Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2019

2019 was a great year in many regards here at BarnManager. We introduced new subscription options and new featurespartnered with U.S. Equestrian on an exciting new integration, and learned a lot from a number of industry experts while producing content for this blog! As we reflect on 2019, here’s a look at 10 of our most popular blog posts of the year (in no particular order).

1) Tips and Tricks from the Best Show Jumping Grooms to the Greats

We caught up with four top show jumping grooms to learn what they don’t go to the ring without, their time save and grooming tips, and more in this well-read blog post!

Here’s one answer from Ninna Leonoff, a vital part of Markus Beerbaum’s team for more than 20 years, on the most rewarding part of the job:

“When the horses are feeling good; when they are looking good. That’s most important for me. I think these days, to keep them feeling good soundness wise is important and rewarding. I really like to get to know my horses. I like to spend time with them so I know how they feel. Even brushing I can feel if they have sore backs or they’re tired or fresh.”

Continue reading more of this popular q&a here!

2) Eight Barn Hacks to Save You Time and Money!

Here’s one of the eight tips from this blog post:

Cut designs into the end of your polo wraps to easily identify matching sets. –  This tip from ProEquineGrooms is a great one if you’ve ever found yourself wasting time attempting to roll up and match sets of polo wraps! Instead, cut a small, matching design into the end of all of the polo wraps in a set. This could be a small triangle cut out of the middle of the end, the corners cut off, or something similar – anything that will allow you to easily recognize which polos go together.

Read more here!

3) Ketchup and Crisco in the Barn? Eight Kitchen Item Horse Care Hacks!

What do ketchup, Crisco, popsicles, soap, and cornstarch have in common? They could save you time or money and solve problems in the barn!

We asked our followers and scoured the internet for the best kitchen horse care hacks, and both delivered in this blog post!

4) Five Fundamentals of Equitation from Stacia Klein Madden and the Iron Bridge Hounds Pony Club 

Stacia Klein Madden can typically be found ringside during major equitation classes at top horse shows across the country or at home at Beacon Hill Show Stables training some of the country’s most competitive junior and amateur hunter, jumper, and equitation riders.

Earlier this year though, our BarnManager team found Madden somewhere a little bit different: in Maryland amidst 11 young U.S. Pony Club riders and their adorable, fuzzy ponies and well-schooled mounts.

The riders – ranging in age from seven to 16 and in skill level from walk-trot to those competent at jumping three feet – generally focus on dressage, eventing, and beginning show jumping in their lessons, but Madden’s presence meant something different for them as well: a special clinic with a focus on the “Fundamentals of Equitation.”

This blog compiles five of our favorite fundamental reminders from the clinic with Madden!

5) 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 sho

w 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, and this blog post shares a few of them!

6) Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part One

“Pay attention to detail. Get to know your horses – their legs, coat, skin, eating habits, turnout behaviors, etc. and use it to your advantage. I have one horse that is super sensitive to the sand, skipping one day of washing his legs and skin funk shows up, but then the only thing that works on it is Micro Tek. I’ve tried every other anti-fungal shampoo with no luck.

I have another horse who eats half of his breakfast every morning, goes outside for a couple hours, gets ridden, and then will finish breakfast. All of these things are normal, but it scares everyone when they first start working for us. Don’t let the little things get to you, because horses spend every day of their lives trying to hurt or kill themselves, so things are going to happen that are out of your control.”

Read more tips from Courtney Carson in this blog post!

7) Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part Two

Emma Ford has been an integral part of the team at Phillip Dutton International since 2005, including traveling with the two-time Olympic gold medalist to multiple World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. She shared some of her grooming and barn management tips and tricks in this popular blog post!

8) Inside the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals! 

Riding in equestrian competitions of any discipline requires an important prerequisite: the actual horse on which to compete! At most horse shows and events available to young riders, that means either owning a horse of their own or leasing one. Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) shows, however, are an exception.

The organization, now open to students in grades four through 12, makes riding in hunt seat, western, and dressage competitions more accessible to many young riders, as competition horses are provided at all events. Competing riders show up to the event and randomly draw which horse they will be riding that day. For flat classes, they even enter the ring with no prior warm-up!

But if the riders are not bringing all of their own horses, where do these magical, ready-to-show horses come from? And who is taking care of and managing them? And how do the riders know that the mount they are getting will be cooperative?

