Five Alternative Fitness Ideas for Riders

5 Alternative Fitness Routines for Riders

Five Alternative Fitness Ideas for Riders

Anyone who has ridden a sport horse can make the powerful argument that what we do is, in fact, a sport. We laugh off those who say the horse does all the work because we truly know what a full-body workout it can be and the strength and conditioning required to execute the sport successfully.

But even the fittest of riders need to complement their riding with other forms of exercise. Football players do yoga to keep them balanced and focused, so why shouldn’t riders work on outside exercises that aid them in their riding? Many riders already know their preferred workout method, but if you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas to expand your fitness routine outside of the saddle.

1. Pilates

Known for targeting specific muscles and utilizing smaller movements in order to strengthen the whole body, Pilates can be a great workout option for riders looking to gain strength all over. Small, repetitive movements can help solidify muscle memory and help stabilize your muscles to be a stronger and steadier rider. Many Pilates studios are offering online classes, and you can also find outdoor pop-up classes near you that foster social distancing and follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

2. HIIT

Any hunter/jumper rider knows the feeling of exiting the show ring completely winded, after a very intense, but short, two-minute workout. It’s hard to build endurance for those high-intensity moments in the ring since we can’t really replicate them outside of a show environment. That’s where High Intensity Interval Training can be your best friend (or worst enemy, depending on your workout style). Many gyms and trainers are offering virtual HIIT classes that help athletes get their heart rate up, then recover and repeat. These exercises feel like a ton of work, but they will increase your fitness level to a point where those jumping rounds will feel like light work.

3. Yoga

Though the exercises in yoga don’t translate directly to what you do when riding, the benefits of yoga are evident in many aspects of the sport. Riding is a mental sport, and being strong mentally is often equally as important as being strong physically. Yoga helps to center your focus, relax your body, and prepare you to take on challenges that lie ahead. Yoga also focuses on strength and stretching, leaving you more nimble and easing any pain or tension that may keep you from performing your best. Yoga can improve your balance as a rider, as well, keeping you centered during tough situations. Horses also benefit from balanced riders, helping to resolve any imbalances the horses may have themselves.

4. Cycling

We all know the value of a strong leg and solid core for helping your horse effectively use its hind end and jump clear rounds. Cycling is an excellent exercise to help strengthen your leg muscles and engage your core at the same time. Because it’s such a high-intensity workout, cycling is a great way to get your cardio in, too, increasing your endurance for high-intensity moments in the saddle. Though cycling studios are mostly closed due to COVID-19, there are many ways to get stationary bikes set up in your own home or you can buy a street bike that you can ride (safely, of course) through the hills of your city or town. Pro tip: after an intense cycling session, practice stretching deeply down through your heels with your feet in the “stirrups.” This will loosen your calf muscles and help you keep your heels stretched down next time you sit in the (real) saddle.

5. A personal fitness trainer

Doing the same workout every day or not knowing what workouts are best for your goals are common issues for athletes who work out without supervision. Personal fitness trainers are now as accessible as ever, due to our evolving digital world, so if you have specific goals that you’re not sure how to achieve, look into working with an expert. It doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment; many trainers will teach you work-out circuits to implement on your own, after learning how to do them properly and safely. Though personal trainers are on the more expensive end of workout options, their expertise can be priceless, so if overall fitness for riding is an ultimate goal of yours, do some research about personal fitness trainers that have experience in training equestrian athletes.

Emma Ford’s Cold Weather Grooming Tips

Winter weather can prove difficult for horse’s skin. Decreased daylight, mud, sweat, and blankets create various challenges for horses and riders during the colder months.

Event Clinics caught up with Emma Ford, head groom for Phillip Dutton Eventing and co-author of World Class Grooming for Horses for some ways to keep your equine partner’s skin happy & healthy this season, and now Event Clinics and Emma are sharing their tips with us!

1.  Use witch hazel or rubbing alcohol to wipe down a damp horse after exercise. 

“These products are help to dry the area quicker but also clean off sweat and dirt. I use Witch Hazel, especially when I know the horse has dry, sensitive skin,” says Emma.

