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!

501(c)(3) Feature: Southern Redhead Farms 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!


Dr. Susan Spivey had just graduated from the London School of Economics when she received a call from a friend, congratulating her on completing her dissertation and asking her a question – a question that would ultimately end up changing the course of Spivey’s life over the last two years.
“She said, ‘Have you ever heard of these things called kill pens?’” explained Spivey, who, in addition to her degree from the London School of Economics, has a master’s degree in Pharmacoeconomics from the University of Florida. “I said, ‘No I have not.’ She said, ‘You just need to go on this website and look. Just be prepared because your heart will break.’”
By that very same evening in September 2016, Spivey had rescued her first two horses, and that week, Brego and Arwen arrived at Spivey and her husband, Pat O’Neal’s Southern Redhead Farms in Bronson, FL.
“We had bought a farm, literally only about nine months previous,” explained Spivey, who grew up on a cattle ranch and whose goal had been to raise a few cows on the property. “I’d said, ‘I’d love to have cows and chickens.’ There has been a little bit of a digression from that as you can see.”
While her dad had had a few horses on their family ranch, Spivey had never intended to have a horse of her own, let alone two horses – which would soon turn into three horses, and then five horses…
“We had Brego and Arwen, and then this little colt popped up on my Facebook feed; he looked absolutely just terrified,” said Spivey, who next rescued that colt, Phoenix, and then George and Gracie, a wagon-pulling team destined to be killed as George had broken his leg.
As Spivey realized the ongoing need for rescue of these horses, the Southern Redhead Farms Rescue was officially born, with the name sharing that of Spivey’s farm and honoring Spivey’s mother, a redhead from South Carolina who lost her battle with cancer.
“We just started growing from there,” said Spivey. “The sheriff’s office started calling, so I’ve partnered with the local livestock deputies and have helped in a couple of horse seizures – or rather I call it rescuing horses who had fallen on hard times, of no fault of their own.”

Since its inception two years ago, Southern Redhead Farms Rescue’s mission has remained saving abused, abandoned, and neglected horses, rehabbing them, and then finding them new, safe forever homes. Today, it’s grown exponentially and is currently home to 37 equines, ranging from Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds to miniature horses and donkeys.
With so many horses to love, care for, rehabilitate, and adopt out, Spivey has turned to BarnManager as a resource to keep track of all the horses’ paperwork and records.
“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,” explained Spivey, who also continues to work full-time as an associate director of medical sciences for a biotechnological and pharmaceutical company.
“Now BarnManager helps us with that. It’s a place for me to stockpile those notes on each particular horse,” continued Spivey. “It also helps in our adoption process, because now 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.’
“All of that information is together, instead of me having to run around and find loose pieces of paper. Now they can get a continuous record of what’s happened to that horse from the day they step foot on this rescue until the day they were adopted out to go to their new home. Then I can keep a copy of that record as well, along with a picture.”

In addition to the benefit of BarnManager for streamlined organization and paperwork, the rescue has significantly benefited from the support of a knowledgeable and well-rounded board of directors.
“I’ve got a board of directors that is just awesome,” said Spivey. “One woman, Karen Putnam, just came to our board, and she has really helped me immensely. I didn’t have a lot of contacts within the horse industry, and she does have that. So, it’s been a Godsend since the day that she showed up here at this rescue to look at a mini!
“Some of the people that have been on our board are much better at marketing than I am, so I allow them to kind of run with that area,” continued Spivey. “I have somebody on the board who works at the University of Florida as a grant writer, so she helps us facilitate grants. I’ve surrounded myself with people who have a love of horses and also help us keep this rescue afloat.”
Through the efforts and the effort of her husband, the board of directors, and the staff that helps care for the horses, Spivey hopes to place more horses into loving, adoptive families and garner additional support to cover the expenses of rehabilitating and caring for the animals during their time at the rescue.
“I do work full-time and part of that is to be able to put feed in these horses’ mouths,” said Spivey. “I’ll be honest and say that I probably fund 60 to 70 percent of the day-to-day expenses of running this rescue. I would like to eventually flip that and say that I’m only funding about 30 percent of the rescue, and 70 percent we have coming from donations and fundraising. Eventually!
“This was not a path that I sought out, and it’s not a path that I ever really thought that I would be on,” concluded Spivey. “But I don’t regret that I’m on it. There are moments where you’re like ‘This is too much!’ Then I can go out and look at some of these faces. My husband usually says, ‘If you hadn’t done this, these horses would be dead.’ Then it kind of puts my perspective back where it needs to be. When you see start to see those horses trust people again, it is just an awesome feeling.”
To learn more about Southern Redhead Farms Rescue, to view the horses currently available for adoption, and to find out how you can help, find the rescue on Facebook here. For questions or for additional information, Dr. Susan Spivey and the team at Southern Redhead Farms Rescue can be contacted at southernredheadfarmsrescue@yahoo.com.

