A Day in the Life of Jessica Leto

Jessica Leto is a professional rider who runs JS Equine Ventures, LLC, a boutique sales and training operation based in Wellington, FL, with her partner Stephen Hirsh. Jessica graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Sports Administration and Business. Currently, Jessica competes at the five-star level with her mount Cimbura and also works with Stephen to maintain a strong group of hunter, jumper, and equitation sales horses. She takes particular pride in managing her business with a hands-on approach, investing time attending to all aspects of her horses’ care and training.

Keep reading for a behind-the-scenes look at a day in this professional rider’s life at the HITS Saugerties Horse Show Week VIII in Saugerties, NY, during the CSI5* $405,300 Grand Prix.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

5 a.m.

I’m typically an early riser so my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I like to make sure I have time in the morning so I don’t have to rush. I drink my coffee while thinking about my plan for the day and getting any administrative work for the business done while it’s fresh in my mind.

6:30 a.m.

I walk Monday, my Jack Russell terrier, and feed her breakfast before heading to the show. We also have a German shepherd named Cali, but we find it hard to bring her everywhere as not all Airbnb options at shows are pet friendly.

7 a.m.

I get to the show, feed the horses, and help clean stalls. I also do other morning chores such as recording temperatures for the FEI horses and checking the legs and backs of all the horses. I’m very hands-on, as is Stephen, so every morning we like to take time to check for anything out of the ordinary in all our horses’ bodies. We look for both skin issues and areas of soreness from training or competition then take that into account when making our plan for the day. My horse Cimbura, or “Cimba,” gets his magnetic massage blanket every morning while eating breakfast to help warm up and relax his muscles before being ridden.

8 a.m.

I have two horses in FEI at this show. My morning is spent focusing on working them both. I am showing Cimba in the CSI5* $405,300 Grand Prix later today. My horse Frosty HD, or “Frosty,” is done showing for the week. I ride Frosty first, and he gets to be a bit of a practice horse to help me prepare for the class later today. I focus on myself and play over some poles to get my eye working. Stephen gives me feedback on what he sees from the ground. I also do a bit of no-stirrup work to warm up my leg muscles. During this time my FEI groom is hand walking Cimba and cleaning him up so I can ride him around 10:30.

Jessica Leto and Cimba competing at HITS Saugerties. Photo by ESI Photography

10:30 a.m.

When I flat Cimba I like to take my time and give him a long warm-up walk because he is a very high-energy horse. I do some transitions and lateral work to make sure all the buttons are working for the class this afternoon. My flatwork is based on how my horse feels after his classes from earlier in the week, how I want him listening, and how I want him energy wise for peak performance. I usually flat Cimba for about 45 minutes to an hour but today is a little chilly so I give myself some extra time in case he feels frisky.

12 p.m.

At this time the horses get lunch and Cimba gets ice boots and relaxes for a bit before his class. I also get lunch and some coffee. I make sure all my equipment and pre-show preparations are in order and being done on time.

1:30 p.m.

I walk the grand prix course and go over the plan in detail for the first round and jump-off with Stephen. I go later in the order so I choose a few riders who may have a similar course plan or a similar-strided horse to watch in the lineup. Then during the opening ceremonies, I take a walk wearing my headphones and listen to some inspiring or energy-lifting music. I give Cimba one last check over at his stall and make sure he has what he needs before getting into my head space for competition.

2:30 p.m.

The first horse is on course. Will Simpson was first in the order, and he was clear. Amanda Derbyshire and Hunter Holloway also go clear before I even get on my horse.

3:30 p.m.

So far, only three of the 20 or so combinations have put in a clear round within the allotted time. I do the boot check with FEI stewards and then my groom helps me with a leg up. I usually get on and warm up when I am around 10 horses out. I start jumping around four or five out. We do not do too many jumps, just a few fences to get Cimba’s legs warmed up and his eyes open and thinking. Then we head into the ring to pre-load and give him a little tour before the start buzzer sends us off to try our luck at the track that has shown itself to be pretty difficult this afternoon.