#HelpfulHint: Use a spray bottle to apply to any sweaty areas after your horse is untacked, then rub down with a towel

2. Re-hydrate your horse’s skin. 

If your horse gets extra sweaty after a challenging winter workout, sponge off any affected areas with a bucket of warm water mixed with one cup of Witch Hazel and a tablespoon of Shapley’s #1 Light Oil.

#HelpfulHint: Emma tells EC, “This combination to help lift off dirt whilst adding a bit of oil back to the skin.”

3.  Swap and layer coolers for a quick-dry effect. 

If possible have on hand an Irish Knit or Waffle Cooler as well as a Wool or Fleece Cooler.

After wiping/sponging your horse off; layer the coolers, using the Irish Knit as the bottom layer. This will create the wicking effect to help dry your horse quicker.

#HelpfulHint: Keep extra layers handy if at all possible. That way, if you see condensation on the top layer, you can swap that layer out to help your horse dry.

4. Only re-apply blankets to a properly cooled-out horse, 

Before you put on your regular blankets, whether stable or turn outs, make sure your horse is thoroughly cooled out.

Sweating under non-breathable blankets can result in a chill, and lead to sore, stiff muscles. Or, for those more susceptible horses, even illness. This can all be easily avoided by ensuring that your horse is sufficiently cool prior to blanketing.

#HelpfulHint: If he is dry but still warm, he could continue to heat up under less breathable layers resulting in sweating.

ABOUT EMMA FORD: Emma Ford has been Head Groom for Phillip Dutton Eventing for 15 years, ensuring top quality care for equine athletes both at home and at the world’s most prestigious international competitions. In 2015, Ford published World Class Grooming for Horses alongside Professional Groom Cat Hill, who formerly managed Olympian and Five-Star Eventer Mara DePuy’s program.

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!

Playing it Safe: 10 Barn Safety Tips

When it comes to riding and keeping horses, accidents and injuries are not uncommon, and tragedy can sometimes strike. With a little bit of preparation andattention to safety however, you can make your barn a safer place to be for both horses and humans.

1.) Use breakaway crossties. 

Crossties can be dangerous if a horse panics and isn’t able to break the ties. Make sure that your crossties have safety snaps or easy-break ties. To create these easy break ties, run a loop of baling twine through a screw eye in the wall and attach the crossties to the baling twine rather than directly to the wall. This will allow the twine to snap, freeing the horse in the case of an emergency.

2.) Keep hay and shavings away from the main barn whenever possible.

While it may not be realistic for all barn setups, keeping hay and shavings in a separate, dry location away from the main barn area is a great way to reduce fire risks. ProEquineGrooms gives great advice on hay storage here, explaining that “Combustion can occur if the hay just right – sometimes too hot and too dry, or even or too hot and still moist inside!”

3.) Dust and remove cobwebs on a regular basis.

Much like hay and shavings, dust and cobwebs can act like kindling in the case of a barn fire. Routine dusting can prevent fire from spreading quickly should tragedy ever strike.

4.) Keep first aid kits on hand for both horses and humans.

Accidents inevitably happen, but having first aid kits on hand can help you reduce risks and address issues quickly. Not sure what to include in your equine first aid kit? Check out this thorough list from TheHorse.com!

5.) Have a landline phone at your barn.

Landline phones are becoming harder to come by, but for safety reasons, it’s a good idea to maintain one at your barn. Cell service can often be disrupted, and in many barn locations it’s spotty at best. In case of an emergency and in any weather, you want to be sure to have a reliable phone on hand.

6.) Check your electric.

Electricity is not something we often pay much attention to in the barn – until it isn’t working or something goes wrong. To prevent electrical risks, make sure that all outlets and switches are recessed with protective covers to keep dust out. If you have conventional light bulbs or light strips, have cages over them for protection. If there are certain things that are always on or plugged in, like a refrigerator, be sure that they are plugged into a surge protector. Make sure that all wiring is covered by metal and not by PVC tubing, as small animals and birds can destroy the tubing and begin to chew on wires.

7.) Keep barn aisles clean and clear.

Rakes, pitchforks, tack, grooming boxes, or halters left out in the barn aisle way can easily be tripped over by humans or cause incident for horses. Be sure to clean up after yourself and keep your aisle way tidy to prevent injury or accident.

