The BarnManager Q&A With: Samantha Lyster

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Samantha Lyster, Head Groom at Artemis Equestrian Farm, located in Wellington, FL, and Greenwich, CT

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

I always have a leather hole punch, a pair of scissors, and Band-Aids. They seem a little silly, but they are the things I’m most often asked for at the ring, both by the people I work for and by other grooms who don’t have them handy.

What is the most helpful habit that you practice at the barn?

Patience. It is still something I struggle with, and it is often easy to forget. It can be applied in all situations, with both horses and humans.

Samantha Lyster with her own Dame Amour. Photo by Ashley Neuhof Photography

How do you foster a great team environment in your business?

This can be difficult unless you’re lucky enough to have a group of people that get along instantly. I think it is important to keep everyone informed of the day’s plan, even if it doesn’t necessarily apply to them, because it keeps the whole team feeling involved. Also, make sure to be aware of how everyone does things a little differently and make an effort to include their ideas.

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care? Where did you learn it?

If you think you’ve curried enough you haven’t, and you should keep going. Also, try to use different types of curry combs. The best way to get a horse to shine is to really stimulate their skin, get those natural oils working to your advantage, and remove all that dead hair and dirt. I learned that from my coworker, Jose Rios. He also pointed out the importance of having multiple curry combs like a mitt, a thick rubber one, and a metal one. They all have their own job.

 What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

I’ve only been once, but I really liked Lake Placid. The show itself had a great atmosphere, and the town was super neat. The surrounding areas had lots of places to explore!

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

If I were a horse, I would probably be someone’s quarter horse they trail ride. I really like to be out and about and explore new areas and sights!

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 Podcasts

Equestrian podcasts are more popular than ever these days. They are perfect to listen to on the go and can be educational, entertaining, and inspiring. Since there are so many to choose from, we have compiled a list of some of our current favorites.

 

Horses in the Morning

Hosted by Glenn Hebert of Horse Radio Network and equestrian Jamie Jennings, Horses in the Morning is a long-standing podcast that is all about equestrians. Listeners will get their daily dose of the horse world through entertaining conversations with guests. The show includes several regular horse-related segments in addition to listener call-ins and contests.

Click here to listen: https://www.horseradionetwork.com/category/9am-live-horses-in-the-morning/

 

Sport Horse Podcast

Sport Horse Podcast is the newest show in this lineup and is hosted by BarnManager’s founder Nicole Lakin and Dr. Tim Worden, a sport scientist and member of the Equine High Performance Sports Group as well as the Sport Horse Research Foundation. During this new podcast, Lakin and Dr. Worden talk to leading equestrians and researchers about the science behind training and management techniques for equine athletes. Listeners will learn how science and horsemanship can work together to improve equine performance results.

Click here to listen: https://www.sporthorseseries.com/podcast

Equestrian B2B Podcast

The Equestrian B2B Podcast features conversations with business leaders and entrepreneurs in the equestrian industry. Hosted by Jennifer Wood and Jennifer Connor of Equestrian Businesswomen, this educational podcast gives listeners important tips on starting, maintaining, and enjoying a successful business.

Click here to listen: https://www.eqbusinesswomen.com/equestrian-b2b-podcast-show-notes

The Plaidcast

On The Plaidcast, Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse speaks with top hunter, jumper, and equitation riders, trainers, horse show managers, and industry experts. Klemm is joined by several co-hosts, including Traci Brooks of Balmoral Farm, mental skills coach Tonya Johnston, Michael Tokaruk of Tokaruk Show Stables, and several others. Guests discuss topics such as how they became successful in the industry, horsemanship, and tips for riders.

Click here to listen: https://www.theplaidhorse.com/the-plaidcast/

Young Black Equestrians

The Young Black Equestrians podcast is hosted by Abriana Johnson, an equestrian, author, and entrepreneur. This podcast shines a spotlight on significant Black people who are part of the equestrian world. Johnson aims to educate, promote diversity, and increase access to the horse community through her podcast.

