The BarnManager Q&A With: Stephanie Nell, groom for Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa

The BarnManager Q&A With:

Stephanie Nell, groom for Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa


What are three things that are always in your ring bag?
Stephanie: I always have the safety vest, sugar cubes, and a towel!

What is the most helpful habit that you practice at the barn?
Stephanie: Routine – things don’t always go according to plan with this job, but it’s good to have some sort of consistency for the horses to keep them level headed (and for the people).

How do you foster a great team environment in your business?
Stephanie: Communication, all the way. Unfortunately, we aren’t all mind readers, so if we need something or have any concerns, we need to speak up. If we need to know something, ask!

What’s your best tip or hack for grooming and horse care? Where did you learn it?
Stephanie: A mixture spray of witch hazel and vinegar for irritated skin. At my first job, I took care of a chestnut mare with highly sensitive skin, so every now and then we would have a rash breakout. To suppress the rash, I would spray that mixture once or twice a day. I swear it’s magic in a bottle!

What is your favorite equestrian sport and why?
Stephanie: Show jumping through and through. I’m always in awe when I watch horses, especially the ones I care for, compete at the highest level of the sport. It makes me feel luckier to do what I do every time I’m on the side watching them go.

If you were a horse, what would you be and why?
Stephanie: I think I’d like to be a wild Icelandic pony. They live in a beautiful part of the world and are known to be tough and sturdy, yet kind and curious.

 

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!

Female Force: Women in the 2020 Olympic Games

When you’re flipping through channels of Olympic coverage this year, you may notice all sports have one thing in common: they are split into men’s and women’s competition. There is one exception, however, and that is equestrian sports. The only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against one another on a level playing field. Men and women, as well as geldings, stallions, and mares, all compete head-to-head for medals.

Women have been representing the equestrian community extremely well in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While equestrian is usually an underrepresented sport throughout the programming of Olympic sports, women have been making their mark—and the news!

According to calculations by dressage-news.com, as of September 1, 2020, of the 29,731 athletes in the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) database of competitors in the Olympic disciplines, the percentages of female riders were 83.10% for dressage, 73.175% for eventing, and 61.311% for show jumping. The ladies are well represented in our sport!

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo helped the United States dressage team secure the silver medal in Tokyo. Photo by Jump Media

Ladies’ Night in Dressage

The equestrian events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicked off with dressage in late July, and all the athletes performed incredibly. The United States’ own Sabine Schut-Kery put her nation on the map after scoring consistently in the team and individual competitions. There was no shortage of girl power as she achieved her personal best of 78.416% in the grand prix and 81.596% in the grand prix special to contribute to the U.S. team’s silver medal. Sabine finished fifth individually in the freestyle on a score of 84.300% with her mount, Sanceo. The United States leadership also had female representation, led by Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald.

Women in dressage rounded out the individual dressage competition by securing all three podium spots. Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera secured gold on a score of 91.732%. Silver was awarded to the world-ranked number one, Isabell Werth (GER) and Bella Rose 2. Lastly, Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) returned to the podium to take bronze on her new mount, Gio.

Olympic dressage has been dominated by women for the past six years, by having all podium titles awarded to female athletes. 2020 marks the seventh consecutive year that women have taken gold, silver, and bronze in the individual competition of dressage.

Krajewski Makes History in Eventing

Women first competed in eventing at the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964. And the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was finally the year for them to take top individual honors. Germany’s Julia Krajewski made Olympic history by being the first female Olympic champion in eventing. The 32-year-old was rewarded individual gold for Germany on a score of 26 with her mount, Amande De B’Neville, an 11-year-old Selle Français mare. The female pair were one of the few combinations to jump clear in the show jumping round, only adding 0.4 time faults to her total score.

Krajewski was the only female on the individual podium for eventing, marking a huge milestone with her achievement. As for the team competition, Laura Collett and London 52 dominated the cross-country course, showing off their undeniable partnership. She was able to represent women on the podium in team gold position with Great Britain.

Jessica Springsteen, with mount Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve, is one of two ladies on the United States show jumping team in Tokyo. Photo by Jump Media

The Future Is Female

Show jumping wrapped up equestrian competition in Tokyo at Baji Koen Equestrian Park. The highest placing individual woman was Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) with Indiana. The pair finished fifth overall on a double-clear effort in the Individual Final. Baryard-Johnsson was also the only female competitor among the five pairs to jump clear in the Team Qualifier. In the team final, Baryard-Johnsson helped the Swedish team take home a gold medal. Meanwhile, the ladies of the United States, Laura Kraut and Jessica Springsteen, took home silver, putting three women on the team podium. Kraut, 55, has become the oldest woman to secure a medal at the Olympics since 1904.

