5 Tips for Keeping Calm Under Pressure

As we near the end of the year, although 2020 looks different than previous years, equestrian sports are in the midst of “finals” season. If you are participating in any of the finals this year, whether it be your first time or you’re a seasoned finals veteran, you probably know firsthand how easy it is to succumb to the high pressure the environment fosters. These only come once a year, they’re expensive to participate in, and most finals only give you one shot, which means if you make a mistake you’re toast. Here are some tips to help deal with the pressure that comes along with competing, no matter how high the stakes are.

1. Breathe deeply.

Have you ever heard about the breathing trick that helps you fall asleep faster? The science behind it is that it helps slow your heart rate so you can fully relax and fall asleep. Though you don’t want to fall asleep at the in-gate, breathing can still come into play with slowing your heart rate and thus calming nerves. Try taking a deep breath in for about four seconds, then exhale for eight seconds, then repeat a few times.

2. Imagine it going well.

Often our nerves are heightened by thoughts of everything that could go wrong. While it can be hard to push these things out of your mind, it’s much more beneficial to picture the experience being a success and to think through what is needed on your part in order to achieve that. Visualize yourself on the other side having succeeded. If you dwell on what could go poorly, you’re allowing space in your mind for failure. If you only allow positive thoughts and sentiments in moments like these, your stress will ease and there will be a higher likelihood for the event to go well.

3. Make a plan and focus on it.

If your plan is detailed and thorough, you won’t have time or space in your mind to let negative thoughts creep in. Talk with your trainer, walk your course, and make the most comprehensive plan for you and your horse, with appropriate back-up plans where needed. A strong plan of action is the best preparation for a big class or final, and if you place it top of mind, the stress will seem to fade.

4. Think of everything you’re grateful for.

In the moment, this class causing stress can seem huge. But in the grand scheme of life, it’s just one day and there is so much more to being a horseman than competing. Think of the horse beneath you and how grateful you are for what your horse does for you. Think of your trainer, who has put in countless hours to help you prepare for moments like these. Think of your loved ones who support this crazy dream we all share. When you think about things in life for which you’re grateful, you minimize the pressure from the situation and fill your mind with happy thoughts. Know that you will still have all of these things, regardless of the outcome of any given final.

5. Use positive affirmations.

You’ve put in the hours and hours of hard work to arrive at this moment, so you know, deep down, you are ready and capable. Echo that to yourself until you fully embody it. Know that you are strong and that you can rise to this challenge. Trust that your horse will be there for you and you will give it the best ride you can. Above all, go in determined to enjoy the experience, no matter the outcome.

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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.

What To Include In Your Horse’s First Aid Kit

If you’ve owned horses for any length of time, you’re likely well aware that accidents and injuries can happen all too often, so it’s important to be prepared!

If you own or operate your own barn, that includes having a thoroughly well-stocked equine first aid kit on hand. If you board your horse, it likely means having many of those same first-aid items in your tack trunk and ensuring that the barn has the others on hand. But what are those first-aid items and what should be in your first-aid kit?

Thermometer – for taking your horse’s rectal temperature. (It’s important to also know what a horses’ regular temperature should be. Hint: It’s 99 – 101 degrees Fahrenheit.) It can also be helpful to have a small jar of Vaseline within your first aid kit to aid in inserting the thermometer.

– Stethoscope – for checking your horse’s heart rate and gut sounds.

– Scissors – It’s wise to have blunt-end bandage cutting scissors as well as sharper scissors.

– Tweezers – for pulling out splinters or ticks.

– Epsom Salts – for soaking abscesses.

– Bute and Banamine -Phenylbutazone and Flunixin Meglumine, better known as Bute and Banamine, are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers that you should have on hand. Bute acts much like aspirin does for humans and is common for pain relief and fevers. Banamine is more aggressive and is often used in treating colic pain.

– Twitch – In the case of emergency, there are a number of things that your horse may not want to willing participate in, so it’s a good idea to have a twitch on hand.

– A Variety of Leg Wraps, Bandages, and Guaze – including polo bandages, vet wrap, standing bandages, gauze bandages, roll cotton, leg wraps, and non-stick gauze.

