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!

Does Your Horse Need Its Teeth Checked?

What to Look for to Determine if Your Horse Needs Dentistry

By Mike Lawrence 

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.

If a horse’s teeth are regularly maintained it is more likely that the horse will have normal dentition and not exhibit dental symptoms when eating or being ridden.

Here are several signs and symptoms that indicate it could be time to call an equine dental professional:

– Eating abnormally, dropping grain, and quidding hay are all symptoms that your horse’s teeth should be checked. Eating related symptoms often may indicate an acute change in a horse’s condition or reveal an advanced chronic condition.

– Any musculoskeletal abnormalities such as atrophy of the masseter muscles or over-developed temporalis muscles in the forelock area are symptoms of abnormal mastication. Often your veterinarian, chiropractor, or body work therapist may observe body issues that appear to have a primary dental origin. That is why for optimal equine care it is important that the person responsible for the horse’s care shares relevant information, so all the health care providers can work as a team to help your horse.

– Facial swelling, odor, and/or drooling are signs of acute issues that warrant immediate dental and veterinary attention.

– Riding issues such as head tossing, rooting, head tilting, resistance, or not staying on contact are also key symptoms that your horse needs to see a dental professional.

– Looking at the incisors for asymmetries or excessive length is another way to determine if your horse needs to see a dental provider.

These are some of the many clues that your horse’s teeth may be bothering them. If you keep your horse on a regular preventative maintenance dental schedule, often many of these issues can be averted. Dental conditions are not always the primary cause of these symptoms but frequently are. It is best not to wait for an acute dental problem to occur and your horse to be in discomfort, before we check its teeth.

 

Mike Lawrence has been practicing equine dental maintenance since 1992 and is a Certified Member of the International Association of Equine Dentistry. To locate an IAED certified veterinarian or dental provider in your area, visit iaedonline.com.

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 Ingredients You Need for Your Horse’s Best Training Program

By Caitlyn Shiels, True North Stables

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. For any horse that comes into our barn at True North Stables – be it a hunter, jumper, or equitation horse – I create a routine that is specifically best suited for them. There are, however, five key ingredients that I’ve found are important across the board.

1) Clear goals

First, I think it’s important to set attainable goals for the horse, and assuming that they are competition-oriented objectives, look at those goals on a calendar. What events are most important to you as a rider or trainer? And what events are realistic for your horse?

Caitlyn Shiels with student Marisa Malevitis. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

The realistic part is important; take into consideration factors such as your horse’s capabilities and your time and budget. Once you have your sights set on what’s important to you for the horse, you can build your training program around that goal.

2) A focus on fitness in various forms

This one is no secret, but just as we wouldn’t be able to hop up and win an 800-meter hurdles race after months of sitting around, we can’t expect our horses to go out and jump or compete well if they haven’t been properly conditioned. Similarly, just as a human athlete may train legs one day and upper body another, it’s important to vary your horse’s fitness regime. What this may look like for each horse will inevitably vary, but your program could – and should – include some of the following:

Low-intensity work – This might be walking on a hot walker or treadmill, trail riding, or light hacks in the ring.

Flatwork, flatwork, and more flatwork – We don’t jump our horses very much at home. Instead, we place an emphasis on building fitness and a strong foundation on the flat. This is different than the low-intensity hacks or trail rides mentioned above, as you should be flatting with intention during these rides, keeping your horse engaged and varying your movements and what you’re working on. Depending on the horse, I might incorporate exercises such as lateral movements, counter-cantering to work on balance and engaging the hind end, or a focus on transition work.

Caitlyn Shiels incorporates various forms of fitness work into the programs for all of her horses, including
Corporate Way LLC’s Incorporated, pictured. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

Ground poles, cavalettis, and grid work – When we do incorporate fences at home, it’s often in the form of specific, shortened exercises rather than full courses. Straightforward ground pole work can also be extremely beneficial in encouraging a horse to develop better rhythm and balance through the hind end, as well as improving timing and adjustability, and cavalettis and grid work can be set for specific areas of focus.

3) An emphasis on knowing the horse

To me, this is the number one key to success in any training program and the most important ingredient that you need. Really knowing your horse and creating a program accordingly can go such a long way!