In a world of sports where men can be stronger, faster, and more athletic, equestrian sports turn that idea upside down, allowing equality across all its disciplines and letting the women prove themselves as equal, and frequently better, competitors. As the Olympics in Tokyo draws to a close, we are in awe of the equestrian women who have shown some of their best performances. And we wish the best of luck to all of them as they continue their equestrian careers.

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!

Root for the Home Team: How to Watch U.S. Riders This Independence Day Weekend

It’s officially July, which means the Olympics are less than a month away. The United States has now named its teams for Eventing, Dressage, and Para Dressage. Chef’ d’Equipe Robert Ridland has yet to narrow down his shortlist of show jumpers. They have one final weekend to put on their best performances for the selection committee. Since this weekend is the 4th of July, there’s no better way to celebrate than by watching American riders contend for a coveted spot on the team at the various observation events happening in Europe.

The United States Dressage team will be Adrienne Lyle, Steffen Peters, Sabine Schut-Kery, and Nick Wagman, while Boyd Martin, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Phillip Dutton, and Doug Payne will represent the United States on the Eventing Team in Tokyo. The Para Dressage Paralympic Team will consist of Beatrice De Lavalette, Rebecca Hart, Kate Shoemaker, and Roxanne Trunnell. The show jumping team is the final team to be selected to represent the United States in 2021.

Spend your holiday weekend cheering on the U.S. show jumpers from afar as they compete at the following international competitions.

CHIO Rotterdam

In the Netherlands, CHIO Rotterdam is underway with the FEI Jumping Nations Cup on Friday, July 2, which can now be streamed on demand on FEI TV and ClipMyHorseTV. McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Adrienne Sternlicht, and Lucy Deslauriers jumped for the U.S., landing them in seventh place. All other jumping classes at CHIO Rotterdam can be viewed on Horse & Country’s streaming platform, H&C+. On Independence Day, watch the Longines Grand Prix of Rotterdam CSI5*. U.S. riders will compete individually for the title and potentially a spot on the Olympic team.

The Royal Windsor Horse Show

Happening simultaneously is the prestigious Royal Windsor Horse Show in the U.K. Here, U.S. riders Kent Farrington, Laura Kraut, Brian Moggre, and Jessica Springsteen are contending for a spot on the team. The feature event will take place on the 4th, so grab your patriotic snacks and tune in while you celebrate. The entire event can be streamed for free on the Royal Windsor website and on demand via ClipMyHorseTV, plus Facebook Live for select classes. H&C+ will also be streaming a replay the €500,000 Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, July 11, if you miss the live event.

Ones to Watch

Though all shortlisted riders have incredible accolades to their names, some have been on fire in recent events. 19-year-old Brian Moggre is fresh off a win with Balou du Reventon in the Sopot Grand Prix CSI5* in Poland. Teammate Lucy Deslauriers finished second, just behind Moggre, with Hester. Kent Farrington and Gazelle recently topped the Hubside Grand Prix CSI5* with a blazing fast jump-off. Jessica Springsteen took home the win the week prior in the Hubside Grand Prix CSI4* with RMF Tinkerbell.

McLain Ward was named the Leading Rider at Knokke Hippique CSI5* last week after showing incredible consistency across the entire event. He also snagged a win with HH Azur in the Old Salem Farm Grand Prix CSI3* and jumped a double-clear for the U.S. in the Nations Cup of Rome with Contagious. Laura Kraut had a stellar performance at LGCT Valkenswaard, taking the win in the Global Champions League of Valkenswaard. She also recently took home an impressive second place in the Grand Prix of Rome CSI5*.

It will, no doubt, be a tough choice for show jumping Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland as he watches the top U.S. show jumpers put forth their final effort in these competitions this weekend. Grab your watermelon, crank up the grill, and get ready to watch some incredible international show jumping. It is sure to be a preview of the excitement to come in Tokyo in a few short weeks.

Five Alternative Fitness Ideas for Riders

5 Alternative Fitness Routines for Riders

Five Alternative Fitness Ideas for Riders

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

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

1. Pilates

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

2. HIIT

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

3. Yoga

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

4. Cycling

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

5. A personal fitness trainer

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

 

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’s in Their Ring Bags? With Show Jumpers Martin Fuchs and Paris Sellon

Whether it’s used by the rider, the groom, or both, a ring bag full of show necessities is one thing that nearly all show jumping riders have in common. What varies though, is what riders and grooms keep in those ring bags.