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 Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program

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 1980, the Fairfax 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program was launched with one borrowed horse and a handful of riders.
Today, 38 years later, that program has evolved into the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program (NVTRP), with a herd of 15 horses, four full-time and eight part-time staff, and a team of up to 250 weekly volunteers that serve approximately 115 riders each week.

With an ever-growing team, the need for organization is paramount—that’s why NVTRP Equine & Facilities Manager Christina Duffy found herself searching online for a horse management tool. In her Googling, she came across BarnManager.
BarnManager seemed to best fit our program needs and was the most user-friendly option,” explained Duffy. “BarnManager has helped to keep all of our files in one place and helped keep track of any events or illnesses that arise with a specific horse; it is much easier to remember to type something up then write it down! It has also made information about our horses more accessible to instructors and staff.”
This streamlined organization makes it easier for NVTRP to continue to focus on fulfilling its mission of providing equine-assisted therapeutic services to children and adults with disabilities, youth-at-risk, military service personnel, and their families in an inclusive, community-based setting.
NVTRP’s number one goal is to use equestrian-based services to provide a range of physical, social, and emotional benefits, and to help riders attain the healthiest, most independent lives possible.
Today, in order to meet the growing demand for NVTRP’s services, the organization has begun construction and a capital improvement project. Part of the project includes a new, larger, lighted outdoor riding ring, an accessible playground, and improved parking and access. To learn more about NVTRP and to get involved in the capital campaign, visit http://nvtrp.org/capital-campaign.

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!

Managing for McLain Ward: An Interview with Erica McKeever

On September 21, spectators and show jumping fans from around the globe watched as McLain Ward and Clinta delivered an incredible jump-off performance to anchor the U.S. team and clinch the USA’s first World Equestrian Games (WEG) team gold medal.

What most spectators did not see however, was Lee McKeever outside of the ring, overseeing every last detail of Clinta’s care or McKeever’s wife, Erica McKeever, coordinating all of the logistics involved with Ward and Clinta’s WEG appearance and managing the 30 additional horses back home at Castle Hill Farm in Brewster, NY.

Behind every great rider is an equally great barn and horse management team, and while they might not be the ones atop the podium, for the last 30 years, Erica and Lee McKeever have been an essential part of that team at Castle Hill.

With more than three decades spent overseeing horses at one of the top show jumping barns in the country, there are few with more ongoing, high-level barn management experience than the McKeevers, so we asked Erica to share more about her own management career!

Q: How did you get started at Castle Hill?

When I came to the U.S., I was working for Tim Grubb in New Jersey, and Brigette that was working for Tim’s barn brought me to Castle Hill during the horse show at Old Salem.

I first met Barney Ward that night. It just seemed like a really fun place. Everyone was hanging out together, and he called everybody his family several times while we were there. I felt like, “Whoa what a really neat place that is to work.”

Then I guess he must have called Brigette shortly after and said that he was looking for someone who could manage the show horses and go on the road with him. She asked me if I thought it was something that I was interested in doing. I said, “Oh I don’t think I could.” I had experience but not being in sole control of the horses. She said, “Well I think you could do it.” I did a trial, and we kind of hit it off right from the go. He was awesome. He taught me so much about horses and horsemanship. It was really special. I figured it out, and I never looked back.

I went on the road with him for a lot of years. McLain and Lee kind of went their way, and we went our way. I pretty much ran the show side of this barn. He had his managers at home, and that’s kind of how it started.

Q: You had your son, Bradlee, in 2002, and your daughter, Baylee, in 2004. How did your role at Castle Hill change after having kids?

I took care of Sapphire when we first got her. I’d just had Bradlee, so I tried to go on the road and still be a mom, and it actually was about virtually impossible. We had a fabulous babysitter who was with us from when Bradlee was six months old, so I tried to still go on the road and keep the same role, but it was really hard. I couldn’t do it.

Then I started to stay at home and run that side of it. Instead of having a bookkeeper or a secretary, I did it myself. I still tried to occasionally go with Sapphire. I still traveled to Florida, and I still tried to do the barn as well because that’s really important to me. That’s what I love to do. Then I had my second child, and it became very difficult to do it all. So, I stayed home, and I run things at home. It’s great because now there are so many horse shows, you constantly have horses getting ready for the next event, which makes it really exciting at home too.

Q: What’s a typical day like at home now?

I like to be home until my kids leave for school on the bus, and then I go to the barn. I usually do a couple of hours in the office. We do a plan for the day of what horses are going to be doing–who’s riding which horse, who needs clipping, who needs the vet. We plan all that early in the morning.

