Managing Horses in Multiple Locations with Laura Kraut

A month ago, Laura Kraut rode on the U.S. Nations Cup team at the CSIO5* Ocala in Ocala, FL. Three weeks ago she was contesting the Sunshine Tour in Spain, and this week, she is back in Wellington, FL, to compete at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) – only to go back to Spain again on Sunday, March 18.

It’s a busy travel and horse show schedule that could feel difficult by anyone’s standards. For Kraut however, it’s made easier – and even what she describes as
(almost) somewhat relaxing – thanks to the team behind her that understands and exhibits a few key components and characteristics. She shared with BarnManager what a team needs to make managing horses across continents a simpler task.


“You’ve got to be compatible with your team first of all no matter what. I’m very fortunate in that I have my sister who is like having me. I know that what she’s doing is what I would want done. When she’s at a different location than I am, I don’t really have any worries.”

Kraut’s sister, Mary Elizabeth Kent, is the one on the ground in Wellington, FL, where she oversees the approximately 14 horses that they currently have competing at WEF. In Spain, it’s Kraut’s lead rider, Julie Welles, who is in charge of the 18 horses there when Kraut is back in the States.

“They have to be people that you want to work with. I think that’s one of the reasons that Julie has worked really well – because we are all compatible.”


“They’ve got to have the credentials. If they’re going to be a rider than you’ve got to respect the way they ride, and if they’re going to manage, you have to have the basic same philosophy of how things are done.

“You’ve got to have people riding your horses that you feel will, at the very least, keep them where you left them or for the better improve them and keep their condition good and their flatwork good.”

For Kraut, she can trust that her horses will all receive the constructive, positive rides that they need from her sister and Welles, who rides the horses in Spain and many of the young horses throughout the year.


In addition to having Kent and Welles at the wheel when Kraut is not on site, the horses are all under the care of well-qualified and knowledgeable grooms.

“It works perfectly. We’ve got enough grooms in each location to help keep the horses looked after the way that they need to be”

And whether it’s a groom, Kent, or Welles, there’s one thing that it is crucial for all of them: “The health of that horse. They’ve got to be on top of that. They have to be paying attention to whether they feel good or whether they feel a little stiff or if one is lame, and they have to be able to make a decision about that. Obviously they consult with me, or my sister, but at the end, you have to rely on them to make a good decision.”

Making those decisions, consulting one another, and all staying on the same page leads to one of the most important components that make everything possible:


Kraut, Kent, Welles, and the entire team stay closely connected no matter what location they each are in, and they are constantly communicating and consulting with one another on the day-to- day, what is best for each horse, and how each horse is

“You asked me about what the difficulties are with managing horses in different locations, and I think the struggle would be if you didn’t have the staff in place to communicate with and to execute the whole thing. For me, I’m very fortunate in that I have that, so it eliminates any worries.”

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! Sign up to start your free trial and to find out more here!

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The Gift of Personality

quote about dreamers

I took a class in College called Personality in Politics. The class offered a wildly engaging analysis of the way that personality effects Politicians, policies and their ultimate success or failure. Think Time Magazine meets People Magazine. Needless to say, I loved it! This past week I found myself reflecting on those days while I observed some interactions between horse and rider, rider and trainer, rider and vet and so on. In the equestrian world, we are constantly surrounded by a huge variety of personalities, and I can’t help but take notice of how differently so many people seem to be working to achieve the same things.

In my past as a working student, and now as a happy horse loving amateur and a self-proclaimed student of the sport, I find myself spending lots of time in the schooling area. I am generally on foot more than in the saddle these days, which if you are in the right place at the right time can afford you some free lessons in riding, teaching, and patience (Let’s be frank, it is a busy schooling area).

three jumping trainers in the warmup ring

McLain Ward, Max Amaya, Jeffery Welles

There is no shortage of personalities in the schooling area at any busy show. Think about it the next time you are out there. There are timid riders, over-thinkers, under-thinkers, people in la-la land, aggressive riders, passive riders, angry riders and patient riders. I am really just scratching the surface here, and that doesn’t even take into account the various members of the ground crew that accompany each four legged creature. Look around, take a second to stop and listen. You will hear calm explanations, loud screaming, laughing, crying, fighting, joking.  And to each their own. It could be anybody’s day once they step into the ring.

a rider and horse in a barn

Meagan Nusz and Dynamo: No lack of Personality for Either of these two!

