Horse Show Highlights From 2022

As the year comes to a close, many enjoy the tradition of reflecting back on favorite moments. BarnManager caught up with three grooms and managers to share their highlights from the 2022 horse show season.

Caroline McLeese

Rider, Manager, and Assistant Trainer for Double H Farm, located in Ridgefield, CT, and Wellington, FL

Photo courtesy of Caroline McLeese

What was your favorite memory of 2022?
I had the opportunity to show one of Quentin Judge’s horses, HH Qualido, in a national grand prix at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY, this spring. We ended up double clear and third, which was an exciting result for our first bigger class together. McLain Ward won, and Rodrigo Pessoa was second, and being in the ring for awards with two riders who I have looked up to for my entire riding career made it even more special. On top of that, the whole Double H team had quite a busy day between showing and getting a few horses to the airport, and I was super impressed with how everyone kept things moving. It was one of those rare days where everything came together just how it was meant to!

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
I have a horse to jump some two-star FEI classes with this year, Moncler van Overis. I’m really excited to keep getting to know him and see where we go together.

Stephanie Nell

Groom for Amethyst Equestrian, located in North Salem, NY, and Wellington, FL

Photo by Sportfot

What was your favorite memory of 2022?
My favorite horse show memory from 2022 was from the beginning of the year when Rodrigo Pessoa and Lord Lucio finished seventh in the $216,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4* during Saturday Night Lights at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Lord Lucio is one of my favorite horses to take care of, so it was a very special night. I also love the exciting atmosphere during the Saturday Night Light classes.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
I am excited to now be grooming for Rodrigo and Alexa Pessoa’s student, Maison McIntyre. Maison is a junior rider who has a lovely string of horses ranging in different competition levels. This summer we are going to Europe to compete, so I’m really looking forward to that trip.

Kimberly Graves


Former Groom for John French, located in Wellington, FL

Photo by Jump Media

What was your favorite memory of 2022?
My favorite memory of 2022 would definitely be World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. The $100,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular night class lived up to its name. It was truly spectacular. I had two horses in the class, Babylon and Milagro. They are both young and promising horses. It was my first time grooming horses for the class. I have watched this class in person and on live stream since it was available, and I have followed the sport and hunters since I was nine years old. I always dreamed of being a part of this night with a special horse or rider, and this year that dream came true. John French rode Babylon to an eighth-place finish that night for owners Ariana Marnell and Marnell Sport Horses. Just taking care of a special horse that qualified for that class was a check off my bucket list. I also had the honor of accepting the Mark Gregory Award for the best-conditioned horse of the first round of the class for Babylon and Marnell Sport Horses. That was the icing on the cake. I always take great pride in making sure the horses I care for are healthy, happy, and shiny!

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in 2023. I’ll be looking to find a new team to join in the new year. I’m also looking forward to checking more boxes off my bucket list like going to Devon and all of the indoor shows.

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

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

BarnManager Q&A With: Camille Guntrip

BarnManager Q&A With: Camille Guntrip

Camille Guntrip, Show Groom for Spencer Smith, a young professional show jumping athlete based in Belgium and Wellington, FL, who is a rider for the New York Empire team on the Global Champions League

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

I always carry a towel, sticky spray, and a hoof pick.

Photo by LC Ruas Photography

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

I think it is important to organize everything as you go. I try to put things back where they belong the moment I am done using them. This keeps the barn tidy and moving at a better pace since you know everything is where it’s supposed to be when you reach for it.

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

I’m very lucky to be part of the team that we have with Spencer. We are all like a family. Communication is a huge part of keeping the environment positive.

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

Photo courtesy of Camille Guntrip

My best tip would be to keep things as simple as possible. Elbow grease, a curry comb, and attention to detail are my favorite ways to keep a horse looking their best. It’s easier to keep a horse clean than it is to make a horse clean.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

I love Spruce Meadows or the Dublin Horse Show. The atmosphere at both of those shows is incredible.

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

I think anyone who knows me would agree when I say I would be a Shetland pony. The height and the attitude match me very well!

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!

Tips for Clipping Your Horse

As winter weather approaches it is time to start thinking about clipping your horse. Whether you are in a colder climate for the season or travel south with your horse, clipping is a good option if you plan to keep them in consistent work. Completing the task yourself can be a big undertaking so make sure you are fully prepared. Read on to learn about BarnManager’s top tips for a smooth and successful clipping job.

Check Your Blades

The first step in clipping your horse is to check your blades. Make sure the blades are new or newly sharpened, so it is easier to cut through the hair. Dull or dirty blades will not only make clipping more difficult and time-consuming but can also cause a poorer-looking result. It’s also a good idea to have an extra pair of blades handy just in case.

