Help Wanted: You’ve Been Hired as a Working Student. Now What?

If you read our first blog about working student positions and how to navigate the hiring process, you may be looking for more resources on how to be a dependable working student and get the most out of the experience once you begin. Since we have had multiple working student opportunities, we are here to offer words of wisdom as you take that next step. If you have made the decision to accept a working student position, here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.

Be an Asset

Training facilities are looking for someone who is positive, hard-working, adaptable, competent, and efficient. Someone who already has experience with horses is preferred, but many facilities are willing to accept someone who doesn’t have experience and will train them along the way. If you embody the qualities they are looking for, then you will become a valued member of their team.

Keeping that in mind, always strive to be an “A+” worker. Our parents taught us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Following these wise words helped us tremendously, and it will do the same for you.

Never forget that attitude is important. If you have a good attitude and are pleasant, having you at the barn will be a joy. A good attitude in addition to a good work ethic will certainly make you a valuable asset.

Be humble and quick to learn. Despite the experience and knowledge you may already have, don’t act like you know everything. Be open and willing to handle tasks the way your trainer prefers, even if the process is different than what you may have experienced elsewhere. Be flexible and quick to adapt.

Pay attention to everything at all times. Some of the things you will learn are taught directly, others are caught indirectly. If you are unsure or don’t know about something, don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask questions to get a better understanding, because being inquisitive is how you learn.

Manage your time well. Prioritize, organize, and discipline yourself and your time. Keep a personal record of your time if the facility or trainer does not have an existing system. In your records, include when you arrive, when you start and complete major tasks, and what time you leave each workday. This record will help you and the facility keep your lines of communication open. It will also help you compare your time worked with the rewards of your labor by tracking both working hours and lesson hours.

Valuable Lessons

When you accepted the position of working student, you may have been thinking of saddle time, but don’t forget school is always in session. From the time you arrive at the barn until the time you leave, there is so much to learn. As mentioned before, there will be plenty of direct and indirect learning opportunities. Being around different horses, watching the trainer teach various students, and carrying out your job responsibilities are all opportunities to learn new things.

Through your work experience, you will learn how to be quick and efficient. There is quite a bit to do from sunup to sundown. From your hands-on exposure to the different horses at the barn, you will quickly realize that not all horses are the same. There will be some that are easy to handle, compliant, and well-behaved. Others will be a test of your patience and require you to think creatively to deal with their behaviors. You will learn how to think on your feet and come up with ways to handle unexpected situations.

As a working student, you will learn so much about how to take care of horses, how to manage a barn, and how to become a better rider, but you will also learn lessons applicable to life outside of the barn, such as how to deal with people. As a working student, you will deal with many types of people that come into the barn, all of which will have different personalities and methods of working. Through these interactions, you will learn how to work with others, how to avoid issues, and how to handle conflict when it does arise.

When you consider the amount of work you put in compared to the riding instruction you receive, bear in mind these other “lessons” you will learn. It may seem like there is little reward for your hard labor, but always consider all the advantages. As a working student, you really are accumulating a wealth of knowledge.

Feeling Discouraged

As with everything in life, you will have good days and bad days. You will certainly get discouraged at some points because being a working student is a lot of work. It will get repetitive and old at times. You will get tired of dealing with some people, especially the ones who are harder to work with. There will be bad days dealing with the horses. You might even get hurt, both physically and emotionally. Mistakes happen and you may get chastised for it. It will sometimes seem like everything is going wrong and you may want to quit. You will sometimes feel unappreciated.

When it gets hard, you will need to reevaluate whether you want to continue in this position. We encourage you not to make any rash decisions when you are feeling low. Taking a break to gather your thoughts and emotions will help to process what to do next.  Also, talk to someone you can trust to share how you are feeling. Having someone listen who can offer you sound, wise counsel is very helpful at times like those. Maybe ask your boss if you can have some time off. If he or she says yes, use that time to reflect on the true importance of the experience

Last Words

Working students can be crucial to riding facilities. Many rely heavily on their working students to keep horses healthy and the facility functioning. Being a working student can help you toward your goal of becoming a better rider. If you embark on this new adventure, we encourage you to use it as an opportunity to build your resume, and then graduate with the advantage of experience.

