BarnManager Q&A With: Nichola O’Donovan

BarnManager Q&A With: Nichola O’Donovan

Nichola O’Donovan, manager for young show jumping athlete Hallie Grimes of Can We Keep It? LLC based out of Wellington, FL, and North Salem, NY

What are three things that are always in your ring bag and why?

Picking only three things is difficult, but the first thing I always like to have is a hole punch so we can make adjustments, even though sometimes the hole punch likes to grow legs and walk out of the bag. The second item is vet wrap in case of an emergency at the ring like an overreach. The last thing is a bag of cookies because it’s nice to let the ponies know when they’ve been good.

What’s something you learned early in your career that has stuck with you?

I wouldn’t necessarily say this came to me early in my career – it took me a while to realize it – but one thing I’ve learned is that because we work with many people from many backgrounds in this industry it’s important to remember that not everyone will do things the same way you do. This does not mean they are doing it wrong; it just means there are many ways to do the same thing. You can always learn a new way of doing something if you just take a minute.

What is your best tip for staying organized during a busy show day?

Photo courtesy of Nichola O’Donovan

On a day when I know I’m going to be busy, I make sure I start my morning with enough time. Having chores done before the horses get exercised is a big help. Whenever there are an extra five minutes, I like to clean the tack that is done being used. There is nothing worse than turning around at 5 p.m. and seeing a huge pile of tack to clean.

What is one horse show you have never been to but would love to attend?

I’ve been very lucky and have ticked nearly all shows and goals off of my list. I have never done a World Cup Final so that is top of the list now. My favorite locations are London, Dublin, and Rome. Any shows in those locations make me excited.

Mares, geldings, or stallions? Why?

I’ve had a quirky bunch of all three over the years, and none were easy to bond with in the beginning. I honestly cannot pick one. If they get your trust and bond with you, they will give you their whole heart. I’ve had a gelding and two stallions that really knew I was their person and that was something special.

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

I would probably be a feisty companion pony. I wouldn’t be open to a herd of friends but would be very loyal to a few.

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 Athletes on Instagram

Equestrian athletes live exciting lives so it is always fun to follow along with them on Instagram to keep up with their busy schedules. The most entertaining accounts include riders who post additional content besides competition photos such as behind-the-scenes looks at their farms, training tips, their go-to brands, and family photos. Continue reading for a list of BarnManager’s favorite equestrian athletes to follow on Instagram.


Edwina Tops-Alexander

Edwina Tops-Alexander is an Australian Olympic show jumping athlete. In addition to competition highlights, her Instagram features posts about training exercises, traveling with her family, her favorite jewelry and clothing, and more.


Georgina Bloomberg

In addition to being a top United States show jumping athlete, Georgina Bloomberg is an author, animal activist, and mother. Georgina shares a variety of posts including her world travels, special moments with her son, her rescue dogs, and fun shots from her Global Champions League team New York Empire showing on the Longines Global Champions Tour circuit.


Anna Buffini

Anna Buffini is an up-and-coming United States dressage rider. On her Instagram, Anna shares memorablemoments with her top mount FRH Davinia la Douce, her go-to fitness routines at the gym, videos of her training her horses at home, and horse show highlights.


Karl Cook

Karl Cook is a United States show jumping athlete based in California. Karl is known for his “Walking and Talking” videos, which feature him reviewing his competition rounds, sharing his opinions and insights, what he has learned throughout his career, and discussing topics related to the equestrian world.


Archie Cox

Archie Cox is a respected hunter, jumper, and equitation trainer who has taught many of the nation’s top horses and riders. Archie’s Instagram features fun throwback photos of his own competition days, horsemanship and riding tips, proud trainer moments, and inspirational quotes.


Cathrine Dufour

Cathrine Dufour is a Danish Olympic dressage rider. Cathrine shares posts from her travels, what she is working on while training at home, fun shots around the barn, and more.


Double H Farm

At Double H Farm, owned by the Harrison Family, professional rider Quentin Judge provides hunter, jumper, and equitation training. The barn’s Instagram account shares competition highlights, photos of Quentin’s kids around the barn, fun candid and team shots, throwback videos and photos of their top horses competing, and more.


Boyd Martin

Boyd Martin is an Olympic eventing athlete for the United States. On his Instagram, Boyd shares photos of his family, competition reels, scenes from the course walk and jog at horse shows, and videos of him training at home.


