Five Fundamentals of Equitation from Stacia Klein Madden and the Iron Bridge Hounds Pony Club

Stacia Klein Madden can typically be found ringside during major equitation classes at top horse shows across the country or at home at Beacon Hill Show Stables training some of the country’s most competitive junior and amateur hunter, jumper, and equitation riders.

Two weeks ago, however, our BarnManager team found Madden somewhere a little bit different: in Maryland amidst 11 young U.S. Pony Club riders and their adorable, fuzzy ponies and well-schooled mounts.

The riders – ranging in age from seven to 16 and in skill level from walk-trot to those competent at jumping three feet – generally focus on dressage, eventing, and beginning show jumping in their lessons, but Madden’s presence meant something different for them as well: a special clinic with a focus on the “Fundamentals of Equitation.”

The clinic was awarded to the riders as the winners of the 2018 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Barn Night Group Video Contest, presented by BarnManager, thanks to this winning entry!

This year marked our BarnManager team’s second year in a row partnering with WIHS to put on the clinic, and for the second year in a row, we walked away having gained valuable insight! (Read about last year’s clinic with Laura Graves here.)

With Madden, the emphasis on equitation provided the participating riders – and us! – with tips and reminders that can be beneficial to riding across disciplines – and across all skill levels.

While using the full ring properly in your hunter or equitation class or halting squarely in a straight line after a fence in your lesson may not be exercises you need to work on, it never hurts to revisit the fundamentals!

In fact Madden herself said, “The basics are the same, whether you’re teaching somebody to be on a horse for the first time, or whether you’re trying to win a national championship. It’s just levels and degrees of what you’re trying to fine-tune. Having taught these levels might inspire me to go back to some very simple things with my students at home when I teach this week!”

Here are five of our favorite fundamental reminders from the clinic with Madden:

1) Always remember that you are the pilot – not the passenger!

 Ensuring that the rider had full control of the horse was an over-arching theme of Madden’s for the clinic, no matter what level the rider was.

“Air Force One is the most technologically advanced airplane in the world, but it can’t fly itself! It still needs a pilot,” Madden said. “Think of your horse as the plane, and you as the pilot. No matter what kind of horse it is, you have to fly the plane. If they want to go off the course you planned, you have to correct it.”

2) Don’t allow repeat disobediences from your horse, but tailor your correction to the crime.

As the pilot of your horse, you should expect the horse to go where you direct them to go and do what you have asked them to do. When they don’t, it’simportant to correct them properly the first time and not continue to let the disobedience go on or even build into a greater problem.

In the IBHPC clinic, Charlie Atkinson had a good ride in her session on the pony, Emmie, but the chestnut mare had a habit of rooting the reins in a quick motion, pulling Atkinson out of the tack.

Madden showed Atkinson how to quickly set her hands to prevent the rooting as well as teaching her the proper timing for the correction. “When you feel her neck tense and her head go up a bit, get ready, because that’s what she does before she roots down,” Madden advised Atkinson. By the end of the session, Atkinson had a feel for the timing and correction, and Emmie had stopped rooting at the reins both while moving and in downward transitions.

There is a difference in the type of correction a horse may need, however.

“There’s a difference between a horse that stops and a horse that ducks out, and you correct them differently,” Madden said. “A horse that stops is one who loses momentum on the approach to the jump and stops straight right in front of the jump. A horse that ducks out is one that keeps his momentum but turns away from the jump.

“When the horse stops, you need to correct the loss of momentum, so you circle right away, and use your stick behind your leg to get the horse going forward,” continued Madden. “Ducking out is a steering problem, so to correct it you need to turn the horse the opposite way that he went past the jump, then re-approach.”

3) Utilize a three-second rule when it comes to your transitions.

Young Pony Club rider Penelope Roesler had only been riding Fleetwood Mac for a short time before the clinic after transitioning from a pony, and at the beginning of her session, Fleetwood Mac was a bit sluggish off of her leg aids.

Madden taught Roesler how to use the crop behind her leg to reinforce the leg aid and increase Fleetwood Mac’s sensitivity to the leg, and she instituted a “three-second rule” for her transitions, calling out a new gait then counting aloud to three to encourage Roesler to get a prompt transition. The improvement in Fleetwood Mac’s responsiveness was dramatic, and by the end of her session, Roesler was cantering a small course on him.