We jump clear and within the time allowed to become the fourth and final combination to qualify for the jump-off.

Jessica Leto and Cimba after earning fourth in the CSI5* $405,300 Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Jessica Leto

4:00 p.m.

I return last for the jump-off, which is prime real estate since I’ll know how the other riders have done and what time I’ll need. Will and Amanda are fast, but both have a rail. Hunter goes before me and puts in a swift clear round so now I know I have to be fast and clear. Cimba and I were fast but had eight faults. We end up fourth, and we’re all very happy with the result and how Cimba jumped. Cimba and I get our ribbons and head in for the victory gallop. They play the “Top Gun: Maverick” theme song for the victory gallop, which I love.

4:30 p.m.

I got to attend my first press conference and sit among top riders to discuss our jump-off and what we thought of the class.

5 p.m.

Cimba got a bath, ice boots, and bandages while I was at the press conference. I am very into our feed program, so I make all the horses a celebratory bran mash with apples and bananas. I spend some time discussing my round and enjoying the results of the day with our team and horses before heading to get some Italian food. Monday gets to run loose and is very happy as well!

8 p.m.

Every evening we do night check to give hay, water, and take one more look at the horses before heading to bed. We also give them a lot of treats. It was a great day for our team, and I’m very proud of myself. Cimba is definitely one to remember!

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!

 

How To Prepare for Indoor Finals

Qualifying for and attending indoor finals is a popular year-end goal for many riders. There are several ways you can prepare for these high-pressure events as a rider, trainer, manager, and groom to ensure a positive experience.

Pack Extra Layers for Your Horse and Yourself

It can be difficult to plan for fall weather as the temperatures tend to fluctuate. Oftentimes, especially at the beginning of the season, it is cold at night and fairly warm during the day. For this reason, you should bring lots of layers when packing for indoor finals. This is true for both you and your horse. Also, before packing your horse’s stable sheet and blanket, it is a good idea to make sure they have been washed recently and are in good repair.

(Did you know? BarnManager has a list feature so you can create packing lists and share them with your team.)

Focus on Flatwork

Photo by Jump Media

After spending all summer showing in large outdoor arenas it can be difficult to switch to smaller indoor rings. Making sure your horse is adjustable and really listening to your aids is important not just for equitation finals, but also for showing in the hunters and jumpers. Be sure to emphasize flatwork and adjustability in your rides to ensure you are ready to perform at your best in a tighter space.

Practice Past Courses

Practicing what you might see at indoor finals can help you feel more confident walking into the show ring. This can be helpful for equitation, hunters, and jumpers. Setting up equitation or jumper courses in your indoor similar to those from past years will help prepare you for the challenges the course designer might present at the show. For hunters, try to recreate the types of jumps and fill used in previous years in your own ring to familiarize both you and your horse with obstacles that are out of the ordinary.

Make a Schedule

Indoor finals take place during a busy time of year. Unlike the summer, kids are back in school, everyone is working, and the holidays are coming up. Also, indoor finals shows do not last for several weeks like some summer or winter circuits. This means they involve a lot of traveling, packing, and unpacking for both horses and riders. Planning out a detailed schedule can be extremely beneficial to managing all the moving parts required for these shows. Whether you are a rider, trainer, manager, or groom, having a plan of what your week will look like is essential.

For nonprofessional riders, it is also useful to map out specific parts of your day. For example, schedule times where you will concentrate on school or work in addition to parts of the day where you will focus on watching the competition and helping care for your horse and yourself. It is important to give yourself time to get into the right frame of mind to successfully compete. If you plan out a detailed daily schedule, you will feel more relaxed when it is time to compete.

