Horses & Fireworks: 7 Tips to Help Keep Your Horses Safe & Sane

Whether you are a leaser or a leesee, the buyer or the seller, you want your next horse transaction to be a positive experience for all involved, including the horse.

Five Ways Digital Records Could Help Your Horse’s Performance

Whether you are a leaser or a leesee, the buyer or the seller, you want your next horse transaction to be a positive experience for all involved, including the horse.

Six Ways to Enjoy Horses From Inside Your House

Whether you are a leaser or a leesee, the buyer or the seller, you want your next horse transaction to be a positive experience for all involved, including the horse.

Go Digital: 4 Ways to Simplify Your Next Sale or Lease

Whether you are a leaser or a leesee, the buyer or the seller, you want your next horse transaction to be a positive experience for all involved, including the horse.

What Makes a Good Barn Manager? The Answer According to Barn Managers

Behind every great barn is a great barn manager, but what is it that makes someone an exceptional barn manager? We gathered insight from barn managers themselves to find out what it takes to excel in the role.

Defining the Role

Before we delve into what it is that makes a good barn manager, let’s definite what the barn manager’s role entails. While this varies from discipline to discipline and from barn to barn, the first priority is generally the proper care and maintenance of the horses. That might mean overseeing:

– feeding, supplements, and all of the horses’ nutritional needs and any medications
– turn-out schedules
– horses’ exercise routines
– the cleaning of stalls, as well as barn cleaning and maintenance
– vet, farrier, and specialist appointments and scheduling
– the ordering of supplies and feed
– and more!

If the barn has a competitive show program, the manager is also likely in charge of all aspects of the horse show schedule, including arranging transportation for the horses, making packing lists, submitting horse show entries, ensuring the horses are up-to- date on health matters such as vaccinations required by show managers, and organizing the necessary veterinary paperwork and/or passports.

The horse care aspects of the job can themselves fill up a rather lengthy list, but the tasks of a typical barn manager don’t stop there! In fact, for many barn managers, the management of people is as much, or even much more so, a part of the job as the management of horses.

Barn managers are often also in charge of the small business operations side of running the farm as well, including:

– employee schedules and payroll
– the hiring and training of new employees
– accounts receivable and payable
– lesson scheduling and coordinating.

So, what does it take to be good at the job? Here are four key traits of a good barn manager, as identified by a few top barn managers themselves:

Communication is Key

A barn manager is often the one interacting with both employees and clients on a daily basis, and therefore he or she needs to be an effective communicator with the ability to also listen to and work with others, and to deal with any conflict or problems should they arise. Being a good communicator is one of the first things many barn managers identify as a key trait, but it is also one that is quickly identified as one of the biggest challenges of the job.

“Learning to delegate and communicate [is one of the biggest challenges of the job],” said Emma Ford, who manages for Olympic eventer Phillip Dutton. “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.”

Courtney Carson, manager for Doug Payne and Payne Equestrian voiced similar comments on the importance of communication for she and her team.

“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,” said Carson. “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.”

Extensive Horse Knowledge

Since he or she is often the one overseeing each horse’s daily care and feeding, it’s important for the barn manager to have a solid understanding of equine nutrition, basic equine medical treatments, and all elements of daily horse care.

A good barn manager should have extensive experience in caring for horses, as well as equine first-aid knowledge and a solid understanding of equine nutrition.

The Ability to Multi-Task – While Staying Organized

“There are a lot of moving pieces that make a barn run efficiently. Being able to manage all of that is probably the trickiest part,” said Kassie Gustafson, barn manager for top hunter rider Hunt Tosh and his Hunt Tosh Inc.

With so many tasks on a barn manager’s list of responsibilities, staying organized and getting ahead of all of them is key.

“I like to make sure that everything is organized when I close up shop every day,” said Molly Sewell Schott of Over the Hill Farm. “It saves time in the morning. I would rather stay at the barn later and then have everything smooth and efficient in the mornings, as far as tack being perfectly organized and that sort of stuff.

“I like everything to be done the night before because you have very limited hours in the morning. When I get to the barn, I want to be able to pull every piece of tack out of the trunk and have it exactly where it needs to be before everyone starts riding. I even pack the trunk at night based on what we’re doing first, so I’ll put the schooling bridles on the top so that we can just get them out and get the horses out the door and to the ring.”

Denise Moriarty, manager for show jumper Kent Farrington, said: “Being organized is going to make it run a lot smoother and be a lot less stressful. I make sure that my boots are laid out, that my ring bag is packed for that horse, and that I know what bit or bridle or chain and everything that [Kent] wants on the horse so that I’m not last minute panicked trying to figure that stuff out.”