Our BarnManager team caught up with the barn manager and horse coordination team working seamlessly behind the scenes at the 2019 IEA Hunt Seat National Finals to learn more about what makes it all possible. Read more about the process, from months before the show to the moment that the last horse ships out of the show, in this blog post!

9) Five Ingredients You Need for Your Horse’s Best Training Program

In every show season, there are certain events for which we want our horses to be at their absolute best. One of the most important skills a trainer or rider can have is knowing how to prepare a horse to peak at a certain competition, whether it be an important indoor show or a particular class.

Expecting our horses to perform their best means preparing them to the best of our abilities with the best possible training program for their needs. In this blog post, trainer and professional rider Caitlyn Shiels shares the five key ingredients that she uses in creating programs for her horses at True North Stables.

10) Does Your Horse Need Its Teeth Checked?

Proper dentistry is an integral aspect of optimal horse welfare. As an owner, trainer, rider, or barn manager it is very important to be aware of symptoms that indicate your horse is due for dental care.

The easiest way to know a horse is due for dental maintenance is to put a reminder into the horse’s BarnManager record for a dental exam every six months.

Horses’ teeth naturally erupt and develop sharp enamel points when they masticate. These points can abrade the tissues of the mouth and cause your horse discomfort. These points and malocclusions, or deviations from normal dental contact, can also affect the natural motion of the mandible when chewing or being ridden, particularly if the horse wears a tight noseband.

Continue reading here!

We hope that you found our 2019 blogs useful and informative, and we look forward to bringing you more content in 2020!

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!

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!

501(c)(3) Feature: Homeward Horse & Hound

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!

Miranda Swilley was rehabilitating a rescued hound dog named Sadie when she came to the realization that there was no hound-specific rescue in her home state of Mississippi. Recognizing this, Swilley began advocating for and taking in abandoned or neglected hounds.

Three years later, Swilley encountered a similar scenario – this time with horses.

In 2015, Swilley took in two horses from a 17-horse neglect case being handled by another rescue. It was at the seizure of those horses that Swilley also met the now-vice president of Homeward Horse & Hound, Angel Weldy.

“We kept in contact, and as time went on our concerns grew that there would be a need for another rescue able to take horses in our area,” said Swilley, who soon founded Homeward Horse & Hound. “We established our 501(c)(3) in 2015, and in 2016 the other rescue dissolved. The calls have been coming in ever since.”

“We knew when we started that we wanted to help our local law enforcement,” continued Swilley. “Mississippi has pretty poor animal laws, so our hope was that if we were there to give law enforcement an assist, fewer neglect cases would fall through the cracks.”

The majority of the horses rescued by Homeward Horse & Hound come from law enforcement calls, with a few also coming because of owner surrenders due to mental illness, age, or other circumstances.

Off-the-track Thoroughbred “Major Bingo,” was rescued by Homeward Horse & Hound and was adopted and renamed “Jackpot” by one happy young girl! We think he definitely hit the “Jackpot!” Photos courtesy of Homeward Horse & Hound

“It’s made adoptions a little more challenging since we never know what we will get or when, only that they will be in bad shape,” explained Swilley. “We also get the occasional goat from the city or an abandoned pot belly pig, even chickens and ducks sometimes! We still rescue hounds, but there has been such a need for the horses, that has become our primary focus.”

With horses as the organization’s focus, the team was looking for an app or software that would help them to stay organized and share information with others within the group, which is when Swilley came across BarnManager.

“The ability to access and input records without having to hand each other paperwork physically has been a blessing,” said Swilley of BarnManager. “I am horrible at forgetting things. Recently a horse of ours, Pedro, was adopted, and the trainer needed a copy of his Coggins paperwork. I had forgotten to take it to my partner’s house the night before, but she was able to access it through BarnManager.”

To learn more about Homeward Horse & Hound, visit HomewardHorseAndHound.org.

“Sometimes we lack the pizazz and following you see on bigger rescue pages, but one of the things I love about us being small is that you can really follow along with the horses in our care from the point of intake to adoption,” concluded Swilley. “For us, their stories are what’s important!”

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: The Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center

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!

New Hampshire native Emily Aho had just purchased her third pony when she received a call from a woman in Michigan.

“She said, ‘Do you know what you have?’ I said, ‘Yeah, they’re Newfoundland Ponies!’” said Aho, who had acquired her first pony, a Newfoundland cross, strictly as a pasture companion for her Clydesdale cross, not knowing much about the Newfoundland breed. “She said, ‘They’re extremely rare, and you need to breed them!’ I thought, ‘What!? Breed? Me?!’”