Click here to listen: https://youngblackequestrians.com/podcast/

Equestrian Voices

Noelle Floyd’s Equestrian Voices is hosted by Caroline Culbertson and brings up some of the deeper topics of life as an equestrian. Guests talk about issues such as over-competing horses, mental health, and the realities of becoming a professional in the industry.

Click here to listen: https://www.noellefloyd.com/blogs/equestrian-voices-podcast

USHJA On Course

USHJA On Course is the official podcast of the United States Hunter Jumper Association. The podcast welcomes top junior, amateur, and professional riders to discuss the sport as well as matters beyond the show ring.

Click here to listen: https://www.ushja.org/news/on-course-podcast

Heels Down Happy Hour

Sit back, relax, and catch up on all the horse show news with the Heels Down Happy Hour podcast. Journalist Justine Griffin, international event rider Jessica Payne, and book designer Ellie Woznica talk about all the recent events in the equestrian industry and what listeners should know to stay informed.

Click here to listen: https://heelsdownmag.com/category/listen/

The Equestrian Podcast

On The Equestrian Podcast, host Bethany Lee of My Equestrian Style talks to some of the top riders, professionals, and business owners in the equestrian world. While on this podcast, guests discuss their work with horses as well as some less conventional topics of working with horses.

Click here to listen: https://equestrianpodcast.podbean.com

Next time you are driving to the barn, getting your horse ready, or cleaning tack, test out one of these podcasts to stay up to date with the equine industry.

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!

 

Help Wanted: You’ve Been Hired as a Working Student. Now What?

If you read our first blog about working student positions and how to navigate the hiring process, you may be looking for more resources on how to be a dependable working student and get the most out of the experience once you begin. Since we have had multiple working student opportunities, we are here to offer words of wisdom as you take that next step. If you have made the decision to accept a working student position, here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.

Be an Asset

Training facilities are looking for someone who is positive, hard-working, adaptable, competent, and efficient. Someone who already has experience with horses is preferred, but many facilities are willing to accept someone who doesn’t have experience and will train them along the way. If you embody the qualities they are looking for, then you will become a valued member of their team.

Keeping that in mind, always strive to be an “A+” worker. Our parents taught us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Following these wise words helped us tremendously, and it will do the same for you.

Never forget that attitude is important. If you have a good attitude and are pleasant, having you at the barn will be a joy. A good attitude in addition to a good work ethic will certainly make you a valuable asset.

Be humble and quick to learn. Despite the experience and knowledge you may already have, don’t act like you know everything. Be open and willing to handle tasks the way your trainer prefers, even if the process is different than what you may have experienced elsewhere. Be flexible and quick to adapt.

Pay attention to everything at all times. Some of the things you will learn are taught directly, others are caught indirectly. If you are unsure or don’t know about something, don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask questions to get a better understanding, because being inquisitive is how you learn.

Manage your time well. Prioritize, organize, and discipline yourself and your time. Keep a personal record of your time if the facility or trainer does not have an existing system. In your records, include when you arrive, when you start and complete major tasks, and what time you leave each workday. This record will help you and the facility keep your lines of communication open. It will also help you compare your time worked with the rewards of your labor by tracking both working hours and lesson hours.

Valuable Lessons

When you accepted the position of working student, you may have been thinking of saddle time, but don’t forget school is always in session. From the time you arrive at the barn until the time you leave, there is so much to learn. As mentioned before, there will be plenty of direct and indirect learning opportunities. Being around different horses, watching the trainer teach various students, and carrying out your job responsibilities are all opportunities to learn new things.

Through your work experience, you will learn how to be quick and efficient. There is quite a bit to do from sunup to sundown. From your hands-on exposure to the different horses at the barn, you will quickly realize that not all horses are the same. There will be some that are easy to handle, compliant, and well-behaved. Others will be a test of your patience and require you to think creatively to deal with their behaviors. You will learn how to think on your feet and come up with ways to handle unexpected situations.