A Love of, and a Dedication to, Horses

Barn management is not a 9-5 job. It can often mean long hours and 24/7 availability should a problem or emergency situation arise, and the horses in the program are likely never far out of the barn manager’s mind even when he or she is away from the barn.

Dedication to the job and a love of the horses is a key to not only success as a great barn manager, but also to true enjoyment of the job.

“Truly bonding with each horse [is the most rewarding part of the job],” said Ford. “Knowing them well enough that a slight change in attitude or eye alertness means catching a health problem before it becomes too big.”

“Love [the horses] like they are your own,” said Carson on one of her biggest tips for the job.

Carson also shared a few final pieces of advice for those considering, or currently in, a barn manager role.

“Communicate with your boss about how they want things done, and remember that everyone is on the same team,” said Carson. “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!”

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 Equestrian Industry Careers You May Not Have Thought Of

Once a month, we’ll be spotlighting equestrian professionals who have made a career out of horses, all in their own unique ways.

This month, we’re kicking things off with an overview of several equestrian industry jobs that you may or may not have thought of before and that all have one thing in common: they don’t require you to be a great rider to be the right fit!

When you think of jobs within the equestrian industry, riders, trainers, and breeders may be among the first that come to mind, but they’re far from the only options. In fact, you don’t have to be a great rider, or even a particularly good rider, to have a highly successful career with horses.

If you’re looking to plan your post-graduation career or contemplating quitting your current day job in favor of a life-centered around the horses that you love, your choices are many. Here’s a look at just five different facets of the industry that you may or may not have considered yet.

1) Public relations and marketing – Behind almost every equine product that you’ve used, large horse show that you’ve attended, or equestrian service that you’ve utilized, there is likely someone handling public relations and marketing efforts for that product, service, or event. Large brands and equestrian companies often have positions directly in-house to handle various facets of marketing, such as social media, content development, online advertising, and more. Other brands, horse shows, riders, and organizations will often employee an equestrian firm, like Jump Media, to handle their public relations efforts. No matter if it’s in house for one company or for a PR firm, if you enjoy marketing, social media, or writing, this could be a great fit for you! 

2) Sales – Not far removed from marketing, many equestrian brands also enlist the help of sales representatives. Being a sales rep for products such as horse feeds or supplements, saddles, or riding apparel often means lots of facetime with riders, owners, and trainers, which in turn means you get to enjoy lots of time spent in barns and around the horses that you love. 

3) Equine careers in technology – If your love of horses is matched only by your love of technology, why not pair the two? Within the equestrian industry, there’s a need for software developers (for apps and software like BarnManager!), for web designers to create beautiful websites for barns, horse shows and brands, for audio and visual pros capable of producing live streams and webcasts, and much more.

4) Entrepreneurship – Have your own idea of a service or product that you think could greatly benefit your fellow equestrians? While it’s not the right fit or an available option for everyone, entrepreneurship could be your answer! BarnManager itself was started because one barn manager recognized a need for better organization and realized a solution to meet that need. (Follow along on our BarnManager blog in coming months to meet other successful equestrian entrepreneurs and glean their advice. 

5) Non-profit roles – If you have a heart for helping horses in need, non-profit work may be the perfect fit for you. Reputable horse rescue organizations often have positions for development directors, administrative assistants or office managers, community outreach directors, and more. Visit websites of organizations like Days End Farm Horse Rescue to see examples of the kinds of roles that could be available to you. In addition to horse rescues, a large number of 501(c)(3) non-profit groups exist to help horses in other ways, many of which have similar staffing needs. The EQUUS Foundation, Brooke USA, and the Grayson Jockey-Club Research Foundation are just a few examples of these.

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!

Six Benefits of Digitizing Your Barn Records

Making the move from paper records to digital can be a bit intimidating. It’s likely that you’re comfortable with the way that you currently do things and would rather avoid change or a cumbersome learning curve.

However, there is also a chance that your barn office is filled with binders and paperwork, and, odds are, every once in a while there’s a miscommunication among your team related to all that information.

How do we know? Because we’ve been there! But by going digital, there’s a good chance that you can also say goodbye to piles of binders and begin reaping additional benefits – like these six.

1) It reduces clutter, saves paper, and streamlines your organization. – We’re listing this as one benefit, but it’s more of a three-for-one. By going digital, you no longer need to worry about missing paperwork or disorganized binders (and you’re saving trees in the process)!

“We would leave notes for each other; if somebody was on antibiotics or we were going to increase the feed for somebody, we’d put that in the notebook, and we’d date it,” said Dr. Susan Spivey, who founded and operates Southern Redhead Farms Rescue in Florida. “Now BarnManager helps us with that. It’s a place for me to stockpile those notes on each particular horse.”

