Four Ways to Prepare Your Barn for Winter

While many of our BarnManager users are in warmer climates (or escape to them for the winter!), most of us are bundling up in scarves, sipping on pumpkin spice lattes, and preparing for the impending cold weather.

As the temperatures drop and you dig your horse’s blankets out of storage, it’s time to solidify your plans for the coming months. Taking the proper preparation steps now can go a long way in avoiding last-minute scrambling. Whether winter in your region means snow or just rain, the next few months in North America usually brings some type of hassle for horse owners. Take the stress out of your pre-winter prepping by ensuring your horse property is as chore-efficient as possible – we’ve prepared the following check-list to get you started!

1) Order Hay and Bedding

Depending on where you live, hay is likely still plentiful in the fall. But as winter rolls around, it might not be so easy to fill your hay shed for the long, cold months ahead. Get in touch with your hay supplier well in advance to ensure that you have an adequate supply to get you through the season. Remember, you will probably be feeding more hay during the wintertime when grass is less abundant and the temperatures are lower, so it doesn’t hurt to plan for more bales than you think you might need. The last thing you want to do is run low and have to scramble to find another local source.

If you have the capability, try and store your hay in a separate shed nearby, rather than in your barn’s loft. This will greatly reduce the chance of a barn fire. And speaking of barn fires, make sure you have an up-to-date fire-safety plan—a quick online search will give you plenty of resources and checklists for this essential step. Consider hosting a meeting with everyone at your farm to go over the plan, too.

Whether you buy bulk or individually bagged bedding, make sure you’re stocked up there as well. Keep in mind that some bulk bedding suppliers might not have the same amount of product available in the wintertime, so don’t forget to get your order in early. Even if you do buy bedding in bulk, it’s not a bad idea to keep some bagged shavings on hand as a back-up for emergencies.

2) Check Everything is in Working Order

Autumn is a good time to knock out some barn chores you’ve been putting off—you’ll be glad you did when the first snow hits! Clean and mend gutters, fix leaky faucets, and check for loose boards and broken windows. Small structural problems can become magnified in severe weather, so a proactive approach to barn maintenance will save you much more trouble later.

Have an electrician do an inspection of the barn’s electric system to make sure it’s safe, up to code and doesn’t need updates. Similarly, get a plumber to check your barn’s plumbing to see that everything is in working order. Don’t forget about inspecting the outside spigots, automatic waterers (if you have them), and frost-free pumps. To keep your barn’s indoor pipes from freezing, consider detaching your hose, draining it, and storing it inside (preferably somewhere warm). Even though it’s an extra step to your daily routine, having functioning hoses and pipes is crucial.

If you live in a cold climate, you might invest in heated buckets for your barn and floating electric heaters for outdoor troughs. They’re not always cheap, but they will save you a lot of hassle—and can help your horses stay well-hydrated as well. And always make sure to carefully read the safety instructions on these types of products.

3) Solidify Your Snow Removal Plan

It’s essential that you have a plan to remove the snow from your driveway, so that a veterinarian, fire truck, ambulance or any other emergency vehicle can safely access your farm. Do you have a tractor or truck with a snow plow? Great! If not, you will need to line up a dependable contractor who will always be able to clear the snow for you, ensuring that someone is always able to get to the farm and take care of the horses, no matter how bad the weather is.

You will also need to be able to create safe walking paths to and around your barn and the paddocks. Don’t wait until the last minute (or before an impending blizzard) to stock up on essentials, like snow shovels and rock salt. You won’t be the only one making a mad dash to your nearest hardware store!

4) Strategize Best Ways for Manure Management

Manure management can be tricky during the wintertime, so make sure to have a few options available. If you use a manure spreader, you might not be able to spread if the snow is too deep or the conditions are treacherous. Likewise, if you have your manure removed regularly by an off-site company, it’s all the more reason to ensure that your driveway is safely cleared for them. Be sure to check in with them to see if their policies change during bad weather. You certainly don’t want to be stuck with an overflowing manure pit all winter!

By checking off each of these steps on your autumn to-do list, you’ll feel much more at ease when the first snowflakes fall, and you won’t be rushing to finish last-minute preparations. Best of luck!

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!

Does Your Horse Need Its Teeth Checked?

