The BarnManager Q&A With:
Kyle Gambino, Assistant Trainer at Lionshare Farm, located in Bedford, NY, and Wellington, FL
What are three things that are always in your ring bag?
Besides the obvious helmet, stick, and spurs I always have sunglasses, a clean pair of gloves, and a pack of spearmint gum in my ring bag.
What is the most helpful habit that you practice at the barn?
The most helpful habit I practice at the barn would be knowing the time and schedule. During the day, there is a flow and function that revolves around the clock and a schedule. If one of the moving parts is late or in the wrong place at the wrong time it disrupts everything. The horses like minimal chaos. The barn and their stall should be a happy place for them. When things happen smoothly and on time you can create a peaceful environment in and out of the barn. This doesn’t just apply to the horses, it also applies to the riders and trainers. Knowing the time, your schedule, and the barn’s schedule makes all the difference for you and the horses. If horses have a consistent program and routine then they are able to succeed.
How do you foster a great team environment in your business?
Creating a good team environment in the barn is a constant goal for me. I always like to reference the NFL’s Bill Belichick and his great simple saying, “do your job.” Everyone is responsible for their own set of horses, riders, or chores. If everyone does their job well that creates team success. The individual jobs, tasks, and chores are the little pictures. Together, these create the big picture. Anyone who works in a barn knows there are always holes in the big picture, not necessarily anyone’s fault but regardless they need to be painted in as well. We’re all responsible for the big picture, and if everyone has the same goal in mind they can work better as a team and help fill in the holes. A team that has the same goals and vision for the barn and its big picture is one that succeeds.
What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care?
My best tip or hack for grooming and horse care would be to know your horse inside and out. Just like when a rider knows a horse really well, they succeed, and it works the same way for grooming. You have to know their legs, their personality, their habits, the way they move and respond to different things, and what they like and don’t like. This helps not only make sure the horse is healthy but also gives you an idea of how to help the horse perform at its best. These animals cannot speak to us, but we can tell so much by how they react to certain things and noticing little differences within their norm.
What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?
My favorite equestrian competition would be any Nations Cup competition. I think it is an interesting format because the horse and rider jump the same track two times. In regular competition, watching riders take on a track and adjust their plan for multiple horses is interesting enough. In a Nations Cup competition, you get the opportunity to do this but on the same mount. To see the adjustment from the first round to the second round, and see riders get a second chance to do it right is always interesting to me. It shows you how much a rider understands what went wrong or what went right. You are able to watch how they try to replicate the good and fix the bad. I also enjoy Nations Cup competitions because they are team events that bring out both camaraderie and competitiveness in riders. No one wants to let down the team, which I love.
If you were a horse, what would you be and why?
If I were a horse, I would want to be a jumper. I feel like jumpers get the opportunity to be themselves the most. You see a lot of the same type of horse in the hunters and equitation. In the jumpers, you see every shade of the rainbow and then some. The jumpers can go out and be themselves because most of the time that is what makes them great.
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