Martin Fuchs

In the case of top show jumpers (and equestrian power couple) Paris Sellon and Martin Fuchs, their bag contents are strictly practical; while Martin may be the number-two ranked show jumper in the world, you won’t necessarily find the secret to his great success in his ring bag – but you will find a few of the vital tools that he uses on his way to that success!

Here’s a look at what Paris and Martin don’t go to the ring without.

Paris Sellon. Photo by Jump Media

Gloves and more gloves – Both Martin and Paris keep gloves in their bags, but Paris may have Martin beat on the number of pairs of gloves.

“I usually have about five pairs of gloves because sometimes I can misplace them,” said Paris, who rides in uvex as her glove of choice.

Three pairs of spurs a piece – “I like the wheeled spurs, so I have them in three different sizes,” said Martin of the three spur options you’ll find in his bag.

And while Paris also carries three different choices of spurs in her ring bag, her selections are different.

“I have really small ones that I use for Cassandra,” said Paris of the 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare that has been one of her top horses. “I have a pair that look bigger, but they’re actually nice and definitely not sharp, and I have something kind of in between.”

The shared necessities – A helmet, crop, and a towel are common-place among most rider ring bags – and Martin and Paris’s are no exception.

That’s where Martin’s bag list ends, as he elects to keep his uvex bag lightweight, but Paris has a few extra essentials!

The extras – “You never know what might come up,” said Paris. “I have a wrench in case I need studs, and I also have some tape for the horses’ feet in case they need coverage if they get a small cut or anything.”

Paris also carries boot polish, a sticky spray (similar to this one), extra hairnets, and Neutrogena Sport Face sunscreen.

What riders or grooms would you most like to hear from regarding what’s in their ring bag? Drop your suggestions in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have them featured 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!

Leveling the Playing Field: The USET Foundation

In my work with BarnManager, I have the privilege of experiencing a number of opportunities that I most likely wouldn’t otherwise have. This includes sitting down with Laura Graves during the Washington International Horse Show Barn Night clinic and getting more involved with the United States Equestrian Team  Foundation. Both of which have led me to write this blog post.

The first of these great experiences has been the opportunity to begin volunteering my time with the USET Foundation. They were looking for young voices to come in and help them communicate their mission to a younger audience and to help them launch a grassroots fundraising campaign to complement their existing fundraising efforts. I am one of many who are volunteering their time and experience, and I am so grateful to work with and learn from all of the people that this opportunity has afforded me.

I, like many young professionals, am very busy and constantly juggling a million responsibilities and requests. So I don’t give my time to people or organizations that I don’t believe in. I love horses. Every time I ask myself why I am driving hours to the middle of nowhere to compete or getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, I spend five minutes with my horse, and all of my doubts disappear.

You are here, so it is safe to assume that you understand this type of irrational and sometimes frustrating love that we never outgrow. Part of this love is an awe and admiration for those who compete at the highest levels of the sport. They often appear super-human, completing extraordinary efforts time after time. We become devoted fans and cheer for their successes and mourn their failures. But the story that isn’t told often enough is the role of the USET Foundation in their successes, in our successes.

So first things first, the USET Foundation is NOT the same as the U.S. Equestrian Federation. The USEF is the governing body for equestrian sports. The USET Foundation is a non-profit organization with the mission of supporting the competition, training, coaching, travel, and educational needs of America’s elite and developing International High-Performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.

To me, that is a long-winded way of saying that the USET Foundation levels the playing field at the highest levels of equestrian sport. And I never really understood this until sitting down with the hard-working team at the USET Foundation and talking directly to Laura Graves, one of the many athletes whose successes at the international level would not have been possible without the Foundation’s support.

A flight to the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, for Laura Graves’ Verdades would have cost Graves roughly $20,000 – the approximate going rate for a trans-Atlantic horse flight.

However, Graves—like I venture to say the vast majority of us—didn’t necessarily have an extra $20,000 readily available to ship Verdades overseas to compete in Europe that summer. But that didn’t stop her from competing at the 2014 WEG and bursting onto the international dressage scene in a big way after finishing fifth in the Grand Prix Special, fifth in the freestyle, and fifth with the U.S. team in Normandy.

From that point on, Graves and Verdades together have become a much-loved face for dressage in the U.S. and for the bond between a horse and a rider. They’ve been a vital part of U.S. dressage teams, including the bronze medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and they will represent the U.S. again at this month’s 2018 WEG in Tryon, NC.

But what if Graves had never been able to pay to get Verdades on that flight to their first WEG – or to any of the major competitions since then for that matter? And how do she and so many other riders like those representing the USA at WEG come up with that sort of money on a regular basis?