What to Look for to Determine if Your Horse Needs Dentistry

By Mike Lawrence 

Proper dentistry is an integral aspect of optimal horse welfare. As an owner, trainer, rider, or barn manager it is very important to be aware of symptoms that indicate your horse is due for dental care.

The easiest way to know a horse is due for dental maintenance is to put a reminder into the horse’s BarnManager record for a dental exam every six months.

Horses’ teeth naturally erupt and develop sharp enamel points when they masticate. These points can abrade the tissues of the mouth and cause your horse discomfort. These points and malocclusions, or deviations from normal dental contact, can also affect the natural motion of the mandible when chewing or being ridden, particularly if the horse wears a tight noseband.

If a horse’s teeth are regularly maintained it is more likely that the horse will have normal dentition and not exhibit dental symptoms when eating or being ridden.

Here are several signs and symptoms that indicate it could be time to call an equine dental professional:

– Eating abnormally, dropping grain, and quidding hay are all symptoms that your horse’s teeth should be checked. Eating related symptoms often may indicate an acute change in a horse’s condition or reveal an advanced chronic condition.

– Any musculoskeletal abnormalities such as atrophy of the masseter muscles or over-developed temporalis muscles in the forelock area are symptoms of abnormal mastication. Often your veterinarian, chiropractor, or body work therapist may observe body issues that appear to have a primary dental origin. That is why for optimal equine care it is important that the person responsible for the horse’s care shares relevant information, so all the health care providers can work as a team to help your horse.

– Facial swelling, odor, and/or drooling are signs of acute issues that warrant immediate dental and veterinary attention.

– Riding issues such as head tossing, rooting, head tilting, resistance, or not staying on contact are also key symptoms that your horse needs to see a dental professional.

– Looking at the incisors for asymmetries or excessive length is another way to determine if your horse needs to see a dental provider.

These are some of the many clues that your horse’s teeth may be bothering them. If you keep your horse on a regular preventative maintenance dental schedule, often many of these issues can be averted. Dental conditions are not always the primary cause of these symptoms but frequently are. It is best not to wait for an acute dental problem to occur and your horse to be in discomfort, before we check its teeth.

 

Mike Lawrence has been practicing equine dental maintenance since 1992 and is a Certified Member of the International Association of Equine Dentistry. To locate an IAED certified veterinarian or dental provider in your area, visit iaedonline.com.

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 YouTube, WIHS, BarnManager, and Stacia Klein Madden Led to Two Sisters Dream Weekend!

Visit the Sisters Horsing Around channel on YouTube, and select any of the videos.

Within 30 seconds, it’s easy to see why our BarnManager team enjoyed meeting sisters Emily, 21, and Sarah Harris, 15, in August 2018 at the Laura Graves “Dressage for Jumping” clinic, presented by BarnManager and the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS); their kind, appreciative, and enthusiastic personalities are contagious!

It’s those personalities, the sisters’ YouTube channel, and the clinics put on by BarnManager and WIHS that – eight months later – led to what Emily Harris said was the “best weekend of her life” with Stacia Klein Madden at Beacon Hill Show Stables.

Before we get to that though, let’s backtrack to the Laura Graves clinic. Emily, Sarah, and their mom, Julie Harris, made the three-and-a-half-hour trip from their hometown in Altavista, VA, to the Aldie, VA, clinic, and it’s there that they also met WIHS president Vicki Lowell.

The Sisters Horsing Around, Emily and Sarah Harris meeting Laura Graves at the 2018 Laura Graves “Dressage for Jumping” clinic, presented by BarnManager and the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). Photo by Jump Media 

Like our BarnManager team, Lowell was extremely impressed by the girls, and, after watching some of their YouTube videos, invited them to attend WIHS in the heart of Washington, D.C. that November. (You can watch video from their WIHS trip here!)

It was at WIHS 2018 that the girls learned the clinician for the 2019 WIHS Barn Night clinic, presented by BarnManager, would be renowned trainer Stacia Klein Madden, and let’s just say, they were pretty excited! (But, you don’t have to take our word for it…watch here!)

The Harris sisters knew they didn’t want to miss it, so they again made the drive – this time about four hours to Mount Airy, MD – to audit the clinic with Madden. (Read more about that clinic in our coverage here.)