The key to this is to surround yourself with great people, and then it’s easy. If you have good people in the barn that you trust and are good at what they do, it makes our jobs really easy too. You have to find good people that really want to do this and love the animals.

Q: What do you think it takes to be a good barn manager?

I think you have to be responsible. You can’t leave it for someone else to do. You have to do it. I think managing is the perfect word – you have to pretty much manage everything from the help to the horses to the farrier. It’s a huge role, and it’s a huge responsibility. I love it because I like to be in control a little bit.

Organization is important. We have a plan in place because McLain’s a huge planner. The horses are planned where they’re going now through week 12 of Florida.

Again, I think the most important thing is that you have good people around you that care as much as we do, and they do this not for a job but because it’s what they love. We try to encourage the people to be a huge part of each and every horse. They all ride; they all take care of them. When McLain wins, we all win. Everybody contributes to that.

Q: What are the challenges of the job?

It can be a little stressful; sometimes it’s a little overwhelming because there’s always something going on,

Now my daughter shows. She does the ponies. That’s become stressful in itself! I feel like I’m managing a whole other operation; I don’t know what’s going to happen when she’s doing the equitation! I just spent some time at the [ASPCA Maclay] Regionals last week, and that looks more stressful than ever. We just did the world championships, and that didn’t seem as stressful as some of those kids!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working for Castle Hill?

The family aspect. To be appreciated by McLain as much as he does. It’s so special the way he involves our children in the whole thing – his father was the same. It was always about family. McLain’s really, really kept up with that. I would think he would make his dad very proud with how he is. I think giving the appreciation to the people around him, that’s huge for everybody. Not just for me, but for my husband, and Virginie [Casterman] who took care of Clinta at WEG. That’s so important to be appreciated.

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 Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind

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 the mid-1980s, one Alabama girl, Marianna Greene Henry, begged her parents to start a therapeutic riding program on their farm near the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) in Talladega, AL.

Henry had been volunteering with a therapeutic riding program in Birmingham, AL, and she was amazed at the positive impact that the horses had on the children with disabilities. Knowing that just down the road from her family’s farm, the AIDB was helping so many similar children, Henry thought it would be the perfect fit and could make an incredible difference for those children. 

Sadly, in 1989, Henry was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a heart disease that only a heart transplant could cure – and she died that March as surgeons tried to implant an artificial heart and before her therapeutic riding program dream could come to fruition.

Soon after their daughter’s death, Pat and Marilyn Greene founded the Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrians program (MGH) as part of The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind in memory of their daughter.

“We just looked at each other,” recalls Marilyn Greene, “and said, ‘She really wanted this.’”

The Greenes started modestly with a few horses and a ring in their side yard. However, within months the program had blossomed into something greater than they ever imagined.

Today, the program at their farm is housed inside a 39,000-square foot arena and serves 350 to 400 children per year, making it the largest program in the country serving deaf, blind, and multi-disabled riders.

MGH’s mission is to maximize the potential and well-being for the students by providing equine-facilitated activities in the areas of therapy, sport, and recreation to enhance physical and mental skills, aid in mobilization, and promote socialization and communication. To fulfill that mission, MGH offers therapeutic riding, hippotherapy (physical, occupational, or speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement), equine-facilitated mental health, equine-facilitated psychotherapy, equine-facilitated learning, and a work experience program.

In the last fiscal year alone, MGH provided more than 3,000 rides to students at AIDB.

With so many rides and generally around a dozen horses in the barn, MGH now utilizes BarnManager to stay organized.

“It’s an awesome program,” said MGH barn manager, Callie Smelley. “It makes filing paperwork quick and easy. It allows you to have all your information in one place, and it’s easily accessible by all MGH employees. Personal profiles for each horse allow you to pinpoint what each horse requires, and we can also share with veterinarians and farriers to keep up with equine maintenance.”

Keeping the horses well cared-for allows for the magic that exists between a horse and rider with sensory or physical disabilities that transcends all language and physical barriers – something that is so evident at MGH.

Presently, Marianna Greene’s younger brother, Tim Greene, serves as the program administrator and Pat Greene sits as the president of the MGH Foundation. Marilyn and Pat Greene continue to volunteer at MGH every Tuesday, where they’ve seen first-hand the miraculous transformation of many of the students and the joy and self-esteem that the riders gain.

“It wasn’t until I started working with these children that I saw what Marianna saw,” said Marilyn Greene. “It saved our lives.”

Click here to learn more about MGH and to find out how you can help make a difference!

To signup for a Free Trial of BarnManager click here, and to learn more about out Free for 501(c)(3) program click here!