Kris Amaya manages Stonehenge Stables, a top hunter/jumper operation based in Florida and New Jersey, and she shared similar feedback.

“Before when we had to keep track of our vet records, we had numerous binders. Not one or two, I want to say maybe five,” explained Kris. “We had a separate binder for the vet that would come in and do all of the chiropractic work. We had a binder for just FEI horses. We also had to split the binders between our horses in Florida and New Jersey, so there was a lot of paper at any given time and a lot of notepads. And notepads would get lost and then suddenly reappear when you were looking for another notepad! BarnManager makes everything streamlined.”

2) It improves communication with your team. – Team communication was one of the motivators behind why our founder, Nicole Lakin, created BarnManager in the first place.

“At Spruce Meadows, I would be back at the barn trying to make grain and have a question for someone who was down at the International Ring, basically a mile away, and getting in touch was challenging. I was looking for ways to get around those communication issues and to get even more organized,” explained Nicole, who was working as a barn manager at the time.

Within an app like BarnManager, you can communicate with your team and use tools like barn-wide messaging and shared lists.

3) It keeps your horses happy and healthy… – With digital records, all of your horses’ health records are at your fingertips, making it easy to stay on top of their appointments, exercise, nutrition, and more. With the feed, supplement, and medication management portion of BarnManager, your horses’ nutritional and feeding records are displayed in easy-to-read tables and charts.

And if someone needs to access the records outside of the app, no problem! One click of the “download report” button creates a PDF of the well-organized feeding charts that can then be emailed or printed and displayed in the barn (without the all-too-common risk of notes getting erased off the white board)!

4) …and it can help your horse transition to a new home if sold or adopted. – BarnManager offers a “discharge report” feature that allows you combine all of the horse’s records into one master PDF report at the click of a button, something that’s particularly useful for relaying information to new owners or lessees.

“I’ve got all of those records together for the horse. So, when they’re adopted out, I can say, ‘This is the last farrier appointment. This is the last time they received their shots. There’s the date of the Coggins,’” said Susan from Southern Redhead Farm Rescue.

Stacia Klein Madden also utilizes BarnManager’s discharge report feature when horses are sold out of her Beacon Hill Show Stables.

“It’s really important to me that, when I send a horse out, I’m sending as much information about the way that I’ve cared about that horse in the past,” said Stacia. “That way, those people can have the same information if they choose to care for the horse in the same way. I don’t like it to be a science experiment. We’re able to send a horse out with the feed listed, the vet care listed, the dental records, the vaccines, and any special instructions.”

5) It can help you identify what works and what doesn’t for your horse. – Horses’ supplemental, nutritional, and medicinal needs are often changing, and while it’s often easy to remember that something was changed, it can be hard to recall exactly when that change was made – which is where BarnManager’s change log comes in. Using the log, it becomes easy to see when something was introduced or removed from a horse’s plan.

Digital records are also useful for monitoring horses’ performance, which is a feature that Deeridge Farms and CMJ Sporthorses manager Miranda Valentine frequently puts to use.

“We have so much therapy equipment, but using all of it all the time is also not the proper usage,” explained Miranda. “You have to use it for each horse in the specific way where you get the maximum performance. I like to use BarnManager to record performance ideals, goals, outcomes, and then what we did with the horses before and after that competition to achieve that. That helps me register whether or not it was successful.”

6) It saves time and gets you back into the barn with the horses that you love. – While it may seem like a transition at first, ultimately, digitizing your records allows you to save the time that you would have spent looking for or organizing paperwork or relaying messages to different members of your team. With everything in one place, including your horse’s US Equestrian records if you choose to link them, you’re not wasting time jumping from one binder or system to another, and since cloud-based software like BarnManager is accessible almost anywhere, there’s no need to be glued to your office when you could be spending more time with the horses that you love!

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!

Dr. Barb Blasko: Helping Horses, Helping Humans (and How You Could Benefit!)

Dr. Barbara J. Blasko, M.D. was traveling home from the East Coast when the medical records of her horse, competing on the West Coast, were lost prior to a show.

“They lost his medical records, so before he could get onto the show grounds, they revaccinated him,” recounted Blasko. “I was flying on a plane, and no one could get ahold of me. This horse was super sensitive; he had a really bad reaction and got very sick.”

That incident in 2013 led Blasko to recognize a need within the equestrian industry, and it sparked an idea for the board-certified emergency medicine physician, newly armed with a degree in biomedical informatics. A year later, Blasko launched Electronic Vet, making electronic vaccination records accessible by owners and show managers and eliminating the need for paper records.

