How to Create a “Living Jump” at Your Farm

BarnManager is thrilled to welcome environmental non-profit group Green is the New Blue to shed some light on sustainability in the equestrian world. Green is the New Blue is an environmental non-profit that strives to reduce the environmental impacts of equine related events and activities. The organization encourages others to incorporate green practices into daily operations both at horse shows and at home.

GINTB has two simple goals: to educate the equine industry about best practices for sustainability and ecological safety, and to provide the tools to make these changes easy and straight-forward to implement.

Founded by amateur rider Stephanie Bulger when she realized the detrimental impact horse events and venues had on the environment, GITNB is dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of horse shows and inspiring equestrians to do their part to live sustainably.

Look out for future pieces from Green Is the New Blue as we update you on more ways to go green in your barn!

How to create your living jump:

Green Is the New Blue has developed the concept of a “Living Jump” to promote biodiversity and support species that enhance ecosystem resilience. To build a Living Jump at your facility, all you need to do is source plants from a local nursery using native species that support pollinators and create habitats for other insects, such as ladybugs. Check out the steps below to see how to build your biodiverse jump course!

Biodiversity describes the overall variety of living things in the ecosystem, from microorganisms, to plants, to horses and their riders. Biodiversity is important because it provides us with vital resources such as food, water, shelter, medicine, and fuel. A biodiverse environment is also more resilient in the face of disaster. When equestrians source native plants within the course design and farm landscaping processes, they help to sustain local environments that, in turn, sustain human life.

The “Living Jump” at the Aiken Horse Park’s International Hunter Derby included South Carolina’s native species Ligustrum, Liriope, and Lantana. Photo: A&S Photography

1. Identify native plant species

Native species are those that live in the same ecosystem where they originated. Non-native species are those that do not naturally occur in an area, such as Alberta Spruce in a Florida hunter ring (they look like miniature Christmas trees!). Some species are invasive, meaning they cause ecological harm as they exist in an environment where they did not originate. Try to choose native plants that provide habitat for a variety of other species, such as pollinators. We recommend using the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder to be sure you’re including beneficial species.

2. Source plants from a local nursery.

Once you have identified a list of species to include in your Living Jump, coordinate with a local nursery for pickup. Just as you would support local businesses in other aspects of life, such as your local tack or feed store, it is important to source plants from local nurseries that provide biodiversity benefits to your local ecosystem. If the plants were not grown on site, local nurseries are more likely to know where and how the plants were initially grown. Additionally, plants are often healthier when they are sourced and cared for locally, as opposed to being transported in bulk to department stores.

3. Build your jump to fit your arena.

Time to get creative! Build up your Living Jump using your locally sourced, native plants. If you want more spook for your hunter derby mount, add more elements. If you want to tone it down, build it smaller with fewer varieties of plants. Even with smaller jumps, you can still include plenty of beneficial species around the ring. Decorate according to your needs for horse, rider, or equine facility. Add plants to in-gates, jump standards, below rails, and anywhere else around the ring.

4. Reuse

It is important not to discard plants after they serve their purpose in the ring. With just a bit of research for each species, it’s possible to replant and harvest many species to use again next year. No space to replant? Consider gifting or returning them to a nursery or other facility that is better equipped to this. If you are hosting a single event, it is often possible to rent plants and return them later.

5. Share!

Once you’ve created your Living Jump, take lots of photos and spread the word on social media and with friends and family. When others see what you have created, you’ll inspire them to do the same, leading to more biodiversity among horse farms, increased business for local nurseries, and something pretty to have around the farm.

 

Find out more about Green Is the New Blue by following them on Instagram and Facebook, and by visiting their website.

7 Tips for Navigating the Warm-Up Ring

Arguably the most terrifying part of horse showing, the warm-up ring somehow always manages to stress out competitors, no matter the age, experience, or riding level. There is no order, the space is usually too small, and chaos inevitably ensues.

Here are some tips to help make the warm-up a more pleasant experience so you can focus on yourself and your horse and not let the pandemonium affect your performance in the ring.

