The BarnManager Q&A With: Abigail Fulmer

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Abigail Fulmer, Head Groom/Barn Manager for Lynn Symansky Equestrian, located in Middleburg, VA

Abigail Fulmer and Lynn Symansky at the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event.


What are important items that are always in your ring bag?

In my ring bag, I always have a hoof pick, rubber bands, pins, and a leather hole punch.

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

I always make a to-do list. When you work in a fast-paced performance barn, you are always having to multitask and end up doing several jobs at once, so it is very easy to overlook or forget to do something. This is why I always make a list for myself, either on the whiteboard or I make a note in my phone. This helps me make sure that everything gets done in the most efficient way possible and that I do not forget anything.

(Did you know? BarnManager’s app has a helpful list feature so you can make your daily to-do lists with your team at the barn!)

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

Communication. In my experience, most tension and struggles between people working together come from a lack of communication. For this reason, I think effective communication should be a priority in a barn.

Abigail Fulmer enjoying some downtime at a horse show.

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

For horses with dry skin or sensitive skin, apple cider vinegar is your best friend. Dilute it in a bit of warm water and it will work wonders on hives or dry skin. I learned this trick from Lynn’s previous groom that I had the pleasure of overlapping with for a few months as I was getting started in the business.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

My favorite event so far has been Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. It is such a beautiful facility and a hub for people from all over the world to come together to compete and enjoy the sport.

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

I would be a Shetland pony because even though I may be tiny I can still hold my own with the massive warmbloods in our program!

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!

BarnManager’s Grooming Necessities

There are several important products and tools that should be in every groom box and ring bag to ensure a clean and shiny horse at the barn and during competition. Keep reading for some of BarnManager’s grooming essentials for at home and in the show ring.

Groom Box Supplies

Most Important Items

Your grooming box at home should have all the necessary tools you need to thoroughly clean your horse. To begin, make sure you have a hoof pick, curry comb, hard brush, soft brush, and mane-and-tail brush. Hoof picks should be used before and after you ride to ensure there are no rocks or objects stuck in your horse’s hooves and to remove footing and dirt. For curry combs, there are several different options; some prefer a mitt while others like to use a regular rubber one. The style does not matter as long as you are able to successfully remove dirt and old hair. Having two different types of brushes is helpful because a hard brush is perfect for getting dirt or mud off of your horse’s legs, and a soft brush is great to use on the face. While many people do not brush their horse’s tail every day in order to help to keep it full, having a mane-and-tail brush or comb is good to have to gently remove tangles or debris.

Once you add brushes into your grooming box, the next step is to make sure you have a towel, tail detangler, and fly spray. Towels are always handy for wiping down a horse after brushing them. A towel can catch any leftover dirt and add a little extra shine. A tail detangler is a definite necessity to brush a tail without pulling too much of it out. Fly spray may not be needed during the colder months, but it is definitely important in the summer and if you travel to warmer climates in the winter.

Extra Small Items

Lastly, your grooming box should have scissors, wound cream, and rubber bands. Scissors are nice to have close by for trimming a mane. You may also use them to cut off extra Velcro on a polo, remove a tag from a new saddle pad, or to trim the ends of your horse’s tail. Horses tend to get scrapes and nicks easily, so having a wound cream is essential. Rubber bands are a useful tool to keep on hand for braiding over an unruly mane. Also, if a keeper breaks on a bridle, a rubber band can be a good temporary fix.

Click here for a checklist


Ring Bag Supplies

Most Important Items

Several components of your groom box are also tools that you should keep in your ring bag. For example, a hoof pick, scissors, hard brush, towel, and mane-and-tail brush are necessities for a quick clean-up before entering the show ring. You never know when you might need a hoof pick or pair of scissors at the last minute. For this reason, having them in your bag is key. A brush can be useful for cleaning off the footing or dirt on a horse’s legs. A towel can be used to clean off the rider’s boots as well as the horse’s mouth. Quickly brushing through a horse’s tail can help maintain their picture-perfect look in the ring, especially for the hunters.