8.) Lock up any potentially hazardous materials including medications, fly sprays, and cleaning supplies.

Any such materials should be kept locked and out of access by children or pets who could wrongly use or swallow them.

9.) Make needed repairs as soon as you notice something amiss.

If you notice a loose fence board, a faulty latch, a protruding nail, or any other potential hazard, act on it quickly, rather than waiting for it to become a larger issue – even if the repair seems like something that could be overlooked for a time.

10.) Post barn rules, emergency contacts, and emergency instructions in a prominent location.

It can also be beneficial to go over emergency instructions and action plans with everyone in your barn.

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!

Eating Healthy at Horse Shows: Five Ways to Stay (or Get) on Track

We carefully plan our horses’ meals, weigh their feed, and provide them supplements and the proper nutrition that they need as equine athletes.

But what about our own nutrition and needs as an athlete? That often looks more like a skipped breakfast as we’re rushing out the door, whatever burger or fries we’re able to scarf down at the horse show food stand, or that delicious Nutella-filled crepe calling our name from the crepe stand.

The fact is though, as riders, we’re athletes too! If we expect our horses to perform their best, it’s important for us to fuel our bodies in a way that allows us to ride our best.

We know it’s not always easy with busy show days and tempting, convenient food vendors, but here are five tips to help you stay (or get) on track.

1.) Don’t Skip Breakfast! 

It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for horseman and women, it’s often the most skipped meal of the day! Our days start early, and we’re often in a hurry to get to the barn or the show ring. However, by skipping breakfast, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure.

To get the most of your breakfast, try to include a combination of protein, carbs, and fats to give you energy and to keep you satisfied until lunch time.

“If you start with a good breakfast, you’re geared up for the day,” said amateur equestrian Michelle Durpetti, who trains with True North Stables. “I’m not as hungry; I’m not as inclined to go get fries or something like that. It’s so easy to forget at horse shows that you are also an athlete.”

Durpetti recently began placing more of an emphasis on her own nutrition while at horse shows, and she and trainer Caitlyn Shiels start most days with their own smoothie blend.

“I heat up almond milk every morning, and I use a superfood greens powder,” said Durpetti. “I add in probiotics and prebiotics, and it has an apple and cinnamon taste. It kind of tastes like old-school oatmeal.”

Show jumper Hannah Selleck of Descanso Farm is another rider who has made her own health and fitness a priority, alongside that of her horses, and even on her busiest mornings, she ensures that she doesn’t skip a protein-filled morning meal.

“Sometimes I’ll have a coffee, ride a few, but then make sure that I get protein and eat breakfast,” said Selleck. “I never want to skip a meal or feel like I don’t have energy, so I make sure that I’m eating throughout the day when I’m showing.”

2.) Plan Ahead 

It’s no secret that you’re more likely to grab a sugary snack or order that convenient burger and fries when you let yourself get to the point that you’re starving or don’t have other alternatives readily available, so it’s important to plan ahead.

By the end of a long show day, it’s normal to be exhausted and to want to reach for whatever is available or to grab a quick (likely, unhealthy) dinner on your way home. Instead, try to meal plan or prep your meals in advance if you know you’re not going to feel up to cooking after you’ve finished riding and showing. Pre-made meal services are also a great option if they’re within your meal budget, and Pinterest is a great resource if you’re looking for meal prep recipes like these or these.

3.) Keep Snacks on Hand

Planning ahead and packing snacks go hand-in-hand! As a professional hunter/jumper rider and trainer riding a number of a horses a day and going from ring-to-ring, Shiels relies on pre-packed snacks, so she always tries to keep a banana, dried fruit, and almonds in her ring backpack for a quick pick me up when needed. For Selleck, turkey jerky sticks and RX Bars are her go-tos.

Apples and carrots also make great snack options (for you and your horse!), as does trail mix or a pre-prepared protein shake. Other protein sources like hard-boiled eggs, tuna packets, or no-bake protein bites also travel well and can make for a great pick-me-up. (Google “no-bake protein bites” or “no-bake protein energy bites” for a number of quick, easy recipes!)