1. Go with the flow.

Whenever possible, work in the same direction that most horses are going. Many horses struggle with oncoming traffic in warm-up rings, so try to eliminate that stress for both you and your horse if you can.

2. Be vocal.

Let other riders know where you are going by vocalizing your intention. If you’re passing someone, call “outside” or “inside,” and give a heads up every time you approach a jump so no one will step into your path unexpectedly. Communication is key for a proper warm-up flow. Don’t assume anything; you will only guarantee safety for yourself and others if you make your voice heard about your intentions. If everyone in the schooling ring spoke up about their plan of action for the next few strides, there would be much less confusion and limited close calls.

3. Look ten strides ahead.

Think about driving a car; you have to think far ahead and anticipate other drivers’ actions in order to best avoid catastrophe. This takes a high level of focus, but if you are actively looking ten strides ahead at all times, you can see how other riders’ actions can impact your plan, and you’ll have time to adapt and change your path to avoid a bad situation.

4. Follow warm-up ring etiquette.

Always pass left-to-left when traveling in opposite directions. If you’re jumping, try not to hog the rail where riders may be warming up on the flat. If you’re flatting, don’t cut across the arena without checking for riders who may be coming to the jumps. Avoid circling if you can, as this can cut off other riders. If you’re done riding or just out for a schooling ride, make the competitors’ lives easier by minimizing your time in the ring; don’t use it as a place to walk around chatting with friends.

5. Keep calm and ride on.

This sounds obvious, but the more stressed you are about the warm-up ring, the more likely things will go poorly. Our horses often feed off our emotions, making occasions like the warm-up ring stressful for both of you. Keep a strong and positive mindset, and you are more likely to get through the warm-up experience without any added anxiety.

6. Find a less crowded arena to warm up in.

Sometimes the warm-up options are limited at competitions, but many properties have numerous rings that may be quieter. Before you show, look around for other rings that may be less crowded than your designated warm-up. If there are fewer horses, you can focus on yourself and not worry about what the other riders are doing. Also remember to avoid jumper warm-ups if you are riding a hunter, and vice versa.

7. Practice warm-up scenarios at home.

Find times to ride at home when the ring is busier, like during group lessons. This may take some planning ahead to coordinate when most people will be riding. You and your horse will become less nervous in large groups if you practice it in a safe way. If you have friends at the barn, plan to hack at the same time every now and then to practice riding in a crowd.

Winterizing the Barn

10 Tips for Winterizing the Barn from US Equestrian

From US Equestrian

Even if you and your horses live in an area where the climate is balmy year ‘round, the changing of the season from fall to winter marks a good time to take care of important annual or semi-annual tasks. This includes cleaning out the dust of summer, changing lightbulbs, inspecting stall and gate latches and more. But many equestrians are located in a place that Jack Frost regularly visits between now and spring. For cold-weather folks, getting battened down for the winter takes on an extra urgency.

Dr. Bob Coleman, who managed horse operations in his native Manitoba, Canada, before becoming an associate extension professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Animal & Food Sciences, knows better than most that pre-winter preparation can make the season easier on both horses and humans. Coleman and his University of Kentucky colleague, assistant extension professor Morgan Hayes, say it’s important to plan in advance. That way, when the weather turns bitter and conditions might deteriorate, you’re already prepared.

Winterizing the Barn

Photo by Leslie Potter.

Read more in the US Equestrian Magazine Winter 2020 edition.

Tips to Create Your Ideal Show Schedule

1. Identify your competition goals.

What do you want to accomplish with your horse this year? If you just want to get into the show ring and have fun, maybe you don’t need to go to the highest-rated competition. You can simply look for well-run events in your area. If you are trying to earn points for a specific year-end award, set your sights on shows that include those classes. It’s also important to look at the level of competition you’ll be facing. If you know your jumper isn’t the fastest, aim for smaller shows with fewer entries per division so your results can be better. If you are trying to sell your horse, aim for some larger horse shows where you’ll be seen by more people, including those watching on livestream.