Fly spray, a tail detangler, and wound cream can also be put in your ring bag, along with baby powder, hoof oil, and baby wipes. It’s good to have fly spray and a tail detangler nearby when you are at the ring. Fly spray is very important to have in the summer heat when the flies are bad. Horses can often nick themselves or grab themselves in the schooling area. For this reason, you should try to have a wound cream close by. Baby powder is a great product for whitening socks before a hunter hack or model. Hoof oil should be applied right before a horse walks into the ring. Baby wipes are perfect for quick touch-ups to ensure a clean look.

Extra Small Items

The last few small items that should be kept in a ring bag are safety pins, a hole punch, boot polish, rubber bands, zip ties, and duct tape. Safety pins hold a jumper’s number in place on a saddle pad can sometimes come loose, so extras are helpful. A hole punch can come in handy for last-minute tack adjustments. Your rider will appreciate you having boot polish if their boots get extra muddy or they run out. Rubber bands are great for fixing a jumper braid. They can also serve as a quick fix for broken tack, along with zip ties. Duct tape can be useful to have if a horse pulls a shoe at the ring.

In order to make sure that your whole team knows what to bring to the ring, you can use BarnManager’s list feature to create a checklist of all necessary grooming supplies for a ring bag.

Click here for a checklist

Depending on the level, discipline, and type of barn you work for there may be other important items to consider, but the supplies above are the core tools that can ensure your horse will be looking its best at home and in the show ring.

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!

BarnManager’s Favorite Equestrian Podcasts

Equestrian podcasts are more popular than ever these days. They are perfect to listen to on the go and can be educational, entertaining, and inspiring. Since there are so many to choose from, we have compiled a list of some of our current favorites.


Horses in the Morning

Hosted by Glenn Hebert of Horse Radio Network and equestrian Jamie Jennings, Horses in the Morning is a long-standing podcast that is all about equestrians. Listeners will get their daily dose of the horse world through entertaining conversations with guests. The show includes several regular horse-related segments in addition to listener call-ins and contests.

Click here to listen:


Sport Horse Podcast

Sport Horse Podcast is the newest show in this lineup and is hosted by BarnManager’s founder Nicole Lakin and Dr. Tim Worden, a sport scientist and member of the Equine High Performance Sports Group as well as the Sport Horse Research Foundation. During this new podcast, Lakin and Dr. Worden talk to leading equestrians and researchers about the science behind training and management techniques for equine athletes. Listeners will learn how science and horsemanship can work together to improve equine performance results.

Click here to listen:

Equestrian B2B Podcast

The Equestrian B2B Podcast features conversations with business leaders and entrepreneurs in the equestrian industry. Hosted by Jennifer Wood and Jennifer Connor of Equestrian Businesswomen, this educational podcast gives listeners important tips on starting, maintaining, and enjoying a successful business.

Click here to listen:

The Plaidcast

On The Plaidcast, Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse speaks with top hunter, jumper, and equitation riders, trainers, horse show managers, and industry experts. Klemm is joined by several co-hosts, including Traci Brooks of Balmoral Farm, mental skills coach Tonya Johnston, Michael Tokaruk of Tokaruk Show Stables, and several others. Guests discuss topics such as how they became successful in the industry, horsemanship, and tips for riders.

Click here to listen:

Young Black Equestrians

The Young Black Equestrians podcast is hosted by Abriana Johnson, an equestrian, author, and entrepreneur. This podcast shines a spotlight on significant Black people who are part of the equestrian world. Johnson aims to educate, promote diversity, and increase access to the horse community through her podcast.

Click here to listen:

Equestrian Voices

Noelle Floyd’s Equestrian Voices is hosted by Caroline Culbertson and brings up some of the deeper topics of life as an equestrian. Guests talk about issues such as over-competing horses, mental health, and the realities of becoming a professional in the industry.

Click here to listen:

USHJA On Course

USHJA On Course is the official podcast of the United States Hunter Jumper Association. The podcast welcomes top junior, amateur, and professional riders to discuss the sport as well as matters beyond the show ring.

Click here to listen:

Heels Down Happy Hour

Sit back, relax, and catch up on all the horse show news with the Heels Down Happy Hour podcast. Journalist Justine Griffin, international event rider Jessica Payne, and book designer Ellie Woznica talk about all the recent events in the equestrian industry and what listeners should know to stay informed.