Today, Blasko is practicing medicine on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in California, and she has recognized another need.

“In this time when people can’t go to their doctor, there’s a great need for telehealth,” explained Blasko, who has been practicing telemedicine since 2013. “I’ve worked with some of the first companies that were involved in telehealth, and I think it’s a great way to help people.”

With that in mind, Blasko decided she wanted to bring telehealth to equestrians during the coronavirus pandemic, and she approached BarnManager’s founder and chief executive officer Nicole Lakin with an idea.

“I wanted to offer people another way to get medical advice and treatment without having to leave their house,” said Blasko. “I know that Nicole and I share similar visions and missions, and we both want to help equestrians find solutions to their problems, so I came to her with the idea of offering telehealth consults to both BarnManager and Electronic Vet subscribers.”

Lakin agreed that the opportunity to collaborate was a perfect fit, and now, any paid subscribers who sign up for either Electronic Vet or BarnManager before May 1 will also receive a free telehealth consultation with Blasko.

Through a telehealth consultation, Blasko is able to address issues such as infections, asthma, cold and flu, sore throat, rash, sinusitis, ear pain, and more. She is also able to address COVID-19 questions or concerns and to provide certain prescriptions or medication refills.

Being Horse Crazy Helps Keep You Sane  

Barb competing JF Justinian at the HITS National Sunshine Series in Coachella, California.

For equestrians hesitant about the idea of discussing their health or medical concerns over the phone with a relative stranger, there may be comfort in knowing that Blasko is much like them.

Before she was Dr. Barbara Blasko, M.D., Blasko was a horse-crazy kid growing up in Long Island, NY.

A $1 pony ride at a fair sparked her ongoing love of the animals, and she began taking lessons at the age of 8. When she was 14, her parents bought Blasko her first horse, an Appendix Quarter Horse named Myrtle.

“I started doing the ‘B’ show circuit on Long Island and the equitation,” said Blasko. “I worked for some trainers on Long Island as a groom and a braider to pay for my horse expenses. I didn’t have my own horse in college; it was just too expensive, but I did ride others’ horses, and I kept braiding and grooming in college and in medical school. That kept me sane during my studies.”

Today, while Blasko lives in California, she trains with Peter Petschenig out of Pilot Point, TX, where a few of her horses, including her jumper and a grand prix mount purchased for Petschenig, now reside.

“Peter moved to Texas, so he’s there with my jumper, and I’m fortunate to have a retired jumper that I keep here and do mostly dressage with,” explained Blasko, who aims to ride at least four days a week, frequently flying to Texas to ride her jumper and train with Petschenig.

“Honestly, horses have just been the piece of my life that allows me to focus on the rest of my life and my career,” said Blasko. “It’s my outlet.”

Combining Passions

As a young teen, Blasko first began to see horses as such an outlet when her mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was that experience that also ignited another interest in Blasko.

“Seeing her have to be treated and have surgery and interacting with her doctors really made me want to become a physician and help people,” said Blasko, who was 14 at the time. “I wanted to help others that had similar illnesses to my mom and see if I could make their lives a little better.”

Dr. Barbara Blasko

Blasko has now been in practice for 22 years, and today she is an emergency medicine physician and an associate clinical professor of emergency medicine at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, CA.

While working for Kaiser Permanente in California, Blasko helped the organization make the huge transition from paper documentation to electronic health records.  

“I became interested in health care technology, and I went back to school and got a degree in biomedical informatics, which is basically electronic health care delivery,” said Blasko. “I was involved in a lot of workflow design, physician champion committees, and in teaching other doctors how to use the electronic record.”

It was about that time that the issue with her horse’s vaccination records occurred, and Blasko knew that there was an easier way to do things.

“That was around the time that vaccines were becoming mandatory for competition, and I noticed that there were a lot of problems with paper records,” explained Blasko. “I founded Electronic Vet to make a cloud-based platform where all of the records could be housed electronically, and everyone could have access to them online.”

The cloud-based eVet Certificate includes horse and owner information, as well as the vaccines/test results/Coggins on file. The eVet Certificate can be exported and emailed from the owner/trainer’s account directly to the horse show office or provided instantly to participating show offices in the U.S. and Canada via eVet’s innovative technology partnerships.

“Having the ability to do your vaccine record digitally is one less thing to worry about when you have to get to the horse show,” said Blakso, who has partnered with a number of show managers to make their customers’ vaccine records accessible on Electronic Vet. “Basically, when our clients get to the horse show, the vaccine records are already there. They don’t have to hand a piece of paper to the show secretaries. We’ve also partnered with online entry companies so that when you create your online entry, you also create your vaccine certificate, and everything gets sent into the horse show directly.”