As a working student, you will learn so much about how to take care of horses, how to manage a barn, and how to become a better rider, but you will also learn lessons applicable to life outside of the barn, such as how to deal with people. As a working student, you will deal with many types of people that come into the barn, all of which will have different personalities and methods of working. Through these interactions, you will learn how to work with others, how to avoid issues, and how to handle conflict when it does arise.

When you consider the amount of work you put in compared to the riding instruction you receive, bear in mind these other “lessons” you will learn. It may seem like there is little reward for your hard labor, but always consider all the advantages. As a working student, you really are accumulating a wealth of knowledge.

Feeling Discouraged

As with everything in life, you will have good days and bad days. You will certainly get discouraged at some points because being a working student is a lot of work. It will get repetitive and old at times. You will get tired of dealing with some people, especially the ones who are harder to work with. There will be bad days dealing with the horses. You might even get hurt, both physically and emotionally. Mistakes happen and you may get chastised for it. It will sometimes seem like everything is going wrong and you may want to quit. You will sometimes feel unappreciated.

When it gets hard, you will need to reevaluate whether you want to continue in this position. We encourage you not to make any rash decisions when you are feeling low. Taking a break to gather your thoughts and emotions will help to process what to do next.  Also, talk to someone you can trust to share how you are feeling. Having someone listen who can offer you sound, wise counsel is very helpful at times like those. Maybe ask your boss if you can have some time off. If he or she says yes, use that time to reflect on the true importance of the experience

Last Words

Working students can be crucial to riding facilities. Many rely heavily on their working students to keep horses healthy and the facility functioning. Being a working student can help you toward your goal of becoming a better rider. If you embark on this new adventure, we encourage you to use it as an opportunity to build your resume, and then graduate with the advantage of experience.

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!

7 Tips to Effectively Manage Horses and School

The school year may look different in the fall of 2020, but it doesn’t mean students are any less busy than during a typical school year. From classes and assignments to college applications and outside tutoring sessions, it can be hard to find time to ride and care for horses. BarnManager is here to help you navigate the transition back to school while ensuring your horses’ care and programs don’t slip through the cracks.

1. Enlist a team you trust.

Everyone knows that behind every successful duo in the show ring is a knowledgeable, capable, and devoted team. We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village,” and with horses, it’s no different. From the trainer, to the groom, vet, parent, chiropractor, sibling, and everyone in between, it’s crucial to develop relationships with the team surrounding you and your horse to know he or she is in the best of hands when school gets too demanding. Trusting individuals with your horse’s care will allow you the peace of mind to devote yourself to the most important task at any given moment and not worry about your horse’s care or training.

2. Maintain regular communication.

Even with your team in place, you still need to communicate among all team members to ensure everyone is on the same page and nothing gets overlooked. If you can only come ride two days per week, let the trainer know when you will be there and when you expect your horse to be ridden by someone else. This way, you avoid mix-ups and assumptions that can leave everyone frustrated. Communicate about all the little things, as well, including supplements, vet visits, and other details about which you would like to stay informed.

3. Keep it digital.

We live in a constantly evolving digital world, but we can use technology to our advantage to better track what’s going on with our horses. Using a platform like BarnManager allows for consistent messaging and communication. The advantage to a digital space for communicating is to be able to refer back to a conversation that happened. This way, you won’t wonder if you forgot to mention something to your trainer or groom about your horse, and you will be able to review what your trainer may have already relayed to you.

4. Stay on top of your (and your horse’s) goals.

Have a conversation with your team at the beginning of the school year about your upcoming riding goals. Whether it’s wanting to move up, qualify for finals, or just have a good time getting to know your horse in the show ring, this will adequately prepare everyone to manage time and resources most effectively to accomplish these goals. If you have specific goals in mind for your horse, make sure your trainer knows this from the get-go and be sure to check in on how those goals are progressing throughout the year, even if you can’t be there to see for yourself.