Click here to listen:

The Equestrian Podcast

On The Equestrian Podcast, host Bethany Lee of My Equestrian Style talks to some of the top riders, professionals, and business owners in the equestrian world. While on this podcast, guests discuss their work with horses as well as some less conventional topics of working with horses.

Click here to listen:

Next time you are driving to the barn, getting your horse ready, or cleaning tack, test out one of these podcasts to stay up to date with the equine industry.

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

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


Five Tips To Organize Your Tack Room

A tack room can be a busy area where people are constantly in and out, looking for items, or socializing. For these reasons, keeping a tack room clean and organized is no easy task. Read about a few of BarnManager’s favorite tips on how to keep this area neat throughout the day.

1. Sort Your Tack

The first step in organizing your tack room is to sort all of your equipment. Extra pieces of tack can pile up over time, so it is helpful to go through and decide what you actually need every once in a while. Make several piles for tack that you currently use, extra items you may need, leather that needs to get fixed, equipment that can be donated, and tack that has to be thrown away. During this cleanout, look for items that do not actually need to be there and are taking up useful space. This is the perfect time to take those things out and put them in their correct spot somewhere else.

While you are organizing your tack, you should take inventory of what you have. It is always nice to know how many extra sets of reins, stirrup leathers, or nosebands you have, especially if something breaks. Make a note of where you store the equipment, so it is easy to find when you need it. You can use BarnManager’s list function to write down where the extra tack is kept and share it with all employees.

2. Create Sections

Depending on the size of your tack room and how many horses and clients you have, it is helpful to create different sections within the tack room. To do this, make sure you have a lot of extra hooks and bridle racks. If you attend a lot of horse shows, think about designating one wall for horse show bridles and a separate wall for schooling tack. This will make packing for a horse show very simple and help keep everything organized. Another option is to separate tack by client or horse. This gives each client their own spot, so it is easier to keep things neat and reduce confusion. Separating tack by client will also make it easier for all employees to easily understand which equipment goes with each horse and rider.

Create a separate spot for extra equipment so it does not accidentally get mixed in with the everyday tack. If your tack room does not have cabinets or storage spots, you may want to invest in a couple of drawers or bins where these items can go. Putting your extra tack away in storage containers will help keep the room looking less cluttered and make things easy to find. If possible, try to stay away from open shelving that can get disorganized and messy looking throughout the day.

3. Organize Bits

Similar to leather tack, bit collections can also grow over the years. If you have extra bridle racks or hooks, consider keeping a few useful bits out so that you can quickly switch to them if needed. Organize the rest of your bits by type and then store them away in a tack trunk or cabinet. Large metal binder rings can be used to keep bits of the same style all together so when you are looking for a certain type it is easy to find. If you are keeping your bits in a cabinet, it may be helpful to create hooks or sections to separate the bits.

4. Give Everything a Home

One of the most important steps to ensure that everything is returned properly and stays organized is to give all items a home. While it may be easy to keep the tack organized, make sure smaller items like saddle pads, bandages, veterinary creams, and any other supplies have a specific spot where they are stored as well. Creating a system like this will help keep things from getting left in random places or piling up in a certain spot throughout the day, especially if there are multiple people using the same supplies.

5. Label All Items

Once your equipment is in place, the final step is to label everything. This will give people a clear idea about where items are stored and help make sure that everything is returned properly. You can label bridles, saddles, bits, cabinets, and bins. Having all equipment labeled will also be beneficial when you have a new employee or client because they will immediately understand where all the supplies belong.

Organizing your tack room may seem like a daunting job, but it is worth it in the long run. A neat tack room can help make equipment easier to find while also keeping your barn looking orderly and tidy.

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!

How Show Assist Helps Build Horse Show Connections

How Show Assist Helps Build Horse Show Connections

Finding help in the equestrian industry can be a stressful and challenging task. It is not always easy to find the right person that is responsible, knowledgeable, and trustworthy enough to take care of performance horses. Hiring a reliable employee for horse shows can add an extra level of difficulty because of the long hours, high-pressure situations, and the often short-term nature of the need.

