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.
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.
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