– Diapers – diapers may not be the first thing that come to mind for a first aid kit, but they’re great for covering a bandaged foot and also provide extra padding for large wounds.

– Duct Tape – you’ll need this to secure bandages or the aforementioned diapers.

– Latex Surgical Gloves – wear these to help prevent wound contamination.

– Disinfectants and Wound-Flushing Liquids – including rubbing alcohol, saline, gentle iodine such as Betadine, pre-moistened alcohol swabs, and hydrogen peroxide.

– Wound Powder  or Spray-On Treatment – when a wound needs to be left open to heal a powder or spray can encourage healing, keep flies off the injury site, and dry up the wound. (Note that after cleaning up a wound, it’s wise to seek veterinary advice before applying a wound powder or spray to ensure that the injury doesn’t need any further care or treatment.)

– Flashlight – with working batteries!

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!

Horse Show Packing List

While your specific horse show packing list will vary depending on your discipline, the type of competition, and the classes that you’re entering, there are a number of things that are universal: like grooming brushes and the possibility of forgetting something!

That’s why we’ve put together our comprehensive horse show packing list. Download the packing list as a printable PDF here, or use the list tool within BarnManager to customize your own horse show packing list, available at your fingertips and shareable with others on your team! (Learn how with a free BarnManger live demo here.)

For the Horse Show Office
*Tip!: Store all of your horses’ health records and show paperwork directly within the BarnManager app so you never have to worry about leaving them behind. 

– Proof of negative coggins
– Horse health certificate
– Registration papers
– Membership papers

For the Feed Stall

– Hay
– Hay nets
– Grain
– Supplements

For the Rider

– Boots
– Belt
– Helmet
– Gloves
– Spurs
– Rain gear
– Show shirt
– Show jacket
– Small mirror
– First aid kit
– Sunscreen
– Lint roller
– Small sewing kit
– Snacks
– Boot polish or boot cleaning kit
– Safety vest, if needed
– Breeches (a spare pair or two is always a good idea!)
– Hair accessories (Hair net, spare hair ties, bobby pins)

For the Grooming Box

– Body brushes
– Curry comb
– Hoof pick
– Mane and tail brush
– Mane comb
– Detangler
– Waterless shampoo/spot remover
– Hoof dressing or polish
– Baby powder or corn starch
– Fly spray
– Scissors
– Baby wipes
– Clippers
– Spray-on conditioner or shine enhancer
– Seam ripper for removing braids
– Lots of towels

For the Wash Rack

– Shampoo
– Sweat scraper
– Sponges or scrubbers
– Towels
– Bucket designated for washing
– Liniment

For the Stalls

– Bedding
– Duct tape
– Pliers
– Zip ties
– Safety release clip
– Double-ended snaps
– Water buckets
– Feed bucket(s)
– Hammer
– Staple gun
– Screwdriver
– Bailing twine
– Cross ties
– Tack hooks
– Saddle racks
– Pitchfork
– Hose
– Broom
– Rake
– Wheelbarrow
– Extension cords
– Locks
– Spare batteries
– Fans
– Step stool
– Dry erase board and markers
– Trash bags

For the Horse
– Saddle
– Girth
– Schooling saddle pads
– Show saddle pads
– Bridle(s)
– Schooling boots
– Ear plugs
– Ear bonnets
– Cooler
– Scrim sheet
– Blankets, as needed
– Halter
– Polo wraps
– Lunge line and lunge whip
– Martingale
– Studs and stud removal kit
– Ice boots
– Tack soap and sponge
– Poultice and poultice paper
– Safety pins for attaching numbers to saddle pads

Happy horse showing!

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!

Four Ways to Streamline Your Barn Management

Whether you are managing a large show barn or boarding operation or taking care of your own mounts, chances are good that you got into the role for one primary reason: because you enjoy spending time with horses.

Unfortunately, if you’re in one of the aforementioned positions, you also know that far too often time spent enjoying the horses can get overshadowed by the scheduling of lessons, and farrier visits, and veterinary appointments, and the horse show entries, and the feeding, and the record keeping, and the tack and equipment organization and maintenance, and the planning of each day, and… well, you get the idea!

