The BarnManager Q&A With: Stephanie Nell, groom for Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Stephanie Nell, groom for Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa


What are three things that are always in your ring bag?
Stephanie: I always have the safety vest, sugar cubes, and a towel!

What is the most helpful habit that you practice at the barn?
Stephanie: Routine – things don’t always go according to plan with this job, but it’s good to have some sort of consistency for the horses to keep them level headed (and for the people).

How do you foster a great team environment in your business?
Stephanie: Communication, all the way. Unfortunately, we aren’t all mind readers, so if we need something or have any concerns, we need to speak up. If we need to know something, ask!

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care? Where did you learn it?
Stephanie: A mixture spray of witch hazel and vinegar for irritated skin. At my first job, I took care of a chestnut mare with highly sensitive skin, so every now and then we would have a rash breakout. To suppress the rash, I would spray that mixture once or twice a day. I swear it’s magic in a bottle!

What is your favorite equestrian sport and why?
Stephanie: Show jumping through and through. I’m always in awe when I watch horses, especially the ones I care for, compete at the highest level of the sport. It makes me feel luckier to do what I do every time I’m on the side watching them go.

If you were a horse, what would you be and why?
Stephanie: I think I’d like to be a wild Icelandic pony. They live in a beautiful part of the world and are known to be tough and sturdy, yet kind and curious.

 

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!

Tips for Clipping Your Horse This Winter

February is a tough time of year for those in colder climates with low temperatures and few signs of spring, making it feel like winter will last forever. If you are still competing with your horse, or your horse has accumulated too much hair, it may be time for another clip. BarnManager is here to provide a few tips if you want to take on the clipping process yourself.

 

Wear old clothes you don’t care about.

The last thing you want is to wear clothes you really like and have them forever covered in horsehair, despite multiple washes. It’s a good practice to have a devoted “clipping outfit” you can turn to every time. Don’t even think about wearing your favorite breeches or a favorite outfit to clip your horse. Aim for old t-shirts and sweatpants that will keep you warm but you’re also willing to sacrifice to horsehair overload.

 

Replace dull clipper blades.

Arguably the most frustrating part of clipping is when your blades don’t smoothly cut through the hair, leaving rough patches on your horse’s coat. Examine your clippers ahead of time and replace any blades that are no longer sharp, so you don’t have to deal with swapping them out on the day you decide to clip.

 

Clean your horse to the best of your abilities.

If weather allows, or if you have access to warm water, give your horse a thorough bath. Excess dirt will clog up your clippers, so a clean horse is your best friend when clipping. If it’s too cold to bathe, spot clean and groom thoroughly.

 

Allow time for breaks.

Anyone who has clipped a horse knows patience can run thin when clipping a full body. Even the most tolerant of horses can get bored and anticipate their turnout time or dinner time. The clippers can also overheat, becoming uncomfortable for the horse and causing bad behavior. Take a long break between clipping sessions if your schedule allows to minimize unwanted behavior from your horse and wear-and-tear on your clippers.

 

Know which type of clipping is best for your horse.

Depending on the horse’s job, turnout situation, sweat level, and blanketing, the best clip for each horse varies. See a rundown of the different types of clips here.

 

Start large and clip against the grain.

Begin with large, flat surfaces like the shoulders and barrel, and always clip in the direction opposite the way the hair grows. It can be tricky as the pattern of horses’ hair goes in different directions on different parts of the body but doing this will help you achieve a consistent length throughout. Pro tip: pull the skin out from crevices to avoid having patches of unclipped hair on the legs and face.

 

Keep your blades clean while working.

No matter how hairy the horse, clipper blades will fill with hair and dirt and become less effective. It’s important to keep them clean so the blades have the chance to cut through the hair evenly as you go through the whole body. Use rubbing alcohol to clean and an aerosol product to keep your clippers cool as the clipper motor starts to get hot.

 

Eliminate lines by going back over your work.

It’s painful to step back and take a look at the final product only to see lines across your horse’s body from the clipper’s edges. There’s an easy way to fix this. Take the clippers and go in a crosshatch pattern where there are lines, still working somewhat against the grain but working in different directions.