2. Set your travel parameters.

How far are you willing to travel to show? If you know you don’t want to go further than two hours from home by car, map out all the potential shows that meet that criteria and then compare other factors. If your travel radius is wider, identify what destinations you’d most like to visit and look at the shows in those areas.

3. Break down your budget.

Horse shows are expensive, no matter how you go about them. But some are costlier than others, so break down where your money will be going for each horse show you are interested in attending. Try to identify ahead of time what your costs will be so you can weigh your options. For example, stall fees are not the same at every show, but it’s a fixed cost so you can count on it whenever you travel to show. Braiding, hotels, food, entry fees, and transportation costs are also important line items you can estimate for each show you are considering.

4. Know your priorities as an exhibitor.

Not all horse shows are equal experiences for the exhibitor. Some may not match your personal comfort level regarding COVID-19 procedures at the present time. Others may not offer state-of-the-art facilities or healthy, on-site food choices or convenient high-quality hotels and lodging, all of which can be big factors for some people. There are lots of important experience-related items to consider when choosing a horse show.

5. Talk with your family.

When you are horse showing, it will likely impact the schedules of those in your close circle. If family members depend on you for certain responsibilities, make sure you arrange for those to be taken care of in your absence. It’s also important to compare family schedules to avoid missing an important event while away at a show. Often schedules will conflict, so it’s crucial to plan ahead and prioritize.

6. Know where your friends are showing!

Though it’s not the most important thing, you spend most of your time at a horse show not riding. For some, it’s important to be in good company during your down time. See where your friends—whether they ride at your barn or not—are planning to compete. Then you can hang out ringside and meet up for dinner, when it’s safe to do so again.

How To Move Ahead After a Tough Year

If 2020 could be a word, it would be “unprecedented.” It was a difficult year in about every way imaginable. Life as we knew it got turned upside down, leaving so many worse off and leading us to wonder when (or if) normal life would ever return.

But with the turn of a new year comes newfound hope. Though 2021 may still be gloomy at first, promise lies ahead. If you’re ready to move on but unsure how to approach a fresh start given the many uncertainties that surround us, here are some tips to guide you.

1. Set resolutions wisely.

This applies to the start of every new year, but if you are one to set resolutions for self-improvement, it’s important to set those resolutions up for success. Avoid sweeping statements that don’t include parameters. If your resolution is to spend less time on your phone, then define that more specifically. Perhaps the initial goal should be to set a time limit or not allow yourself to get distracted on your phone while around friends and family. If your resolution is to eat healthy, break it down into what that looks like on a daily basis. Maybe it means eating vegetables for two meals each day or limiting junk food to just a few days per week. Accountability is an important part of goal setting, so tell someone about your resolution early on and ask him or her to check in on your progress.

2. Forgive those who have wronged you.

Starting fresh means giving second chances to those around us. First, identify any unresolved issues with friends and family, then acknowledge that it’s time to make peace and move forward. The turn of a new year is a great time to check in with yourself and heal any relationships that may have been damaged over the past year.

3. Forgive yourself.

The easiest way to drag the past year into the future is to dwell on things you regret. Don’t allow that regret to follow you into the new year. You deserve forgiveness for anything you might have done to wrong yourself or anyone else. You deserve to move forward with a weight lifted so you can start fresh.

4. Let your friends and family know you care.

Some of us may have handled the woes of this year better than others, but you should take the time to acknowledge how much you care about everyone close to you, in case someone needs to hear it. This kind of support will empower your loved ones to tackle the new year confidently and will help you to do the same in turn. Not only will it make people feel good, but it will help strengthen relationships entering a new year.

5. Be of service.

If you feel lucky about how you made it through this year, find a way to give back to those who were not as fortunate. There are so many ways to donate your time or money to help improve the lives of those in need, both in your local area and far away. A little quick research will help you decide what causes you care most about and find ways you can provide assistance in the new year. You will not regret any time you spend helping others.