While you can’t eliminate these things entirely – they’re important to keeping the horses happy and healthy and the business running smoothly – there are several ways that you can streamline your paperwork and simplify your barn management to get you out of the office or away from the white board and back with the horses more often!

1) Take advantage of time-saving barn hacks.

Want to save time watering horses? Add a second water bucket to each stall and fill them up simultaneously to last longer and save you a refill trip.

Using polo wraps? ProEquineGrooms recommends using a pair of scissors to cut a design, like a notch or zig-zag, into the ends of matching polo wraps to save time matching up pairs. Do you have to make multiple trips to the feed room at dinner time? Instead of going back and forth, prepare all horses’ meals and put them into a wheelbarrow or add feed and supplements to a wheeled cart with compartments so that you can roll down the aisle way, stopping at each stall as you go. Peruse our blog, and you’ll find lots more tips and tricks like these!

2) Go digital with BarnManager! 

Of course, we think one of the best and most all-encompassing ways to streamline your management responsibilities is to cut back on the paperwork and binders of information by using BarnManager!

With BarnManager, you can house all of your horses’ health records, feed schedules, and training notes in one location rather than in binders, file folders, and notes on a white board. You can also grant access to any additional members of your team so that they can be kept in the loop and receive notifications should anything, such as a horse’s feed or supplements, change.

Within the app, you are also able to schedule lessons, send searchable barn-wide conversations and private messages, make customizable tables and lists such as horse show packing lists, snap photos of your horses’ records to directly attach them to their records, and even create “discharge reports” that quickly compile all of a horse’s key information and veterinary records so that you could pass them along to a new owner or caretaker as needed.

3) Get organized and plan ahead.

By staying organized, continually looking ahead to the next day, and planning in advance, you can save yourself a great deal of time in the long run! In speaking to many of the industry’s top barn managers and grooms, the top two time-saving tips that were repeatedly given were setting yourself up for the next day the night before and staying organized.

 Some managers recommended creating lists of what tack and equipment is used with each horse (either within an app like BarnManager or a physical list hung in the tack room), so there is no question for any students or other staff unsure of what to use – and it will save you time having to answer questions.

Others suggested putting tack or equipment away as soon as you are done with it so that there isn’t a pile to clean and organize at the end of the day. Almost all managers asked agreed that leaving the barn unorganized at the end of the night only sets you up for disappointment and a harder day the next morning! Particularly if you are at show, it can be wise to think about what equipment you will be using the next day and in what order and put it away in a manner that makes it most accessible in that order.

4) Maximize your down time.

If you are managing a barn full-time, take advantage of any free time to squeeze in tasks that will make your life simpler later. This could be picking stalls so that the piles don’t add up and make the full stall cleaning more difficult later, or topping off water buckets, or polishing tack, or maybe just squeezing in a little bit of extra one-on-one time with your favorite horse to remind you why you’re doing this in the first place!

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 Ingredients You Need for Your Horse’s Best Training Program

By Caitlyn Shiels, True North Stables

In every show season, there are certain events for which we want our horses to be at their absolute best. One of the most important skills a trainer or rider can have is knowing how to prepare a horse to peak at a certain competition, whether it be an important indoor show or a particular class.

Expecting our horses to perform their best means preparing them to the best of our abilities with the best possible training program for their needs. For any horse that comes into our barn at True North Stables – be it a hunter, jumper, or equitation horse – I create a routine that is specifically best suited for them. There are, however, five key ingredients that I’ve found are important across the board.

1) Clear goals

First, I think it’s important to set attainable goals for the horse, and assuming that they are competition-oriented objectives, look at those goals on a calendar. What events are most important to you as a rider or trainer? And what events are realistic for your horse?

Caitlyn Shiels with student Marisa Malevitis. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

The realistic part is important; take into consideration factors such as your horse’s capabilities and your time and budget. Once you have your sights set on what’s important to you for the horse, you can build your training program around that goal.

2) A focus on fitness in various forms

This one is no secret, but just as we wouldn’t be able to hop up and win an 800-meter hurdles race after months of sitting around, we can’t expect our horses to go out and jump or compete well if they haven’t been properly conditioned. Similarly, just as a human athlete may train legs one day and upper body another, it’s important to vary your horse’s fitness regime. What this may look like for each horse will inevitably vary, but your program could – and should – include some of the following:

Low-intensity work – This might be walking on a hot walker or treadmill, trail riding, or light hacks in the ring.