Although trainers, managers, and grooms always create a daily plan when horse showing, this schedule is critical at indoor finals. The pressure and nerves at these shows run high so the more prepared you are, the more at ease and confident your riders will feel. For example, at indoor finals shows there are strict set orders of go. You should not only include the specific times that horses are showing in your schedule, but also build in times throughout the day to check in at the ring to see if everything is still running on time. These horse show days are often very long and exhausting, especially when they include night classes, so it can be easy to forget to do certain tasks. For this reason, be sure to plan out when horses will be lunged, ridden, prepared, bathed, dressed to go to the ring, and taken care of afterward so nothing is missed.

(Did you know? BarnManager has a digital whiteboard feature so you can easily create a daily schedule and share it. Users can also use the messaging feature to update the entire team on any schedule changes.)

Plan Out Your Goals

Photo by Jump Media

The indoor finals horse shows are very prestigious events that come with a lot of pressure. As a rider, trainer, manager, or groom, it is important to decide on a few specific and realistic goals. It is easy to get a little awestruck and overwhelmed at these events while you are surrounded by many of the country’s top riders, horses, trainers, managers, and grooms. Having defined goals in mind can help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish.

Indoor finals require a lot of practicing, scheduling, and preparing both leading up to the show and at the event. Although this time of year can be stressful, try to remember to have fun and view the shows as a learning 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!

The BarnManager Q&A With: Kimberly Graves

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Kimberly Graves, Manager and Flat Rider at Hesslink Williams, located in Wellington, FL

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

Click above to learn about what Kimberly Graves keeps in her ring bag.

That’s a hard one because I practically have a whole wall box in my backpack. I have everything from hairspray, zip ties, and seam rippers to lip balm, sunscreen, and Band-Aids.

Click below for a closer look at what is in Kimberly’s ring bag.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CaP_1XxpdMp/

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

I think one of the most helpful habits is organization. I love when everything has a place. I’m a big fan of containers and label makers. I want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to know where everything is. It really helps with efficiency in the barn, especially on show days.

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

Kimberly Graves and Babylon at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Photo by Jump Media

I think that communication is key to a happy and successful team. Making sure that everyone is on the same page and knows what’s going on leads to fewer mistakes and more success. I also believe that equality is very important in creating a great team, especially in the horse world. You’re never too good to help with the horses or daily chores.

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

I’m a big believer in “no hoof no horse.” I like to keep the horses’ feet dry and as hard as possible. I don’t like to use hoof oil because it softens the feet. Instead, I use a hoof sealer called Kevlar Tuff. The farrier that I used for my personal horses for more than 15 years instilled his philosophy on hoof care in me when I was young. He always told me to keep the horses’ feet dry and hard to protect them inside and out against all the elements and surfaces our horses face. Stronger hooves equal better hoof growth.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

I would have to say the Capital Challenge Horse Show is my favorite because it brings out the best hunters in the country. I love that hunters really get to take center stage, especially with the World Championship Hunter Rider classes. The ribbons and awards are always beautiful. I enjoy the pomp and circumstance.

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

I would definitely be a hunter. A chestnut hunter with chrome to be exact. Chestnuts have been my favorite color since I was a child. I like the jumpers, but my heart truly lies with the hunters. I obsessively follow the discipline.

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!

Things To Check For in Your Horse’s Paddock

Turning horses out is an important part of their everyday routine. During this time outside, horses can eat, graze, walk around, and just be horses. Since turnout is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable time for your horse, it is important to routinely inspect their paddock or field to ensure it is safe.

Holes

Holes in paddocks can be dangerous for horses and also difficult to notice from a distance. Large holes can definitely be a problem, although sometimes the smaller ones are actually more of a hazard. Holes that are large are easy for people to see and horses to avoid. The most dangerous holes are those that are hidden or smaller because horses can easily misstep into them and get injured. For this reason, it is best to walk your paddocks regularly searching for holes so they can be filled in. If you have grass paddocks, it helps to keep them mowed so holes are easier to see.

