7 Ways to Keep Warm at the Barn This Winter

Winter is upon us in many parts of the country, and while we would all love to cozy up indoors with a fireplace and a blanket, we have horses that need to be ridden and cared for, so we must face the elements. Here are some tips to stay warm while you’re at the barn on those frigid winter days to come.

1. LAYERS: Picking the right layers for ultimate warmth is an art. Start by choosing the right base layer – something that can eliminate the need for extra layers, since it’ll trap your body’s heat and warm you up better than less effective sweatshirts may. Depending on what level of cold you’re dealing with, plan your next layers according to temperature forecasts. A great middle layer is the Patagonia Better Sweater or a similar quarter zip with a collar. Avoid crewneck sweatshirts if possible, because they allow for more cold air to creep in. Next, pick your outer layer. Equestrian brands have you covered on insulated jackets, but don’t hesitate to shop mainstream brands for equally warm options.

2. Hats or headbands: Your ears can be subject to some serious cold if you don’t properly cover them while you’re riding. While a fluffy hat is great for barn chores, it likely can’t fit under your helmet. Many sporting goods stores offer ear covers that are quite thin but provide a great deal of warmth. Many runners use headbands like these in the winter, but they can also be great for riding since they are just small enough to fit comfortably in most helmets. Just be sure you can still hear well enough while wearing one.

3. Insulated socks: Rather than pile on layers of socks and risk cutting off circulation to your toes, find an effective option that traps heat well. Often just one layer is the best route if that layer is made for cold weather. Additionally, try to keep your riding boots somewhere warm while you’re not wearing them so you don’t start off with the cold seeping through to your toes.

4. Neck scarves: Scarves can be tricky since they don’t always stay put while we’re riding and often get in the way of what we’re trying to do either on a horse or on the ground. The equestrian brand Botori makes very compact but warm neck scarves that don’t fly everywhere while you’re riding and do a great job keeping your face and neck warm. They tuck right inside your jacket and stay in place on your face with a warm, fuzzy side to keep you extra snug.

5. Hand warmers: Because our extremities are often the first things to go numb from the cold, grab yourself a pair of winter riding gloves for those chilly winter months. If even the warmest gloves don’t quite cut it, buy a large box of hand warmers and stuff a pair of them down each glove for your ride. Since your hand will be in a fist, your fingers will feel the heat too while you’re riding. We are much less effective at the barn when our hands are numb!

6. Ski pants: This may sound like a strange outer garment to wear at the barn, but ski pants will actually be life savers for the time you spend not riding. They are baggy enough to be worn over your breeches and will provide serious warmth prior to or following a ride, or while you do barn chores.

7. Hot chocolate: most barns have microwaves somewhere, so pick up a big box of instant hot chocolate to sip on if nothing else can keep you warm!

6 Little Ways to Save Money Around the Barn

Anyone who’s ever owned a horse knows the last word to associate with them is cheap. But the pure joy we get from having these animals in our lives is worth the financial burden they put on many of us. Though there’s no magic recipe to make horse care suddenly budget-friendly, there are certainly small ways you can cut costs that will start to add up over time.

1. Homemade remedies for common issues.

Equine companies earn their profits from the convenience you find in buying bottled fly spray, thrush buster, and other wellness remedies. Save yourself the extra money and use basic household items to make these yourself. A simple Google search will tell you how, and you can find storage containers at a discount store or by recycling empty spray bottles from your home.

2. Go the generic route.

Many products made specifically for horses feature a steep price tag, but generic products can often serve the same purposes. For example, instead of paying a premium for equine anti-fungal shampoo, Dawn dish soap can often do the trick to eliminate fungus on your horse’s skin. Don’t overpay for conditioner for your horse’s coat either; instead, buy inexpensive human conditioner, or even coconut oil, during your next trip to the store and it’ll perform equally as well, if not better. Similarly, instead of buying the fanciest tack cleaner, use baby wipes to keep your tack clean.

3. Buy items in bulk.

Do you use supplements that you swear by? If you know you’ll continue to use them for a while, stock up in bulk. Many equestrian products are cheaper when you buy in large quantities, so do some research to find products that provide a discount when bought in bulk. Also, be sure to pay attention to when your commodities go on sale, because there is no better time to stock up. The best way to monitor discounts like these are to sign up to receive emails  from your favorite brands.

4. Buy used goods.

Obviously, some items for equestrians must be purchased new. You don’t want to purchase a used helmet, but you should consider buying some clothing items second-hand because it may save you big bucks down the road. There are plenty of Facebook groups that offer consigned riding clothes, as well as consignment shops if you want to try on the items or see them in person before purchasing. It may require some digging around, but you’re bound to find some gems that make your time worthwhile and save you from paying full retail price.

5. Recycle household items to use at the barn.

If you look around any given barn, it’s probably full of items that were recycled from a prior use. How about all those towels that live in the tack room? They were definitely someone’s personal bath towels at one point. All the old scissors used to cut baling twine and horses’ manes were once household scissors that became too dull. Before purchasing something you need at the barn, try to think about whether you already own it at home and then repurpose it.