Prepare Your Horse

If the weather allows it, bathing your horse beforehand will make the task much easier. Clipping a dirty horse dulls your blades more quickly and can also result in more visible lines in the horse’s coat. After bathing your horse, spray a mane detangler on their coat to help the blades go through the hair more smoothly. Be sure to wait until your horse is completely dry before starting to clip. Clipping a horse while they are still wet can clog the blades. If bathing is not an option, spot-clean and brush your horse as well as you can and use a vacuum if you have one to remove extra dirt from their coat. Another way to clean up your horse without giving them a bath is to rub them down with a warm damp towel. This can remove a lot of extra dirt without soaking them to the skin.

Another tip is to braid your horse’s mane to one side. This makes it easier to clip that area of their neck, especially if your horse has an unruly mane. Use elastics to tie up the braid when you start clipping the side of the neck that their mane lays on.

If you are doing a trace clip or leaving a saddle or spur patch, start by using chalk to outline where you want to clip. This will help ensure that everything will look even on both sides of the horse’s body when you are done.

Time To Clip

The first rule of thumb is to clip against hair growth. Adjust the angle and direction you are clipping as you go depending on the area you are working on. It is also important to remember that horses can be sensitive when you clip certain sections of their body. Many horses do not like their legs, ears, stifle areas, or stomachs clipped so it is helpful to have someone hold them during that process. Clipping a horse’s face can also be tricky especially if they are sensitive or fidgety.

Take Your Time

One of the most important things to remember while clipping your horse is to take your time. This is especially important if your horse is sensitive to clippers or is not accustomed to the process. If clipping is new to your horse go extra slow, keep an eye on how they are reacting, and give them short breaks. It’s just as important to make it a positive experience for the horse as it is to do a good job clipping.

Oil and Cool Your Blades

Oil your blades every five to 10 minutes while you clip to ensure they continue to run smoothly. Also spray your blades regularly with an aerosol cooling product as you work. Depending on how thick and dirty your horse’s hair is, blades can heat up quickly so make sure to check them often. If they are getting too warm, turn them off for a couple of minutes and spray a cooling product on them. Before you resume clipping, double-check that they have returned to a cooler temperature. Clipper blades that are too warm can be uncomfortable for your horse. Using a long-bristled brush to remove hair from the blades when you take a break will also make the process go more smoothly.

Go Over Your Work

As you are clipping be sure to go over your work and reclip certain sections multiple times. This will reduce lines or any missed areas. As you reclip, slightly change the angle of your clipping to help get rid of lines. Once you are finished, brush your horse off and wipe their body with a warm damp towel. This will get rid of any loose hair clippings and allow you to see any areas that need more work. You may have to run your clippers over certain areas several times to successfully remove lines.

Clipping your horse can be a daunting task at first but becomes much easier as you get the hang of it. Don’t be afraid to ask your barn friend for help or company to make the time go by faster. And remember, practice makes perfect!

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 Eliza Heyl

Eliza Heyl is a groom for Coco Fath of Hillside Farm LLC, located in Wellington, FL, and Greenwich, CT. Keep reading for a day in Eliza’s life during Tryon Fall 6 show at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC.

6 a.m.

I have a few alarms go off in the morning starting around six a.m. I’m not the type of person who gets up early with plenty of time to work out, make breakfast, and get going. I usually roll out of bed with just enough time to brush my teeth, get ready, and head out the door with my dog Penny.

7 a.m.

This week we are at Tryon where I have three horses showing at the FEI level and one horse at the national level. Gaucho is the national horse and Aventador 5, Chellasco Z, and Exotik Sitte are the three FEI horses. Coco’s trainer Vasco Flores of Highport Stables is showing Exotik Sitte, or “Scotty,” today and Coco is showing Aventador 5, or “Avi.” I start my day by giving all the horses their stomach pastes and beginning chores. We wait 30 minutes after giving their paste to feed them hay, and then wait another 15 minutes before giving their grain. After I give our national horse, Gaucho, his paste I head to the FEI stabling to start chores there. My manager, Lauren, helps me when the horses are split up like this. She will do Gaucho’s chores and get him out for a hand walk while I focus on the FEI horses. Once I get to the FEI stabling, I clean stalls, dump and refill waters, and sweep the aisle.

8:30 a.m.

Photo by Shelby Phillips Photography

After chores are completed, I tack up Avi for Coco to ride before his class. Chellasco Z, known in the barn as “Chewy,” isn’t showing today so he will just hand walk before being ridden later. Vasco will ride Scotty around 11:30 a.m. After Avi and Scotty are finished being ridden, they will each get a bath so they are extra beautiful for their classes, and Chewy will just get groomed again.