Fencing

Horses often itch on or lean over the fence boards in their paddock. This can lead to broken fence boards that are dangerous for several reasons. If a horse continues rubbing on a broken fence board, they could cut themselves on the splintered wood or an exposed nail. If any of the nails fall, there is the possibility that a horse could step on one. A broken fence board may also create a place where a horse could escape. To avoid these issues, make it a practice to walk the fence lines of your turnout areas frequently to examine them. Also, keep an eye out for rotting fence boards that could break and become a hazard.

Toxic Weeds

Toxic weeds can be a concern when your horse is turned out in a grass field. If you are unsure which weeds are toxic, check with a professional weed specialist. Horses are not always inclined to eat toxic weeds, but it is better to be on the safe side. Take good care of your pasture areas to prevent weeds from overtaking the grass. Your routine can include mowing frequently and rotating the fields that are used for turnout. Resting the grass, keeping it healthy, and giving it time to regrow will help keep weeds at bay.

Rocks

A rocky paddock is not ideal footing for a horse, especially if they are barefoot. If a horse steps the wrong way on a sharp rock, it can lead to a stone bruise. Depending on the location and terrain of the farm, it can be difficult to completely avoid rocks in paddocks. Instead, make it a habit to examine the turnout areas a couple of times a year and remove any large or sharp rocks that have surfaced. This can be a difficult task in large paddocks, so begin by focusing on the areas where the horses tend to stand the most. Most likely these areas will be by the gate and where there is food, water, or shade.

Weather

The weather during different seasons can affect the conditions of your paddocks. For example, ice can be a major issue in the winter. Icy areas can be dangerous for both the horse and the person who is walking the horse to the field. Rain is often problematic for paddocks in the spring, summer, and fall. A muddy paddock can be slippery and hazardous if your horse starts to play or run. There is also a higher chance of a horse pulling a shoe in the mud, which could lead to them accidentally stepping on a nail. Additionally, turning a horse out in a grass paddock after the rain can tear up the field, especially if the horse starts running. No matter the season, when possible it is best to avoid icy or wet paddocks for a little until they are thawed, dry, and safe.

Although pasture examination and maintenance might be a tedious and dull task at times, it is necessary to ensure that your horses are in a safe environment when they are in turnout so find a way to include it in your maintenance schedule throughout the year.

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 at an FEI Show: The Warm-Up

A successful warm-up is the key to a winning performance in the competition ring no matter what discipline. At the international level in a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) show, there are particularities to be aware of when warming up. Being mindful of the specifics will ensure your warm-up goes smoothly and according to plan. For more information about regulations in the FEI stabling area, read part one of BarnManager’s What to Know at an FEI Show blog here.

10-Minute Area

For international dressage competitions, there is a 10-minute area, which is a designated space in the larger warm-up ring. This area serves as the last practice ring before entering the competition arena. Though riders are not required to use this space, there is only one athlete permitted in the 10-minute area at a time. This allows the next competing rider space to prepare any movements without the interference of other horses.

Order of Go

Since there is a set order of go, warm-up obstacles for cross-country and jumping are made available according to that list. If there are four warm-up jumps available, the next four riders to compete will be using those obstacles. When you are with the fifth horse in the order, you should plan to use the jump that the first horse is using once they are finished. An FEI steward in the warm-up area can help you if you are unsure of the order.

Jump Setting

The FEI stewards monitor show jumping and cross-country warm-ups. They ensure that all jumps being set are compliant with FEI rules. In all cases, obstacles being jumped must be marked with a white flag and a red flag. The red flag represents the right side of the obstacle, while the white flag represents the left side. The jump must be approached in the direction the flags indicate. If a rider wishes to approach the obstacle in the opposite direction, the flags must be changed with approval from the Chief FEI Steward.

In cross-country, the show’s organizers must provide jumps that can be knocked down as well as fixed obstacles to use to warm-up. Keep in mind that for the obstacles that can be knocked down, there are guidelines for how the poles must be used depending on the height and style of the jump.