Aho knew her ponies were special; that’s why she ended up with three ponies from the same family after only intending to purchase one! However, what she didn’t know at the time was that the Newfoundland Ponies are what are considered an original “landrace breed” – and that there are less than 40 Newfoundland Ponies in the United States and a global population of well under 1,000 ponies.

The Newfoundland Pony breed is one made hardy thanks to the pony’s native environment in northeastern Canada.

Upon learning this, Aho knew she had to do something, and in January of 2013, the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center (formerly Villi Poni Farm) was born.

“[My first] little pony stole my heart,” said Aho. “She was just amazing. The connection between her and anyone, actually, was just different than I’d experienced before. It’s very hard to describe.

“We decided that the best way to save this breed was to bring awareness about them and let people meet them,” continued Aho. “I could tell you about them all day long, but until you actually experience what they’re like, you won’t get it. People say, ‘I had a (certain breed) horse that was wonderful and good with kids.’  But when 99 percent of a breed are that way, like the Newfoundland Pony is, it’s mind-boggling. So, we formed the sanctuary. It’s grown and grown.”

Today, Aho and the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center act as stewards of the endangered breed through selective breeding and educational efforts.

Part of the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center’s mission is educating others about the breed.

“Almost all breeds, including types of plants, are traced back to landraces that we’ve taken and adapted for our purposes,” explained Aho of how she immersed herself in learning more about the Newfoundland Ponies. “Nature makes their genetics hardy and able to withstand environmental and biological change, and they’re healthy. We as people; we can’t do that. We can’t say, ‘Okay, this one is going to survive this disease or this type of weather change.’ We look at what’s measurable. What’s measurable is their appearance, their usage, their size and ability, for instance. We can’t see the inside of what we’ve created; we don’t create them with the sole purpose being survival like nature does. So over time as we select out genetics/certain traits, we ultimately weaken species. Never having been “‘improved” or having their breeding altered for one purpose or another, the Newfoundland Pony doesn’t have a single genetic problem.”

With that in mind, the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center carefully breeds Newfoundland Pony to Newfoundland Pony, allowing the breed to continue. However, it’s not solely Aho who is doing the breeding – and it’s not the multi-faceted non-profit’s only focus.

“We don’t want to keep all of these ponies here,” said Aho. “Some of them are permanent residents, but others, we take them into our network. They go to breeding conservation homes that we have mentored and taught about the breed. The concept is that they breed registered ponies to registered ponies only, no irresponsible breeding. If that happens, we pull the animal, and that’s in our contract. We’re very serious about that.”

Presently, there are nine ponies living onsite at the 501(c)(3) rescue’s base in Jaffrey, NH, while there are 22 total ponies under the Conservancy’s program. The additional ponies all reside in adoptive homes within a two-hour radius of Jaffrey, NH, and with approved owners that have received mentorship and education on the ponies, their heritage, their care, and the best conservation breeding practices. Once they’ve undergone mentorship, new adoptive owners are considered “Breed Stewards,” continuing the work of the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center and becoming a part of the organization’s network of conservation breeders who help one another.

With less than 40 Newfoundland Ponies currently in the U.S., the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center is committed to continuing to grow the endangered breed through careful breeding.

“We’re all volunteers,” said Aho, a nurse by trade who serves as the non-profit’s executive director alongside five total board members. “All of our foster homes – everybody’s involved. We all stay connected together. We have quite a little network going and some really impressive people involved. We have loads of volunteers. It’s wonderful; they’re great people. We take people as volunteers that don’t know anything about horses, and we teach them. They’re a good pony to learn on!”

The Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center also offers educational tours to the public to further spread knowledge about the ponies and equine welfare in general, as well as providing Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) programs.

With so much going on, Aho was thankful to have found BarnManager!

“It’s incredible. I’ve never been so excited about a program in my life!” said Aho of BarnManager. “Just recently, it helped me in the greatest way!”

Due to a scheduling error, a veterinarian arrived somewhat unexpectedly to look at a filly while Aho was at work. The horse needed a health certificate in order to travel across state borders, but Aho had not planned on the vet visiting and did not have any of the horse’s necessary coggins and paperwork records prepared at the barn.

