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 You Need To Know About Flying with Horses

While the concept of flying with horses is pretty straightforward, the specifics of how the horses get from one place to the other smoothly are less obvious. Understanding more about the process can help you be relaxed and prepared when the day comes. It is always essential to check with your veterinarian regarding any preventative measures or in-flight health concerns. While these are general guidelines, you will need to check with the appropriate authorities and companies for exact details.

Types of Flights

If your horse needs to go a long distance such as across the country, or from the U.S. to Europe, flying can actually be less stressful. There are two kinds of flights with horses. One is a cargo flight where the plane does not have passengers beyond the horse-affiliated personnel. The other is a commercial flight with a passenger cabin at the front and a cargo-style section for the horses in the back.

A horse in the container, on the plane, and ready to go.

Arranging a Flight

There are several flight companies to help you arrange and prepare for your horse’s trip. Unlike organizing human flights, you cannot always pick exactly which day you want your horses to fly. If you give the flight company an idea of when you would like to depart, they can help find a flight around that date. The flight companies also complete the necessary paperwork for the horses to travel and will inform you of any health documents and other details they might need to confirm the reservation. As with human flights, delays and cancellations are always possible, so the flight companies will keep you updated on timing.

At the Airport

There are different importation and exportation laws depending on which country you are coming from or going to. Generally, horses need to arrive at the designated airport at least several hours ahead of their scheduled flight. For this reason, these airports have stalls for the horses to wait in when they get off the trailer.

The horses can stay at the airport for a couple of days if they are laying over from a horse show or other type of outing, so it is helpful to prepare plastic baggies with grain meals. You can help keep your horse hydrated by including electrolytes and adding water to their feed. It’s also a good idea to feed smaller meals ahead of air travel to help minimize the risk of any digestive issues. Like preparing your horse for a long drive, a stomach and ulcer support supplement can help keep your horse comfortable for the trip.

Once your equipment is checked in by airport staff and loaded, you will not have access to it until it is released either directly after the flight or after the horse exits a required quarantine. Each horse gets a flight bag in which you can put anything they might need during the flight.

Getting On the Plane

A container with horses getting loaded onto the plane.

Horses travel on the plane in large containers. Picture being able to pick up a box stall and move it with a giant forklift. The containers can be divided into straight stalls to fit either two or three horses, similar to a trailer. The container has a space for the horses with a low wall separating them from a compartment in the front where hay, buckets, and the flight bags are stored. Water and hay are hung for the horses too.

Staff at the airport will guide you to walk your horse into their spot in the container. Some horses find the container intimidating especially if they are new to flying, so having a treat handy can help. When everything is set, the containers are driven to the plane and loaded one by one such that the containers form a grid in the plane with small walkways between them.

If you are on a commercial flight, the flight staff will then help you get to the normal airport check-in and through security. You will usually be able to board ahead of other passengers to make your way to the back of the plane. Where you might ordinarily be looking for a bathroom, there is a small door to access the horse containers. Once you have passed through the door, you can walk around to find the container with your horse inside.

The Flight

Regardless of what type of flight it is, there will always be at least one flight staff member with the containers at all times. Since there can be more than twenty horses on a flight, it is still a good idea to check on your horse every couple of hours during the trip. Keeping them hydrated throughout is always important. You can encourage your horse to drink by holding carrots for them in their water buckets. The horse will have to go through the water to get the carrot, so it can help them drink a little extra.

Take-off and landing are generally the most stressful parts of the flight, so it’s good to make sure your horse doesn’t have any trouble. Though regulations can vary between flights and flight companies, you can ask the flight staff to request permission from the pilot to allow you to be with the containers during take-off and landing. There are no seats in the containers, so you will need to try and secure yourself comfortably in the front part of the container amongst the hay and flight bags. Keep in mind, flights can always experience turbulence, so it is important to be cautious any time you are moving around the containers.

Prepared for takeoff!

Getting Off the Plane

On commercial flights, first you will have to deplane as usual and claim any checked baggage. Then you will be guided to the horse arrival area of the airport, where you can wait for the containers to be removed from the plane. Once the horses are unloaded from the containers, staff at the airport will check each horse in accordance with country regulations. Some countries require a quarantine while others do not. Be sure to confirm your arrival with any follow-up shippers, so you can get picked up on time and make it smoothly to your final destination.