6. Don’t take anything in life for granted.

If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that everything can be taken from us in an instant. All the things we used to consider part of everyday life became a privilege – practically overnight. Now that we’ve gotten a few of these things back for 2021, be sure to cherish them. Don’t take any day for granted. Don’t take human interaction for granted. Think of the small things you miss most about everyday life and be sure to acknowledge how lucky you are when you get them back.

7. Do something you’ve wanted to do.

We’ve put many of our dreams on hold for a while, and for good reason. When it’s safe to do so, cross something big off your bucket list. We learned this year that nothing is guaranteed, so don’t put off something you want to do – and can do – now.

8. Prioritize yourself in the new year.

This past year was tough for everyone, so don’t get caught up comparing your struggles and feeling undeserving of self-care. Regardless of how 2020 looked for you, it’s important to take the time you need to emerge stronger in the new year. Self-care strategies look different for everyone, so identify what it takes for you to be at your best and strive to give yourself what you need.

 

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo 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!

8 Gift Ideas for Kids Who Love Horses

Everyone knows a child who is a horse lover through and through. It’s obvious what theme your gift for this child should be, but it’s hard to narrow down a specific item. Here’s a list of ideas for horse-obsessed children on your shopping list. Plus, they can all likely be found locally so you don’t have to order online and deal with shipping delays.

1. Horse puzzle.

Parents are always looking for ways to keep their kids occupied for hours, and what better way to get them focused and busy than a puzzle? There are lots of brands that offer horse-themed puzzles at various levels of difficulty. Just be sure the puzzle is the right level of challenge for the horse-loving child in your life; if it’s too difficult they may give up and if it’s too easy, they’ll be done too soon!

2. Grooming tote (complete with brushes).

All young horse lovers dream of the day they’ll get their own horse or pony. The first baby step is often buying grooming totes so they can bring their own brushes to the barn. Grooming a beloved horse or pony friend with a brush that is their own makes any young horse fan feel important.

3. Books about horses.

For any bookworm, it’s easy to find books about horses. There are so many books at every reading level covering all genres and disciplines. No matter if they prefer fiction or non-fiction, any horse lover who enjoys reading is guaranteed to keep his or her nose in a book if it’s about horses.

4. Paint-by-number.

Let their inner artist soar by giving a paint-by-number with a horse-themed design. They help guide the painting process by breaking it down into small steps, so the final product is something any child is sure to cherish. You may even want to paint one yourself once you see their masterpiece.

5. Horse pajamas.

Some children eat, sleep, and breathe horses. Lean into the “sleep” part by gifting a pair of horse-themed pajamas. Not only are they great for keeping kids warm on cold winter nights this season, but they’ll dream about their favorite animals all night long.

6. Riding lessons.

For the child who just desperately wants to ride, give the gift of riding lessons if it’s in the budget. This gives the whole family something to do on weekend days while the horse-crazy child gets to chase his or her dreams learning how to ride. It’s also rewarding for children to see their riding progress over time. Of course, be warned that this gift often leads to wanting more riding!

7. Horse phone case.

Lots of kids have iPhones these days, and they’re often used for playing horsey-themed games, looking for photos of horses on Instagram, or texting friends who also love horses. Help them embrace this love for horses by giving them a phone case with a fun horse design, or even one customized with an image of his or her favorite horse or pony.

8. Personalized leather bracelet or keychain.

Horse lovers often have a special horse or pony that leaves a mark on their heart forever. Let them take that horse everywhere by gifting a leather bracelet or keychain with the horse’s name engraved on it. The elegant leather look goes with anything and will make them proud to show off his or her horse’s name prominently.

 

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!

7 Gift Ideas for Your Barn Owner, Manager, or Groom

1. Gift cards.

Everyone can appreciate a gift card, especially if it’s presented in a fun way. For example, you can give it inside a coffee mug or a thoughtful card. While it may seem like the easy route, gift cards let people buy what they may need, rather than gifting something they don’t want. Go the extra mile and buy a gift card from a local business to help them out during this difficult time.