4.) Stay Hydrated 

Keeping your body hydrated while showing is just as important for your health as proper nutrition.

Try keeping a cooler packed with ice, small water bottles, and sports drinks at your stalls, on your golf cart, or near your horse trailer so that you never have to worry about finding something to drink at the show. (As an added bonus, packing your own drinks will save you money at the horse show, where drinks are often more expensive!) Thirst is also often mistaken as hunger, so by quenching your thirst, you may be less likely to go looking for something unhealthy to eat! Try to steer clear of sugary, caffeinated sodas during the day, as they won’t do the job to keep you hydrated and will only give you a temporary boost before your blood sugar drops.

5.) Make It a Group Effort

Keep yourself on a healthy track by encouraging your barn mates to do the same. Hold each other accountable to healthy eating and offer to take turns providing healthy snacks or filling up the barn cooler with waters and sports drinks for the team. Consider swapping recipe ideas, packing group lunches, or even creating fun challenges like all trying to drink a certain amount of water each day of the show. Have fun with it, and enjoy feeling better as the group of athletes that you are!

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 Clean Your Grooming Brushes

When was the last time you really cleaned your horses’ brushes? If you’re like many of us, we venture to guess it’s been longer than the recommended every week to two weeks!

The good news is, washing your brushes is quick and easy to do, and it goes a long way in helping your horse be as clean and healthy as possible. (It’s tough to have a clean horse if you’re using dirty tools!) Consider setting aside 10 to 15 minutes every other week for washing your brushes, and then follow these simple steps!:

– Fill a bucket with warm water and a drop or two of shampoo. It’s best to stick to the shampoo that you would usually use on your horse, and it’s important to avoid using any rough household cleaners that could cause irritation to your horse or that could potentially contain harmful ingredients.

– After any loose hair has been removed from the brushes, add them to the bucket, and swish them around, allowing the loosest dirt and debris to come off. Then, work the shampoo into the bristles thoroughly.

– Once you’ve shampooed the brushes, allow them to sit and “marinate” in the bucket for five to 10 minutes to really get clean.

– After the brushes have had time to soak, rinse them out with clean water from a house. Then rinse again. And possibly again. It’s important to make sure that any and all shampoo is rinsed out of the brushes so that it doesn’t dry within the brushes later.

– When you’re sure the brushes have been well rinsed, shake them out, and lay them out to dry on clean ground or grass or on a shelf or similar. Be sure to leave the brushes laying on their sides so the water doesn’t consolidate at the bottom of the bristles and end up damaging the brush handle. And viola! Clean brushes!

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!

Horse Care Hacks: Best Barn Items to Find at a Dollar Store

It’s no secret that horses are expensive – so why not save money when and where you can? Here are 12 barn items to pick up at the dollar store (usually for only $1!) to save you money, and possibly to provide a more affordable, alternative option!

Artificial flowers – These are perfect for inexpensively decorating jumps or dressage letter boxes, and you’re not likely to find them cheaper anywhere else!

Baby wipes – From cleaning your own hands to bits to your horse itself, cost-effective baby wipes can be extremely handy to have around the barn.

Diapers  – Did you know diapers are great as wraps for hoof poultice or hoof packing? It never hurts to have one or two on hand or in your barn’s first-aid kit.

Epsom salts – Epsom salts are also great to have on hand for soaking abscessed hoofs.

Peppermint – You can usually find multiple types of peppermints available in bulk packages for your whole barn!

Leather wipes – Inexpensive containers of leather wipes are great for the quick wipe of your boots or saddle or to keep in your truck or trailer for easy cleaning at horse shows.

– Rubber bands – You can find the small rubber bands that you need for braiding or banding at the dollar store for much less than what you might pay at a tack shop.

– Sponges – Large sponges designed for car washing are perfect for bathing horses, and small packs of kitchen sponges are great for cleaning tack.

– Storage containers – You’ll find storage containers of all shapes and sizes at the dollar store! Small craft supply containers are perfect for storing studs and stud kits or braiding supplies.

– Spray bottles – Grab a few plain spray bottles for fly spray, detanglers, water, or anything else you may need!

– Toilet brushes – Cheap toilet brushes are great for scrubbing out water buckets!