“I went into my phone at work, and there [the coggins] was!” said Aho. “I had downloaded everything in BarnManager, so I messaged it to him right then and there. It was amazing!

“It has helped immensely,” continued Aho. “It’s so great that I know who and when they had their hooves trimmed, or dewormed, etc – otherwise it’s hard to keep track of, especially when you’re the chief cook and bottle washer here!”

Aho is not the only one using BarnManager though, she’s now invited the adoptive and foster families to utilize it as well.

“It’s a super way for me to keep track of their records,” said Aho. “They can just put it in there, and we’ve got that for the future. They scan in their vet records, all of that. I know that they’re being taken care of, and I know if there’s a problem without them having to hunt me down.”

To learn more about the Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center, visit www.newfoundlandponysanctuary.org or find them on Facebook 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!

501(c)(3) Feature: Saint Francis’s Sunny Side Up Farm Animal Rescue

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!

In 2016, Michele Hughes spent nearly a month in the intensive care unit with a blood clot and pulmonary embolism. When she got out of the hospital, her husband bought her several chicks and brought the young chickens next to her bed.

It was a simple gesture, but for the life-long animal loving Hughes, it was enough to spark an idea. Hughes began raising chickens and taking in animals of all types at what became known as Sunny Side Up Farm in Lecanto, FL. Before long, Hughes’ reputation for helping animals had spread, and she and her husband began receiving calls asking if they could take in animals that were unwanted because of unfortunate situations or moves.

In April 2018, following the continued growth of Hughes’ rescue efforts, and with the help of her husband, mother, and daughter-in-law, Saint Francis’s Sunny Side Up Farm Animal Rescue was officially launched as a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue organization.

“Our goal is to positively change the relationship between people and animals, and one of our main focuses is on teaching children how to care for and have compassion for animals,” explained Hughes, who runs the rescue with the help of three part-time volunteers.

Presently, Saint Francis’s Sunny Side Up Farm Animal Rescue is home to three goats, seven pigs, five rabbits, numerous chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, and cats, and 20 horses – enough that Hughes new she needed to find a solution for managing all of the information and medical records that went along with each horse.

“I was looking for something to help me organize all of the horses; it’s so hard to keep everything written on paper,” explained Hughes, who began looking in the iPhone App Store before coming across BarnManager.

Now, Hughes is able to use the software to manage the horses available for rescue, as well as her own gaited horses that are the backbone of Saint Francis’s Sunny Side Up Farm Animal Rescue’s fundraising efforts.

“We rely on donations, and for fundraising, we have been offering trail rides out in the Withlacoochee Forest,” explained Hughes, who helps oversee up to six riders at a time on the daily trail rides through the beautiful forested landscape surrounding the rescue.

All of the funds raised through the trail rides go directly to helping the horses and the other animals being rehabilitated or available for rescue at Sunny Side Up Farm.

To learn more about supporting Saint Francis’s Sunny Side Up Farm Animal Rescue through trail rides in Lecanto, FL, visit their Facebook page 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!

10 Masterclass Innovation Series Takeaways Worth Knowing!

10 Masterclass Innovation Series Takeaways Worth Knowing!

For the past several months, our BarnManager team and our Equine Tech Collab partners have wanted to bring to life an event, or a series of events, that would embody the Equine Tech Collab’s mission of supporting the education of equestrians in order to equip them with the knowledge and tools needed for best practices in horse care, welfare, and management.

On Tuesday, March 19, that idea came to fruition in the form of the Equine Tech Collab’s Masterclass Innovation Series: A Mindful Approach to Horse & Rider!

The two-part panel discussion event included conversations on “The Soundness Spectrum: Maintaining Horses’ Soundness Through Proactive Management” and “In Good Company: Top Riders Discuss the Skills and Practices That Help Them with Mental and Emotional Challenges,” with panelists and moderators including:

  • two-time Olympic show jumper, Daniel Bluman
  • FEI groom for Millar Brooke Farm, Danny Ingratta
  • Tonya Johnston, MA, a Mental Skills Coach, author, and A-circuit competitor who specializes in working with equestrian athletes
  • the U.S. Dressage Olympic team bronze medalist currently ranked fifth in the world, Kasey Perry-Glass
  • Dr. Tim Ober, the official veterinarian of the US Equestrian show jumping team
  • Dr. Sheila Schils, an innovator in the field of equine rehabilitation and injury prevention
  • 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) show jumping team gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht
  • Jennifer Wood, founder of Jennifer Wood Media and Equestrian Businesswomen and co-founder of Jump Media


We learned a ton from all of them, but we have narrowed it down to 10 takeaways from the evening to share with you! (For more, you can watch the full evening on demand on USEF Network here!)