Lauren Sprieser

Lauren Sprieser is a dressage rider from the United States. Her Instagram is a combination of training photos, #TipTuesday posts, and competition shots.


Jessica Springsteen

Jessica Springsteen is an Olympic show jumping athlete from the United States. Jessica’s Instagram includes impressive competition highlights from horse shows around the world, cute behind-the-scenes shots at the barn, photos of the Tommy Hilfiger Equestrian line, and more.

BarnManager’s Favorite Equestrian Influencers

Many equestrians use social media to stay on top of the latest news and results in the sport. In addition to keeping up with your favorite riders and horse shows, consider adding a few influencers to your follow list and enjoy the wonderful world of horses from their perspective. Continue reading for a list of BarnManager’s favorite equestrian influencers on Instagram.


Alex Calder

Make sure to follow Alex Calder’s account @betweentwoears for beautiful views of Ireland through the ears of her horse Ben. Get a glimpse at the trails and fields of Ireland with some foal and pony posts mixed in.


Evan Donadt

You should definitely take a look at dressage groom Evan Donadt’s @evangrooms account if you are looking for fun. His videos featuring a lighthearted take on equine behavior and life around the barn will make just about anyone laugh out loud.


Matt Harnacke

Matt Harnacke documents what it’s like to be a model and dressage rider. Check out @matt_harnacke to follow along with his travels, watch videos of him riding during golden hour, and get an inside look at his life as the founder of @horseworld_tv.


Esme Higgs

Esme Higgs shares videos and photos promoting fashion, beauty, horses, travel, and equine welfare. Esme travels to top competitions around the world and shares her experiences with her followers on @this_esme. She also hosts a podcast, Esme’s Country Life, that offers a deeper dive into her love of the countryside, animals, horses, and riding.


Madelyn Houser

Follow along with Madelyn Houser’s equestrian adventures on @theblondeandthebay_. Madelyn chronicles the highs and lows of her dressage career, working with her husband’s roping horses, the funny realities of running a barn with her spouse, and more.


Bethany Lee

For a mix of horse training, fashion, fitness, and travel check out @myequestrianstyle. Bethany Lee shares videos and photos of recent horse shows, her favorite clothing items, her go-to fitness routine, and more. Bethany also interviews leaders from across the sport on The Equestrian Podcast.

Jack LaTorre

Equestrians aiming to improve their fitness for riding should head over to where dressage rider Jack LaTorre shares videos on why cross-training is important for equestrian athletes at all levels. Followers can learn exercises that can be done at the gym or at home to improve flexibility and strength to help improve their time in the saddle.


Brianna Noble

Brianna Noble is an inspirational urban cowgirl who is aiming to change lives. She works with youth from underprivileged communities in California and utilizes horsemanship as a tool toward a brighter future through her Humble project. Follow @urbancowgirl for motivational and fun photos plus an honest look at the equestrian industry.


Taryn Young

Taryn Young posts everything from encouraging quotes to favorite equestrian products and gifts on @warmbloodsandwine. As an amateur dressage rider, Taryn also shares photos and videos of herself competing.

Barn Upgrades for Horse Health

By Kim F. Miller

BarnManager is the Official Barn Management Software of US Equestrian.

If you are building a new barn or planning a remodel, one important factor to keep in mind is the importance of ventilation. Fresh, circulating air is the essential element veterinarians urge when planning barn upgrades that most affect our horse’s health and well-being. Designs and management strategies to reduce airborne dust and ammonia go hand-in-hand with prioritizing ventilation.

Minimizing injury risks and creating a suitable place for the veterinarian and other care providers to help your horse rank highly, too.


Even the most meticulously kept stable is loaded with tiny, respirable particles that impact our horses’ vulnerable respiratory systems. Forage is the healthiest diet foundation for most horses, but it’s also one of the biggest sources of these invisible bits of organic matter that trigger irritation and inflammation in the respiratory tract.

Photo courtesy of US Equestrian

Traditional bedding is right up there with hay as a source of organic dust. Ammonia is another inescapable element in the stable and it’s harmful — for your horse and for you.

Whatever the airborne particles consist of, ventilation keeps them moving along rather than settling in the horse’s breathing zone.