– Towels You can never have enough towels around the barn, so why not get them as inexpensively as possible?

What other useful items have you found at the dollar store?

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!

Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2019

2019 was a great year in many regards here at BarnManager. We introduced new subscription options and new featurespartnered with U.S. Equestrian on an exciting new integration, and learned a lot from a number of industry experts while producing content for this blog! As we reflect on 2019, here’s a look at 10 of our most popular blog posts of the year (in no particular order).

1) Tips and Tricks from the Best Show Jumping Grooms to the Greats

We caught up with four top show jumping grooms to learn what they don’t go to the ring without, their time save and grooming tips, and more in this well-read blog post!

Here’s one answer from Ninna Leonoff, a vital part of Markus Beerbaum’s team for more than 20 years, on the most rewarding part of the job:

“When the horses are feeling good; when they are looking good. That’s most important for me. I think these days, to keep them feeling good soundness wise is important and rewarding. I really like to get to know my horses. I like to spend time with them so I know how they feel. Even brushing I can feel if they have sore backs or they’re tired or fresh.”

Continue reading more of this popular q&a here!

2) Eight Barn Hacks to Save You Time and Money!

Here’s one of the eight tips from this blog post:

Cut designs into the end of your polo wraps to easily identify matching sets. –  This tip from ProEquineGrooms is a great one if you’ve ever found yourself wasting time attempting to roll up and match sets of polo wraps! Instead, cut a small, matching design into the end of all of the polo wraps in a set. This could be a small triangle cut out of the middle of the end, the corners cut off, or something similar – anything that will allow you to easily recognize which polos go together.

Read more here!

3) Ketchup and Crisco in the Barn? Eight Kitchen Item Horse Care Hacks!

What do ketchup, Crisco, popsicles, soap, and cornstarch have in common? They could save you time or money and solve problems in the barn!

We asked our followers and scoured the internet for the best kitchen horse care hacks, and both delivered in this blog post!

4) 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.

Earlier this year though, 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.”

This blog compiles five of our favorite fundamental reminders from the clinic with Madden!

5) Four Ways to Streamline Your Barn Management 

Whether you are managing a large show barn or boarding operation or taking care of your own mounts, chances are good that you got into the role for one primary reason: because you enjoy spending time with horses.

Unfortunately, if you’re in one of the aforementioned positions, you also know that far too often time spent enjoying the horses can get overshadowed by the scheduling of lessons, and farrier visits, and veterinary appointments, and the horse sho

w entries, and the feeding, and the record keeping, and the tack and equipment organization and maintenance, and the planning of each day, and… well, you get the idea!

While you can’t eliminate these things entirely – they’re important to keeping the horses happy and healthy and the business running smoothly – there are several ways that you can streamline your paperwork and simplify your barn management to get you out of the office or away from the white board and back with the horses more often, and this blog post shares a few of them!

6) Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part One

“Pay attention to detail. Get to know your horses – their legs, coat, skin, eating habits, turnout behaviors, etc. and use it to your advantage. I have one horse that is super sensitive to the sand, skipping one day of washing his legs and skin funk shows up, but then the only thing that works on it is Micro Tek. I’ve tried every other anti-fungal shampoo with no luck.

I have another horse who eats half of his breakfast every morning, goes outside for a couple hours, gets ridden, and then will finish breakfast. All of these things are normal, but it scares everyone when they first start working for us. Don’t let the little things get to you, because horses spend every day of their lives trying to hurt or kill themselves, so things are going to happen that are out of your control.”

Read more tips from Courtney Carson in this blog post!

7) Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part Two

Emma Ford has been an integral part of the team at Phillip Dutton International since 2005, including traveling with the two-time Olympic gold medalist to multiple World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. She shared some of her grooming and barn management tips and tricks in this popular blog post!

8) Inside the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals! 

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!

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 2019 IEA Hunt Seat National Finals to learn more about what makes it all possible. Read more about the process, from months before the show to the moment that the last horse ships out of the show, in this blog post!

9) Five Ingredients You Need for Your Horse’s Best Training Program

In every show season, there are certain events for which we want our horses to be at their absolute best. One of the most important skills a trainer or rider can have is knowing how to prepare a horse to peak at a certain competition, whether it be an important indoor show or a particular class.