1. Keeping your horses sound starts with spending time with them.

Two-time Olympian Daniel Bluman shared: “Nowadays the schedule for the horse and the rider and for the whole team is pretty busy. There’s a lot of traveling; there’s a lot to do. I think it’s very important that you make yourself a good schedule where you get to spend enough time with the horses. I think that’s the base of our sport, the base of our industry, and our passion. I think for every horseman, grooms, veterinarians, or the rest of the team, it’s all about spending many hours with the horses so that you have as much information as you can.”

Danny Ingratta, the head groom for the team at Millar Brooke Farm (home of 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar, Olympian Amy Millar, Jonathon Millar, and Kelly Soleau-Millar), added: “For me it’s daily; every day I’m looking at the horse. I’m feeling the horse—everything from acupuncture points to if their legs are a little bit bigger. I like to touch the horse and see what it tells me. You run your hands down it’s legs. Are there bumps? Is their scurf on its legs?”

Daniel also noted that the more time that you spend with your horses, the more likely you are to notice if something is off or unusual: “It makes it easier for me to notice if there are differences. If I normally do circles to the left or to the right and the horse is not reacting or doing what they normally would do, and I know them fairly well, then perhaps it’s important to call the vet and check that there’s not something that’s bothering them.”

2. Educating yourself is important for both you and your horse. 

Educating yourself is another vital step to maximizing your horse’s well-being and soundness. It also goes hand-in-hand with spending time with them – and your vets will appreciate it too!

“Familiarizing yourself with anatomy enough to run your hand down the legs and know where swelling is and that it’s different from one day to the next [is one of the first things you can do to improve soundness]. Most vets appreciate clients who have gone through the process to form an opinion in that manner. Focus on your own education; get what you can from each example.” – Dr. Tim Ober, the official veterinarian of the US Equestrian show jumping team

3. A good relationship with your vet can go a long way. 

“I would say that a grand prix horse showing in an intense schedule down here [in Wellington] should be seen every two weeks. Then I would scale it down and say every two weeks to every six weeks. I think everybody is challenged to figure that out in their own program—what a good rhythm is. But if it’s more than six weeks, it’s difficult to get to know the horse or it takes a much longer time to get to know the horse. I think there’s a big advantage in developing that familiarity with your veterinarian.” – Tim

“I think a close relationship with your vet is really important. If your vet doesn’t know your horses well enough, he or she is prone to making mistakes.” – Daniel

4. Stress is not always a bad thing – at least if you’re a muscle.

While negative connotations generally come to mind when we hear the word “stress,” it can be a positive force, too. In fact, stress is needed for a muscle to grow and rebuild. Dr. Sheila Schils, an innovator in the field of equine rehabilitation and injury prevention and a professor in the pre-vet program at the University of Wisconsin for more than 20 years, explained:

“The only way that you’ll get a stronger muscle is to break down muscle fibers. Often what we see in our horses is they get done with a competition, and we feel their backs and immediately feel, ‘Oh they’re sore.’ In my world, as long as that soreness doesn’t become pathological, I’m in the back going, ‘Yay!’ Because now, next week that horse is going to become stronger.

“We don’t want to over-stress those muscles, but we have to look at this discomfort and pain in a different way. The way that we reduce this stress, so it ends up making a stronger muscle as an outcome rather than resulting in injury, is we use the muscle more.”

5. Just because you may feel like you need a day off following a horse show, it might not actually be what is best for your horse.

In order to move the muscles more and to help them grow and heal, Sheila explained that a day off from riding after a big effort is not really the best solution.

“Even though on Monday, when all of you need a day off, you think, ‘So does my horse.’ Wrong! The brain may need a day off, don’t get me wrong, but the muscle needs to keep on rolling. The worst thing after the muscle has been stressed is to let it sit in the stall and rest, because then it becomes inflamed. If I have my preference, you ride them, because you have such a better sense of when that horse becomes fatigued. You can sit on them and know how far to push them, rather than putting them in something that doesn’t have that idea of how far. If a horse has had a strenuous week, and then you put them on a treadmill, or especially a water treadmill, then you could be not giving them that appropriate recovery time.”