Particularly when schooling or hacking solo at home, if you have a sluggish horse, it can be easy to get lazy yourself and give your horse a little extra time to accelerate, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a little extra time to decelerate! It never hurts to remember to be crisp and timely in your transitions.

4) Incorporate ground rails into your routine.

Madden incorporated rails on the ground before jumping for each one of the groups. “You can get a lot done with rails on the ground. You want your horse to have a long, healthy career,” she said.

“I have multiple horses in my barn in their 20s, still sound and showing. You do that by saving their legs and not always jumping. You can keep a horse pretty fit over cavaletti, and they’re a great way to work on riders’ skills as well. Cavaletti work prepares you for jumping and gives you the skills to be ready to jump. There are a gazillion things you can do over cavaletti. Get creative with them and figure out what would help you and your horse.”

5) Be thankful for the opportunity that you have to ride in any capacity and enjoy it!

Maybe it was the way they carefully groomed their ponies, brushed out their tails, and showed their mounts how much they appreciated them, or maybe it was the way you could almost see each of them taking in and absorbing everything that Madden said and truly valuing her expertise, but watching the Iron Bridge Hounds Pony Club riders was a valuable reminder of what it looks to really be thankful for this incredible privilege that we have of riding and working with horses.

No matter what your discipline or riding level, I think we can all agree that love and appreciation of the horse is the most important fundamental of all.

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!

Inside the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals!

The Barn Management Team that Helps Bring it All Together

Riding in equestrian competitions of any discipline requires an important prerequisite: the actual horse on which to compete!

At most horse shows and events available to young riders, that means either owning a horse of their own or leasing one. Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) shows, however, are an exception.

The organization, now open to students in grades four through 12, makes riding in hunt seat, western, and dressage competitions more accessible to many young riders, as competition horses are provided at all events. Competing riders show up to the event and randomly draw which horse they will be riding that day. For flat classes, they even enter the ring with no prior warm-up!

The IEA, now open to students in grades four through 12, makes riding in hunt seat, western, and dressage competitions more accessible to many young riders, as competition horses are provided at all events. Photo by Jump Media

But if the riders are not bringing all of their own horses, where do these magical, ready-to-show horses come from? And who is taking care of and managing them? And how do the riders know that the mount they are getting will be cooperative?

Our BarnManager team caught up with the barn manager and horse coordination team working seamlessly behind the scenes at the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals in Harrisburg, PA, on April 26-28, to learn more about what makes it all possible.

Here’s an inside look at the process, from months before the show to the moment that the last horse ships out of the show!

Before it All Begins

Several months before the first horse arrived at the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals, barn manager Simon Towns – who has worked for the IEA for 15 years – spent a lot of time on the phone.

Part of her role as the barn manager for the Hunt Seat National Finals each year is searching to find the horses that she will ultimately manage at the Finals, and that means placing numerous calls to horse owners within the IEA’s network and in the area surrounding the finals’ venue.

“This show is in April, so usually in January and February the initial calls are going out to people that you know just from having done it or from knowing the area,” explained Towns. “This [year’s Finals] happened to be in Zone 11, so we went to Zone 11 [in Pennsylvania and New Jersey] first, but we’ve also got some from New York, some from West Virginia.”

This year, 13 providers stepped up to the call, with a total of 72 horses coming to the Finals from universities and schools including Delaware Valley University, the Grier School (PA), Bethany College (WV), and Morrisville State (NY); independent owners including Megan Mendenhall; and riding schools and farms including Black Horse Stables (PA), Candy Lane Acres (PA), Briarwood Farm (NJ), Innova Riding Academy (PA), Stellar Riding (PA), Cavalier Farm (CT), Granite Springs (NY), and Serenity Farm (PA).

So that should be it than, right? The horses have all been acquired; their owners will bring them, and the IEA riders will pull a name from one of those 72, get on, and show! Not quite. This is where the management and coordination really begin!

Settling in at the Show

For this year’s Hunt Seat National Finals, the horses arrived on Wednesday and Thursday morning, where they were greeted by Towns and horse coordinators including Ashley Wilson of Concord, GA, and Kathryn Bordua of Manchester, CT.