 

If you find yourself clipping your own horse this winter as we anticipate the entrance of spring, be sure to follow these tips and always be smart while you are up close and personal with your horse. Though it can be a laborious process, the final product is so satisfying when you see your horse freshly clipped and ready for the spotlight.

6 Tips to Organize Your Tack Trunk

Tack trunk organizing may only happen once in a blue moon, but if you are going to take the time, you want to do it effectively. Follow these tips to give your trunk a thorough cleaning and re-vamp to save yourself unnecessary trouble down the road.

1. Begin by emptying your trunk out completely. Being at the barn and around horse shows, tack trunks can collect a large amount of dirt without you even realizing. Take everything out and thoroughly clean the base and walls of your trunk.

2. Weed out what you don’t need or use. If you don’t routinely clean out your trunk, odds are you have a few things that aren’t of use anymore. Ask yourself if you will use it in the next year and if not, donate or toss it. The same goes for older items – if something is too worn or too old to be effective, it’s probably time to let go.

3. Clean the items that are left. If your trunk is newly cleaned, you don’t want to toss dirt-covered items right back into it. Give everything a thorough cleaning before finding a place for it back in the trunk.

4. Prioritize your most used items. Not everything needs to be taking up space in your trunk. Set aside items you only use seasonally or a few times a year, such as fly sheets or winter gloves. Find a closet in your barn or house to store these items so they don’t spend the year gathering dust and dirt in your trunk. When the seasons change, or you find a need for a rarely used item, you can make the necessary swaps.

5. Organize for convenience. When putting your trunk back together, do yourself a favor down the road. While it may be tempting to play a game of Tetris to see how nicely things fit together, this may not be the most practical strategy. Make sure the items you use daily are the easiest to access. The last thing you want is to dig for your gloves and crop as you walk your impatient horse to the mounting block.

6. Use storage containers and dividers. Often trunks don’t have dividers built in, so head to Amazon or The Container Store to find some appropriately sized baskets, drawers, and boxes to fit certain items to prevent them from disappearing, especially the small ones. You can even save money by reusing containers from other sources, rather than buying them new. Trunks can get tossed around in transit to and from horse shows, so storage dividers will help keep things in place and make your organization efforts worthwhile.

 

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

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

What’s in Their Ring Bags? With Show Jumpers Martin Fuchs and Paris Sellon

Whether it’s used by the rider, the groom, or both, a ring bag full of show necessities is one thing that nearly all show jumping riders have in common. What varies though, is what riders and grooms keep in those ring bags.

Martin Fuchs

In the case of top show jumpers (and equestrian power couple) Paris Sellon and Martin Fuchs, their bag contents are strictly practical; while Martin may be the number-two ranked show jumper in the world, you won’t necessarily find the secret to his great success in his ring bag – but you will find a few of the vital tools that he uses on his way to that success!

Here’s a look at what Paris and Martin don’t go to the ring without.

Paris Sellon. Photo by Jump Media

Gloves and more gloves – Both Martin and Paris keep gloves in their bags, but Paris may have Martin beat on the number of pairs of gloves.

“I usually have about five pairs of gloves because sometimes I can misplace them,” said Paris, who rides in uvex as her glove of choice.

Three pairs of spurs a piece – “I like the wheeled spurs, so I have them in three different sizes,” said Martin of the three spur options you’ll find in his bag.

And while Paris also carries three different choices of spurs in her ring bag, her selections are different.

“I have really small ones that I use for Cassandra,” said Paris of the 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare that has been one of her top horses. “I have a pair that look bigger, but they’re actually nice and definitely not sharp, and I have something kind of in between.”

The shared necessities – A helmet, crop, and a towel are common-place among most rider ring bags – and Martin and Paris’s are no exception.

That’s where Martin’s bag list ends, as he elects to keep his uvex bag lightweight, but Paris has a few extra essentials!

The extras – “You never know what might come up,” said Paris. “I have a wrench in case I need studs, and I also have some tape for the horses’ feet in case they need coverage if they get a small cut or anything.”

Paris also carries boot polish, a sticky spray (similar to this one), extra hairnets, and Neutrogena Sport Face sunscreen.

What riders or grooms would you most like to hear from regarding what’s in their ring bag? Drop your suggestions in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have them featured 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!