There are constant “Seeking Groom” posts circulating on social media in the hopes that the right person will respond. Although this can be an inexpensive way to find help, it is very time consuming for employers. It is also not always the most effective or reliable method for finding help at the last minute. And these common methods don’t allow those in need of a job to narrow down their searches to only the specific type of work or geographical location that they are looking for.

Without a dependable and cost-effective way to search for help, many employers struggle to find the correct match. Similarly, service providers often end up finding themselves in positions that were not what they expected when responding to vague callouts on social media or through word-of-mouth suggestions.

BarnManager Meets ShowAssist

This issue is what led Deidre McAuley-Hayes, a horse show mom, and her daughter Malachi Hinton to create ShowAssist, an app designed to fill in the gaps when help is needed. When BarnManager founder Nicole Lakin was approached by Deidre for guidance, Nicole realized that the app would also benefit the BarnManager community.

ShowAssist was founded in 2019 by Deidre and her daughter, Malachi Hinton. The app is designed to aid those who are in need of last-minute, short-term work at a horse show. Employers can use ShowAssist to post a specific job position on the app, including pay and location. Service providers can search and apply to job listings depending on their location, availability, and experience.


Connecting People

The mother-daughter duo decided their main goal was to create a simple way for trainers, owners, riders, braiders, grooms, and other service providers planning on attending the same upcoming show to communicate with one another and make arrangements. Deidre and Malachi focused on building the app strictly for short-term work needed at the last minute at an event.

“It seemed like every other day there was a groom looking for a job or an owner looking to hire someone for one week,” explained Deidre. “In creating the app, we considered factors such as language spoken, whether housing and transportation was provided or needed, experience level, geographical location, and pay. We did market research and thought about what the employers would want to see in terms of services they needed.”

Instant Service

The demands of the equestrian industry are always changing and evolving. Deidre and Malachi wanted to be sure that ShowAssist could keep up with those needs. Whether posting, searching, or applying for a job, ShowAssist users receive instant alerts and updates. The team behind the app aimed to make it as user-friendly as possible to post, search, and apply for jobs.  They also worked hard to make the steps of hiring, accepting a job, and paying straightforward and uncomplicated. Their app is designed to connect busy people with the services or jobs they need while on the go.

Hiring and looking for available jobs in the equestrian world will most likely never be an enjoyable task. ShowAssist is there to make the process easier. The app assists both employers and employees in the process. ShowAssist does this by connecting the right people and providing instant service to get the job done.

Available jobs show up on ShowAssist for hunter/jumper horse shows all over the United States and Canada. For more information about ShowAssist, visit their website or download the app through the Apple App Store or Google Play.


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

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

Five Ways Digital Records Could Help Your Horse’s Performance

Whether you are a leaser or a leesee, the buyer or the seller, you want your next horse transaction to be a positive experience for all involved, including the horse.

Equine Tech Companies Form Collaboration

Wellington, FL – Equine technology companies BarnManager, Equo, Jumpfax, and StableGuard have come together to form the first equine technology collaboration of its kind, aimed at supporting one another, better serving the equestrian industry as a whole, and ultimately creating greater inter-operability between the equine applications and software.

Watch more on the equine technology collaboration here!


Launched by BarnManager founder and CEO, Nicole Lakin, the innovators working together on the equine tech collaboration include Lakin, Equo’s Steven Bluman, Alicia Heiniger of Jumpfax, and Alexa Anthony of StableGuard.

With the formation of the equine tech collaboration, the four companies are able to work together to develop improved solutions for the equestrian community, while also each continuing to provide a unique service and value to the equine industry. 

 For BarnManager, that service is a cloud-based software that offers digitized record keeping for the many facets of horse care, as well as intuitive and simple business tools to make small business management easier and more accessible. For Equo, it is offering what has been described as a “mix between Uber and Expedia for horses,” taking horse transportation to the next level by connecting riders, owners, and trainers with certified drivers through the Equo mobile app.

 For competitors, Jumpfax offers a complete, dynamic calendar of events, a comprehensive horse show guide that includes programs, start lists, results, key contacts, and more, as well as a sports data center updated daily with show jumping’s statistics. And StableGuard is often compared to the “Nest home security camera for horses.” Through the StableGuard mobile app, users can watch live-stream feed of the horse in their stall, receive emergency alerts, watch event play-back, and track human interaction. Unlike other equine monitoring devices, StableGuard constantly tracks the horses’ well-being without needing additional wearable devices such as smart blankets, Bluetooth halters, etc.