“I was so star struck and speechless!” said Emily Harris of meeting Madden, who she and Sarah had also watched in replays of the Animal Planet series “Horse Power: Road to the Maclay.” “I don’t generally get to the point that I cannot speak, but I was just so happy and overly excited and so joyful to be there that I could not speak!”

Emily Harris did find words to say to Madden before the end of the clinic, eventually speaking with her and getting her autograph before leaving, and after attending the clinic, Emily and Sarah Harris made and posted a video, in which they tagged Madden.

Emily and Sarah Harris sporting their BarnManager hats and water bottles! Photo via Sisters Horsing Around

Madden saw both that video and the previous video the Sisters Horsing Around had made sharing their enthusiasm over her being the WIHS/BarnManager clinician, and she invited the girls to bring their own horses to Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, NJ, for a weekend!

Emily and Sarah Harris could not believe Madden’s generosity, and quickly took her up on the incredible offer, this time making their longest drive yet – seven and a half hours – to bring their horses, Stella and Dancing Shadow, to New Jersey.

“We got there Friday, and the stalls were all set,” said Emily Harris. “It was so nice of them to have the hay and water and shavings all ready for us when we got there, and they had their names on the stalls which was so nice!”

Sarah Harris added, “It was amazing! It was in such pristine condition and order. Everything had its place, and everything was taken care of down to the tiniest detail. Everything was so nice, and everyone was just super nice and friendly.”

At home, Emily and Sarah Harris are members of the Roanoke Valley Pony Club and enjoy cross-training their horses, incorporating jumping, flatwork, dressage, and even some Western riding, but at Beacon Hill, they had the chance to really zero in on their hunt seat flatwork and jumping.

On Saturday morning, Emily and Sarah Harris helped as jump crew while taking in several Beacon Hill students’ lessons before getting on their own horses for their first lesson with Madden.

“The way that she explained things was amazing,” said Emily Harris of Madden’s teaching style. “I have trouble keeping my heels down because my ankles actually are very stiff, and she was able to set right my previous thought on how to get your heels down. I always thought that when you get your heels down, your calf stretching is a result of your heels going down, but it’s actually the opposite. Your heels going down is the result of your calf stretching.”

After enjoying a dinner near the beach with Madden on Saturday night, Emily and Sarah were back in the saddle on Sunday, this time first taking a flat lesson on two Beacon Hill mounts.

Click to watch Emily and Sarah Harris’s video from the Stacia Klein Madden clinic

“Every time I think of that, I’m reliving the moment all over again,” said Emily Harris, who has been riding for about four years, as has her sister.

“They rode so nicely, and they were so well-behaved and everything,” said Sarah Harris.

Following their first lesson of the day, Emily and Sarah Harris enjoyed a trail ride with some of the Beacon Hill students before another lesson with Madden on their own horses.

“She was able to enlighten us further on previous things that we had learned and teach us even more,” said Emily Harris. “We brought back a lot of new things, a lot of new techniques and ways to better help our horses. That was amazing.”

Emily and Sarah Harris not only brought home new lessons when they left on Sunday, they brought home lasting gifts.

“WIHS had heard that we were going there, and they sent us a t-shirt and saddle pads which was really amazing! They were so nice to send us those things,” said Emily Harris.

“Then one of the students there gave us some of her older pony’s tack as a present for when we went home! That was so special,” added Sarah Harris.

“The people were just so nice,” continued Emily Harris. “Down south, there’s southern hospitality where everyone is really nice to each other; being there at Beacon Hill it felt like we didn’t leave home. It was like having that southern hospitality up there. Everybody was so nice and so friendly and welcoming, and the hospitality was just great.

“That was the best weekend of my life!” concluded Emily Harris. “That was better than in our wildest dreams. I’m still in shock at how amazing that was.”

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 Plaid Horse Blog: Nicole Lakin’s Barn Management Brain Child

“When it comes to horses, there’s nothing that can replace the feeling that you have whether you’re on the horse or on the ground with them,” Lakin said. “That’s irreplaceable and technology will never change that. What technology can do is to automate business side of things, and that’s what we’re doing with BarnManager. Nobody gets into the horse industry to be an accountant! Our mission that drives all of our design and development is to enable the incredibly hard working managers, grooms, riders, trainers, and all equestrians to spend more time getting to do the things that technology cannot.”