Emma Ford’s Cold Weather Grooming Tips

Winter weather can prove difficult for horse’s skin. Decreased daylight, mud, sweat, and blankets create various challenges for horses and riders during the colder months.

Event Clinics caught up with Emma Ford, head groom for Phillip Dutton Eventing and co-author of World Class Grooming for Horses for some ways to keep your equine partner’s skin happy & healthy this season, and now Event Clinics and Emma are sharing their tips with us!

1.  Use witch hazel or rubbing alcohol to wipe down a damp horse after exercise. 

“These products are help to dry the area quicker but also clean off sweat and dirt. I use Witch Hazel, especially when I know the horse has dry, sensitive skin,” says Emma.

#HelpfulHint: Use a spray bottle to apply to any sweaty areas after your horse is untacked, then rub down with a towel

2. Re-hydrate your horse’s skin. 

If your horse gets extra sweaty after a challenging winter workout, sponge off any affected areas with a bucket of warm water mixed with one cup of Witch Hazel and a tablespoon of Shapley’s #1 Light Oil.

#HelpfulHint: Emma tells EC, “This combination to help lift off dirt whilst adding a bit of oil back to the skin.”

3.  Swap and layer coolers for a quick-dry effect. 

If possible have on hand an Irish Knit or Waffle Cooler as well as a Wool or Fleece Cooler.

After wiping/sponging your horse off; layer the coolers, using the Irish Knit as the bottom layer. This will create the wicking effect to help dry your horse quicker.

#HelpfulHint: Keep extra layers handy if at all possible. That way, if you see condensation on the top layer, you can swap that layer out to help your horse dry.

4. Only re-apply blankets to a properly cooled-out horse, 

Before you put on your regular blankets, whether stable or turn outs, make sure your horse is thoroughly cooled out.

Sweating under non-breathable blankets can result in a chill, and lead to sore, stiff muscles. Or, for those more susceptible horses, even illness. This can all be easily avoided by ensuring that your horse is sufficiently cool prior to blanketing.

#HelpfulHint: If he is dry but still warm, he could continue to heat up under less breathable layers resulting in sweating.

ABOUT EMMA FORD: Emma Ford has been Head Groom for Phillip Dutton Eventing for 15 years, ensuring top quality care for equine athletes both at home and at the world’s most prestigious international competitions. In 2015, Ford published World Class Grooming for Horses alongside Professional Groom Cat Hill, who formerly managed Olympian and Five-Star Eventer Mara DePuy’s program.

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!

Eating Healthy at Horse Shows: Five Ways to Stay (or Get) on Track

We carefully plan our horses’ meals, weigh their feed, and provide them supplements and the proper nutrition that they need as equine athletes.

But what about our own nutrition and needs as an athlete? That often looks more like a skipped breakfast as we’re rushing out the door, whatever burger or fries we’re able to scarf down at the horse show food stand, or that delicious Nutella-filled crepe calling our name from the crepe stand.

The fact is though, as riders, we’re athletes too! If we expect our horses to perform their best, it’s important for us to fuel our bodies in a way that allows us to ride our best.

We know it’s not always easy with busy show days and tempting, convenient food vendors, but here are five tips to help you stay (or get) on track.

1.) Don’t Skip Breakfast! 

It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for horseman and women, it’s often the most skipped meal of the day! Our days start early, and we’re often in a hurry to get to the barn or the show ring. However, by skipping breakfast, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure.

To get the most of your breakfast, try to include a combination of protein, carbs, and fats to give you energy and to keep you satisfied until lunch time.

“If you start with a good breakfast, you’re geared up for the day,” said amateur equestrian Michelle Durpetti, who trains with True North Stables. “I’m not as hungry; I’m not as inclined to go get fries or something like that. It’s so easy to forget at horse shows that you are also an athlete.”

Durpetti recently began placing more of an emphasis on her own nutrition while at horse shows, and she and trainer Caitlyn Shiels start most days with their own smoothie blend.

“I heat up almond milk every morning, and I use a superfood greens powder,” said Durpetti. “I add in probiotics and prebiotics, and it has an apple and cinnamon taste. It kind of tastes like old-school oatmeal.”

Show jumper Hannah Selleck of Descanso Farm is another rider who has made her own health and fitness a priority, alongside that of her horses, and even on her busiest mornings, she ensures that she doesn’t skip a protein-filled morning meal.