If you are building a new barn, you’ll want to maximize natural breezes by positioning the barn and the breezeways in their predominant path. Make those aisleways wide — ideally, at least 14 feet — to maximize airflow intake, and choose ceiling heights and air exits to harness the tendency of warm air to rise.

Installing more windows and/or doors is your best option in barn remodels and upgrades. The more places air can enter and exit, the better. Horses in stalls with two doors or windows, for example, benefit from living in an airflow corridor.

Continue reading on US Equestrian to learn more about how ambient temperature, fans, eliminating dust, flooring, safe spaces, and injury reduction are all important factors in barn building design.

BarnManager Horse Health Series: Equine Dentistry

Consistent equine dental exams are important for the health of a horse’s mouth as well as the rest of their body. The goals of equine dentistry may appear straightforward, but they include a complex system of evaluations that in turn affect the entire well-being of a horse. At its core, equine dentistry encompasses the objectives of maintaining even tooth wear, treating infection or disease, allowing for proper digestion, and promoting longevity. Dr. Tyler Davis of Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL, believes that routine and thorough dental exams can help prevent many issues from ever becoming problems.

Why do horses require dental care?

Horses grind their food into a finely masticated bolus before swallowing. The combination of a horse’s upper jaw being larger than the lower jaw, and the fact that a horse chews by moving their jaws from side-to-side results in uneven wear of the teeth. This uneven wear may cause sharp edges to form, which hinder efficient chewing and may ulcerate or tear the cheeks and tongue. Uneven wear can also cause the horse to swallow food that isn’t properly chewed and can lead to more daunting problems such as colic.

No horse is exempt from needing their teeth cared for by a veterinarian. For sport horses, however, dental care becomes even more crucial. Much of the connection between horse and rider comes by way of the horse’s mouth, and depending on the discipline, the horse may always have pressure in their mouth. If there are problems or discomfort within the mouth, it can become evident in the horse’s performance and disposition under saddle.

According to Dr. Davis, having a horse’s teeth in perfect shape allows one to immediately rule out dental issues when trying to troubleshoot a performance problem. A “sound mouth” also allows the best condition for supple, soft, and accurate connections between horse and rider through the bridle.

Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Equine Clinic

The most common signs of dental discomfort in horses include:

  • Head-tilting and tossing
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bit-chewing and tongue lolling
  • Tail-wringing, bucking, and other behavioral issues
  • Drooling and bad breath
  • Weight loss and spillage of grain (sometimes)

What is floating?

On a basic level, most horses require a routine float. Floating is the term for rasping or filing a horse’s teeth to ensure an even, properly aligned bite plane. While floating is the physical process, the scope of equine dentistry is much broader and examines the horse’s overall health as influenced by the mouth.

“A proper dental exam using a lightweight speculum, a very good light source, and a dental mirror allows me to see any possible problems and prevent those problems from becoming painful and affecting a horse’s performance and overall health,” said Dr. Davis.

How often should you have a veterinarian perform a routine dental exam on your horse?

Dr. Davis recommends an exam every 12 months at a minimum. For many sport horses, the demands of their competition schedule may require bi-yearly exams to prevent any problems that could sideline them from training or events. Lastly, any horse with a history of dental problems may require exams every three to four months. Without routine dental exams by a veterinarian, uneven wear can escalate to a serious health problem.

For a more in-depth explanation of equine dentistry, click HERE to read the full article from Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

NOTE: These guidelines are only suggestions, and you should always follow the specific instructions from your veterinarian.  

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!

Must-Watch Live Streams in August

The month of August is jam-packed with major show jumping, hunter, equitation, dressage, and eventing competitions. Continue reading to find out how to tune in to the final events of the summer.

FEI North American Youth Championships

August 8-13, 2023 – The 2023 FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) will take place during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival VI at Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, MI.  As the premier equestrian competition in North America for children, pre-junior, junior, young riders, and U25, the NAYC allows youth to compete against their peers in a format similar to that of the Olympic Games and other international senior championships. Tune in to watch young equestrians compete for team and individual FEI medals in the Olympic equestrian disciplines of show jumping and dressage.

Where to watch: USEF Network

US Equestrian (USEF) Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farms

August 8-13, 2023 – Catch some of the fun of the 2023 USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farm by watching wall-to-wall coverage of the country’s best hunter, jumper, and equitation ponies competing for coveted titles. The show takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. The competition will feature the Regular Pony Hunter USEF Championship, the Green Pony Hunter USEF Championship, the Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals, and the USEF Pony Jumper Championship.