Flatwork, flatwork, and more flatwork – We don’t jump our horses very much at home. Instead, we place an emphasis on building fitness and a strong foundation on the flat. This is different than the low-intensity hacks or trail rides mentioned above, as you should be flatting with intention during these rides, keeping your horse engaged and varying your movements and what you’re working on. Depending on the horse, I might incorporate exercises such as lateral movements, counter-cantering to work on balance and engaging the hind end, or a focus on transition work.

Caitlyn Shiels incorporates various forms of fitness work into the programs for all of her horses, including
Corporate Way LLC’s Incorporated, pictured. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

Ground poles, cavalettis, and grid work – When we do incorporate fences at home, it’s often in the form of specific, shortened exercises rather than full courses. Straightforward ground pole work can also be extremely beneficial in encouraging a horse to develop better rhythm and balance through the hind end, as well as improving timing and adjustability, and cavalettis and grid work can be set for specific areas of focus.

3) An emphasis on knowing the horse

To me, this is the number one key to success in any training program and the most important ingredient that you need. Really knowing your horse and creating a program accordingly can go such a long way!

Just as humans all respond differently to the same situations or learn differently, our horses do too. For instance, my mount for Derby Finals, Durpetti Equestrian LLC’s Cassius, does not do as well in a highly-structured program that works extremely well for some of our other horses. High pressure or more difficult situations like complicated grid work make him nervous, and really focused flatwork several days in a row makes him sour. So instead, his weekly routine and fitness program is more relaxed than many of our other horses. He’s still kept fit, but many days he’s allowed to go around more casually or with his nose poked out a bit just enjoying the ride. He’s the happiest he’s ever been and jumping the best he ever has!

When you truly know your horse’s personality and idiosyncrasies and tailor your program to them, you’re far more like to achieve success in the show ring.

Caitlyn Shiels and Durpetti Equestrian LLC’s Cassius. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

4) The addressing of weaknesses

In knowing your horse, it’s also important to know what its weaknesses are and address them through your training program. If your horse is weak behind, maybe it’s time to incorporate more hill work. I have one young horse that arrived not quite as strong on his left lead as he is on his right lead, so some of the exercises that I’m doing at home involve big cross-rails with landing poles that make him really think about his shape. The only way to strengthen those weaknesses is to effectively and consistently work on them!

5) Fun!

If you’re not able to also enjoy the process and have fun along the way to your goals, your horse is not the only one who isn’t going to want to perform! Have fun with your training program; reflect on and celebrate your horse’s progress, and don’t get hung up on plateaus or frustrations. At the end of the day, this sport and your training should bring enjoyment for both you and your horse!

Michelle Durpetti and Caitlyn Shiels. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

Best of luck, and happy training!

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!

Ketchup and Crisco in the Barn? Eight Kitchen Item Horse Care Hacks!

What do ketchup, Crisco, popsicles, soap, and cornstarch have in common? They could save you time or money and solve problems in the barn!

We asked our followers and scoured the internet for the best kitchen horse care hacks, and both delivered! Here are eight kitchen items that were repeatedly recommended for use in the barn. (Note: many of these methods have not yet been BarnManager-tested and approved – but others swear by them!)

1) Cornstarch

We’re easing into this list with a more commonly known kitchen item horse care hack! For extra white legs in the show ring, dust cornstarch over your horse’s clean and dry white socks. Carefully brush off any excess with a soft brush, being sure to apply the cornstarch prior to any hoof dressing to avoid a potential mess.

2) Crisco

Lisa Blythe from Atlanta, Georgia, shared on our BarnManager Facebook page: “Crisco for hooves. The store brand works great. You have a horse with bad hooves? Rub that in twice a day, and it is a miracle.”

3) Ketchup

@Hobbyhorseinc shared on Instagram: “Hate when your gray horse’s tail yellows? Give ketchup a try! Apply the ketchup liberally to the tail and leave for 10-20 mins to soak in. You might want to tie the saucy tail up or place it in a carrier bag whilst it soaks in to keep ketchup off the rest of the horse! Rinse and repeat as needed. The red lifts the yellow color out, getting your greys whiter than white!”