“Sometimes I’ll have a coffee, ride a few, but then make sure that I get protein and eat breakfast,” said Selleck. “I never want to skip a meal or feel like I don’t have energy, so I make sure that I’m eating throughout the day when I’m showing.”

2.) Plan Ahead 

It’s no secret that you’re more likely to grab a sugary snack or order that convenient burger and fries when you let yourself get to the point that you’re starving or don’t have other alternatives readily available, so it’s important to plan ahead.

By the end of a long show day, it’s normal to be exhausted and to want to reach for whatever is available or to grab a quick (likely, unhealthy) dinner on your way home. Instead, try to meal plan or prep your meals in advance if you know you’re not going to feel up to cooking after you’ve finished riding and showing. Pre-made meal services are also a great option if they’re within your meal budget, and Pinterest is a great resource if you’re looking for meal prep recipes like these or these.

3.) Keep Snacks on Hand

Planning ahead and packing snacks go hand-in-hand! As a professional hunter/jumper rider and trainer riding a number of a horses a day and going from ring-to-ring, Shiels relies on pre-packed snacks, so she always tries to keep a banana, dried fruit, and almonds in her ring backpack for a quick pick me up when needed. For Selleck, turkey jerky sticks and RX Bars are her go-tos.

Apples and carrots also make great snack options (for you and your horse!), as does trail mix or a pre-prepared protein shake. Other protein sources like hard-boiled eggs, tuna packets, or no-bake protein bites also travel well and can make for a great pick-me-up. (Google “no-bake protein bites” or “no-bake protein energy bites” for a number of quick, easy recipes!)

4.) Stay Hydrated 

Keeping your body hydrated while showing is just as important for your health as proper nutrition.

Try keeping a cooler packed with ice, small water bottles, and sports drinks at your stalls, on your golf cart, or near your horse trailer so that you never have to worry about finding something to drink at the show. (As an added bonus, packing your own drinks will save you money at the horse show, where drinks are often more expensive!) Thirst is also often mistaken as hunger, so by quenching your thirst, you may be less likely to go looking for something unhealthy to eat! Try to steer clear of sugary, caffeinated sodas during the day, as they won’t do the job to keep you hydrated and will only give you a temporary boost before your blood sugar drops.

5.) Make It a Group Effort

Keep yourself on a healthy track by encouraging your barn mates to do the same. Hold each other accountable to healthy eating and offer to take turns providing healthy snacks or filling up the barn cooler with waters and sports drinks for the team. Consider swapping recipe ideas, packing group lunches, or even creating fun challenges like all trying to drink a certain amount of water each day of the show. Have fun with it, and enjoy feeling better as the group of athletes that you are!

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 to Clean Your Grooming Brushes

When was the last time you really cleaned your horses’ brushes? If you’re like many of us, we venture to guess it’s been longer than the recommended every week to two weeks!

The good news is, washing your brushes is quick and easy to do, and it goes a long way in helping your horse be as clean and healthy as possible. (It’s tough to have a clean horse if you’re using dirty tools!) Consider setting aside 10 to 15 minutes every other week for washing your brushes, and then follow these simple steps!:

– Fill a bucket with warm water and a drop or two of shampoo. It’s best to stick to the shampoo that you would usually use on your horse, and it’s important to avoid using any rough household cleaners that could cause irritation to your horse or that could potentially contain harmful ingredients.

– After any loose hair has been removed from the brushes, add them to the bucket, and swish them around, allowing the loosest dirt and debris to come off. Then, work the shampoo into the bristles thoroughly.

– Once you’ve shampooed the brushes, allow them to sit and “marinate” in the bucket for five to 10 minutes to really get clean.

– After the brushes have had time to soak, rinse them out with clean water from a house. Then rinse again. And possibly again. It’s important to make sure that any and all shampoo is rinsed out of the brushes so that it doesn’t dry within the brushes later.

– When you’re sure the brushes have been well rinsed, shake them out, and lay them out to dry on clean ground or grass or on a shelf or similar. Be sure to leave the brushes laying on their sides so the water doesn’t consolidate at the bottom of the bristles and end up damaging the brush handle. And viola! Clean brushes!

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!