IEA horse coordinators Ashley Wilson (far left) and Kathryn Bordua (far right) with Morrisville State-provided mount, Pappy, Morrisville State rider Hannah Guindon, and IEA barn manager Simon Towns. Photo by Jump Media

After being unloaded – on a shipping schedule coordinated by Towns and the horse coordination team – the horses are led to their stalls, which have already been completely set up and bedded with shavings by that same team.

“Simon does a lot of the pre-work, months ahead of the show, basically doing the barn format, how the stalls will be set up, how many providers need to go where, who’s working with who, who’s shipping in with who, organizing the shavings and things like that,” explained Bordua. “Then, Ashley comes in a couple of days ahead of time, and she and Simon work together to get the barn all set up.”

Once settled in their stalls, some of the horses come with owners or handlers to care for them, but others are generously donated for the weekend without a handler.

“At this show, we have some horses that were dropped off to us, so we do things like feeding in the morning,” said Wilson in describing the various hats that the barn management team wears throughout the weekend. “We actually pick stalls for a lot of them and fill waters. Sometimes you have a provider who will bring seven horses but have one person, so you help out there.”

Competition Time: Maintaining an Even Playing Field

Once the horses are situated, Thursday is a full day dedicated to schooling, and for Bordua, Towns, and Wilson, evaluating the horses.

While the horse providers supply background information on each horse, it is up to Bordua, Towns, and Wilson to assess what division, or divisions, each horse is best suited for – which is no easy task and one that continues to evolve throughout the show weekend.

“We watch the schooling with information on what the providers say that the horses can do,” said Towns. “Kathryn adjusts their duties appropriately within the show framework so that we can establish what we want the standards to be.” They divide the horses into Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, or Open divisions.

Bordua added, “I start by watching the horses go. I say to the horse provider, ‘Where do you want me to put this horse?’ They tell me. Then we decide their suitability and their level appropriateness. It’s a lot of watching them go around and saying, ‘We like this one over fences more, or I really like this one on the flat more. This one is better suited in Open because the playing field is more equitable that way.’

“You also don’t want to put the tiny little peanut pony in the class with the big warmbloods,” continued Bordua.

Skout, one of the adorable and well-behaved ponies used the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals. Photo by Jump Media

“When the coaches look at the class, they want to see what appears to be even competition,” added Towns.

After watching all of the horses go, Bordua and Wilson create a complex grid that details which horses will be used in what classes throughout the weekend, and the show begins! The start of the show, however, does not mean the end of the evaluating of the horses, and Bordua’s ongoing updates to the grid are frequent.

Wilson explained that the Open and Beginner levels were the most difficult to place horses in, as the Beginner horses need to be complacent with greener riders while the Open horses should have the ablility to let more experienced riders show off.  “You want the super fancy horses for the Open kids, but there are sharper edges to those horses,” continued Wilson. “Then the Beginner group has to go around and show well, but nothing is going to faze them. It’s just hard to find.

At the end of the day, Bordua, Towns, and Wilson want all the riders to have a fair and fun competition experience, but perhaps even more importantly, they want the same for the horses.

“Our job is also a lot of horsemanship,watching, and trying to assess a situation. I If we see the unraveling start to happen, we try to, at least for the horse’s sake, make sure that we make a decision before it actually becomes made for us,” said Bordua.

“We all have the same basic goal of making sure the horses and the kids are well-matched and used appropriately,” said Towns. “We all have that same philosophy.”

“We really have to think about the horses’ mentality and safety,” concluded Wilson. “We’re approaching the show from those 72 horses’ standpoints, instead of ‘Let’s see what the kids want or what the coaches want.’ Our side is, ‘What is going to make the horses happy and comfortable?’”

Learn more about the IEA by visiting www.rideiea.org.

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!

4 Lessons From the Equestrian Businesswomen Summit

On Wednesday, January 9, we attended the first ever Equestrian Businesswomen Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was a day of inspiration, learning, networking, and an overall sense of excitement. If you weren’t able to make it this year, we highly recommend you penciling it in for next year. Whether you were there or not, here are a few takeaways that we wanted to share with all of you.

1) Equestrian women are insanely resilient.

Many of the amazing women who spoke at the EQBW Summit have attained a great deal of success, but that didn’t come without challenge and adversity. The honesty and openness of many of these women lent itself to genuine and authentic conversations. We heard from Tracey Noonan, founder of Wicked Good Cupcakes, about her struggles with mental health and family while managing a growing business. We learned about the ways in which women like Donna Brothers shattered glass ceilings and found success in the male dominated Thoroughbred racing world. And we were brought to tears by the story of Bea de Lavalette and how her horse helped her to find herself after nearly losing her life in the Brussels Airport bombing.

