are quickly creeping up!

With the approaching winter, we have two primary concerns when the horse is unclipped: dirt, bacteria, fungi, and moisture trapped on the skin by the coat and cooling out the horse after exercise.

When you have an unclipped coat, you have a great natural barrier to the elements, but you also have a way for skin funk, rashes, infections, rain rot, and unseen cuts and scrapes to invade your horse. Couple that with moisture from sweat, and you are creating a buffet for microscopic creatures to invade. You also have the huge task of cooling out and drying your horse after exercise to avoid skin funk and your horse getting chilled to the bone.

Here’s ProEquineGrooms.com’s Liv Gude’s advice for dealing with both!

Get acquainted with a vacuum for horses.

Use your fingertips – your bare-naked fingertips! You should be feeling your horse everywhere to make sure scabs or unusual skin funk, rashes, or rain rot are not forming.

Use your hands to examine the ribs and make sure that they are not poking out underneath the horse’s coat. Use a weight tape weekly to measure weight changes.

Take the time to hot towel your horse. Hot and damp towels are used to “curry” the horse in small sections at a time. Use a cooler to cover each section as you finish.

Utilize waterless shampoos. Many waterless shampoos are designed to clean spots, not do a whole horse, so read the label carefully. In combination with hot toweling, they can be a super way to bring back that “just washed” look for your horse.

Stay warm, and good luck this winter!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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!

Four Ways to Streamline Your Barn Management

Whether you are managing a large show barn or boarding operation or taking care of your own mounts, chances are good that you got into the role for one primary reason: because you enjoy spending time with horses.

Unfortunately, if you’re in one of the aforementioned positions, you also know that far too often time spent enjoying the horses can get overshadowed by the scheduling of lessons, and farrier visits, and veterinary appointments, and the horse show entries, and the feeding, and the record keeping, and the tack and equipment organization and maintenance, and the planning of each day, and… well, you get the idea!

While you can’t eliminate these things entirely – they’re important to keeping the horses happy and healthy and the business running smoothly – there are several ways that you can streamline your paperwork and simplify your barn management to get you out of the office or away from the white board and back with the horses more often!

1) Take advantage of time-saving barn hacks.

Want to save time watering horses? Add a second water bucket to each stall and fill them up simultaneously to last longer and save you a refill trip.

Using polo wraps? ProEquineGrooms recommends using a pair of scissors to cut a design, like a notch or zig-zag, into the ends of matching polo wraps to save time matching up pairs. Do you have to make multiple trips to the feed room at dinner time? Instead of going back and forth, prepare all horses’ meals and put them into a wheelbarrow or add feed and supplements to a wheeled cart with compartments so that you can roll down the aisle way, stopping at each stall as you go. Peruse our blog, and you’ll find lots more tips and tricks like these!

2) Go digital with BarnManager! 

Of course, we think one of the best and most all-encompassing ways to streamline your management responsibilities is to cut back on the paperwork and binders of information by using BarnManager!

With BarnManager, you can house all of your horses’ health records, feed schedules, and training notes in one location rather than in binders, file folders, and notes on a white board. You can also grant access to any additional members of your team so that they can be kept in the loop and receive notifications should anything, such as a horse’s feed or supplements, change.

Within the app, you are also able to schedule lessons, send searchable barn-wide conversations and private messages, make customizable tables and lists such as horse show packing lists, snap photos of your horses’ records to directly attach them to their records, and even create “discharge reports” that quickly compile all of a horse’s key information and veterinary records so that you could pass them along to a new owner or caretaker as needed.

3) Get organized and plan ahead.

By staying organized, continually looking ahead to the next day, and planning in advance, you can save yourself a great deal of time in the long run! In speaking to many of the industry’s top barn managers and grooms, the top two time-saving tips that were repeatedly given were setting yourself up for the next day the night before and staying organized.

 Some managers recommended creating lists of what tack and equipment is used with each horse (either within an app like BarnManager or a physical list hung in the tack room), so there is no question for any students or other staff unsure of what to use – and it will save you time having to answer questions.

Others suggested putting tack or equipment away as soon as you are done with it so that there isn’t a pile to clean and organize at the end of the day. Almost all managers asked agreed that leaving the barn unorganized at the end of the night only sets you up for disappointment and a harder day the next morning! Particularly if you are at show, it can be wise to think about what equipment you will be using the next day and in what order and put it away in a manner that makes it most accessible in that order.

4) Maximize your down time.

If you are managing a barn full-time, take advantage of any free time to squeeze in tasks that will make your life simpler later. This could be picking stalls so that the piles don’t add up and make the full stall cleaning more difficult later, or topping off water buckets, or polishing tack, or maybe just squeezing in a little bit of extra one-on-one time with your favorite horse to remind you why you’re doing this in the first place!

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!