I don’t like to wash manes on the days that horses are showing because it makes them too slippery to braid. My grooming routine is simple but thorough. Before pulling the horses out of their stall I always pick their feet to minimize the mess in the aisle and grooming stall. I start by spraying show sheen in their tail and letting it sit while I do everything else. I like to curry them with a grooming mitt because it allows me to get every inch of their body while also being gentle. After currying, I comb the mane before brushing the body so any sort of dirt or shavings in the mane does not fall on a clean coat. I then use a thick flick brush to get dust and dirt off followed by a soft face brush to bring out the shine. Lastly, I gently comb out the tail and clean the nostrils and eye area with a baby wipe.

11 a.m.

We feed lunch hay at 11 a.m. so I head over to feed the three boys in FEI and check their water. Lauren is over in National stabling getting Gaucho ready for Coco to ride so she will take care of his lunch for me.

Avi and Scotty are both showing in the $37,000 Welcome Stake CSI2* today and that starts at 1 p.m. Both horses are clean after their baths, but I still need to braid Avi and put flipped bands in Scotty’s mane. Avi’s neck is quite long with a thick mane, so I like to give myself as much time as possible to braid him so it looks neat and tidy. Before Vasco gets on Scotty at 11:30 I quickly band his mane and flip it so that all I need to do is quickly bathe him before he shows.

1 p.m.

Photo by Shelby Phillips Photography

The welcome class starts and Avi goes early in the order, so I bring him to the ring about 15 minutes before the start of the class. For Avi, I do the boot check as soon as we get up to the ring. I also readjust the saddle, put Coco’s stirrups to jumping length, and remove the cooler so he is all ready for her to get on. I like to keep those last few minutes at the ring quiet and calm so both horse and rider are relaxed and focused going into the warm-up.

After I put Coco on Avi, I go back to the barn to get Scotty ready for Vasco. Lauren will stay with Coco to help in the warm-up and bring Avi back to the barn for me. Before I left with Avi, I made sure that Scotty already had grab boots and front boots on to save a little time. All I need to do is quickly brush any last-minute dust off, put the tack on him, and head to the ring.

Avi and Coco did not make it to the jump-off so when Lauren brings him back to the barn she quickly pulls his tack and boots off, puts him in his stall with a cooler, and wraps him in four ice boots before coming back up to the ring.

Vasco likes to warm up on Scotty before doing the boot check, so I wait a bit before asking a steward to watch while we put hind boots on him. Scotty jumped great but unfortunately had the last fence down, so he does not make it to the jump-off either. When my horses come out of the ring, I always give them a cookie and a pat. I then hold them while the stewards perform the post-boot check.

2 p.m.

By the time I come back to the barn it’s time to take off Avi’s ice boots. While Scotty relaxes in his stall with ice boots, I take care of Avi. It’s chilly today and he didn’t get very sweaty, so I just groom him really well and wipe in between his hind legs with alcohol to remove any sweat and sand. Next, I apply Tendonil to all four legs and wrap them. On their final day of jumping for the week, my horses will be wrapped with poultice up over their hocks, but for today Tendonil and wraps are all they need. I then remove his braids, wet his mane, and comb it out so it dries straight. I apply the same process to taking care of Scotty. My last step is to pick out their feet to remove any ring sand and pack them with hoof packing.

Once I’m finished with Avi and Scotty’s care, I groom Chewy and take him out for a hand walk. Normally I like to give them all time to have a bit more of a relaxed walk where they can graze but unfortunately there’s no grass at Tryon this time of year that’s available to the FEI horses.

3 p.m.

Photo by Ashley Neuhof Photography

Now that all of my horses are put away, I start afternoon chores. Everybody gets hay at 3 p.m. and then I clean their stalls, top off water buckets, and sweep the aisle. Dinner is fed at 3:30 p.m. While they are eating I clean tack, tidy up the grooming stall, and make sure everything is neat and in order.

4:30 p.m.

Today I am heading home around 4:30 p.m., which isn’t so bad for having two horses in an afternoon class! Some days I can finish up as early as 3:30 p.m. but some days it can be much later. It all just depends on our schedule.

8:30 p.m.

Once I’ve been home to shower, eat dinner, and decompress with some Netflix while snuggling my dog, I head back to the barn for night check. Tonight the temperature will drop to the mid-30s so my freshly clipped horses will get heavy and medium-weight stable blankets and the furrier ones will just get heavies. They all get a hefty flake of hay at night check, and I top off their water again. Before leaving I double check their doors are locked and wish them all a good night’s sleep!

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!