Moral of the story: equestrian women are incredibly resilient. There is nothing that we can’t handle.

2) “How you do anything is how you do everything.” 

During a panel on jobs in the equestrian industry that are not riding or training, Donna Brothers of NBC sports shared this great motto that was passed down to her from her mother, Patti Barton, and it really resonated. Impressions matter. While none of us are perfect, it is important to show the world who you are. You do this through your appearance, through your treatment of others, through your preparedness for situations that you get yourself into, and by the decisions that you make.

3) You’re not in anything alone.

Good people want to help good people. Nothing was clearer in that room on Wednesday than the excitement and compassion that women felt toward one another. There were women offering their personal contact information to anyone who wanted to continue the conversation offline. There were questions asked and genuine interest in others on display. There were coffee dates set and friendships forged.

When women come together to support each other, it becomes clear that many of us share common experiences. So when you find yourself feeling alone, look around. There is usually someone there who is happy to help or to support you in whatever big or small way that they can. With that said, none of us are mind readers. You cannot be afraid to ask for help or support or to offer it when you see someone in need.

4) Equestrian women are awesome!

There was something really special about the group of women who came together for this inaugural event. The energy in the room was fantastic from thestart of the day through to the very end. Every single speaker spoke eloquently and shared truly interesting insights and advice. I have been to a lot of summits, speakers, lectures, conventions, etc., and I have never experienced something quite like it. Sure, sometimes a truly talented and electrifying speaker can command a room and make everyone feel their passion and excitement. But we are not talking about one rock-star personality saving the day. Every single woman was fantastic.

I can only attribute this phenomenon to equestrian women. Everyone from the organizers to the speakers and the attendees shared a spirit of excitement, empathy, compassion, and curiosity. These four emotions, no doubt ingrained in us through our love of horses, culminated in an experience that was authentic. Each speaker, no matter their comfort level with public speaking, felt comfortable and safe. Each attendee felt seen and heard. It was truly an experience that I will not soon forget.

Conclusion:

This event was one that I had been excited for since I first learned about it just under a year ago. I have the pleasure of working with the Equestrian Businesswomen founder Jennifer Wood, so I am admittedly a bit biased. But I truly have nothing but pure joy and excitement for the future of this initiative. And if you don’t trust my assessment, I encourage you to do your research, check out their Digital Ticket to hear from panelists and speakers, and then sign up for next year’s event and see for yourself.

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!

Winter Equestrian Festival 2019 Destination Guide

With the start of the new year comes the start of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in one of the BarnManager team’s favorite places: Wellington, FL!

For the Wellington first-timer, it can be hard to know where to begin your visit. (There are just so many beautiful horses everywhere!) That’s why we’ve compiled a few of our Wellington favorites into this destination guide to help you plan your next weekend visit or your full-season stay in the ‘winter equestrian capital of the world.’
 

 

Where to Eat

Agliolio – Agliolio’s pasta is made in house and, by our vote, is the best in Wellington! They also offer a number of gluten-free pasta options, delicious bread, tasty signature drinks, and even convenient carry-out for when you’re in the mood to carbo load at home. Check out www.Agliolio.com/menu.

Buccan – While not located in Wellington, Buccan is a favorite for WEF and AGDF goers looking to enjoy an evening on Palm Beach! Buccan is known for its delicious small plates full of big flavor that range from warm octopus salad to spicy pork tacos. Buccan offers communal seating or individual tables, but be sure to make a reservation as the restaurant fills up quickly during the winter season! Visit www.buccanpalmbeach.com.

The Farm Stand – The Farm Stand is one of the newest food additions to the WEF showgrounds – and it’s one of the healthiest! Located on the walk between the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring and Pony Island, The Farm Stand offers craft coffee from Pumphouse Coffee Roasters, plant-based cuisine and juices made by Meraki Juice Kitchen, and clean, nutritious food from Tess & Co. Visit www.farmstand-pb.com to learn more.

 

 

Field of Greens – If you’re looking to grab a salad or smoothie on the go or for a quick lunch, look no further than Field of Greens. The Wellington location is just minutes from the show grounds, and packed with healthy options including acai bowls, protein shakes, and juices in addition to the delicious salads! View the full menu at www.fieldofgreensonline.com.