Just as humans all respond differently to the same situations or learn differently, our horses do too. For instance, my mount for Derby Finals, Durpetti Equestrian LLC’s Cassius, does not do as well in a highly-structured program that works extremely well for some of our other horses. High pressure or more difficult situations like complicated grid work make him nervous, and really focused flatwork several days in a row makes him sour. So instead, his weekly routine and fitness program is more relaxed than many of our other horses. He’s still kept fit, but many days he’s allowed to go around more casually or with his nose poked out a bit just enjoying the ride. He’s the happiest he’s ever been and jumping the best he ever has!

When you truly know your horse’s personality and idiosyncrasies and tailor your program to them, you’re far more like to achieve success in the show ring.

Caitlyn Shiels and Durpetti Equestrian LLC’s Cassius. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

4) The addressing of weaknesses

In knowing your horse, it’s also important to know what its weaknesses are and address them through your training program. If your horse is weak behind, maybe it’s time to incorporate more hill work. I have one young horse that arrived not quite as strong on his left lead as he is on his right lead, so some of the exercises that I’m doing at home involve big cross-rails with landing poles that make him really think about his shape. The only way to strengthen those weaknesses is to effectively and consistently work on them!

5) Fun!

If you’re not able to also enjoy the process and have fun along the way to your goals, your horse is not the only one who isn’t going to want to perform! Have fun with your training program; reflect on and celebrate your horse’s progress, and don’t get hung up on plateaus or frustrations. At the end of the day, this sport and your training should bring enjoyment for both you and your horse!

Michelle Durpetti and Caitlyn Shiels. Photo by Fine Art Horses 

Best of luck, and happy training!

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!

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! Here are eight kitchen items that were repeatedly recommended for use in the barn. (Note: many of these methods have not yet been BarnManager-tested and approved – but others swear by them!)

1) Cornstarch

We’re easing into this list with a more commonly known kitchen item horse care hack! For extra white legs in the show ring, dust cornstarch over your horse’s clean and dry white socks. Carefully brush off any excess with a soft brush, being sure to apply the cornstarch prior to any hoof dressing to avoid a potential mess.

2) Crisco

Lisa Blythe from Atlanta, Georgia, shared on our BarnManager Facebook page: “Crisco for hooves. The store brand works great. You have a horse with bad hooves? Rub that in twice a day, and it is a miracle.”

3) Ketchup

@Hobbyhorseinc shared on Instagram: “Hate when your gray horse’s tail yellows? Give ketchup a try! Apply the ketchup liberally to the tail and leave for 10-20 mins to soak in. You might want to tie the saucy tail up or place it in a carrier bag whilst it soaks in to keep ketchup off the rest of the horse! Rinse and repeat as needed. The red lifts the yellow color out, getting your greys whiter than white!”

A few skeptics say that it’s really because of the vinegar within the ketchup, not the red of the ketchup as mentioned, but either way, we’d be curious to try this one for ourselves!

4) Mayonnaise

Karea Shaver from Grand Rapids, Michigan said (and many others agreed!), “Hellmans mayonnaise is an excellent final rinse for optimum coat conditioning. Amazing results. Use a ratio of 1/4 cup mayo to three gallons of water. Apply a well-mixed solution using tepid to warm water with a sponge, poll to croup. Let dry and use a cotton towel to wipe down horse. Do not use daily. It will add too much oil into the coat.”  

5) Soap

If you have a horse that chews or cribs on wood surfaces, rub a bar of Ivory soap over those surfaces. The taste of the soap will strongly discourage the horse’s cribbing behavior.

6) Vinegar

Spraying vinegar on your manure pile may help it degrade faster while keeping flies away! Want more uses for vinegar at the barn? Check out this full blog post from ProEquineGrooms, dedicated to the topic!

7) Dish Scrubbers

For a simple way to scrub your horse’s legs and get white socks even whiter, try one of these soap-dispensing dish scrubbers! Simply pour your whitening shampoo in the top and scrub away!

8) Popsicles

Forget expensive ice boots when you have freezer pops! Just be sure to put something, such as a bandage wrap, between the icy popsicles and your horse’s legs.

Have your own kitchen item barn hack? Leave it in the comments 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!

Eight Barn Hacks to Save You Time and Money!

We’ve surveyed barn managers and grooms, scoured the internet, and put some of them into practice: here are eight time or money-saving life hacks that could help make your barn more efficient or your horse habit more cost effective!

Feeding and Watering

1) Add a second water bucket.

If your horses’ stalls each only have one water bucket, it may be time to consider hanging up a second one. By filling up both buckets at the same time, you could save yourself from extra fill up time later in the day.