6. You’re not the only one with show ring anxiety; Olympic and World Championship athletes battle it too. 

“Even these big events that you go to, I try to think of it as a very small thing. Because if it becomes too big in my head, it becomes overpowering. Then I can’t focus. Two hours before I start my preparation, I feel sick to my stomach. I’m not nervous; I’m just anxious. Once I start braiding and getting him tacked up and all of that, it goes away. Then after my warm-up I feel pretty secure. I trust my training; I trust my coach, and she sends me in having full confidence.” – Kasey Perry-Glass, the U.S. Dressage Olympic team bronze medalist currently ranked fifth in the world

7. There’s great value in routine.

In fact, Daniel says he thinks it’s the most important tools for any athlete, and Adrienne and Kasey agree! Here’s some of what they had to say about routines and the rituals they utilize themselves:

Daniel: “[Routine] keeps you going in moments when your mind shuts down because you’re just so tired. You have to train your brain to not think about what’s at stake, rather it’s just one more time that you’re going in the ring to do what you practiced. I try to spend a lot of time with the horses before big competitions because I know that that’s going to give me that peace that I like. Part of my routine is actually to ride my horse as close to the competition as possible, so that I already know I’m guaranteed that period of time of peace.”

2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) show jumping team gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht: “Before a big class, I have a distinct routine, which brings comfort to uncomfortable situations. I was so freaked out the first day at the [WEG]! I had no idea what to expect. I found comfort in being able to a) meditate and b) listen to books. There are certain chapters of certain books that I listen to that I really like. (She often listens to chapters titled “Fear” and “Desire” in the book Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D, as part of her pre-competition routine.)

Kasey: “I’m an overthinker. I think way too much about everything. I look at my husband all the time, and he doesn’t think about anything like ever! I just want to channel that. I’ve tried to simplify my life in any way that I can. The more organized that I can stay in my daily life and my routine, the better I am. My horse is on a very time-sensitive schedule at competitions. I plan everything out. By putting on his bridle, by putting on his saddle, braiding – because I braid myself, it helps me get in the zone.”

8. Daniel Bluman loves a good nap

Through trying different routines, Daniel found that a pre-competition nap is often quite beneficial for him. It’s all about what works best for you!

“Daniel over there, he sleeps often. I see him when he’s really nervous before a big class, where as I like to keep myself super busy.” – Adrienne

“I definitely love sleeping. That’s not a secret to anybody. The class may be going on, and I’m taking a nap before I get on the horse. That’s also something that has worked for me. If the first time I took a nap before competing I went horrible, I probably would have never napped again! But napping has consistently worked well for me. I’m an anxious person by nature, so I go over the plan too many times. Then at some point my brain shuts down, so a little nap is always fantastic to refresh. You just have to have somebody to wake you up in time!” – Daniel

“Sometimes focus comes in many forms…[Olympic dressage rider Adrienne Lyle] loves to sleep. We have to wake her up. So, it’s interesting how everyone can be so different.” – Kasey

9. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember why we all do this in the first place: the horses.

The next time that you’re feeling anxious going into the show ring or find yourself overthinking your last bad ride, try doing what Daniel does:

“I try to focus on the reasons why I do the sport. I didn’t start riding because I wanted to win a five-star grand prix anywhere in the world. I didn’t even know that five-star grand prix existed. I didn’t start riding because I wanted to be the most successful rider in the history of the sport; I really just started riding because I loved horses. In times when I’m really anxious or I feel my head is getting ahead of me, I just really try to remember that thankfully we work with horses and not with motorcycles or with cars. We work with actual animals that have this incredible power to give us that feeling of calm of peace.”

10. We truly are “stronger together.”

”Stronger Together” is the tagline of the Equine Tech Collab for a reason. We knew that together we could do far more to further our shared missions than we could ever do alone, and the first Masterclass Innovation Series was a testament to that. Not only did all of the Equine Tech Collab partners come together, but also the panelists all gave so generously of their time, knowledge, and expertise – something that we are so incredibly thankful for! By working together to share this knowledge and to share resources, we hope that the equestrian community as a whole can become even stronger together!

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: Hapi Trails Horse Adoption Program, Inc

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!

Ten years ago, the communities surrounding Driggs, Idaho, experienced the height of an economic downturn.

Suddenly, many local, rural horse owners found themselves unable to care for their animals, and horses began to be left behind or neglected as their owners lost their incomes and often even their housing.