Photo by Jump Media

Use of Extra Jumping Material and a Liverpool

In any FEI warm-up, you cannot cover the warm-up obstacles with extra materials like a scrim sheet, cooler, or towel. You also cannot bring any additional jumping materials to the warm-up. The show’s organizers must provide at least one liverpool that can be used if the athlete chooses.

If you are setting jumps for the warm-up and your rider would like to use the liverpool, be sure to keep an eye on it in the warm-up area. Typically, there are only one or two liverpools that are shared between all the riders. You’ll have to see when someone is finished using it before being able to use it yourself. Keep in mind other riders are warming up too. It’s also important to remember to pay attention to the other horses when you pass the warm-up fences. This is especially necessary when you are carrying a larger, spookier object like a liverpool.

Pre-Competition Boot Check

Both international eventing cross-country and show jumping competitions have pre-competition boot checks. Previously, riders could ask an FEI steward to conduct the boot check in the middle of the warm-up ring during their warm-up. Now, for safety reasons, the FEI steward(s) who are conducting the pre-competition boot check are located just outside the warm-up area or in a corner of the arena off to the side. Riders can still pause their warm-up routine to complete the boot check. However, it is important to note that doing so requires a little more planning since the horse likely needs to leave the ring to be checked before returning to finish their warm-up and head into the competition arena.

The FEI stewards conducting the boot check use walkie-talkies to communicate with the other FEI stewards in and around the warm-up. They keep track of everyone who completes the boot check by referencing the horse’s competition number. The competition number should be clearly displayed on the horse. It is helpful to also say the number aloud to the steward. In addition to checking all leg and footwear on the horse, the FEI steward will physically examine the competition hind boots to confirm they are compliant with the rules. They then will observe the groom or rider put the competition hind boots on the horse and fasten them to be sure this has been done correctly. Once the boot check has been completed, the boots cannot be changed or adjusted in any way without the supervision of an FEI steward.

Remember that every horse must complete the boot check. It is possible for multiple riders to want their horses checked at the same time. The boot check typically only lasts a few minutes. The FEI steward will try to prioritize horses depending on the order of go. Even still, having a plan for when you will complete your boot check is essential for a smooth, unrushed warm-up.

Special Cases

Some horses get nervous with a lot of horse traffic. If there is an additional warm-up area besides the one being generally used, the rider can ask an FEI steward for permission to use the other arena. An FEI steward must be available to monitor that warm-up area in order to make the request possible. A rider can also ask to go first in the class for a quieter warm-up experience for the horse. Any concessions made will be on a case-by-case basis and up to the Chief FEI Steward. What might be possible one time, might not be another.

Keeping track of the little nuances of the warm-up will help your competition preparation run smoothly. Make sure your whole team understands the plan and rules, so they are ready to execute their individual responsibilities. For more information about entering an FEI show, read BarnManager’s FEI Paperwork blogs with part one about horse passports here, part two regarding registrations and entries here, and part three pertaining to the check-in and jog here.

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!

A Day in the Life of Stephanie Kramer

Stephanie Kramer works as a head groom for top amateur jumper rider Vanessa Hood and U.S. Olympian Kent Farrington. Keep reading for a day in Stephanie’s life at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week 5 during the CSI5* Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) Team Competition in Williamsburg, MI.

Friday, August 5, 2022

6 a.m.

My first alarm goes off around six in the morning when we are starting at the barn at seven. I like to give myself time in the mornings, so I don’t feel rushed or stressed starting out the day. I usually make myself a coffee to go and grab some sort of granola bar or something light to get my day started.

Photo by Boss Mare Media

7 a.m.

I have three horses in FEI this week. I have one horse showing in two-star classes and two horses competing at the five-star level. No matter how many horses I have showing every day starts the same. We begin by feeding hay, then grain, and then moving on to the chores. When I have horses showing, they wear the Sport Innovations magnetic blanket in the morning.

8 a.m.

Once chores are done, I start getting my horses out for a hand walk and some grass. One by one I groom them and hand walk or graze them for 15-20 minutes to let them stretch their legs before they go to work. Cascalretto is the only horse I have showing today in the MLSJ Team Competition at 5:30 so when I take the first horse out I put the magnetic blanket on him and set the program and massage to run as I walk the other horse.