The additional complication to this meshing of personalities that happens  in any human interaction is that horses have personalities too. Part of working with horses is realizing that you are not just following a run of the mill recipe for success that works every time. Each horse requires a special understanding  in order to  best provide them with what they need.

In this vein, I thoroughly enjoyed a recent interview with the Incredible Eric Lamaze following his unprecedented winning streak in the Thursday WEF Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida this circuit. When asked by Equestrian Sport Blogger Extrordinaire Noelle Floyd what sets his sponsors Artisan Farm apart from other big time supporters of the sport, Eric answered very astutely:

“They are very, very understanding of our sport. They have a great understanding of our industry–what it takes to win, how easily you can lose. How easily you can be disappointed in a horse you purchased if {they’re} not a match with the rider or if you simply make a mistake. They really understand that this is not an exact science, and it’s impossible to get it right every single time.”

rider getting coached on a horse

Eric Lamaze, Artisan Farm’s Fine Lady, Tiffany Foster; Photo © Erin Gilmore

A rider such as Eric can hop on just about anything with four legs and 9 times out of 10,  he will make it better, or allow for him/her to be their best. This is not some magic voodoo that Eric, or other riders of his caliber have discovered and chosen not to share with the rest of us. There is no magic potion, bit or lucky socks. These people, and I include Managers, Grooms, Vets and Farriers in this category, have success because they take the time to understand each horse’s distinct personality. They put in the extra effort to find out what makes each horse tick, what makes them want to go out and give their all. And they find logical ways to meet the needs of each horse, each individual, each personality.

Similarly, the best teachers find a way to explain the same concept as many ways as it may take for each student to comprehend. They adapt their own personality to support and fill in the gaps of their pupils.

barn management team KPF

Team KPF

It is a beautiful thing to see a team like Mclain Ward’s or Kent Farrington’s work with one another, support one another, appreciate one another and succeed together.

a rider patting a horse

McLain and Rothchild aka Bongo

Personality is a gift. It makes us unique. It sets us apart and and makes us special. But the true gift is being able to identify and understand a personality, and work together to make something great. Sapphire and McLain, Hickstead and Eric, Rodrigo and Baloubet du Rouet, these are personalities who found each other, and made each other whole. And what horse and rider could not do for one another, grooms, managers, vets, exercise riders and more stepped up and did what needed to be done.

With modern politics in its current state, we could use more meshing of personalities to make each other great. In horses, in politics and in life, the dominant personality will always make itself known. But the success of that personality is all in how it works with others, and finds the right teammates to fill its gaps, make it stronger, make it better.

As horse people, it is on us to do the meshing, the hole filling, the supporting. Success with horses, no matter the arena, is finding the right fit, and working with your team to make it work. Personality impacts politics as it does equines. It is our responsibility to find the right team and adapt to one another’s personalities to support our equine counterparts (as I hope, however naively, politicians do to support their constituents).

horse in a paddock


As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. So the lessons that I have taken away from my observations of some of the best in the sport at the Winter Equestrian Festival through ups and downs, at their best moments, at their worst, and on the days that fall somewhere in between:

1. Surround yourself with a team that makes you your best self.

2. Respect and embrace the individuality of your horse, your team, your friends, and your peers.

3. Be willing to adapt to bring out the best in one another (Horse or human).

4. Stop and look around every once in a while. There are amazing people doing amazing things. And if you’re lucky, you may just get a front row seat.