2) Deliver all of your horses’ meals by wheelbarrow or storage cart to save time and streamline delivery.

Rather than making trips back and forth to a feed room, prepare all of your horses’ meals and place them into a wheelbarrow to drop off along your way down the aisle. Alternatively, filling up a compartmented storage cart with the feeds and supplements that you need and portioning them out accordingly at each stall is another great option for streamlining feeding time.

Tack and Equipment

3) 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.

4) Make a list of which horse uses which tack and equipment.

Whether this is a physical list hung in the tack room, or a list easily accessible within the BarnManager app, top managers like Courtney Carson recommend creating a list of which horses require which tack, that way, there’s no confusion for any students or staff unsure of what to use. If you’re the barn manager, this could save you a lot of time in answering questions and finding tack!

5) Don’t throw away your old clipper blades just yet.

Even after they’ve past the point of being useful for clipping, your clipper blades could serve a new role as mane thinners or shorteners, so it’s worth holding on to one or two for this use.

Grooming

6) The sweat scraper doesn’t have to be for just after a bath.

You probably only use the sweat scraper when you’re done bathing a horse to get off the extra water, right? Next time try using it mid-bath before you hose of the shampoo suds! By instead scraping some of them off with a sweat scraper, you’ll save yourself both time and water.

Riding Apparel

7) Make your own boot trees using pool noodles!

In need of new boot trees to keep your tall boots in good shape? Rather than purchasing boot trees, cut costs by picking up an inexpensive pool noodle and cutting it to fit inside your boots! By taking care of your boots now they’ll also last longer and save you even more money in the long run.

8) Salvage your white show shirts with lemon juice.

If you’ve ever had sweat stains threaten to ruin your expensive, white show shirts, this one’s for you! Soak them in one part lemon juice and 10 parts water to eliminate the stains and save you money in not having to purchase new shirts!

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 Ways to Make Your Barn Manager Your Best Friend

A good barn manager can be the backbone of any large boarding operation or show barn, and a good relationship with your barn manager can go a long way in creating an enjoyable barn atmosphere!

While many barn managers have suggested baking them delicious food or bringing them snacks as ways to get on their good side, here are five other ways that you could make your barn manager your best friend – or at least be a better boarder and client!

1) Know and follow the rules.

Perhaps your barn does not allow dogs; maybe there are certain areas of lawn that horses aren’t to be walked or grazed on, and no one is to be mounted on a horse without a helmet. Whatever they may be, your barn likely has rules that allow it to run smoothly, and your barn manager is likely partially responsible for enforcing those rules. Having to reprimand you for not following the barn guidelines or continually having to remind you of the rules isn’t fun for them, and it’s no way to build a good relationship.

2) Communicate.

Not able to make it out to the barn at all this week due to a hectic work schedule? Notice a small cut on your horse’s leg? Have a question about the way something is being done? Communicate with your barn manager!

3) Trust them.

Good barn managers are often extremely knowledgeable horsemen and women with your horse’s best interest at heart. (Read what makes a great barn manager here!) If you see a problem or really don’t like the way something is being done, revisit point No. 2 and consider properly communicating that to them; otherwise, trust that they are doing their job well. Coming to your barn manager with 10 different ways of doing things or an idea that you read online that you think may be better than how they do something likely isn’t going to sit very well and isn’t going to help your friendship.

4) Stay neat and organized.

At home, keeping your space in the tack room neat and orderly and cleaning up after yourself when you’re done can go a long way in making your barn manager’s life easier (and in making them think more highly of you)! And the same applies if you’re headed to a horse show. Make a list,  check it twice, and ensure that everything that you need for both you and your horse is packed so that you or your barn manager aren’t left scrambling.

5) Be kind.

If only this one could go without saying, but in any barn boarding situation, it’s important to remember to be kind and polite, not only to your barn manager but also to your fellow barn mates and the entire barn staff.

A smile, a hello, and a thank you can go a long way in making you the kind of boarder or client that everyone loves to have around and a barn manager’s best friend!

 

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!

Six Ways to Make Horse Showing More Affordable

Horse show entry and office fees, transportation and travel expenses, tack and equipment costs, training fees, and grooming and braiding charges can be enough to make many an adult amateur – no matter the discipline – contemplate a second job or a steady diet of ramen noodles to offset expenses.