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 Ways To Keep Flies at Bay

As temperatures begin to rise across the country, legions of dreaded house flies make their return to the barn to terrorize our horses. While it may seem like a force we can’t compete against, there are certainly ways to cut down on the number of flies and their impact on horses in the barn. Warmer weather makes it more enjoyable to spend time at the barn with our horses hacking in the fields, grazing, trail riding, and even just grooming, but we have to be aware of the annoyance flies can be for both humans and horses and help protect them from being bitten. Follow some of these tips to cut down on the fly population both inside and outside of your barn.

1. Have an effective manure disposal system.

Manure attracts flies by the dozens, so pick your horses’ stalls frequently and dispose of the manure often. If you have too much manure lying around, even if it’s out of horses’ stalls, flies will be more attracted to your barn.

2. Eliminate standing water.

Although not much can be done about ponds on the property, try to fix spots where standing water gathers, as these are places where flies can reproduce. Install a drainage system if this problem occurs when it rains, and make adjustments around the farm as necessary to help the standing water clear after a storm, such as repaving and angling surfaces.

3. Replace damaged fly sheets.

Fly sheets can protect our horses’ entire bodies while they’re outside grazing, keeping them from being bitten and developing rashes or sore spots from flies. But with time comes usual wear and tear, so be sure to look over and repair or replace any fly sheets that have significant holes.

4. Choose a fly spray you trust.

Fly repellant can often irritate horses’ skin or cause other issues, so try to find a brand with natural ingredients designed to provide only positive effects. Spray your horse before it goes outside, before a ride, and when it goes back into its stall. Keep the bottle at least a foot away from the horse as you spray to avoid causing skin irritations.

5. Implement a fly-spray system in your barn.

If you’ve tried everything and flies still won’t leave, install a system that sprays automatically into the barn aisle and stalls. It can be a worthwhile investment.

6. Seal all food containers.

Treats, open feed bags, and snacks left out can lure flies into the barn. Eliminate food smells by sealing containers, throwing away scraps, and cleaning up crumbs. Don’t skimp on giving your horses treats just to avoid flies, but be sure to clean up after your horse if they drop any bites on the floor.

7. Treat problem areas.

As always, keep a close eye on your horses’ skin to catch areas that might become more sensitive to flies. Often these areas may require a daily fly repellant ointment along with routine fly spray.

 

While many are grateful for warmer weather (horses included), we are less thrilled to welcome back the flies that disappeared during the cold winter months. They are a part of life for horse owners and managers, so we simply have to learn to lessen their impact so our horses can live comfortably in the warm spring and summer months.

How to Begin Spring Cleaning Your Barn

The entrance of warmer weather often brings the spark of new life and desire to start fresh. This winter was a tough one in many parts of the country, and it was made even tougher by the ongoing pandemic. With health and sanitation on everyone’s mind and more pleasant weather being ushered in (hopefully), it’s a perfect time to do some spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning can be a daunting task, especially if your barn is large or is made up of many individuals who have belongings taking up space. BarnManager is here to serve as a guide to tidy up your barn and get everyone to pitch in and do their part.

1. Remove winter gear from sight.

Ask everyone to remove their winter belongings from the barn. Once the weather warms up just enough to know winter won’t be sneaking back in, it’s time to put away the blankets, the heavy gloves, and more bulky items that may be taking up space and collecting more dirt than necessary. Designate a small area for riders to drop their blankets to keep them in one place. If the blankets will just be stored until next winter, put an organization system into place that will keep them out of the way but easily accessible for when temperatures drop again.

 

2. Take everything off the shelves.

Once winter gear is out of the way, it’s time to clean everything else. If you have shelves of stocked with saddle pads, polo wraps, and horse products, take all the items out so you can see the surface below. This way, you can properly dust from the bottom up, getting rid of all the dust that collected during the past year. Also use this step to identify dirty, expired, and damaged items that you can repurpose, dispose of, or repair.

3. Restock the empty, dust-free shelves.

Use a system that makes sense; put the most frequently used products front and center, while less regularly used items can go further back on shelves. You will also notice more easily when items are running low and may need to be replaced.