Where to watch: USEF Network

Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) London

August 10-13, 2023 – LGCT London will take place at Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, England. The show will include two-star, five-star, and Global Champions League (GCL) show jumping competition. GCL classes will take place Saturday, August 12, and the LGCT Grand Prix of London will be the feature event on Sunday, August 13.

Where to watch: GCTV

U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

August 21-27, 2023 – The 2023 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will take place at HITS Chicago at Lamplight Equestrian in Wayne, IL. The event highlights many of the nation’s top athletes and horses in 16 different divisions, including the USEF Para Dressage National Championship.

Where to watch: USEF Network

MARS Great Meadow International

August 24-27, 2023 – The MARS Great Meadow International eventing competition is held at Great Meadow in The Plains, VA. In addition to drawing international talent, there are also several notable U.S. athletes expected to attend including Lauren Nicholson, Boyd Martin, and Will Coleman. Viewers can enjoy all three phases of the CCI4*-S, plus additional coverage from the other divisions.

Where to watch: Horse & Country

Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) at Ottawa

August 25-27, 2023 – Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) at Ottawa takes place at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON. Enjoy both two-star and five-star show jumping as well as MLSJ Team Competition. Tune in on Saturday, August 26, for the CSI5* Team Competition and Sunday, August 27, for the CSI5* Grand Prix.

Where to watch: Horse & Country and MLSJ TV

2023 United States Eventing Association (USEA) American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds

August 29-September 3, 2023 – The 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. This annual championship showcases every level of eventing from Beginner Novice to Advanced.

Where to watch: Horse & Country

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 To Know Before Taking a Job as a Working Student

Working student positions can be wonderful opportunities for young riders to get a taste of the equestrian industry. This type of job can often differ in expectations, duties, and benefits so it is necessary to understand all of the details before agreeing to the position. Continue reading for a few crucial points to understand and discuss before taking on a position as a working student.

Type of Barn

It is important to think about the type of barn you would like to work for when you start the working student job search. Farms of all levels and disciplines often offer working student opportunities. While some people may want to work for a top hunter barn that travels to shows every week, others may prefer working at a facility with a busy lesson program or pony camp. If you are unsure about what type of farm you would like to work for it may be best to talk to several to get a feel for what seems most beneficial for you.

Responsibilities and Training Opportunities

Similar to any job, it is necessary to be clear on what your job duties will be before accepting a position. Since some working student jobs require prior experience and others do not, be sure you can handle all of the tasks your employer expects you to complete.

Although working student positions often include training, you need to be honest about your level of experience. If you are talking to a trainer about a working student position and the tasks seem beyond your abilities, make sure you are upfront about what you are capable of doing. Do not agree to do jobs that you are not able to successfully complete. Employers are often open to teaching working students, but it is important to have the discussion ahead of time.

Riding Opportunities

Some working student jobs offer riding opportunities while others do not. Be sure you are clear about whether or not riding will be part of the job, especially if this is important to you.


Working student jobs are not always paid positions, and it is important to know that upfront. This is often dependent on the employer, level of experience, type of position, and length of time. Another important topic to discuss is housing if it is something you would need. The employer may provide housing if it is a longer-term situation such as a job during an entire winter circuit. Some barns may offer a small stipend and more riding opportunities as payment. This is an important factor to know ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.


If you take a job at a show barn it is necessary to ask about their travel schedule and if you will be expected to go. This is especially important to ask about if you are still in school or have other responsibilities. Make sure you will have housing and travel expenses covered if you are expected to attend horse shows.

Working student positions can give young riders a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a barn. Make sure the farm is the right fit for you so that you can get as much out of the experience as possible.

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!

Ways To Maintain Your Horse’s Fitness Outside of the Arena

Although riding your horse in the arena is a great way to maintain fitness and practice for the show ring it can become redundant. Some horses become ring sour from constantly doing the same work in one location day in and day out. Continue reading for BarnManager’s favorite activities for keeping horses fit outside of the arena.

Hill Work

If you live in an area with hills, taking your horse up and down the inclines is a great way to not only maintain but also improve your horse’s fitness. Depending on the how steep the hills are, you can walk, trot, or even canter your horse in both directions. Hill work can be tough for horses, like it is for humans, so make sure to start slowly. Remember to pay attention to the ground itself, which could be slippery after rain, especially on grass. Adding hill work to your routine a couple times a week will give your horse a mental break from the arena while also exercising different muscles to stay fit.