5. Keep watching the sport.

Another benefit of the digital world coming to life in horse sports is the utilization of live streams at competitions across the country. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to ride or compete as frequently, be sure to tune into some live streams when you have time. You can learn so much from watching others navigate a course, and most platforms let you watch for free and even allow replays. If you’re a good multi-tasker, have a competition on in the background while you finish schoolwork; if not, reward yourself for finishing a daunting task by turning on a horse show.

6. Prioritize.

Perhaps the most important, yet most difficult aspect of being a horse owner or rider is prioritizing tasks. Begin each month and each week by analyzing what you have to do and what is most important to you and your personal goals. Do you want to make good grades and get into the college of your dreams? Maybe riding needs to take a back seat. Do you want to qualify for indoors and maybe ride in college one day? Then perhaps riding should play a bigger role in your everyday life. Of course, prioritizing your time is a conversation that must happen with your family and everyone involved in your efforts, both riding-related and academic, but it is important to know what matters most to you, so you can know how to effectively allocate your time.

7. Manage your time.

Perhaps the most important tactic in maintaining good grades while also riding and competing is effective time management. Make every hour count by scheduling your ride times and making efficiency a top priority as you go about your day. If you have a solid grasp on your time and don’t let it slip away chatting with barn friends or scrolling through social media, you’ll have more time in your day to devote to schoolwork and riding. Being a student also requires creative solutions for getting your work done, whether it’s in transit to or from a horse show, in between classes at a show, during free periods at school, or any other pockets of time you can use to your advantage.

Above all, this year is a time to emphasize safety while navigating both school and riding, so be sure not to forget safety protocols when going about your busy days. Focusing on safety, studying, and riding is a tough balance to achieve, but keeping all these factors in mind will help you on the path to accomplishing goals in everything you do.

 

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!

Setting Riding Goals for 2020

The start of a new year is the ideal time to step back and look at your goals and plans for the year and to map out what you need to do to achieve them. Whether you’re reading this in January or June however, there is always benefit in taking time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when doing so and a few things to consider when setting your riding, training, and competition goals for 2020.

1. Reflect on the past year.

Look back on the past 12 months. What worked? What did you accomplish that you are proud of? What didn’t work? What do you feel needs the most improvement? What did you learn? Draw from your answers as you begin to make your plan for the year ahead.

Look back on the past year to help you plan your year ahead.

2. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals.

One great way to avoid 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.” Here are some examples of what that looks like:

Specific – Focus on making your goals precise. For instance, a goal such as “improve my riding” is rather ambiguous and could be made more precise, such as “improve my scores in the equitation ring.”

Measurable – Goals like approving scores, completing a competition, jumping a new height, or finishing all of your cross-county rides within the optimum time are all examples of measurable goals.

Attainable and Realistic – These two go hand-in-hand. If you were competing in the 0.80m Jumpers last year, the 1.40m may not be an attainable or realistic goal for you or your horse. Understand you and your horse’s capabilities and avoid setting yourself up to fail.

Timeline-able – Put a time frame on your goals. With horses things are often bound to change, so give yourself the flexibility to adjust your timeline if needed, but try to keep your eyes on a goal date.

3. Set short-term goals that lead to the long-term goal.

In order to not get overwhelmed and to have a realistic chance at achieving what you’ve set out to accomplish, break down your large goals into smaller steps and map out an action plan to make the big goals happen. Short-term goals can even take as short as a day to complete, such as “confidently jump a 3’6” course at home.”

Take small steps toward your larger goal.

4. 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.

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

Planning out your competition year and your horse show goals? Check out Jumpfax. Striving to achieve your barn management organization in 2020? 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.

6. 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 2020 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!

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!