4. Ask all your clients/students to go through steps two and three with their own trunks.

Ask them to remove all items, get rid of anything unused or unnecessary, and scrub the baseboards of their trunks. While many may not be thrilled, it will help everyone keep their things clean and organized in the long run.

5. Clean all the tack.

Though many riders are responsible for their own tack, every barn has extra tack that may go unused for most of the year. This equipment ends up gathering dust and mold and could easily be refurbished and sold rather than sitting around. Grabbing an old rag and your best tack cleaner and scrub all those extra saddles and bridles that remain will help make your tack room shine. Give all the bits an extra polish to add some sparkle.

6. Sanitize all surfaces.

If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it would be how easily germs can spread. Think of all the surfaces in the barn that multiple people touch on a daily basis. Grab some disinfectant spray and wipe them all down. Kitchen counters, grooming stalls, bathrooms, and other areas should be cleaned regularly.

7. Enjoy the spring weather and your good-as-new barn!

There are few feelings more satisfying than finishing a big cleaning project. Enjoy the fruits of your labor (and the warm weather) by returning to business as usual with a more streamlined and welcoming space.

Time Management: How To Make the Most of Your Time

Written by Sisters Horsing Around

Time.

There are so many expressions and sayings about time, but most boil down to the fact that time is a precious part of life. Life is measured in the passage of time. But how do you “race against time” and “beat the clock” to get everything done, when there is so much to do, and so little time? Well, we wanted to share with you something that our Mom has talked to us about all of our lives and that is time management.

Our mom taught us a practice that she called “POD.” POD, in her mother wit, was a little acronym which stands for Prioritize, Organize, and Discipline. We call it a “practice” because it is something that we are always having to practice doing. She broke down time management like this:

P: Prioritize.

Prioritize the things you need to do in order of importance. Mama would always get on us for what she calls “doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.” The basic concept is to learn to take care of the most important things first. Prioritization can keep you on the right track if you maintain the mindfulness of what needs to be done in order of importance.

Evaluate your life, identify your responsibilities and the things that you need to do, and write these things down, listing them in the order that they need to be done. Making to-do lists is a simple and helpful way to gather your thoughts and focus your attention on the tasks at hand.  This is where you start with knowing how to manage your time. Prioritize first. That’s the P.

O: Organize.

After you have identified your priorities and listed them in order of importance, then organize everything needed for each priority. For instance, say you need to pack for a horse show that you know is tomorrow, but when you go to pack, you have everything everywhere. You are having a devil of a time finding what you need because everything is disorganized.

Being disorganized slows progress because you have to spend extra time trying to find things. Often this can result in getting stuck and not being able to move on to your next priority. Organizing can help you streamline and get right to what you need when you need it.

Additionally, organizing can also mean realizing when you need to get rid of clutter. Organize your life to transition smoothly between your priorities and help you get things done in the smallest amount of time.

D: Discipline.

Discipline simply means training. Just like in our horse world, where we have equestrian disciplines and train our horses for a specific activity, we must discipline, or train ourselves, to prioritize our lives and get organized. Do this until it becomes habit.

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. The best-trained horses can do their jobs without allowing themselves to be distracted. Be like that and stay focused. Then periodically reassess your life and decide the adjustments that need to be made. Perhaps something that was high on your priority list before needs to readjust to allow for something else to take its place because something else needs more attention at that time. Once your priorities change, repeat the process of prioritizing, organizing, and disciplining yourself to stay on target and make the most of your time.

There are 24 hours in a day, which equates to 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds to accomplish everything you need to get done. That time can disappear in what seems like an instant, so we have to make the most of the time we are given. We hope these basic tips will help you get everything done in no time!

If you are in charge of managing horses and seeking ways to better manage your time, BarnManager is a great time management and organization resource to help you keep your sanity and save your precious time. For those seeking organization in other aspects of life, there are tons of apps and online resources to help simplify your hectic life and organize things all in one platform, such as Trello, Todoist, and even the Reminders app on iPhones.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

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. It may save you big bucks down the road. There are plenty of Facebook groups that offer consigned riding clothes. There are also 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. Do you or someone you know sew? Then 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.

 

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!

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.

 

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!

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 larger 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 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. The best part of decorating for fall is that decorations can stay up 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 to get the whole barn involved in a fun activity.

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!

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.