Trail Riding

Trail riding is a wonderful change of scenery for horses and riders that need a break from the ring. It is also a fun activity to do with your friends. Trail rides can include navigating inclines, stepping over logs, and walking across streams, all of which are great experiences for your horse. Even if you stay at a walk riding out on trails can help maintain your horse’s fitness and improve their stamina, while also giving them the mental exercise of exploring new environments.

Field Work

If your farm has a field that gets checked for holes and rocks making it safe to ride in, exercising your horse out in the open space can be a great way to vary their work routine. Even if you do exercises that are similar to those you would do in the arena, they are more challenging because you are in a new setting and on a different type of footing. After you and your horse gain confidence, galloping in an open field is a truly memorable experience.


Although not all farms have a treadmill, they are a great way to keep your horse fit without riding. They are also a useful tool when turnout is not an option due to inclement weather conditions. Treadmills allow you to control both the speed and incline for your horse, so they are an easy way to add light hill work into their routine. Some barns even have water treadmills, which provide the added benefit of low-impact and high-resistance training.


Similar to a treadmill, walkers are a good way to maintain your horse’s fitness in between riding sessions. Although they do not have an incline option, you can adjust the speed in order to fine tune your horse’s workout. Like a treadmill, using a walker is another safe way to get your horse out of its stall when turnout is not an option.

Like all athletes, sport horses need to be fit and ready to compete, both physically and mentally. Although it is still important to ride and practice in an arena, consider mixing up your horse’s exercise routine with different ways to keep them in top condition.

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 To Know Before Taking a Job as a Barn Manager or Groom

Job hunting in the equestrian industry can be hard. Positions with the same title can have vastly different expectations, responsibilities, and benefits. Before accepting a position as a groom or barn manager make sure you understand the details about what you will be asked to do. Keep reading for BarnManager’s key questions to ask during a job interview. 

Job Responsibilities

The biggest question to ask when considering a job or during the interview is finding out what your responsibilities will be. For example, get clear on whether the role is specifically grooming, barn managing, or doing a combination of several things. Find out ahead of time if office work will be involved, such as ordering hay, making hotel reservations, or submitting entries so you understand more about what your days and weeks on the job will involve. The more questions you ask about the employer’s expectations for the role and what it takes to be successful in it, the more you will know whether or not it is a good fit for you.

Size and Business Model

Another factor to think about when considering a job is the number of employees and horses at the facility on average. Also ask how many people do certain jobs, including the role you are interested in performing. This information will help you understand how much teamwork or sharing of responsibilities is expected and how busy everyone is throughout a typical day. Find out about the barn’s business model as well. Sales operations run very differently than boarding faciltiies, and competition-focused or discipline-specific stables have different expectations than pleasure, trail, or big lesson barns.

Riding Opportunities

Photo by Jump Media

While some people want riding opportunities as part of their employment, others do not. Either way, it is a good idea to ask if it will be required or if it is an option. Some farms offer occasional flatting opportunities to staff members while others expect staff to ride several horses a day. Get clear on this important topic during the interview so everyone involved is on the same page ahead of time.

Show or Travel Schedule

If you are applying for a position at a show barn, make sure you know the annual competition schedule. Even if the job calls for you to stay home, understanding how often the barn’s horses, customer, and staff are on the road is crucial. Additionally, whether the position is based at home or goes to shows, it’s also useful to have an idea about how many staff members and horses stay or go during the various show seasons and for how long. For example, you may not want to accept a position where you would be left at home in charge of caring for half of the the barn’s horses if most of the other employees are away at the shows.

Days Off

This question is extremely important to ask for any job in the equestrian industry. Days off are not always guaranteed every week, especially at show barns, so having an understanding of what is expected ahead of time is essential to being happy with the position if you decide to accept an offer.

Staff Turnover

Although this one can be tricky to ask directly, do your best to learn about the workplace culture at the barn. Ask about longtime staff members and try to get an idea about how long other employees have been working there, including those who have held the position they are looking to fill. A job or an organization with high turnover could mean that workloads are unreasonable or employees are not treated well.

Job hunting is challenging so make sure to gather as much information as you can about a role you are interested in to help make an educated decision about whether or not it is a good fit for you.

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!