Check out The Plaid Horse Blog for more from a great interview with our founder, Nicole Lakin!

Nicole Lakin’s Barn Management Brain Child

First Dates, First Impressions, The Joy of the Horse.

Jenny (the Director of Sales and Queen of Friendly at barnmanager.com) and I just returned from Denton, Texas where we visited with the AWESOME teams at Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses and McQuay Stables. We had an absolute blast, and have some exciting new features and programing coming your way!

Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses McQuay Stables

But more interestingly, Jenny and I had some very entertaining and somewhat enlightening conversation over dinner one night. As part of Jenny’s job at barnmanager.com, she finds herself meeting lots of new and interesting people on a daily basis. She is also the type of person who can walk up to anyone and have them laughing in a matter of seconds. She has this charismatic halo that follows her and envelops everyone in her presence. She is truly a ray of sunshine, and I am not exaggerating.

barn manager team member

Jenny is constantly reminded about the significance of first impressions. First impressions are her life. And lucky for her, she tends to leave a good one. But in our lives as both humans and equestrians, we find ourselves constantly struggling with how we hope to impress ourselves upon the universe. Obviously, everyone wants to leave a “good” impression. But what does that mean?

person in a store aisle

Our equestrian upbringing has made us who and what we are. We have learned that nothing worth getting comes without hard work, some ups and downs, and often sacrifice. While Jenny and I are wildly different people with wildly different personalities, we find that our work ethic and our overall attitude and approach towards “work” is the same. This comes in large part  from the way we were raised….and by raised, of course i must lend some credit to our parents, but mostly I mean how horses raised us. Nothing given. Respect earned day after day. Things changing in an instant. Adapting could sometimes mean scrapping months of hard work and starting anew. And the rewards were epically more gratifying.

person on a horse

If you came of age in a barn, you know what I mean. We take pride in everything that we do. In every accomplishment and in every failure we search for meaning and understanding.

We are proud of who we have become and how we arrived at this place. And yet, as Jenny discussed with me over a glass of Malbec, what does it mean for the non-horsey when we reveal ourselves as “people who ride horses?” What do our roles as “horse-girls,” equestrians or even people who work in the Equine Industry lend to their first impressions of us?

back view of a person on a horse

While on a first date with a Dealer of Rare Violins (I will never be able to understand how or where she meets these people), Jenny struggled with the choice of whether or not to tell her new acquaintance what exactly she does for a living. What will it mean to him? And how on earth can one explain that they sell Web-based software to horse farms? Jenny and I seem to have found a way to keep one foot firmly planted in the horse world while allowing the other to dangle to and fro, testing the waters and occasionally diving in thigh high. Is it more of a 3rd or 4th date kind of thing? (This is all assuming that we allow them the luxury).

I assume that for anyone with anchors in two universes this question arises sooner or later. We are who we are, for better or worse. We aim to be our best selves, and to put that out into the world for others to see. And my best self is the person that horses made me to be.

For Jenny, the answer became clear as she started describing her job, and ultimately her life to her new musical friend. She hesitated at first when he asked her what she does for a living. It is nearly impossible to qualify or quantify what we do to a non-horse person. Jenny struggles with the fact that many of her childhood friends are pursuing careers as doctors, lawyers and real estate developers and seemingly having a larger impact on the world. What she does tends to feel small and immaterial in comparison.

horse and rider going over a jump

As she described to him what barnmanger.com is,  how it came to be, and how she has helped to develop it from its weanling stages, his face grew harder and harder to read. So she kept talking and struggling to explain something that is always slightly inexplicable. When she stopped, the violin dealer reveled in her passion, which he said shone in her eyes as she spoke about horses and the role that they play in her life. He found himself floored by how much she loved what she was doing and jealous that he did not feel so strongly about his Violins. (I imagine they aren’t nearly as cuddly as a horse).

What Jenny discovered that night was that a passion for horses goes so far beyond a first impression. It reveals something much deeper. If the recipient of such information is paying close enough attention, they will feel that extra je ne sais quoi that makes Jenny who she is. They will see in the way her eyes light up that she knows some special secret that maybe one day she will share with them (if they are lucky). She may not be curing diseases or amassing a great fortune, but she is living a noble life by living with a joy that is contagious: the joy of the horse.

person on a horse