Fortunately, while the entirely inexpensive horse show may remain elusive, there are ways to greatly reduce your expenses and make horse showing more affordable.

Here are six tips that could help you decrease your costs this show season!

1) Identify your goals.

 Before heading to a horse show, think realistically about you and your horse’s level of competitiveness and what you hope to accomplish throughout the show season.

If your aim is to use horse shows simply as a way to test all that you have been practicing at home, to enjoy the competition with your horse, or to gain experience or exposure, unrecognized or schooling horse shows could be a great cost saver. These shows generally have much less expensive entry and office fees, paid memberships to governing organizations such as US Equestrian or the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) are typically not required, and US Equestrian fees are not imposed.

If your aim is to earn rated points, awards, or titles or to qualify for prestigious year-end finals and championships, you can still be smart and save money when it comes to selecting which horse shows you attend. Consider your travel expenses and what is realistic for you. While that beautiful horse show in Kentucky might look fun, perhaps the one of equal rating and just an hour drive from your home in Pennsylvania could be far more affordable for you and offer you the same opportunity to accrue points.

By identifying your goals in advance and selecting horse shows that fit those goals, you could save a great deal of money!

2) Submit your entries on time – or even well in advance.

Many horse shows penalize riders with an added fee for entering a horse show beyond a set entry date, while some others even offer reduced rates for early entries. Submitting your entries on time or in advance is a simple way to save money.

3) Be well organized and prepared for horse show day.

No one wants to have to purchase new gloves or spurs at a horse show when they know that they have perfectly good ones sitting at home, and having to purchase any tack or equipment at the horse show can be a good way to quickly exceed your budget! Instead, get organized and ensure that nothing is forgotten.

Make a thorough packing check list (fun fact: you can do this within BarnManager!). Be sure to include any items that you might need at a horse show that you might not typically use at home like ear plugs, Show Sheen or other show grooming products, rain gear just in case, and yarn or rubber bands.

Review your packing list a few days in advance of the show to make sure that you have everything that you need and that everything is in good repair. You don’t want to be left scrambling to get to the tack shop the night before the show!

As you’re packing and getting organized, it’s also wise to clearly label all of your belongings. That way, nothing gets inadvertently put in someone else’s tack trunk at the show or left behind at the ring with no identifier.

4) BYOS – Bring Your Own Stuff.

Much like it’s cheaper to ensure that you have all of your tack and equipment with you rather than purchasing anything new at the show, it’s also cheaper to “bring your own stuff.” That could include packing your own shavings to avoid paying more for them at the horse shows and bringing your own snacks and lunches to avoid paying expensive food vendors. If you’re going with a group from your barn, consider working together to organize who can bring food items to share.

5) Learn to groom and band or braid for yourself – or have friends and family help.

Whether your show requires that your horse’s mane be banded, braided in hunter style, or put into button braids, learning to do it yourself can save a ton of money – especially if you are horse showing frequently!

You can find numerous great tutorials on YouTube and on equestrian websites to help get you started on learning to braid or band before getting into the barn to practice. If you get good enough at mane or tail braiding, and if time at horse shows allows, you could even braid or band for others at the show to help you recoup your horse show costs.

Similarly, if you are able to groom, tack up, and care for your horse and your stall area yourself at the show – while still having the energy and focus needed to ride well – doing so is a great way to cut costs.

If you are fortunate enough to have friends, family members, or a significant other willing to help you out, don’t be afraid to take them up on the offer! Having an extra hand to hold your horse or an extra body to run back to the stalls for that forgotten item can go a long way and can help eliminate grooming costs.

6) Take good care of your belongings.

At the end of the horse show, again consult your packing list, this time to ensure that nothing gets left behind. It’s easy to head home from the horse show with a crop, glove, or girth missing from your tack trunk; ensuring that you have everything is an easy way to avoid having to purchase the item again.

While cleaning and organizing may be the last thing that you want to do when you get home from a horse show, it’s important to take good care of your belongings to prolong their lifespan and avoid having to spend money on new tack or clothing. Try to hang up your show clothes as soon as possible instead of leaving them crumpled in a bag or in the back of your car. (If you take good enough care of your show coat, you may even be able to avoid a dry-cleaning bill until after the next show!) Clean all of your tack and equipment as soon as possible after the show, and re-organize your belongings to keep everything ready to go for next time!

What are your horse show cost-reducing tricks!? We want to hear from you in the comments below!

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!