The BarnManager Q&A With: KJ Pearson

The BarnManager Q&A With:

KJ Pearson, Manager and Rider at Hunt Tosh Inc, located in Milton, GA

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

I normally do not have a ring bag, however my dirt bike always comes to the ring with me. Three essentials that are in my trunk are Advil, hairnets, and candy that Maddie Tosh and I always keep close by.

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

Photo by ESI Photography

The most helpful habit that I practice at the barn is starting early. I like everything super organized. Getting the horses ready and the barn organized early helps the day go a lot more smoothly.

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

We do a lot of things together as a team. Whether it’s going to a horse show, or finishing up daily barn chores at home, everyone always pitches in. The Toshes are like family to me, so we are a very close team. Maddie and I do things like getting everyone lunch or having ice cream parties and game nights when we are at home to show how much we appreciate all that our team does.

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

The best hack I have is probably for fixing blemishes such as a spur rub or covering up stained white knees and socks. White chalk, black chalk, and baby powder can make magic happen when you are trying to cover up a stain or rub. Ruben Cruz, who is Bobby Braswell’s head groom, taught me that a few years back and I still do it to this day.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

Photo by Jump Media

My favorite horse show hands down is the Bluegrass Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park where the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship and Green Hunter Incentive Championships take place. It’s my favorite week of the year, and the entire team looks forward to it. USHJA puts on such a good show for the young horses and asks them all the right questions. “Derby Finals” has such a special place in my heart; there’s no feeling like walking down the ramp during the final round at night.

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

If I was a horse, I would for sure be an endurance horse. My friends all joke with me that I am the energizer bunny because I’m always going.

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!

The BarnManager Q&A With: Alyssa Ferguson

The BarnManager Q&A With:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

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

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

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

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

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

The BarnManager Q&A With: Eliza Heyl

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Eliza Heyl, Groom at Hillside Farm LLC, located in Wellington, FL, and Greenwich, CT

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

I always carry treats, a hoof pick, and a few veterinary supplies like vet wrap, silver spray, etc. I think these are important items to have no matter the horse or class.

Eliza Heyl and Hillside Farm LLC’s Exotik Sitte. Photo by Ashley Neuhof Photography

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

Risk management. For example, 99% of the time you could probably get away with leading a horse with the throat latch unclipped, looping a chain shank under the chin when it’s not in use, or cutting other corners. Basing decisions on assessing the risk of the 1% of times when bad things happen versus the few seconds it takes to do things safely and correctly helps keep the horses and staff safe while avoiding unnecessary accidents in the barn.

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

Communication and a positive attitude. I think it’s important to remember that as grooms we’re hired to do things the way that managers, riders, and owners want them done. Sometimes the way I would do things isn’t the same way that my manager would. What matters is that I’m doing things the way my superiors want them done while maintaining a positive attitude about it. This helps avoid becoming frustrated and arguing with my manager, and it also provides me with a little bit of support if things go wrong. In those cases, I’ve done what I’ve been asked to do instead of doing it my own way and being responsible for any problems that arise as a result of disregarding instructions.

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

It seems obvious but attention to detail. Running your hands over your horse’s legs every day, ideally, a few times a day, is a great way to catch indications of injury early on. It’s important to know what lumps, bumps, and old scars are normal and what are not. I apply the same logic all over the horse’s body. Anytime I notice an abnormality I find it best to tell my superior as soon as possible. A second pair of eyes and hands can help you assess a situation quickly and accurately while also saving both of you from the “Why didn’t you tell me about this as soon as you noticed it?” situation down the road.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

Eliza Heyl and HMF Equestrian’s Zilton SL Z. Photo by Kaitlyn Karssen

Either GCT Miami or GCT Saint Tropez. Logistically both shows are a bit difficult as a groom because you don’t have the space or infrastructure of a normal showgrounds to take care of your horses. Despite that, I love the atmosphere of my rider and horses competing on the beach in Miami and the stunning surroundings of Saint Tropez. The GCT shows are very busy and are over in a heartbeat, but they have that extra layer of elite competition that appeals to me.

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

I think I’d like to be a beloved retired top-level show jumper; one of our sport’s best rider’s favorite horses who is happily enjoying retirement while still being treated with the best care.

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 To Balance Work and Horse Showing

Horse showing with a full-time job is a challenging task that requires a lot of commitment and planning ahead. Keep reading for a few tips from amateur riders who are professionals at balancing their work with a busy competition schedule.

Julia Weiss

Senior Director, Media at Giant Spoon

Photo by Elegant Equus Photography

What divisions do you compete in currently, and who do you train with?

I show in the Amateur-Owner Hunter and Jumper divisions. Right now I am in between horses but aspire to get back to competing in the High Amateur-Owner Jumpers again. I ride with Findlay’s Ridge based in North Salem, NY, and Wellington, FL.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in balancing work with horse showing?

