Five Activities To Do When It’s Too Cold To Ride

For most people, the winter months include some days when the temperatures are too cold to safely ride your horse. Below are some equestrian-related activities to keep you busy during those ice-cold days.

1. Watch Live Streams

If you are stuck inside because of freezing temperatures or several feet of snow, check out coverage from some of the horse shows happening elsewhere. Live streams are available for both World Equestrian Center locations, the Winter Equestrian Festival, and the Desert International Horse Park. USEF Network also offers educational content and horse shows on demand. If you want to learn more from top equestrians, watch a Masterclass or a Barn Talk from Horse & Country. You may not be able to have a lesson that day, but you can still grow your knowledge and skills remotely.

2. Clean Tack

If your barn has a heated tack room, consider taking the time to deep clean and condition all of your tack. It’s difficult to find the time to do this during a regular busy day when you are riding. Go the extra step and take apart your bridle, clean your bits, condition your saddle, and polish your boots. Make sure to clean all the tiny leather pieces that often get skimmed over in day-to-day cleaning. This is a good time to make note of any equipment that might need to be replaced or fixed. You could also bring your tack home if you prefer to work while watching a movie or live stream of a horse show.

3. Make Homemade Horse Cookies

Baking when it’s cold or snowing is always a fun way to keep you busy. After making a batch of cookies for yourself, consider baking some homemade treats for your favorite horse. Although it’s no longer the holiday season, check out BarnManager’s DIY Holiday Horse Treat Recipes for some fun ideas. This is an activity your horse will definitely appreciate, no matter what time of year.

4. Organize Your Tack Trunk

Cleaning out your tack trunk can be a daunting task depending on how much equipment you acquire over time. It’s a good idea to go through and reorganize every once in a while, especially if you struggle to find things in a pinch. Buy baskets or clear containers that easily fit into your trunk and use them to store gear such as bits, extra pieces of tack, spurs, and gloves. Create separate piles of equipment to throw out if well-worn or donate if still in good condition. Empty out your entire trunk and use the barn vacuum or a hand-held one from home to really get ready for a clean start. When you put everything back in, try to put your most used items at the top of the trunk for easy access.

5. Clean Out Your Closet

Equestrians have a habit of collecting shirts and breeches throughout the years and then not wearing most of them. Take advantage of those cold days when you are stuck inside to go through your closet and decide what clothes you actually wear and what you really don’t need. You can also do this with boots, half chaps, show jackets, and other equipment that have accumulated over time. If the items are still in good condition, consider donating to an organization that makes gently-used riding clothes available to other horse lovers who need them, such as The Rider’s Closet.

Although nobody wants to spend a day inside away from their horse, try to make the most of that time with these fun and productive activities from BarnManager.

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!

The BarnManager Q&A With: Hadley Wheaton Lamond

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Hadley Wheaton Lamond, rider and trainer located in Connecticut

What are three things that are always in your ring bag?

I always carry small microfiber cloths in my bag. I use them for last-minute touches on my boots, horse, or tack before I go in the show ring. They are really convenient to put in my bag and do a better job than regular towels. I also try to keep a crop and spurs in my bag. I recently went to a show and accidentally forgot spurs. Luckily, I had a friend there who let me borrow a pair, which saved the day. I can’t stand riding without gloves or a hairnet, so I always make sure to have extras of those in my bag as well.

What is the most helpful habit you practice at the barn?

Photo by SEL Photography

Being consistent is the most important and helpful habit I practice right now. I’m definitely less motivated in the winter since I live in Connecticut and don’t go south. Keeping myself and my horses in a routine is crucial. I try to keep on top of things like having my tack and equipment organized, making sure my horses still look show ready, etc. I find this creates less stress and anxiety down the road.

How do you foster a great team environment in your business?

When I travel to teach or groom, I try to have a positive mindset. Working 10 to 12 hours a day is exhausting and the days can be unpredictable. I try to keep team spirits up by smiling and having a sense of humor. I find that even small things like saying thank you can have a big impact on someone, especially if they are not having the best day.

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care? Where did you learn it?

Until recently I always bought the more generic and less expensive brushes. I started buying HAAS brushes and they’re completely worth it. I saw someone using that brand in a TikTok so I decided to try them.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I really loved showing at Tryon International Equestrian Center. The layout, amenities, and vendors made the show very convenient and enjoyable. The rings and stables were also nice. I would definitely like to show there again, and hopefully, I will be able to show in a derby. Their recent derbies have looked like a lot of fun.