Until Next Time…quote saying life is amazing

Dina mazzola and

Guest Blog: New saddle, New perspective with Dina Mazzola is proud to feature a Guest Blog Post by a fellow Small Equestrian Business owner, Dina Mazzola. Dina wears many hats these days. She is a professional rider and trainer at a top Hunter/Jumper Barn in Massachusetts. She is a USEF hunter and hunt seat equitation judge. She is a wife and mother. She owns and operates with business partner Katy Baldini. And most recently, she is a REINER. Since Jenny and I have also recently discovered our love and appreciation for Reining, and with the 2014 Reining Futurity underway in Oklahoma City as we speak, we thought it would only be fitting to get to know Dina through her recent expedition into this new discipline. We hope that you enjoy Dina’s story! Be sure to check out today to find top pre-owned saddles or to sell your own. Dina and Katy are extremely knowledgable and easy to work with.

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Dina Mazzola on Fantasia Rouge

Dina Mazzola and Fantasia Rouge

So I have this friend.  She rides and teaches at one of the top hunter/jumper barns in New England.  She also is super nice and models for SmartPak.  I want to hate her, but I can’t.  But the most important feature of this friend is that she has a hobby, and that hobby is reining.  As part of this reining addiction, said friend also teaches western horsemanship and reining at another local barn.

My 11 year old recently expressed a renewed interest in riding.  I love her dearly, but she is not a brave child nor is she an athletically gifted one.  So I did some thinking and came up with a brilliant plan. She can ride western with SmartPak model friend.  Fantastic.  I won’t have to teach her myself, provide a pony, or watch someone else teach her English riding at a painful beginner level.   I schedule a lesson and off we go. Smartpak model friend has my daughter walking, jogging, and loping in her first lesson on this very safe, quiet, quarterhorse. I feel like a genius. And then she asks if I want to get on.  I’m in my sneakers, skinny jeans and Mom t-shirt. Sure, why not?  It looks kinda cool.

horse in western tack

Ziggy (the Wonder Horse)

But I quickly learned just how cool it could be.  The very same ultra quiet and safe beginner horse my daughter just rode (Ziggy) has a secret.  And that secret is that he has a throw it in the dirt sliding stop and a wicked fun spin.  In one ride I had a new addiction. I had found yet another way that horses could infiltrate my life and bring me new forms of happiness and thrill.

So I’ve been taking reining lessons now with my Smartpak model friend, and now trainer, twice a week for about 3 months.  Some of my hunter/jumper trainer friends don’t really understand why I would go to another barn to ride after I’m done teaching and riding at my own barn. But it is not just me that has benefitted from this whole new learning experience. I have become a significantly better teacher and trainer as a result of my time spent learning to ride reiners. My customers are noticing the trickle down effects of my new found hobby, and they love it!

rider on a horse in western tack

Dina and Mega

I find that I demand more precision in their riding, especially in the downward transitions.  We do a LOT more reinbacks, and we do them correctly.  No sitting in the bridle while being dragged backwards. We go forward and backwards a lot at the canter and gallop, and practice working over the pace and slowing down immediately to a collected canter.  We do it on the big circles and on the quarter lines.  They can all gallop down the quarter line now, halt with no trot steps, do a perfect turn on the haunches away from the inside leg, and gallop away again.  No one is late with a lead change anymore after the jump, a minor miracle in itself, and everyone can SIT in the tack. 

I thought I could sit in the tack before my time in a Western saddle. But now I can really sit in the tack.  I’m straighter.  I’ve always struggled with my right side leading, but riding one handed with my left hand holding the reins has forced me to sit truly in the center of my horse and to be square.  I’ve opened my whole right side and stopped grabbing the left rein. I ride more forward, much more forward. My instinct now is to solve problems with leg.  And as I have improved the efficacy of my aids,  I am able to  demand more precision from my horses.

horse and rider going over a jump

Dina and Fantasia Rouge

These are all principles I’ve always taught and always strived to execute.  But now I have different exercises, different ways to apply, and different ways to explain these key principles that are the foundations of any kind of riding.  Reining has helped me to become a better rider and a better teacher.   And my clients love hearing how I was almost launched like a lawn dart while trying to execute a sliding stop with my eyes down.