 “They are all very complimentary, and they all really could be used on a daily basis by any show jumping rider,” said Jumpfax founder Alicia Heiniger.  “I’m a rider myself, so I’m a natural user of these apps, and we all really share a vision, a passion, and a wish to make our industry better and stronger.”

 Lakin added, “We’re all trying to improve and advance our own specific area of the industry, but ultimately, we’re all using technology to help horse people have peace of mind at the end of the day and to allow them to focus on why we’re all really doing this in the first place: the horses.”

 Lakin studied entrepreneurship and received her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Babson College, and it was her experience there that sparked the idea for the equine tech collaboration.

 “At Babson, I was constantly surrounded by other entrepreneurs,” explained Lakin, whose BarnManager application is now the Official Barn Management Software of US Equestrian. “It was a really inspiring atmosphere, and we were constantly thinking of ways that we could help each other – even though we were in completely different industries. It was a really great way to integrate together and to support each other, and I find it extremely important to have community like that.”


Steven Bluman of Equo, Alicia Heiniger of Jumpfax, Nicole Lakin of BarnManager, and Alexa Anthony of StableGuard have partnered to form a new equine tech collaboration. 

Photo by Jump Media

In addition to forming their own community to help one another as equine technology start-up founders and better serving the equestrian industry, Anthony, Bluman, Heiniger, and Lakin hope that their collaborative effort will encourage equestrians to embrace how technology can help them navigate in their industry.

 “It’s really an exciting time,” said Anthony, CEO of Magic AI, the company behind StableGuard. “Now is a great opportunity for all of us to join together and create awareness surrounding technology in a traditional industry. I believe it will make the adoption a little bit easier if all four of us work together – we’re stronger that way.”

 Equo CEO Bluman echoed Anthony’s sentiments: “Just like in any other life aspect, when Uber came out and Airbnb came out, everybody said, ‘No way! I will never get in a car with someone that I don’t know,’ and, ‘I would never go in an apartment that I don’t even know who owns the place.’ Now, people are realizing they’re both great options. It’s the same with us. People are a little bit skeptical when it comes to using apps for whatever it is for their horses. By our companies coming together and acting as a force, people are going to begin to pay more attention to what’s happening. We’re trying to update the horse industry and really bring it into the 21st century.”

 In addition to collaborating to grow and improve together and to introduce equestrians to applications to simplify their daily responsibilities, Lakin hopes that the equine tech collaboration will ultimately lead to greater inter-operability between the applications.

 “We all are cognizant of thinking about how the applications are talking to each other, because at the end of the day, if we’re all making a million different products for people, and they have to have 17 apps on their phone, you’re not improving anything, you’re making it worse,” explained Lakin. “If we can work together and make our products work together, we’re not only better together for ourselves, we’re delivering better products for the end user.

 “When each company can focus on their own specific piece of the puzzle, but then we can all also put those pieces together, we’re really able to create something great for the consumer,” concluded Lakin. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Learn more about BarnManager, Equo, Jumpfax, and Stableguard by visiting each of their websites, and watch here to hear more about the equine tech collaboration.

To sign up for a free trial of BarnManager click here!

 The “Stronger Together” equine tech collaboration video was produced by the new Creative Studio by Jumpfax.

a rider patting a horse

The Gift of Personality

quote about dreamers

I took a class in College called Personality in Politics. The class offered a wildly engaging analysis of the way that personality effects Politicians, policies and their ultimate success or failure. Think Time Magazine meets People Magazine. Needless to say, I loved it! This past week I found myself reflecting on those days while I observed some interactions between horse and rider, rider and trainer, rider and vet and so on. In the equestrian world, we are constantly surrounded by a huge variety of personalities, and I can’t help but take notice of how differently so many people seem to be working to achieve the same things.