6. DIY!

There are tons of things you can make yourself to help save money around the barn. If you are good with woodworking, make jumps for your arena or a sign for out front. If you know how to crochet, make yourself a fly bonnet. If you or someone you know can sew, you never have to worry about paying for repairs, since seams suffer from wear and tear more than anything around the barn. If your farm could use some landscaping, go to a nursery and plant everything yourself, rather than hiring someone to do it. Though there may be some YouTube tutorials involved, there are so many things you can do yourself to save yourself money in the long haul.

6 Tips to Organize Your Tack Trunk

Tack trunk organizing may only happen once in a blue moon, but if you are going to take the time, you want to do it effectively. Follow these tips to give your trunk a thorough cleaning and re-vamp to save yourself unnecessary trouble down the road.

1. Begin by emptying your trunk out completely. Being at the barn and around horse shows, tack trunks can collect a large amount of dirt without you even realizing. Take everything out and thoroughly clean the base and walls of your trunk.

2. Weed out what you don’t need or use. If you don’t routinely clean out your trunk, odds are you have a few things that aren’t of use anymore. Ask yourself if you will use it in the next year and if not, donate or toss it. The same goes for older items – if something is too worn or too old to be effective, it’s probably time to let go.

3. Clean the items that are left. If your trunk is newly cleaned, you don’t want to toss dirt-covered items right back into it. Give everything a thorough cleaning before finding a place for it back in the trunk.

4. Prioritize your most used items. Not everything needs to be taking up space in your trunk. Set aside items you only use seasonally or a few times a year, such as fly sheets or winter gloves. Find a closet in your barn or house to store these items so they don’t spend the year gathering dust and dirt in your trunk. When the seasons change, or you find a need for a rarely used item, you can make the necessary swaps.

5. Organize for convenience. When putting your trunk back together, do yourself a favor down the road. While it may be tempting to play a game of Tetris to see how nicely things fit together, this may not be the most practical strategy. Make sure the items you use daily are the easiest to access. The last thing you want is to dig for your gloves and crop as you walk your impatient horse to the mounting block.

6. Use storage containers and dividers. Often trunks don’t have dividers built in, so head to Amazon or The Container Store to find some appropriately sized baskets, drawers, and boxes to fit certain items to prevent them from disappearing, especially the small ones. You can even save money by reusing containers from other sources, rather than buying them new. Trunks can get tossed around in transit to and from horse shows, so storage dividers will help keep things in place and make your organization efforts worthwhile.

Five Tips to Prepare Your Barn for Fall

1. Organize your blankets

Cold nights will start creeping in before you know it, so make sure each horse’s lightweight sheet is identified and cleaned, especially those who may be clipped. Keep tabs on the temperature lows each night as summer begins to turn into fall so you don’t lose sight of the nights when your horses may need light blanketing. Also have the heavier blankets ready to go so winter doesn’t sneak up on you and leave you unprepared.

2. Make a plan with all the students (and parents) at your barn

It’s back-to-school time, which means busier schedules for most families that may board or train at your farm. Make sure you keep in touch with those who may be heading back to school so you can help manage their horses and their riding goals despite their busier schedules. This communication will lead to more successful outcomes for everyone as many commitments are being juggled by all parties.

3. Inspect your farm for damage or deterioration

Winter is prime time for problems such as leaky roofing, broken fences, loose hinges, insulation problems, footing issues, and more. You don’t want to save these fixes for the middle of winter, when they’re hardest to repair. Survey your property for signs that things may need attention. Be sure your windows and doors are functioning properly to seal in the heat during the cold nights to come. Check on your water tanks and insulated pipes to be sure you won’t face any issues when freezing temperatures hit. If anything needs adjusting, the fall is the perfect time to make those repairs.

4. Have a severe weather plan in place

The fall can also bring with it the chance of severe weather in many parts of the country. The east coast may face hurricanes, so be sure to identify an inland location in case you need to evacuate yourself and your horses. Research how to prepare a farm structure for high winds and heavy rain ahead of time. Other parts of the country may see other severe weather risks, such as wildfires. If you find yourself facing evacuation, many horse show grounds and similar facilities will accept evacuees and offer horses a place to stay out of harm’s way. As fall turns into winter, heavy snowstorms can put those up north at risk, limiting access to necessities for the horses. It helps in this scenario to have 10% more supplies on hand than you normally need to keep your stable full of horses safe and healthy in case of a weather shutdown. Above all else, stay tuned in to the news this fall so you won’t be caught off-guard if the weather starts to get dangerous in your area.

5. Decorate!

There’s nothing more fun than breaking out the fall décor as the leaves begin to change and the air gets a little cooler. The best part of decorating for fall is that decorations can stay up from September through November, so you can enjoy your efforts for a long time. Use horse-safe decorations to add some fall vibes to your barn, including pumpkins, string lights (out of reach of horses), scarecrows, and more. If you have jumps in your arena, add some hay bales, pumpkins, and colorful gourds to make them festive. You can even plan a socially distant Halloween party with a costume contest to get the whole barn involved in a fun activity.

 

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.

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

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!