The Oasis Café, Tiki Hut, or Tito’s Tacos – There are a number of additional dining options located onsite at the WEF showgrounds for those looking to grab a quick burger, sandwich, salad, or taco while enjoying the show or before their next round. For salads, wings, burgers, and more, visit the Tiki Hut located next to the International Arena. For a wide variety of options for breakfast or lunch, visit the Oasis Café, located in the Vendor Village, and for Mexican cuisine, stop in to Tito’s Tacos, open Thursday through Sunday just across the bridge from the Tiki Hut.

 

The Tiki Hut is a perfect place to catch the jumping action


 

Oli’s Fashion Cuisine – Oli’s is a popular hotspot for horse show goers, located just a short drive from the show grounds. The menu features an array of beautifully presented entrees and salads, as well as flatbreads, sandwiches, and more. If you’re enjoying a Monday off from the horse show, consider Oli’s for a boozy brunch or an enjoyable evening with friends, as all bottles of wine are half-off on Mondays. Visit www.olisfashioncuisine.com.

What to Do

Watch the Horse Show of Course! – WEF and AGDF run from January 9 through March 31, with a wide range of hunter, jumper, equitation, and dressage competition ongoing every Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free each day with the exception of Friday nights at AGDF and Saturday nights at WEF.

 

The International Ring lit up for Saturday Night is a sight that can’t be missed!


 

‘Saturday Night Lights’ – Parking admission to WEF is charged on Saturday nights ($20/car, with free parking also available across the street at the AGDF) because it’s the most anticipated night of the week, ‘Saturday Night Lights’! Throughout the 12 weeks of WEF, each Saturday night features a FEI-rated grand prix or a special, featured event, including the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes during the show’s opening week. Come early to enjoy the carousel, petting zoo, shopping, and dozens of food vendors offering delicious dinner options and treats ranging from kettle corn to crepes to cheesecake on a stick!

‘Friday Night Stars’ Freestyle – Much like Saturday nights host WEF’s largest, featured events each week, Friday night is the night to be at AGDF! During Friday Night Stars spectators are able to watch some of the best dressage horses and riders in the world perform their freestyle tests! Find the full AGDF schedule online here at gdf.coth.com.

 

The AGDF Derby Field is a another great place to soak up the Florida sun


 

Go to a Polo Match – In addition to many of the world’s best hunter, jumper, and dressage competitors, Wellington, FL, hosts the finest international polo players each winter at the International Polo Club (IPC)! For a Sunday afternoon of high-level sport and high-level socializing, put on your Sunday best and head over to IPC for a match, beginning each week at 3 p.m. A wide variety of tickets, including brunch options, box seats, and more, are available for purchase online at ipc.coth.com.

Go for a Drive – When you’re done at the horse show, continue down South Shore Boulevard or Pierson Road to take in some of the stunning properties and horse farms for which Wellington is known!

Where to Shop

Dover Saddlery – A popular, nationwide source for equestrian tack, supplies, and apparel, Dover Saddlery opened a Wellington, FL, location in 2014, offering just about any and everything you may need from a tack shop. In 2018, they also unveiled a location onsite at WEF for even greater convenience – and for another place for us to spend lots of money on our horses! Visit www.DoverSaddlery.com for more information.

Onsite at WEF – WEF hosts more than 100 food and retail vendors onsite each season in locations including Vendor Village in the middle of the showgrounds, Hunter Hill just above the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring, the Shoppes at the International Club inside the large International Club, and more. Be sure to check out some of our favorites including EquiFit, Equo, Hermès, Hunt Ltd., and Fab Finds by Sarah!

 

 

The Tackeria – Located directly across from both WEF and AGDF, The Tackeria has been a Wellington equestrian staple for years! The spacious store offers not only tack and supplies, but also a large selection of equestrian gift items and home décor pieces.

Worth Avenue – After you’ve visited Hermès at WEF, if you’re looking to continue your high-end shopping spree, be sure to continue to downtown Palm Beach to shop along the iconic Worth Avenue, home to unique boutiques, Chanel, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, and much, much more. Find a full directory online at https://worth-avenue.com/.

 

 
 
Have other Wellington favorites and recommendations that we missed? We’d love to hear your favorites in the comments!