If you were a horse, what would you be and why?

I always tell my students I would be the worst horse to ride. I think sometimes we forget how patient and willing horses can be. I personally don’t see myself being the most “tolerant” horse. For this reason, I would probably be sitting in a field somewhere.

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!

Horse Show Highlights From 2021

After a year of limited horse showing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, equestrians were excited to get back in the show ring in 2021. Learn about some favorite 2021 horse show memories from grooms, trainers, and managers.

Linda Birk

Groom for Margie Goldstein-Engle, based in Wellington, FL

Linda Birk and Cesna. Photo by Alden Corrigan Media

What was your favorite memory of 2021?

It’s so difficult for me to pick one favorite horse show memory because there are so many to choose from! If I had to highlight one, it would probably be the last show of the year for us, the Fort Worth International CSI4*-W at Split Rock Jumping Tour in Fort Worth, Texas. We brought Royce and Dicas, Margie’s two main horses. Both boys jumped incredibly throughout the week. Margie got sick before the show, so I rode them up to and during the show. It was a huge relief when they jumped well after I’d kept them going. Royce placed second in the 1.50m qualifier with only three competing in the jump-off. He had the fastest time but an unlucky rail on the second-to-last fence. Dicas jumped in the World Cup Grand Prix, and as usual he gave it all he has and was double clear to end fourth. I always expect the horses to jump well, but that week was extra special due to the circumstances with Margie. They really jumped their hearts out.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

I am looking forward to making lots more memories in 2022. WEF 2022 will be here before we know it. I hope we will qualify for the World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany. We have one more qualifier in Ocala coming up in March, so fingers crossed!

Krista Goosens

Assistant Trainer and Manager for Brianne Goutal LLC and The Propp Family, based in Wellington, FL, and Long Island, NY

Krista Goosens talking with Stella Propp at the in-gate. Photo by Kind Media

What was your favorite memory of 2021?

My favorite horse show memory from 2021 was definitely Stella Propp and Heaven’s Dream earning Grand Junior Hunter Champion at the National Horse Show. We leased this horse in January 2021 for Stella to show during her last junior year. It took us a little while to get the hang of things with him, but over the year he just kept getting better and better. We hit our stride with him during the summer, but when indoors started we struggled a bit to pull it all together. The National was Stella’s last show with “Dreamy” and her last show as a junior rider. I think our entire team (Dreamy included) really dug deep and pulled out all the stops for our final show, and it really paid off. The most rewarding part of this job is seeing my kids and horses succeed, so winning such a major title at such a prestigious show meant the world to me.

 

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

I am looking forward to a great 2022 with the Brianne Goutal LLC team, and I am excited to see how our clients and horses progress this year.

Payton Wendler

Groom and Manager, most recently for Millar Brooke Farm based in Wellington, FL, and Lexington, KY

Payton Wendler preparing for the show ring. Photo courtesy of Payton Wendler

What was your favorite memory of 2021?

I have a lot of great memories from the 2021 show season! One of my favorite horse show memories was during the time I worked for Jonathon Millar and Kelly Soleau-Millar at Millar Brooke Farm. I had the opportunity to show a young horse that I was lucky enough to help develop. I had been out of the show ring for a couple of years, so it was great to be back in the ring on a horse I really enjoyed working with.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

I am looking forward to getting back in the show ring again! I am also excited to continue to help keep my horses happy, healthy, and performing at their best.

BarnManager would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2022. Make sure to look out for the new BarnManager Pro coming out in January!

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!

Six Household Items To Use at the Barn This Winter

Riding or working in a barn during cold winter weather is never an easy task. Read about some of BarnManager’s favorite winter hacks using products you can find in your own home.

1. Crockpot

A crockpot or slow cooker is very helpful to have at the barn when the temperatures are below freezing. They do a great job of keeping water warm for grooming or cleaning tack if you do not have access to hot water. You can also dip your horse’s bit into the crockpot before putting the bridle on to make it more comfortable for your horse.

2. Hairdryer

Even if your horse is clipped, they can often get sweaty after a ride. You always want to make sure your horse is dry before putting their blanket on, which sometimes can take a while. Bring your hairdryer from home to speed up the process. If you do a combination of blow-drying and toweling, your horse will be dry in no time.