2. Work boots.

Those who work in the barn are always on their feet. With the number of hours spent walking, trudging through mud, and caring for the horses, it’s likely that their work boots have well worn. Find out what size and type of shoe they prefer, and gift them some foot relief for the coming year.

3. Fill a barn need.

There is always something needed in a barn full of horses. Take a burden off the owner or manager and offer to pay for items to make their lives easier. Maybe it’s new lights for the arena or repairs to the barn. With all the gift-giving, Christmas is a stressful time to have to pay bills, so this would be a tremendous gift to any barn owner.

4. Barn first-aid kit.

If anyone is likely to get hurt while at the barn, it’s probably the ones who are there 24/7, 365 days a year. While everyone can benefit from a first-aid kit (for humans) packed with proper antiseptics, bandages, and more, the majority of cuts and bruises are likely suffered by the vital staff dealing with difficult horses and sharp objects all the time. Hopefully, it won’t be used too often. But this is a great item to have on hand.

5. Horse treats.

These are always necessary to have on hand, especially when it comes to the unruly horses that don’t want to come in from the field or cooperate with an activity. No groom or barn helper wants to spend extra time in these situations, so grab them a large bag of treats and help them take charge of the unruly behavior throughout their day.

6. Weatherproof gloves.

Even though most of the country is facing extremely cold temperatures and snowy days, the work still must go on for barn staff. What gets really tricky is everything you have to do with your hands once your hands go numb. Do your research and find a trusted pair of weatherproof gloves to help your barn’s team make the best of tough winter conditions.

7. Warm jacket with farm logo.

A barn worker can never have enough warm coats. Even if it’s a lighter layer to wear underneath a heavy coat, anything warm will surely be appreciated. An added bonus would be to have the barn logo embroidered on the jacket. Just take an image of your farm logo to any embroidery shop and they can have a vector file made, which will then allow embroidery and printing to be done in bulk.

 

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo 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!

7 Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Trainer

Our trainers do so much for us, so it’s our time to give back to them. Say thank you for their endless hours spent devoted to you, your horse, and all they do to keep things running smoothly by gifting them something meaningful. Horse trainers can often be difficult to shop for. So we are bringing you some ideas to brighten their holiday season and help show your gratitude for everything they’ve done for you throughout the past year.

1. Gift cards.

You can never go wrong by giving a gift card and allowing your trainer to purchase whatever he or she truly needs or wants. Better yet, support a small business by choosing a local tack shop that may be struggling. If your trainer rarely eats out, give a gift card to a local restaurant (one that does take-out, since indoor dining is not recommended). Maybe gather your whole barn to pitch in on a group gift card. That way, the amount is greater, and your trainer can enjoy something really nice.

2. Customized barn gear.

This one takes a little more planning, but gear with the barn or business’s logo would make a truly special gift for your trainer. It can be difficult to secure the vector form of the logo. See if anyone at your barn has design skills and can help. Some local embroidery shops can help with that as well. Once you have the vector file, you can print it or embroider it on just about anything, from hats, to sweatshirts, to saddle covers, and more!

3. Travel cup.

Horse trainers are always on the go. Gift them something they can take along on all their adventures like a travel mug or beverage container. Better yet, get one customized with barn colors or logos. Drink containers like Yeti, S’well, Hydro Flask, and others can help prevent beverages from spilling. They also do a great job at keeping your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. They can be super stylish, too! They’re great for horse shows or just for working around the barn.

4. Picture frame.

If you and your trainer share special memories, gift a picture frame with a photo from one of your favorite memories together. Maybe it’s from a horse show where you reached an important goal or from a long time ago that can remind your trainer of how far you’ve come together. Another great option is a digital frame.  A digital frame allows multiple people to contribute photos that rotate, so your trainer doesn’t have to display just one image. Digital frames have large storage capacities, so you can continuously add to the photo collection as your memories together grow.