 

The answer is the USET Foundation – the secret to leveling the playing field in team equestrian competition in the United States.  

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that equestrian sports, much less at the elite levels of international competition, are easily accessible to everyone regardless of their backgrounds or access to means. But if you can navigate the challenges and obstacles of getting to the top levels of the sport, shouldn’t talent, ability, and preparedness be the only determinants of your ability to represent your country?

That would not be the case without the work of the USET Foundation. However, what is not widely discussed is what that really means. It means that the USET Foundation is ultimately making it possible for the team selections to be fair and not impacted by a rider’s financial circumstances. There are many intricacies in USEF team selection that I may not understand or be privy to and many that are imperfect, but it is because of the USET Foundation that selection can be based solely on the horse and rider’s ability and fit for the team at the time.

Once a horse and rider have demonstrated the ability and qualifications to be selected for a team, they are able to be a part of that team no matter whether or not they can afford it, thanks to the USET Foundation.

“For me, that support is the only way that the dream works,” said Graves. “People tend to think maybe at this point in my career I’ve just made it and now it’s different. This is an incredibly expensive sport. When it comes to supporting the travel and the competition of these horses, it’s a whole other ball game. There are times still where I think ‘How am I going to pay that bill?’ I am someone who could not have achieved what I’ve achieved without the financial support of the USET.”

And it’s not just dressage riders like Graves or riders in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, show jumping, and eventing that the USET Foundation is supporting – it’s all eight of the high-performance equestrian disciplines that will be represented at the upcoming WEG: dressage, eventing, jumping, driving, endurance, reining, para-equestrian, and vaulting.

“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the support from the USET Foundation in the success and growth of reining on the international stage,” said Jeff Petska, the Chef d’Equipe for the U.S. reining team at the 2018 WEG. “The opportunity it affords athletes to compete on the international level and represent their country is remarkable and has had a great impact upon each athlete’s career.”

The WEG is the only event of its caliber in which all eight of the disciplines are showcased. That means eight times the U.S. teams and eight times the expense. But thanks to the generous support of donors, the USET Foundation is making the 2018 WEG dream a reality for the approximately 50 U.S. riders traveling to compete in Tryon.

“The United States is shipping and caring for 50-plus horses and a delegation of approximately 125 [people] for the WEG,” explained Bonnie Jenkins, Executive Director of the USET Foundation. “This includes providing travel and accommodations for athletes, coaches, team leaders, grooms, veterinarians, farriers, physiotherapists (horse and human), team doctor, chefs d’equipe and a chef d’mission.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have wonderful friends and supporters of the USET Foundation that help make all this possible and ensure our athletes and teams have the financial resources necessary to achieve competitive excellence, not only in the WEG year but also in the critical years leading up to the WEG gaining international competitive experience in preparation for international championships.”

Not all of us are destined to compete on the international stage, but we all revel in the joy and sorrow, the sweat and tears, the patriotism and the passion of the athletes that represent us at the highest levels of the sport. But imagine what this sport would be like if the USET Foundation did not exist. Who would we be cheering for if we didn’t feel like we were sending our best and most able to represent us on the world’s stage? Sure, some riders would find wealthy sponsors to support them, as they do today. This is necessary, and we can thank these sponsors for many of the top partnerships that we see today and that have earned medals and accolades for the US Team for decades. However, we cannot allow team selection to be limited to only those with financial means and to the riders who can secure the support of a generous sponsor. Without the support of the USET Foundation, it wouldn’t be our team, it would be their team.

It is also important to note that many of these sponsors are tremendous supporters of the USET Foundation and responsible for some of the grants and programs that facilitate the leveling of the playing field when it comes to USEF team selection across disciplines. But the USET Foundation exists for all of us. And it is the reason we can proudly cheer for OUR team at the WEG and beyond.

That is what I see as the crowning accomplishment of the work of the USET Foundation. Not the medals, trophies, and coolers, but their commitment to supporting a team that belongs to the U.S. equestrian community as a whole. Like fans of any other team, we can love or hate, take issue with or support blindly any individual player. But we can still cheer for them with abandon knowing that they are ours, and they are the best that we have on that day. Not the wealthiest, not the most connected, the best.

That is how the USET Foundation levels the playing field, and that is why we need this organization to continue to grow and evolve in their support of the athletes we admire, and the dreams that do come true.

To learn more about the USET Foundation and how you can help level the playing field in U.S. equestrian sport and support riders in representing the United States in international competition, visit www.uset.org.

 

Protected: What’s In Your Tack Truck? – with Lillie Keenan

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