My daughter, who can now canter bareback, and I are enjoying this experience to learn and grow together. When it comes to horses, the learning never stops, the lessons never get old, and the successes and achievements are perpetually rewarding!

About Dina:

Dina mazzola and

Dina Mazzola (left) and Partner Katy Baldini (right)

Dina Mazzola is a partner in, an online retail store that sells quality preowned saddles from fine saddlers such as Butet, Voltaire, Devoucoux, Antares, CWD, Delgrange, Tad Coffin, and more.  Bluesaddles was launched in the spring of 2014 to meet the demand from trainers and riders for high quality, affordable used saddles that are in great to almost new condition.  Dina and her partner Katy Baldini recognize that while all riders wish for the level of performance and comfort offered by high end saddles, not all riders necessarily have the budget for a new saddle. They offer fitting advice to both horse and rider and a 14 day trial for each saddle to ensure every horse and rider get the best possible saddle.

When not working at bluesaddles, Dina rides, trains and teaches out of Fair Harbour Farm in Acton, MA. She also holds her USEF judge’s license in hunters and hunt seat equitation. Dina can be reached at

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Longines Global Champions Tour in London

As Riders file into the beautiful Show Grounds in Lausanne for the next stop on the Global Champion’s Tour, we thought it would be the perfect time to share with you our first Blog Post. Client and Texas Native Meagan Nusz reported in from the Longines Global Champions Tour in London, and we are so proud to have her as our first Guest Blog author. We hope you enjoy hearing from Meagan as much as we do! And if you have any ideas or suggestions for future posts, e-mail us at!
Hi everyone!! Meagan Nusz here blogging for my friends at from the AMAGING LGCT London horse show!! The past week was almost surreal. The venue was absolutely breathtaking and London happens to be one of my very favorite places to visit in the world so that was icing on the cake!
The infamous Horse Guards Parade was the host for this 11th leg of the LGCT tour. Not only was it within walking distance of Buckingham Palace (and no the Queen was not there…I checked) but the horses were able to stroll through St James’s Park which was incredible! I brought my horses SRI Aladdin and Waomi to jump the 2* divisions. They were accompanied by their super groom Ariana.
We started out the week with a 1 2 finish in the opening Thursday class. The show ring was beautiful and quite a nice size which is not always the case at a lot of these location shows. The schooling ring however, proved to be quite the challenge…YIKES! I was just happy I was on two horses that didn’t have traffic problems because that could have been a serious disaster! It was so small and could hardly hold 10 horses comfortably! If you survived out there the ring was actually the EASY part:)
Believe it or not the weather was spectacular. A few rain showers here and there (mostly when Kent was riding not me haha) but quite cool which was surprising for London at this time of year! I obviously didn’t get the memo when I packed of course. So typical. The walk from the 2* barn to the ring was quite the hike! Definitely wanted to make sure you left a bit early to make it to the class on time. I couldn’t complain though because you were able to walk through St James’s Park..even on the horses..and it was so beautiful! The flowers, lake, ducks and other wildlife really made for a fantastic setting. The squirrels would even eat right out of your hands. At some points it didn’t even seem real.
Grand Prix day was held on Saturday where Great Brittan’s Scott Brash took the win! I know…how fitting!! Kent and Voyeur aka Froggy had a really cheap rail in the second round. My parents and I enjoyed the class from the VIP tent that was decorated to a T. When we were not at the horse show we enjoyed eating at all of the amazing restaurants London has to offer. I will definitely say I have had my fill of Indian food! And of course the shopping….now that’s dangerous! Any money I won I definitely spent that’s for sure! I must say that this is 100% my most favorite show and I cannot wait to come back next year!!