5. Magazine subscriptions.

There are so many equestrian publications your trainer would love flipping through. But it’s something they often choose to not buy for themselves. Do some research on which publications are most relevant to your trainer’s interests or discipline, and gift them a year’s subscription to the magazine. Most publications now offer online subscriptions, as well. This allows subscribers to access and read even when they are on the road and can’t collect their mail.

6. Homemade baked goods.

This is something that won’t break the bank and will be much appreciated. Put your baking skills to the test, and whip up your own cookies, brownies, bread, or anything you think your trainer would enjoy. There’s nothing like a homemade recipe, and your trainer is sure to enjoy it. People tend to appreciate the effort taken to bake something special as well. See some recipes for inspiration here.

7. A group gift.

Has your trainer been wanting to make a big purchase lately? If there’s something that’s beyond your price range as an individual, get the whole barn involved. Together you can make a big contribution toward what your trainer wants or needs. Maybe it’s time for a new helmet, a great new piece of equipment for the barn, or a big item for your trainer’s home. Try to get a good understanding of what your trainer really wants or needs this season, and if you can’t quite pinpoint it, defer to a gift card, listed in #1.

 

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!

5 Ways to Show Gratitude During a Difficult Year

Everyone we know has been impacted in some way by the woes of 2020. Though it’s an easy time to get caught up wishing the remainder of the year away, it’s important to reflect on everything positive that surrounds us and all the good that happened even during a devastating year. This Thanksgiving is sure to look different than Thanksgivings past, but despite the hardship, try your best to focus on what (and who) you have in your life to be grateful for. Here are some ways you can show that gratitude and make the most of this season.

1. Send a text message or a handwritten note.

We can’t all be together this holiday season like we may be used to.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t still show someone we care. Think of those who have helped make the most of the year despite the challenges, and let them know you’re grateful for them. Maybe it’s your trainer, who has had to pivot due to a lack of horse shows this year. It may be the groom at your barn who has had to take on more responsibility to help those who can’t be at the barn taking care of their horses as often. Think, also, of your relatives or family friends who may have to spend the holidays alone. A phone call or Zoom would be even better for those with who you really want to connect this holiday. Let them know you’re thinking of them and make them feel appreciated, even from a distance.

2. Donate to a cause you care about.

So many people (and animals) are experiencing harder times than we are at the moment. So there has never been a better time to support those in need. Choose a cause you’re particularly passionate about, or a cause with which you feel you could really have an impact, and make a donation. It doesn’t have to be monetary; even donating your time is helpful, as long as it’s safe to do so. Donating to those in need helps us recognize how fortunate we truly are. And it always helps those who need support in a difficult time.

3. Write down what you’re grateful for.

This seems trivial, but studies show that writing down a few things you’re grateful for, for your eyes only, can lead you to more happiness and appreciation for the things around you. It takes only a minute each day to jot down between one and five things in your life you appreciate. It can be in a small journal or just on a notepad. Looking back over the things you wrote down after the end of a month or year can be an excellent reminder of all the good that happened.

4. Surprise someone with kindness.

This doesn’t require a grand gesture. Just helping with simple chores that would alleviate someone else’s load is plenty. Leaving flowers at your loved one’s doorstep, cooking food for someone with a busy schedule, or grocery shopping for an elderly relative or neighbor would mean so much to the recipient and would not take much on your part to accomplish. Try to think of what those around you truly need right now, and how you can be of the most help, without being overbearing.

5. Smile (through your mask) and say thank you.

Though our interactions with others are limited at the moment, it never hurts to make the most of every human encounter by being polite and making another person feel appreciated. Maybe you’re at a horse show and have to make a request at the in-gate. Do so with a smile (people can still tell you’re smiling through a mask). And always say thank you, regardless of the answer. Thank anyone who works at the facility. And definitely thank your trainer, groom, vet, and anyone else who may interact with you and your horse at the show or the barn. Smile and thank every cashier, every Uber driver, and anyone who holds a door for you. A small thank-you can go such a long way.

 

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!