Time management! I always want to make sure I am doing the best I can in my professional and personal lives. My job is just that – my job – so I never want my riding to take me away from work in a way where someone has to pick up the slack. It’s tough to manage time working and riding, let alone time for yourself outside of those two pillars.

Finding the time to practice is another challenge. Most of what happens during a show is a result of the work that’s been put in before you get to the show ring. As an amateur, my time in the saddle is limited, which means I may make mistakes in the show ring due to a lack of practice at home. It’s hard when your competition didn’t go as you wanted it to, but you have to remember that in this sport what you get out is largely a reflection of what you put in.

What are your three favorite tips for successfully managing work and horse showing?

Photo by Sportfot

Open communication and transparency with your teams

Whenever I have a competition, I always let my team at work know when I may or may not be available so I can give them as much of a heads-up as possible. I’m lucky to work in an industry that allows me to step away from my computer and work from my phone to take calls and meetings as needed, and that my client deliverables and presentations are scheduled ahead of time. I’m also transparent with my trainer and barn managers about when I am unavailable, and when I need to be flexible. For example, if I have a call at a certain time, I’ll make sure they know that I need to go early or late in the order. If I have a client presentation on Thursday afternoon, we’ll look at the show schedule together to see if there’s a class earlier in the day that could better avoid potential conflicts.

You should know and understand what you are willing to be flexible on and what you are not flexible on. I try to make concessions with my riding schedule instead of my work schedule because, well, I get paid to work, not ride! I’ve been lucky enough to have missed neither an important client presentation nor a big competition. This is because of the support I receive from both of my teams.

Try to keep work separate from the ring and vice versa

There are times when I’ve walked up to the ring on my horse while on a work call and have had to hang up and warm-up for my class immediately. Obviously, it’s better to space out work and showing but if you have to do them back-to-back (or even more tricky, simultaneously), try to be fully present for the task at hand. Do your best not to take your client follow-ups into the ring with you. Similarly, keep your bad round out of your next Zoom meeting.

Take your competitions seriously, but not too seriously

With limited practice, you’re bound to make mistakes, and that’s fine. Remember why you’re doing it. For me, it’s about the mental challenge and the fun of competition. I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be able to ride at all with a full-time job. It’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes but it’s critical to realize it in order to maintain your sanity and also continue to enjoy the full experience.

Alexandra Murray

Senior Associate in Business and Program Development at the Milken Institute

Photo by Sportfot

What divisions do you compete in currently, and who do you train with?

I compete in the High Amateur-Owner Jumper division and occasionally show in the regional grands prix. My current goal is to compete at the two-star level in the near future. I train with Lionshare Farm based in Bedford, NY, and Wellington, FL.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in balancing work with horse showing?

Time management is my biggest challenge, and unfortunately, I have found that it is more an art than a science. With a full-time job, time in the saddle is limited and marginal compared to most of my competitors. I’m not deterred by this fact, mostly because I’m blessed to even be able to ride and compete, but also because I’ve found it motivating. Knowing this limitation, I put 110% of my effort into each ride and learn as much as possible.

What are your three favorite tips for successfully managing work and horse showing?

Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Plan ahead

This is definitely the “science” part of time management. My schedule for the week is always made by Sunday night. I like to arrange work calls during my commute to and from the barn, participate in competitions during quieter work months (when we are not hosting conferences), and plan calls or meetings around my classes during show weeks.

Stay flexible

Classes run late, people cancel, and sometimes there is traffic. Not everything goes according to plan, but don’t let that derail you. Depending on your prioritizations for the day, respond accordingly and move on.

Enjoy the ride, both literally and figuratively!

It is a privilege to live in New York City, ride with Lionshare Farm, and work at the Milken Institute. Though my calendar gets crazy, and at times it feels overwhelming, I am grateful for these opportunities. We are so lucky to work alongside such amazing animals, so we should savor and appreciate it!

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: Kyle Gambino

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Kyle Gambino, Assistant Trainer at Lionshare Farm, located in Bedford, NY, and Wellington, FL

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

Besides the obvious helmet, stick, and spurs I always have sunglasses, a clean pair of gloves, and a pack of spearmint gum in my ring bag.

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

The most helpful habit I practice at the barn would be knowing the time and schedule. During the day, there is a flow and function that revolves around the clock and a schedule. If one of the moving parts is late or in the wrong place at the wrong time it disrupts everything. The horses like minimal chaos. The barn and their stall should be a happy place for them. When things happen smoothly and on time you can create a peaceful environment in and out of the barn. This doesn’t just apply to the horses, it also applies to the riders and trainers. Knowing the time, your schedule, and the barn’s schedule makes all the difference for you and the horses. If horses have a consistent program and routine then they are able to succeed.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Gambino

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

Creating a good team environment in the barn is a constant goal for me. I always like to reference the NFL’s Bill Belichick and his great simple saying, “do your job.” Everyone is responsible for their own set of horses, riders, or chores. If everyone does their job well that creates team success. The individual jobs, tasks, and chores are the little pictures. Together, these create the big picture. Anyone who works in a barn knows there are always holes in the big picture, not necessarily anyone’s fault but regardless they need to be painted in as well. We’re all responsible for the big picture, and if everyone has the same goal in mind they can work better as a team and help fill in the holes. A team that has the same goals and vision for the barn and its big picture is one that succeeds.