11 a.m.

My two other horses, Easy Girl and Conner, aren’t showing today so they will just flat. Once Vanessa is ready to ride one, I pull them back out and fully groom them again. I start with a good curry, then a flick brush, and I finish with some Santa Fe spray and a soft brush to protect their coat from the sun and keep them nice and shiny. As they go out, I like to keep their stalls picked as well so they’re always coming back to a clean stall.

12 p.m.

We feed lunch hay and top off water buckets at noon. Since Cascalretto will not get ridden until later in the day, I take him out for another quick walk and some grass between the two others getting ridden. Cascalretto will also get a short flat to loosen up a bit before the class tonight. As the other two come back from being ridden they both go for baths and grass. Before going for grass, I like to bring them back to the barn and towel dry them, brush their manes down, and put conditioner in their tails if I washed them that day. Then we are off to the FEI grazing area until they are dry and can go back to their stalls.

2 p.m.

At this time, I usually like to start my afternoon chores depending on what my day looks like. I get my stalls cleaned one last time and top off their water buckets. Then it is time to get Cascalretto ready for his quick flat before the class. He gets a full groom again before getting tacked up. He then heads out to loosen up. Once he’s back I give him a few minutes in his stall to get a drink and go to the bathroom before I pull him back out to get cleaned up.

3:30 p.m.

Photo by Boss Mare Media

The horses get dinner hay and then I like to tidy up the barn one last time before the end of the day. I usually sweep, dust, and all of that fun stuff. Today after they get their grain and are finished eating it is time for Cascalretto to come out and start getting ready for the ring. Vanessa’s team, which is Team Lugano Diamonds, is going first so that means he needs to be ready and at the ring by 4:45. The first thing I do is braid him. He doesn’t have the best mane for braids, so it always takes me a bit to get them to look good. Then I groom him one last time before tacking him up with his show tack. I put on his jump boots and grab boots, I double-check that my ring bag is ready, and then we head to the ring.

5 p.m.

I get Vanessa on, we do our pre-boot check, and I go grab a jump so we can warm up. Today wasn’t the best day for Team Lugano Diamonds but that just comes with the sport.

6 p.m.

Once Cascalretto is finished showing we go back to the barn and he gets untacked. I like to ice him in his stall so he has time to relax by himself before I continue with his aftercare. I leave the ice on for 20 minutes. Once he is done icing, he gets a good liniment bath to cool his muscles down. I take him out for a bit of grass to help him dry more quickly. Then I bring him back to the grooming stall to get wrapped. I poultice all four legs and pack his feet. Once that is done, I run a brush through his mane and tail and brush him off one last time before letting him go in his stall for the night. After he is put away, I quickly check over my other horses before heading out.

7:30 p.m.

When I get home, no matter how late it is, I always try my best to give myself a bit of time to decompress before going to bed. I’ll usually shower first, then make myself something for dinner, and then either watch an episode of a show or scroll through my phone to give myself a little “me time” before going to sleep and starting all over!

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 You Need To Know About Flying with Horses

While the concept of flying with horses is pretty straightforward, the specifics of how the horses get from one place to the other smoothly are less obvious. Understanding more about the process can help you be relaxed and prepared when the day comes. It is always essential to check with your veterinarian regarding any preventative measures or in-flight health concerns. While these are general guidelines, you will need to check with the appropriate authorities and companies for exact details.

Types of Flights

If your horse needs to go a long distance such as across the country, or from the U.S. to Europe, flying can actually be less stressful. There are two kinds of flights with horses. One is a cargo flight where the plane does not have passengers beyond the horse-affiliated personnel. The other is a commercial flight with a passenger cabin at the front and a cargo-style section for the horses in the back.

A horse in the container, on the plane, and ready to go.