Managing Electronic Vet in addition to her full-time career is a balancing act for Blasko, but knowing that she can provide benefits to others while doing what she most enjoys makes it a labor of love.

“I feel so lucky that I can help people,” said Blasko. “Combining all of my passions has been amazing, and that’s similar to the idea behind offering free telehealth consults with eVet or BarnManager subscriptions. We’re combining the opportunity to help both horse and human, particularly during this difficult time.”

To learn more about Electronic Vet and to start your subscription, visit www.electronicvet.com. To begin a BarnManager subscription, click here. All new subscriptions receive a telehealth consultation with Dr. Barbara Blasko, MD, to be used within 60 days of subscription sign-up.

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!

Organizing and Spring Cleaning Your Barn During COVID-19

Each year about this time, we like to share a new barn spring cleaning blog post. This year though, things are a bit different, and the checklist of tasks that we typically recommend may not be entirely advisable.

Cleaning out your old riding clothes and taking them to your local tack shop to consign? Not an option during stay at home orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting your horses’ annual Coggins test or having their teeth checked? If it’s not an emergency, it may be best to wait another month or two.

However, with many of us finding ourselves with a bit more time on our hands as we stay safe at home and at our barns, there’s perhaps no better time for getting organized and doing some deep cleaning.

Here are our suggestions and ideas for maximizing this time and handling this year’s barn spring cleaning!

In the Barn  

If you own or manage your farm, live onsite, or are still able to safely visit while practicing social distancing, here are a few tasks to tackle.

– Scrub and disinfect all surfaces, particularly those that are frequently touched. – Now is the time to continually sanitize and clean common surfaces such as stall doors, doorknobs, light switches, sink faucets, gates, and crossties.

– Clean out gutters and downspouts. – Clear out any leaves or build-up that may have accumulated over the fall and winter months.

– Clean your fans and check the wiring. – If you live in a cooler climate, your fans have likely been packed away for the winter. Now is a good time to get them out of storage, clean them, and ensure that all is in working order. ProEquineGrooms suggests using a leave blower to blow any dust and debris out of the fan.

– Inspect your pastures. – Walk the perimeter of all pastures to check the fencing and locate any weak or broken spots. Thoroughly clean any run-in sheds, and walk your fields and fill in any holes.

– Send blankets out for cleaning and repair.By the end of the winter, it’s likely that your horse’s sheets and blankets are in need of a deep cleaning! There are many services available that allow you to ship your blankets to them for repair, and some local services, like Horse Duds & Suds in New Jersey, offer free pickup and delivery from your farm (while maintaining safe distancing!). If you’d rather clean or fix minor repairs yourself, check out this blanket care kit from Schneiders.

– Thoroughly clean your tack. – When was the last time you took your bridle completely apart? Or scrubbed your stirrup irons with a toothbrush? Now is the time to give everything a really thorough cleaning and conditioning.

– Scrub your brushes. – As with your tack, now is the time to really scrub your brushes, and, if you haven’t already, to make it a habit of cleaning them routinely. We shared steps and tips for cleaning brushes here.

– Check your horses’ medicine cabinets and restock your vet kits. – Go through any medicines and ensure that none of them are expired, and, if they are looking into getting them replaced or refilled if needed. Review your horses’ first aid kit (that you hopefully have on hand!) and make sure it’s well-stocked and any previously used items have been replenished. Not sure what should be included in your first aid kit? Here are a few of our suggestions.

While You’re at Home

– Go through your closet. – By cleaning out and organizing your riding clothes, you could turn your breeches that no longer fit (because they’re too big, and you lost weight, obviously! ?), into cash toward a new pair. While supporting your local consignment tack shop isn’t presently an option, there are lots of ways to sell your used riding apparel online, like the Grazers app.

– Eliminate paper clutter and organize your horses’ records. – If you currently store your horses’ medical records, farrier invoices, and barn paperwork in binders, folders, or in a giant stack on your desk, now is a great time to consider consolidating them and going digital! With BarnManager, you can snap photos of your records to easily add them to each horse’s profile, and you can sync each profile to the horse’s US Equestrian records to easily pull in other data. Setup a live demo meeting to see how it works, here.

– Order those horse show photos you’ve been meaning to hang in your house. This is also a great way to support equine photographers during this time. Check out a few other suggested ways to support fellow equestrians throughout COVID-19 here.

– Make your own horse treats. – This may not help with cleaning or organizing, but it will win you brownie points with your horse and provide you with a fun activity for the time at home! Check out a few of our treat recipe ideas here. 

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!