 

3. Rubbing Alcohol

This winter hack is also for quickly drying your horse’s coat after a ride so they do not catch a chill. Put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, apply it to your horse’s coat, and then towel off the area. Alcohol evaporates quickly and also takes the water with it so your horse will dry off a lot faster. By the time you finish cleaning your tack, your horse will be dry and ready for their blanket.

4. Cooking Spray

If you live in an area where it snows a lot, you might want to bring some cooking spray to the barn. Horses often have balls of snow and ice form on the bottoms of their feet when they are turned out in the snow, which can make walking uncomfortable. Apply cooking spray to your horse’s feet after picking them out to prevent the ice balls from forming.

5. Vacuum

Since giving a bath during the winter is often not an option, getting your horse clean can be a difficult task, especially if you are trying to get ready for a horse show. Some barns have horse vacuums to help, but if your barn does not you can always use your vacuum from home. This hack may not be for every horse, but if your mount is brave enough then you can run a vacuum over them using the brush attachment to get rid of dirt and hair.

6. Dryer Sheets

Accidentally shocking your horse because of static electricity during the winter is never a pleasant experience. Before you put the blanket back on your horse, rub them and the liner of their blanket with a dryer sheet to get rid of static electricity. You can also rub it through their mane and tail to prevent any shocking.

Start searching your house for some of these useful items to bring to the barn for an easier and more enjoyable winter 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!

The BarnManager Q&A With: Kiira M. Lizza, Manager at Grafton Ridge

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Kiira M. Lizza, Manager at Grafton Ridge, located in South Salem, NY, and Wellington, FL

What are three things that are always in your ring bag?

Kiira: A towel, hoof oil, and extra earplugs.

What is the most helpful habit that you practice at the barn?

Kiira: At Grafton Ridge, we practice a gold standard of horse care habits. I like to say we practice FEI-level care at a national level. Coming from an FEI background having worked for both Anne Kursinski and Leslie Howard, I love different therapies and am always looking for extra things we can do for the horses to help them feel their best. I am also big on proper turnout time and rest for the horses. They work very hard for us, and we like to make sure they have some downtime in the paddock after showing. All of our horses, no matter if they do the leadline or the upper-level jumpers, get some type of therapy on a daily basis. This could be the laser, the UltrOZ™, magnetic blanket, TheraPlate, etc. We’re very passionate about horse care and making sure the horses are healthy, fit, and most importantly, happy!

How do you foster a great team environment in your business?

Kiira: A great team environment is something we pride ourselves on at Grafton Ridge. Michael Delfiandra and Vanessa Roman have built an incredibly organized, systemized, and positive work environment that is truly the best show barn I have ever worked in. We hold weekly team meetings, encourage open communication, and celebrate the small wins. These practices have fostered a trusting team that allows us to depend on one another and find joy in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of a busy show barn. A large part of the curriculum in my MBA studies at Warwick Business School in England was focused on self-introspection and how to develop high-performing teams. I like to bring what I learned during my MBA and put it into practice in the barn.

Kiira Lizza competing in the hunters.

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care? Where did you learn it?

Kiira: I am a big fan of currying! Currying is a great way to not only loosen dirt and hair off your horse, but also gives the muscles a nice massage and gives the groom an opportunity to look over every inch of the horse. I am also big on baby powder on the legs. I am crazy about the legs being dry after baths, clipping, etc., to prevent scratches. For horse care in general, you have to let them be horses. Proper turnout time, good nutrition, and an excellent vet and farrier are the foundation of great horse care.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

Kiira: This is tough! I love Lake Placid in New York but am also a big fan of the Middleburg Classic in Virginia. Both these shows have great hospitality, beautiful facilities and jumps, and are in a great location for non-horse show activities.

If you were a horse, what would you be and why?

Kiira: I’d like to think I’d be an amateur’s upper-level jumper. This way I could be someone’s forever horse and receive all the pampering I need to do my job well.

 

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!

The BarnManager Q&A With: Caroline McLeese, rider and assistant trainer at Double H Farm

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Caroline McLeese, rider and assistant trainer at Double H Farm, located in Ridgefield, CT and Wellington, FL

What are three things that are always in your ring bag?

Caroline: An assortment of spurs, a towel, and mints.