Arranging a Flight

There are several flight companies to help you arrange and prepare for your horse’s trip. Unlike organizing human flights, you cannot always pick exactly which day you want your horses to fly. If you give the flight company an idea of when you would like to depart, they can help find a flight around that date. The flight companies also complete the necessary paperwork for the horses to travel and will inform you of any health documents and other details they might need to confirm the reservation. As with human flights, delays and cancellations are always possible, so the flight companies will keep you updated on timing.

At the Airport

There are different importation and exportation laws depending on which country you are coming from or going to. Generally, horses need to arrive at the designated airport at least several hours ahead of their scheduled flight. For this reason, these airports have stalls for the horses to wait in when they get off the trailer.

The horses can stay at the airport for a couple of days if they are laying over from a horse show or other type of outing, so it is helpful to prepare plastic baggies with grain meals. You can help keep your horse hydrated by including electrolytes and adding water to their feed. It’s also a good idea to feed smaller meals ahead of air travel to help minimize the risk of any digestive issues. Like preparing your horse for a long drive, a stomach and ulcer support supplement can help keep your horse comfortable for the trip.

Once your equipment is checked in by airport staff and loaded, you will not have access to it until it is released either directly after the flight or after the horse exits a required quarantine. Each horse gets a flight bag in which you can put anything they might need during the flight.

Getting On the Plane

A container with horses getting loaded onto the plane.

Horses travel on the plane in large containers. Picture being able to pick up a box stall and move it with a giant forklift. The containers can be divided into straight stalls to fit either two or three horses, similar to a trailer. The container has a space for the horses with a low wall separating them from a compartment in the front where hay, buckets, and the flight bags are stored. Water and hay are hung for the horses too.

Staff at the airport will guide you to walk your horse into their spot in the container. Some horses find the container intimidating especially if they are new to flying, so having a treat handy can help. When everything is set, the containers are driven to the plane and loaded one by one such that the containers form a grid in the plane with small walkways between them.

If you are on a commercial flight, the flight staff will then help you get to the normal airport check-in and through security. You will usually be able to board ahead of other passengers to make your way to the back of the plane. Where you might ordinarily be looking for a bathroom, there is a small door to access the horse containers. Once you have passed through the door, you can walk around to find the container with your horse inside.

The Flight

Regardless of what type of flight it is, there will always be at least one flight staff member with the containers at all times. Since there can be more than twenty horses on a flight, it is still a good idea to check on your horse every couple of hours during the trip. Keeping them hydrated throughout is always important. You can encourage your horse to drink by holding carrots for them in their water buckets. The horse will have to go through the water to get the carrot, so it can help them drink a little extra.

Take-off and landing are generally the most stressful parts of the flight, so it’s good to make sure your horse doesn’t have any trouble. Though regulations can vary between flights and flight companies, you can ask the flight staff to request permission from the pilot to allow you to be with the containers during take-off and landing. There are no seats in the containers, so you will need to try and secure yourself comfortably in the front part of the container amongst the hay and flight bags. Keep in mind, flights can always experience turbulence, so it is important to be cautious any time you are moving around the containers.

Prepared for takeoff!

Getting Off the Plane

On commercial flights, first you will have to deplane as usual and claim any checked baggage. Then you will be guided to the horse arrival area of the airport, where you can wait for the containers to be removed from the plane. Once the horses are unloaded from the containers, staff at the airport will check each horse in accordance with country regulations. Some countries require a quarantine while others do not. Be sure to confirm your arrival with any follow-up shippers, so you can get picked up on time and make it smoothly to your final destination.

In addition to simply transporting you and your horse from one place to another, the flight company staff is also responsible for ensuring the experience is safe and pleasant. Ask any questions you might have so you can feel confident every step of the way. You are now free to move about the cabin.

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!