Enjoy your next visit or stay in the ‘winter equestrian capital of the world!’

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 Tips for Achieving Your Equestrian Goals in 2019

It’s about to be that time of year again: that time where we suddenly go from consuming approximately a dozen cookies a day and possibly one too many glasses of wine to vowing that we’re only eating kale salads and drinking green juice for the whole next week. And also, we’re giving up the sleeping in and instead starting all of our days at 5 a.m. And we’re not buying Starbucks every day or any more pairs of breeches because 2019 is going to be the year we start really saving lots of money.

Maybe that’s not quite accurate for you, but we can bet that you’ve been there too—looking back over what you did or didn’t accomplish in the past year and swearing that you’re going to do things differently in the year ahead!

If you feel like you’ve been saying, “Now THIS year is really going to be my year,” every year since 2002 and nothing has changed – or even if you feel like 2018 was a really great year, and you’re on exactly the track that you want to be on – we have a few tips that could help you accomplish your goals in the year ahead and make 2019 one of your best years yet!

1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

It’s said that “if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough,” and we agree that it’s important to set big goals and to have high aspirations. However, you also want them to be realistic and attainable so that you don’t get discouraged on your way to achieving your goals and dreams!

One great tip for avoiding that sort of defeat on the way to accomplishing your goals is to make them “S.M.A.R.T.” or “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timeline-able.”

If you’ve been competing in the 0.80m jumpers, odds are that it is not realistic or attainable to make your goal competing on the same horse in the 1.40m in 2019. Instead, your S.M.A.R.T. goal may be something like: “Move up to the 1.10m on Sherlock by the end of the Vermont Summer Festival.” This gives you a very clear objective and a timeframe to aim toward.

2. Develop an action plan by breaking your large goal down to smaller steps.

Suppose your 2019 goal is to qualify your amateur-owner hunter for indoors or maybe it’s to lose 20 pounds in the process of improving your riding fitness and performance. Depending on where you are currently, either of those could seem pretty daunting.

In order to not get overwhelmed and to have a realistic chance at achieving what you’ve set out to accomplish, break down those large goals into smaller steps and map out an action plan to make the big goals happen.

For instance, qualifying for indoors goal could get broken down to a large number of baby steps, starting with a weekly goal such as: “Aim to ride three to four times a week so that I’m in better riding shape and ready for the show ring.” Then you can set goals of which shows you are aiming for and an action plan of how many shows you can realistically attend and how many may be needed to achieve your qualifying points.

For the weight loss and fitness goal, maybe you start somewhere such as: “Do physical activity outside of the saddle three times a week,” – a smaller, attainable step that will ultimately point you in the right direction of your larger, overarching objective.

3. Record your progress.

It’s inevitable that you’re going to have ups and downs throughout the year on the road to your goals, no matter what they may be. When you hit a low, it can be encouraging to look back at where you started! Track or journal your activity, such as your workouts or rides, that relates toward your goals. There are a number of goal-tracking journals, worksheets, and applications, specifically designed for this purpose. For equestrian goals and riding and competition journaling, check out View Halloo!

4. Take advantage of available, value resources and those around you.

That brings us to the next point: use your resources and the tools available to you! Planning out your competition year and your horse show goals? Check out Jumpfax. Striving to achieve your barn management organization in 2019? We might have an idea of an extremely helpful tool for you! (Hint: It’s BarnManager! ;))  For more specific ways that BarnManager can help you achieve your equestrian goals, be sure to check out this list we compiled!

No matter what your goal may be, there is likely to be a tool available aimed at helping you achieve it. In that same vein, there are likely going to be people who want to see you succeed! Connect with others who can hold you accountable, have similar goals, or can help mentor you or steer you in the right direction.

5. Celebrate your successes!

As you achieve even the baby steps along the way toward your big goal, take a moment to recognize your progress and celebrate the fact that you’re making headway – even if it feels like you have quite a way to go! Recognizing your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, can go a long way in building your confidence and commitment toward achieving what you’ve set out to accomplish!

Good luck as you go after your goals this year! Let’s make 2019 the best year yet!

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 Things We Learned from Laura Graves’ “Dressage for Jumping” Clinic

At BarnManager, we place a strong emphasis on the importance of ongoing education in order to become better riders and horsemen and women, and when it comes to furthering your dressage education, what’s better than learning from Laura Graves!?