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care?

My best tip or hack for grooming and horse care would be to know your horse inside and out. Just like when a rider knows a horse really well, they succeed, and it works the same way for grooming. You have to know their legs, their personality, their habits, the way they move and respond to different things, and what they like and don’t like. This helps not only make sure the horse is healthy but also gives you an idea of how to help the horse perform at its best. These animals cannot speak to us, but we can tell so much by how they react to certain things and noticing little differences within their norm.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

My favorite equestrian competition would be any Nations Cup competition. I think it is an interesting format because the horse and rider jump the same track two times. In regular competition, watching riders take on a track and adjust their plan for multiple horses is interesting enough. In a Nations Cup competition, you get the opportunity to do this but on the same mount. To see the adjustment from the first round to the second round, and see riders get a second chance to do it right is always interesting to me. It shows you how much a rider understands what went wrong or what went right. You are able to watch how they try to replicate the good and fix the bad. I also enjoy Nations Cup competitions because they are team events that bring out both camaraderie and competitiveness in riders. No one wants to let down the team, which I love.

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

If I were a horse, I would want to be a jumper. I feel like jumpers get the opportunity to be themselves the most. You see a lot of the same type of horse in the hunters and equitation. In the jumpers, you see every shade of the rainbow and then some. The jumpers can go out and be themselves because most of the time that is what makes them great.

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: Samantha Lyster

The BarnManager Q&A With:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

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

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

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

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

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

The BarnManager Q&A With: Lindsey Bailey

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Lindsey Bailey, Groom at Louisburg Farm, located in Wellington, FL, and Boston, MA

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

I always have water, horse cookies, and a towel.

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

Keep it simple and build a program with purpose. At the end of the day, they’re horses and they need to be horses. This means letting them roll and be dirty or giving them opportunities to buck and shake their heads. I’m also a huge believer that a good feeding program, a great farrier, and a knowledgeable vet make grooming horses a simple and straightforward job.

Photo by Jump Media

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

Always be willing to lend a hand and always be ready to learn something new.

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

Listen to your horses and they’ll tell you what they need. I’ve learned a lot about horses from my mom. She’s an amazing horsewoman and has always been great at opening my eyes to how horses think and how their bodies work in a way that you really don’t find in the show world. My sister and I grew up riding our ponies with halters and lead ropes in the fields they lived in and taking care of them ourselves. I had no idea having a groom was even an option. My mom is incredible, and she is constantly seeking out new knowledge. What I’ve learned and continue to learn from her has always been the foundation of my grooming.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

I had the opportunity to groom at World Equestrian Center – Ocala a couple of times this season, and I don’t think any other show really compares to it. The facility is designed intuitively, it is so easy to work out of, and the crowds are amazing. The atmosphere on Saturday nights is unreal.

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

I would like to say I would be a laidback, super-chill quarter horse, but in reality, I’m probably more of a high-strung dressage horse that’s a total perfectionist, and the grooms draw straws to take care of.

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: Abigail Fulmer

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Abigail Fulmer, Head Groom/Barn Manager for Lynn Symansky Equestrian, located in Middleburg, VA

Abigail Fulmer and Lynn Symansky at the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event.

 

What are important items that are always in your ring bag?

In my ring bag, I always have a hoof pick, rubber bands, pins, and a leather hole punch.

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

I always make a to-do list. When you work in a fast-paced performance barn, you are always having to multitask and end up doing several jobs at once, so it is very easy to overlook or forget to do something. This is why I always make a list for myself, either on the whiteboard or I make a note in my phone. This helps me make sure that everything gets done in the most efficient way possible and that I do not forget anything.

(Did you know? BarnManager’s app has a helpful list feature so you can make your daily to-do lists with your team at the barn!)

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

Communication. In my experience, most tension and struggles between people working together come from a lack of communication. For this reason, I think effective communication should be a priority in a barn.

Abigail Fulmer enjoying some downtime at a horse show.

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

For horses with dry skin or sensitive skin, apple cider vinegar is your best friend. Dilute it in a bit of warm water and it will work wonders on hives or dry skin. I learned this trick from Lynn’s previous groom that I had the pleasure of overlapping with for a few months as I was getting started in the business.

What is your favorite equestrian competition and why?

My favorite event so far has been Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. It is such a beautiful facility and a hub for people from all over the world to come together to compete and enjoy the sport.

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

I would be a Shetland pony because even though I may be tiny I can still hold my own with the massive warmbloods in our program!

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!