That’s when horsewomen Jen Carter, Debbie Falber, Gena Howald, Julie Martin, Kim Mills, and Greta Procious decided to together step into action, and HAPI Trails Horse Adoption Program, Inc. was born.

HAPI Trails’ mission became providing a happy, healthy, and nurturing environment for the abused, abandoned, and neglected horses of the area – initially with the idea of simply seeing the horses through the tough time in the economy. However, while the women expected the demand for the organization’s services to decline as the economy improved, it remained the same. Year after year, at least 10 to 12 horses were discovered to be in need of HAPI Trail’s help, and for the greater part of the past decade, HAPI Trails has maintained an “at full capacity” status.

“This is our first winter since 2009 to NOT be a capacity,” said Martin, the executive director of HAPI Trails. “It’s a good feeling, especially since we had our biggest adoption year in 2018. We were able to find new wonderful homes for nine of the horses in our program. We currently have 10 horses in our program, with another six potentially needing our services, and we cannot take care of more than 25 horses at one time due due to space and funding limitations. We are very responsible when it comes to the care of our horses and unfortunately will not take more than our resources allow.

“We work regularly with local law enforcement to collect rogue horses and provide care and housing for impounded, lost, or unclaimed horses,” continued Martin. “We maintain two emergency spaces within our system for these agencies. We have on average, five horses in foster care in our network of volunteers at any given time.”

Today, the Driggs, Idaho, based rescue continues to be run 100 percent by volunteers who spend more than 7,500 cumulative hours each year volunteering their time, money, heart, and soul caring for the horses.

“We have nine board members that are 100 percent hands on, and who I’d consider to be our top volunteers,” explained Martin, who is also certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and is helping to facilitate the equine-assisted psychotherapy program for HAPI Trails. “We also have, on average, 35 other volunteers who help regularly with the care of horses, property maintenance, and fundraising.”

All of the volunteers are dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming the horses that come to HAPI Trails into a loving, compassionate, lifelong home.

“We advocate for responsible horse ownership and are members of the Unwanted Horse Coalition, working with owners who are capable of keeping their horses, but have deemed their horses ‘unwanted,’” said Martin. “By assessing each horse and matching that animal to an appropriate owner, we can help provide good homes for these wonderful animals. We prefer to place horses in permanent homes; therefore, no HAPI Trails horse may be sold or given away and is always welcome back into the program. HAPI Trails performs follow-up visits and provides continued support for all of our animals and owners.”

With so many horses to keep track of, Kristie Eggebroten, HAPI Trails’ development director, knew that the organization needed a better way to manage all of the horse’s data and information, which led her to finding BarnManager and the free-for-501(c)(3) program.

“BarnManager is helping us organize and connect our horses and our volunteers to what our horses need,” said Martin. “We all have full-time jobs, so making it easier to keep up is always a plus.”

By simplifying their organization and cutting down on the time needed to stay organized, Martin and all of the volunteers are able to spend more time focused on what they love most about HAPI Trails: the horses!

“We love what we do!” concluded Martin. “We give hope for horses and connect horses to good people.”

To learn more about HAPI Trails, visit www.hapitrails.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!

501(c)(3) Feature: Pony Tales Refuge & Rehab, Inc.

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!

Wisconsin native Cindy Prince was attending law school and preparing for her First-Year Law Students Exam (commonly called the “Baby Bar Exam”) with her sights firmly set on a successful career as an attorney, until suddenly fate and a half-blind horse intervened.

In September 2013, Prince got word of a one-eyed Arabian being given away for free from a rescue that was closing its doors for the winter.

“Who, I asked myself, is going to take in a two-year-old, one-eyed Arabian? Well, the obvious answer was me!” said Prince, who was 40 at the time. “The entire series of events that this decision kicked off was not at all what anyone saw coming.”

Prince contacted the rescue on a Friday, and by Saturday, she was approved to adopt, with plans made to pick up the gelding Sunday morning after Prince attended a wedding on Saturday evening. That Saturday night however, while dancing at the wedding reception, Prince dislocated her knee cap.

“It was excruciating, and I ended up in the emergency room, not getting back home until close to 3 in the morning when we were to be on the road by 8 a.m.,” said Prince. “Plus, I was now in a leg immobilizer and on crutches. Regardless, we hopped in a borrowed truck pulling a borrowed trailer, and off we went to pick him up!”