The U.S. Olympic dressage team bronze medalist and 2018 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final runner-up represents so much of what we at BarnManager believe in and stand for – she’s truly connected with her horses and is so passionate about their care and their well-being. So, it was an absolute privilege to sponsor a “Dressage for Jumping” clinic with Graves on Tuesday, August 14, at the Ohana Equestrian Preserve in Virginia!

The riders of Kama Godek LLC, were awarded the clinic as the winners of the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Barn Night video contest, sponsored by BarnManager, and it was open to auditors to attend at no cost. For those not able to be in Virginia on Tuesday, it was also available to watch (and to re-watch here!) on USEF Network. We were in attendance and loved meeting so many great people and learning so much from Graves!

Here are just four of the takeaways that we came home with:

1) Dressage riders and jumpers – we’re not that different.

The “Dressage for Jumping” clinic was the first time that Graves had taught exclusively jumpers, but she herself said, “Whether you’re jumpers, or eventers, or dressage people – everyone struggles with all of the same things.”
What are some of the struggles that we all face? Most notably, according to Graves, getting horses in front of the leg and straight – two of the fundamental flatwork concepts that were emphasized throughout the clinic.

2) You should only work as hard as you want to.

Okay, this doesn’t mean that you should quit your day job and just go watch Netflix because you don’t like working. Instead, what Graves reiterated throughout the clinic was creating a level of responsiveness from your horse that allows you to not exert more effort in the saddle than what you want to be exerting.

As she explained, “If you’re using all of your energy to get a mediocre performance, your odds of getting a better performance are slim to none. You have to get more by doing less.”

Graves started each rider’s one-on-one session by asking, once they had moved into a trot, how hard they were working on a scale of one to 10. Graves joked that she is “lazy” and likes to only work at a one or a two when the horse is trotting.

“The first thing I ask when I get on a horse is, ‘Can I ride 10 of these in a day?’ ” said Graves. “If I can’t ride 10 in a day with breaking very little of a sweat, then for me it’s too much work.”

So, how do you make it so that you’re doing less? You have to make the horse care about what you’re doing and respond to it. If the horse isn’t moving forward in front of the rider’s leg for instance, rather than continually kicking and squeezing and working at an eight or nine on the one to 10 scale, you have to deliver something more.

“If he doesn’t care, you have to say, ‘How far do to I have to take my leg, hand or whip to make him care?’ ” explained Graves. “He has to mind your leg more than he would want. You have to find a place where you can surprise them enough that you make your point.”

By doing this, Graves hopes to create the situation where “if your leg is away, the pressure of the air of your leg coming toward his side should be enough to speed him up again.” This responsiveness allows the rider to only work as much as they want to be working, ideally at a one or a two.

3) It’s okay to make mistakes. You shouldn’t work just to cover them up.

“The main thing that I find holds people back is that we’re afraid of mistakes. Nobody’s more afraid of mistakes than dressage people,” said Graves. That may be true, but as Graves also shared on Tuesday, “horses making mistakes does not mean we’re bad riders,” and it’s extremely important to embrace mistakes rather than working to cover them up.

As an example, Graves had the very first rider of the day, 14-year-old beginning rider Piper Tyrrell, allow her horse to break from the trot down to the walk when Tyrrell took her leg off. Breaking to the walk was a mistake; Tyrrell wanted the horse to keep trotting even with less leg encouraging her forward. However, until Tyrrell let the mistake happen and was able to then correct it, the horse likely would not have been cognizant of the error.

“If you don’t let the mistake happen, he doesn’t even know if he’s doing the right thing or the wrong thing because your leg is always on,” said Graves.

4) Laura Graves is awesome.

We had a good hunch about this one going into Tuesday, but our conversations and the clinic with Graves only confirmed it! We loved her message:

“My number one goal is to make sure that the rider understands something that will hopefully change the way that they ride for the rest of their life. I really try to make sure that I deliver a clear message to every person so they say, ‘I really learned something today.’ ”

From her attitude toward teaching and her desire to truly instill her knowledge in the participating riders to her true passion and love for her horses and the sport, Laura Graves created fans for life in the BarnManager team!

We sat down with Graves to talk about her beginnings in dressage, her typical day at home, and managing the mental aspect of the sport, and we can’t wait to share more!

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!