What is the most helpful habit that you practice at the barn?

Caroline: I like to do a lap around the barn at the end of the day once everyone leaves just to be sure the horses are settled in, all the small details are taken care of, and everything is ready for the following day. 

How do you foster a great team environment in your business?

Caroline: At Double H, everyone – grooms, managers, and myself – takes a team approach to caring for the horses. Even though my main role is to help ride and train, I still help clean stalls, turn out, and take horses to the ring for other riders. I really enjoy helping in the barn whenever I have time, and I find it helps me form better relationships with the horses and my coworkers.

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care? Where did you learn it?

Caroline: My favorite hack for clipping is to wash the horse’s legs thoroughly and then clip them while they are still wet. The clipper blades don’t heat up this way and it keeps the horses much more comfortable! This is especially helpful for horses that move around while you’re trying to clip their legs. I learned this trick from Margo Thomas, Laura Kraut’s groom.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

Caroline: Spruce Meadows! It’s an incredible venue and truly amazing to watch such a high concentration of five-star horses and riders for weeks at a time. I’ve missed going the past few years, and I’m really looking forward to returning next summer.

If you were a horse, what would you be and why?

Caroline: I think I would be a 1.45m speed horse who is quiet when not showing. I really like to go fast but it’s not something most people would guess about me!

Photo by Four Oaks Creative

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 Gift Ideas for Your Barn Owner, Manager, or Groom

1. Gift cards.

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

2. Work boots.

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

3. Fill a barn need.

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

4. Barn first-aid kit.

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

5. Horse treats.

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

6. Weatherproof gloves.

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

7. Warm jacket with farm logo.

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

 

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

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Could Being a Barn Manager or Groom Affect Your Amateur Status?

Suppose you are a barn manager or groom showing your horse in the Low Adult Jumpers. You consider your riding skill level far from that of a professional, so you have no doubts as to your amateur status – until someone complains.

The person complaining states that you are violating the U.S. Equestrian “amateur rule” and should be considered a professional as they have seen you riding other clients’ horses at the barn where you work and helping to instruct younger riders at horse shows. Is the complainer just trying to stir up trouble? Or do they have a legitimate point? Depending on your specific circumstances, they just may be correct.

Let’s walk through the U.S. Equestrian rule book, rule GR1306 (a.k.a. “the amateur rule”) to understand why.

First, the rule reads:

“3. Permitted activities by Amateur. An Amateur is permitted to do the following:

Accept remuneration for providing service in one’s capacity as a: clinic manager or organizer (so long as they are not performing the activities of instructor or trainer), presenter or panelist at a Federation licensed officials’ clinic, competition manager, competition secretary, judge, steward, technical delegate, course designer, announcer, TV commentator, veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator, breeder, or boarder, or horse transporter.”

While barn manager is not specifically listed among the permitted activities, groom is, and it is a safe assumption that barn management falls into the same “safe” category.

However, there is a caveat. The rule also states: “…a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:

Accepts remuneration AND rides, exercises, drives, shows, trains, assists in training, schools or conducts clinics or seminars.”

Let’s first address the riding of client horses at home. If you are receiving any sort of payment for your riding of these client horses or if you are actively training them, it would be in violation of your amateur status.

The exception would be if you are riding them for fun or with no direct compensation.

Armand Leone of Leone Equestrian Law explains: “If you are not receiving remuneration for exercising horses at the barn, and hacking is an informal arrangement for your enjoyment and not part of your ‘job,’ you may be able to ride barn horses and not be considered professional. Again, it all depends on the context. Activities such as grooming, office paperwork, or barn maintenance work are permissible and do not affect your amateur status.”

In this situation, instructing younger riders is likely where you are more apt to find yourself in violation of the rule.

Leone further explains, “The most important thing to keep in mind is that instructing even the youngest, most beginner riders at your barn or helping to train any of your other barn mates would again render you no longer an amateur. Even something as simple as walking a course at a horse show with a younger rider and providing them with input on how it should be ridden while your trainer is tied up at another ring could put you in violation of the rules. Again, the facts matter. Such a scenario could be fine were you not receiving remuneration from your trainer for this activity, because you are…this sort of assistance to your trainer could be viewed as a violation.”

The bottom line: it is important to be cognizant of your actions and to avoid any sort of training – either of horses or riders – for payment or other compensation!

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!

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