The Arabian, now named Kirby, came home with Prince and in the months that followed Prince recovered from her injury – and from a blood clot that developed in her calf immediately following–  she passed the Baby Bar Exam, and the idea of starting a horse rescue began to be lightly tossed around between her and her close friends.

“A couple of friends and I declared Thursdays to be horse night; they would come over, and we would spend time with the horses and each other,” explained Prince. “Everything was going so well. We talked of wanting to start our own rescues, but also about how hard that would be as there is no money to be made in rescue. How could I go from planning a future career as an attorney to running a non-profit that provides no income?”

For Prince, fate already had that one figured out. Two days before the start of 2014, Prince learned that she had stage two breast cancer, and everything came crashing down around her.

“My body did not tolerate the treatment well at all,” said Prince. “It was 10 months of hell, to say the least. I could barely get out of bed most of the time, much less care for the horses. I was often too drugged to even think straight, but when I could, all I could think about was Kirby. This horse I took in to care for and now I was unable too.”

Throughout treatment, Prince spent much of her time thinking, dreaming, crying, and misplacing her anger on those caring for her, until suddenly everything made sense.  Something or someone was telling her that she was on the wrong path. Her heart had always been with horses, and suddenly she knew what she was meant to do. 

“I began researching other horse rescues and talking with my husband. I no longer had any interest in law school. There was only one thing I wanted to do when my treatment was over – help more horses in need like Kirby,” said Prince.

By August 2014, before Prince was even completely done with treatment, Pony Tales Refuge & Rehab, Inc. was born with the mission of rescuing equines from abandonment, abuse, neglect, and slaughter.

Prince and Pony Tales took in their first two “official” rescue horses in October 2014, and since then, the refuge and rehab has rescued more than 150 equines and, to date, has found homes for 96 of them.

Presently, the Colfax, WI-based rescue is home to 40 equines and specializes in unhandled, feral equines and nurse mare orphan foals, while continuing to take in equines from all walks of life – and while running a special program, known as the Trainer’s Challenge.

Started five years ago, shortly after Pony Tales initial creation, the Trainer’s Challenge welcomes trainers and riders of all ages and training experience to apply to be partnered with one of the rescue horses. If accepted, the trainer is able to pick up their designated rescue horse in February, working with the horse until June when the horse and trainer together show off their hard work and vie for prizes in the Trainer’s Challenge, before the horse is returned to the rescue and ultimately rehomed.

“The past Challenges have made it possible for more than 30 equines to get the training they needed to be able to find homes,” explained Prince. “This year, if each of the 27 available horses get paired with a suitable trainer, we will almost double that number!” 

With so many horses at Pony Tales, some of them leaving the property to be involved in the Trainer’s Challenge, and some finding new homes, organization is vital. That’s where BarnManager comes in.

“We heard about Barn Manager in 2017 when we became verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS),” said Prince. “They asked us to find an electronic storage system for our data in case of a fire or other disaster that could destroy our paper files. We began researching programs and initially wanted to try BarnManager.

“We thought it was out of our budget at the time and tried other programs over the next year and a half. None of them were quite what we were looking for though. When we learned a few months ago that BarnManager offered free services to 501(c)(3) non-profits, we signed up right away!

“BarnManager not only helps us keep our ‘verified’ status with the GFAS, but it is so user-friendly. I personally struggle with technology at times, and it’s so easy to use that my mom – who is very tech-challenged – is even able to work with it,” continued Prince. “I also very much love being able to scan in our documents, and I greatly enjoy throwing away the ones we don’t need to keep as the documents are stored safely in the program and accessible from any device. We had stacks and stacks of papers, records, and binders everywhere, and we were beginning to run out of room to keep them all! It became quite a task to just track down the location of a certain document.”

Whether its importing information into BarnManager and handling organization, updating the Pony Tales’ website, or caring for the horses themselves, volunteers, including a team of board members and four additional reliable and trustworthy volunteers, do the majority of the work at Pony Tales. Prince says she would be lost without them. 

“Every day is a learning experience,” said Prince. “We do not have any full-time volunteers. Our website has been a thorn in my side since day one, but we now have two wonderful volunteers working on getting it in shape and maintaining it. We do our best and our first priority every day, all day, is the horses. The horse always comes first.”

To learn more about Pony Tales and how you can support the 501(c)(3), visit www.ponytaleswi.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!