In my past as a working student, and now as a happy horse loving amateur and a self-proclaimed student of the sport, I find myself spending lots of time in the schooling area. I am generally on foot more than in the saddle these days, which if you are in the right place at the right time can afford you some free lessons in riding, teaching, and patience (Let’s be frank, it is a busy schooling area).

three jumping trainers in the warmup ring

McLain Ward, Max Amaya, Jeffery Welles

There is no shortage of personalities in the schooling area at any busy show. Think about it the next time you are out there. There are timid riders, over-thinkers, under-thinkers, people in la-la land, aggressive riders, passive riders, angry riders and patient riders. I am really just scratching the surface here, and that doesn’t even take into account the various members of the ground crew that accompany each four legged creature. Look around, take a second to stop and listen. You will hear calm explanations, loud screaming, laughing, crying, fighting, joking.  And to each their own. It could be anybody’s day once they step into the ring.

a rider and horse in a barn

Meagan Nusz and Dynamo: No lack of Personality for Either of these two!

The additional complication to this meshing of personalities that happens  in any human interaction is that horses have personalities too. Part of working with horses is realizing that you are not just following a run of the mill recipe for success that works every time. Each horse requires a special understanding  in order to  best provide them with what they need.

In this vein, I thoroughly enjoyed a recent interview with the Incredible Eric Lamaze following his unprecedented winning streak in the Thursday WEF Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida this circuit. When asked by Equestrian Sport Blogger Extrordinaire Noelle Floyd what sets his sponsors Artisan Farm apart from other big time supporters of the sport, Eric answered very astutely:

“They are very, very understanding of our sport. They have a great understanding of our industry–what it takes to win, how easily you can lose. How easily you can be disappointed in a horse you purchased if {they’re} not a match with the rider or if you simply make a mistake. They really understand that this is not an exact science, and it’s impossible to get it right every single time.”

rider getting coached on a horse

Eric Lamaze, Artisan Farm’s Fine Lady, Tiffany Foster; Photo © Erin Gilmore

A rider such as Eric can hop on just about anything with four legs and 9 times out of 10,  he will make it better, or allow for him/her to be their best. This is not some magic voodoo that Eric, or other riders of his caliber have discovered and chosen not to share with the rest of us. There is no magic potion, bit or lucky socks. These people, and I include Managers, Grooms, Vets and Farriers in this category, have success because they take the time to understand each horse’s distinct personality. They put in the extra effort to find out what makes each horse tick, what makes them want to go out and give their all. And they find logical ways to meet the needs of each horse, each individual, each personality.

Similarly, the best teachers find a way to explain the same concept as many ways as it may take for each student to comprehend. They adapt their own personality to support and fill in the gaps of their pupils.

barn management team KPF

Team KPF

It is a beautiful thing to see a team like Mclain Ward’s or Kent Farrington’s work with one another, support one another, appreciate one another and succeed together.

a rider patting a horse

McLain and Rothchild aka Bongo

Personality is a gift. It makes us unique. It sets us apart and and makes us special. But the true gift is being able to identify and understand a personality, and work together to make something great. Sapphire and McLain, Hickstead and Eric, Rodrigo and Baloubet du Rouet, these are personalities who found each other, and made each other whole. And what horse and rider could not do for one another, grooms, managers, vets, exercise riders and more stepped up and did what needed to be done.

With modern politics in its current state, we could use more meshing of personalities to make each other great. In horses, in politics and in life, the dominant personality will always make itself known. But the success of that personality is all in how it works with others, and finds the right teammates to fill its gaps, make it stronger, make it better.

As horse people, it is on us to do the meshing, the hole filling, the supporting. Success with horses, no matter the arena, is finding the right fit, and working with your team to make it work. Personality impacts politics as it does equines. It is our responsibility to find the right team and adapt to one another’s personalities to support our equine counterparts (as I hope, however naively, politicians do to support their constituents).

horse in a paddock


As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. So the lessons that I have taken away from my observations of some of the best in the sport at the Winter Equestrian Festival through ups and downs, at their best moments, at their worst, and on the days that fall somewhere in between:

1. Surround yourself with a team that makes you your best self.

2. Respect and embrace the individuality of your horse, your team, your friends, and your peers.

3. Be willing to adapt to bring out the best in one another (Horse or human).

4. Stop and look around every once in a while. There are amazing people doing amazing things. And if you’re lucky, you may just get a front row seat.

Until Next Time…quote saying life is amazing