Expecting our horses to perform their best means preparing them to the best of our abilities with the best possible training program for their needs. In this blog post, trainer and professional rider Caitlyn Shiels shares the five key ingredients that she uses in creating programs for her horses at True North Stables.

10) Does Your Horse Need Its Teeth Checked?

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

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

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

Continue reading here!

We hope that you found our 2019 blogs useful and informative, and we look forward to bringing you more content in 2020!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Four Ways to Prepare Your Barn for Winter

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

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

1) Order Hay and Bedding

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

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

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

2) Check Everything is in Working Order

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

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

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

3) Solidify Your Snow Removal Plan

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

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

4) Strategize Best Ways for Manure Management

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

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

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Four Ways to Streamline Your Barn Management

Whether you are managing a large show barn or boarding operation or taking care of your own mounts, chances are good that you got into the role for one primary reason: because you enjoy spending time with horses.

Unfortunately, if you’re in one of the aforementioned positions, you also know that far too often time spent enjoying the horses can get overshadowed by the scheduling of lessons, and farrier visits, and veterinary appointments, and the horse show entries, and the feeding, and the record keeping, and the tack and equipment organization and maintenance, and the planning of each day, and… well, you get the idea!

While you can’t eliminate these things entirely – they’re important to keeping the horses happy and healthy and the business running smoothly – there are several ways that you can streamline your paperwork and simplify your barn management to get you out of the office or away from the white board and back with the horses more often!

1) Take advantage of time-saving barn hacks.

Want to save time watering horses? Add a second water bucket to each stall and fill them up simultaneously to last longer and save you a refill trip.

Using polo wraps? ProEquineGrooms recommends using a pair of scissors to cut a design, like a notch or zig-zag, into the ends of matching polo wraps to save time matching up pairs. Do you have to make multiple trips to the feed room at dinner time? Instead of going back and forth, prepare all horses’ meals and put them into a wheelbarrow or add feed and supplements to a wheeled cart with compartments so that you can roll down the aisle way, stopping at each stall as you go. Peruse our blog, and you’ll find lots more tips and tricks like these!

2) Go digital with BarnManager! 

Of course, we think one of the best and most all-encompassing ways to streamline your management responsibilities is to cut back on the paperwork and binders of information by using BarnManager!

With BarnManager, you can house all of your horses’ health records, feed schedules, and training notes in one location rather than in binders, file folders, and notes on a white board. You can also grant access to any additional members of your team so that they can be kept in the loop and receive notifications should anything, such as a horse’s feed or supplements, change.

Within the app, you are also able to schedule lessons, send searchable barn-wide conversations and private messages, make customizable tables and lists such as horse show packing lists, snap photos of your horses’ records to directly attach them to their records, and even create “discharge reports” that quickly compile all of a horse’s key information and veterinary records so that you could pass them along to a new owner or caretaker as needed.

3) Get organized and plan ahead.

By staying organized, continually looking ahead to the next day, and planning in advance, you can save yourself a great deal of time in the long run! In speaking to many of the industry’s top barn managers and grooms, the top two time-saving tips that were repeatedly given were setting yourself up for the next day the night before and staying organized.

 Some managers recommended creating lists of what tack and equipment is used with each horse (either within an app like BarnManager or a physical list hung in the tack room), so there is no question for any students or other staff unsure of what to use – and it will save you time having to answer questions.

Others suggested putting tack or equipment away as soon as you are done with it so that there isn’t a pile to clean and organize at the end of the day. Almost all managers asked agreed that leaving the barn unorganized at the end of the night only sets you up for disappointment and a harder day the next morning! Particularly if you are at show, it can be wise to think about what equipment you will be using the next day and in what order and put it away in a manner that makes it most accessible in that order.

4) Maximize your down time.

If you are managing a barn full-time, take advantage of any free time to squeeze in tasks that will make your life simpler later. This could be picking stalls so that the piles don’t add up and make the full stall cleaning more difficult later, or topping off water buckets, or polishing tack, or maybe just squeezing in a little bit of extra one-on-one time with your favorite horse to remind you why you’re doing this in the first place!

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!