The BarnManager Q&A With: Alyssa Ferguson

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Alyssa Ferguson, Professional Groom at Ilan Ferder Stables, located in Wellington, FL

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

I always have the heaviest ring bag! My friends like to joke that the only thing I don’t have is the kitchen sink. My three must-haves in any ring bag are back boots, extra leather pieces, and cookies. I bring a variety of back boots with me, between four to seven different kinds. The extra leather pieces are usually items such as a flash, a set of blinders, a pair of rein converters, and a set of draw reins at a minimum. Cookies are important because I want my horses to know that they will get rewarded for a job well done.

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

Cleanliness and organization are two important habits. Often the show schedule or daily plan can get changed without much notice. I find it super helpful when everything is clean and tidy, labeled, and in a specific location. This way it’s easy for anyone to step in and know exactly where everything is for each horse if the main groom isn’t available.

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

Alyssa and Gakhir, owned by Ilan Ferder and Esperanza Imports LLC. Photo by Jump Media

Humor and a positive attitude! This job, especially during shows and busy times, can be super stressful. I try to always keep the air light and keep everyone smiling. A positive attitude is contagious and makes for a nice work environment.

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

Honestly, I don’t think there are any tricks. I think the best way to give your horse the best care is to pay attention to what they want. I’ve had some horses that really dislike being brushed, so instead of forcing them to endure something they do not enjoy, I use a wet towel to remove the dirt or sweat. It’s all about knowing the horse’s likes and dislikes and trying your best to give them what they want.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

Spruce Meadows is hands down my favorite outdoor venue.  The rings, fences, and spectators give off an incredible energy.

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

If I were a horse, I’d honestly be a Shetland Pony. I am small and look sweet but can be pushy and have a little bit of an attitude.  Also, I’ll never say no to a snack or extra treats even if I know it’s bad for my waistline.

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

As the summer show season begins to wrap up, there are several exciting events slated for August. Continue reading to find out where you can watch the top show jumping, hunter, equitation, dressage, and eventing competitions this month.

ECCO Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) World Championships:

August 6-14, 2022 – This year’s FEI World Championships will take place at EquiPark in Herning, Denmark. The championship will showcase dressage, show jumping, vaulting, and para dressage competition. The best horse-and-rider combinations from close to 70 nations will provide top-level competition. The event schedule for each discipline can be found on Longines Timing.

Where to watch: ClipMyHorse.TV

FEI North American Youth Championships:

August 8-13, 2022 – The 2022 FEI North American Youth Championsships will take place during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival week VI at Flintfields Horse Park in Williamsburg, MI. The horse show will feature both show jumping and dressage competition. Children, juniors, and young riders will have the opportunity to compete in a championship format. During this show, riders are able to show in a team event as well as individually.

Where to watch: USEF Network or ClipMyHorse.TV

US Equestrian (USEF) Pony Finals Presented by Honor Hill Farm:

August 9-14, 2022 – Watch the country’s best ponies compete at the 2022 USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farm. The event 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, and the Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals.

Where to watch: USEF Network

Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) London:

August 19-21, 2022 – LGCT London will take place at Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, England. The show will include two-star, five-star, and Global Champions League show jumping competition. The Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London will be the highlight event, taking place on Saturday, August 20.

Where to watch: GCTV

United States Dressage Festival of Champions:

August 22-28, 2022 – The 2022 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will take place at HITS Chicago at Lamplight Equestrian in Wayne, IL. The event showcases top dressage horse-and-rider combinations in 16 different divisions, including the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals.

Where to watch: USEF Network

World Equestrian Center – Ocala Dressage XV:

August 27-28, 2022 – Dressage riders will take center stage at World Equestrian Center – Ocala during the Dressage XV show in Ocala, FL. This event will be a national show and also serve as an official qualifying competition for the 2022 Great American/United States Dressage Federation Regional Championship.

Where to watch: ClipMyHorse.TV

MARS Great Meadow International:

August 26-28, 2022 – The MARS Great Meadow International event is held at Great Meadow in The Plains, VA. This competition highlights high-performance eventing and has been selected as the final preparatory trial for the team representing the United States at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships in Italy on September 14-18, 2022.

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!