A few skeptics say that it’s really because of the vinegar within the ketchup, not the red of the ketchup as mentioned, but either way, we’d be curious to try this one for ourselves!

4) Mayonnaise

Karea Shaver from Grand Rapids, Michigan said (and many others agreed!), “Hellmans mayonnaise is an excellent final rinse for optimum coat conditioning. Amazing results. Use a ratio of 1/4 cup mayo to three gallons of water. Apply a well-mixed solution using tepid to warm water with a sponge, poll to croup. Let dry and use a cotton towel to wipe down horse. Do not use daily. It will add too much oil into the coat.”  

5) Soap

If you have a horse that chews or cribs on wood surfaces, rub a bar of Ivory soap over those surfaces. The taste of the soap will strongly discourage the horse’s cribbing behavior.

6) Vinegar

Spraying vinegar on your manure pile may help it degrade faster while keeping flies away! Want more uses for vinegar at the barn? Check out this full blog post from ProEquineGrooms, dedicated to the topic!

7) Dish Scrubbers

For a simple way to scrub your horse’s legs and get white socks even whiter, try one of these soap-dispensing dish scrubbers! Simply pour your whitening shampoo in the top and scrub away!

8) Popsicles

Forget expensive ice boots when you have freezer pops! Just be sure to put something, such as a bandage wrap, between the icy popsicles and your horse’s legs.

Have your own kitchen item barn hack? Leave it in the comments 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!

Eight Barn Hacks to Save You Time and Money!

We’ve surveyed barn managers and grooms, scoured the internet, and put some of them into practice: here are eight time or money-saving life hacks that could help make your barn more efficient or your horse habit more cost effective!

Feeding and Watering

1) Add a second water bucket.

If your horses’ stalls each only have one water bucket, it may be time to consider hanging up a second one. By filling up both buckets at the same time, you could save yourself from extra fill up time later in the day.

2) Deliver all of your horses’ meals by wheelbarrow or storage cart to save time and streamline delivery.

Rather than making trips back and forth to a feed room, prepare all of your horses’ meals and place them into a wheelbarrow to drop off along your way down the aisle. Alternatively, filling up a compartmented storage cart with the feeds and supplements that you need and portioning them out accordingly at each stall is another great option for streamlining feeding time.

Tack and Equipment

3) Cut designs into the end of your polo wraps to easily identify matching sets.

This tip from ProEquineGrooms is a great one if you’ve ever found yourself wasting time attempting to roll up and match sets of polo wraps! Instead, cut a small, matching design into the end of all of the polo wraps in a set. This could be a small triangle cut out of the middle of the end, the corners cut off, or something similar – anything that will allow you to easily recognize which polos go together.

4) Make a list of which horse uses which tack and equipment.

Whether this is a physical list hung in the tack room, or a list easily accessible within the BarnManager app, top managers like Courtney Carson recommend creating a list of which horses require which tack, that way, there’s no confusion for any students or staff unsure of what to use. If you’re the barn manager, this could save you a lot of time in answering questions and finding tack!

5) Don’t throw away your old clipper blades just yet.

Even after they’ve past the point of being useful for clipping, your clipper blades could serve a new role as mane thinners or shorteners, so it’s worth holding on to one or two for this use.

Grooming

6) The sweat scraper doesn’t have to be for just after a bath.

You probably only use the sweat scraper when you’re done bathing a horse to get off the extra water, right? Next time try using it mid-bath before you hose of the shampoo suds! By instead scraping some of them off with a sweat scraper, you’ll save yourself both time and water.

Riding Apparel

7) Make your own boot trees using pool noodles!

In need of new boot trees to keep your tall boots in good shape? Rather than purchasing boot trees, cut costs by picking up an inexpensive pool noodle and cutting it to fit inside your boots! By taking care of your boots now they’ll also last longer and save you even more money in the long run.

8) Salvage your white show shirts with lemon juice.

If you’ve ever had sweat stains threaten to ruin your expensive, white show shirts, this one’s for you! Soak them in one part lemon juice and 10 parts water to eliminate the stains and save you money in not having to purchase new shirts!

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!