In addition to simply transporting you and your horse from one place to another, the flight company staff is also responsible for ensuring the experience is safe and pleasant. Ask any questions you might have so you can feel confident every step of the way. You are now free to move about the cabin.

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!

What To Know at an FEI Show: The Stabling Area

Competing at the international level in a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) show comes with its own set of rules and regulations. From the stabling area, to the warm-up arena, to after the round, being aware of these intricacies can help you stay organized. The first step to having a successful show is good preparation and planning. Even before you leave the stabling area, there’s a lot you can do to keep your team on track. For more information about entering an FEI show, read BarnManager’s FEI Paperwork blog about horse passports here, and BarnManager’s FEI Paperwork blog about registrations and entries here.

Keep your credentials handy.

The FEI stabling area is fenced in with limited entrances that are always monitored. You must have an FEI credential to access the area. To learn more about obtaining an FEI credential, read BarnManager’s FEI Paperwork blog about the check-in and jog here. FEI competing horses must wear their competition number to temporarily exit the stabling area. Additionally, all FEI-designated areas, such as schooling and warm-up rings or grazing areas, are limited to credentialed personnel, so be sure to carry your FEI credential at all times to alert the stewards that you are authorized to be in FEI-designated areas.

Make note of the FEI stewards in the stabling area.

The FEI stabling area is regulated and monitored by the FEI competition stewards. Their job is to ensure the welfare of the horses. This includes checking that the stalls are clean and bedded sufficiently, that the horses are properly cared for, and that the horse show facilities are in working order. At any point during the competition, including in the stabling area, an FEI steward is permitted to inspect tack or equipment to confirm compliance with the rules. They also can examine a horse, especially if they suspect there might be an issue of misconduct. There is always at least one FEI steward in the stabling area, so if you have any questions or concerns, they are a very good resource.

Check in and check out of the stabling area at night.

The FEI stabling area is technically considered closed at night. To get in, such as for night check, you will need to see the entrance gate monitor. They will have a list to keep track of everyone entering and exiting the area. This list includes the times each person arrives and departs as well as the rider associated with the horse(s) they are seeing. As technology has advanced, some shows will have you scan your FEI credential to keep track of comings and goings.

Have a plan for medication.

In the FEI stabling compound, there are designated treatment stalls reserved for veterinary or therapeutic treatment. Unlike national stabling, you cannot bring medication administration materials, such as needles or syringes, into the FEI stabling area. Any medication must be given by a veterinarian in one of the designated treatment stalls in the presence of a steward. Furthermore, the competition vet may only administer medications during specific treatment hours. For this reason, it is important to plan ahead and consider anything you think your horse might need. Something as simple as an injectable joint support supplement must be given under these regulations. Also remember that the permitted and prohibited substances for FEI can differ from that of the National Federation. More information on FEI prohibited substances can be found here.

Pay attention to announcements.

During the competition, it is typical for a class’s progress to be announced over a loudspeaker in the stabling area. While a lot of shows also have live orders online that you can access through your phone, real-time announcements are a helpful tool to get to the ring on time. Other announcements, like scheduling changes, are important to listen for too. Significant updates will also be posted on the bulletin board either at the entrance to the FEI stabling area or by the FEI office.

Staying on top of the details will enable you to make the best plan and contribute most effectively to your team. When in doubt, the best thing to do is to ask questions to make sure you are correctly following all regulations. Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing!

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!

Six Tips To Spruce Up Your Barn

There is no better feeling than walking into a clean and well-kept barn. Although everyone appreciates a neat and organized stable, it is a lot of work to maintain. While you may not have time to scrub stall walls every day, there are several simple tasks you can fit into your routine to keep your barn looking top notch.

1. Wipe Off Tack Trunks

One of the most noticeable places that dust builds up is on tack trunks, especially if they are located on the aisle. Morning chores of giving hay, cleaning stalls, putting in shavings, and sweeping can create a lot of dust, which settles on tack trunks and wall boxes in grooming stalls. After finishing morning chores, use a towel to dust off trunks and wall boxes in the aisle, grooming stalls, and tack room. If they are made of wood, consider purchasing a cleaner or polish to spray on them for a little extra shine. Customers will appreciate opening a clean and dust-free trunk when they arrive at the barn.

2. Clean the Stall Bars

If your barn has bars on the stall fronts you know they quickly become covered in dust and grime. Cleaning these bars regularly can make a big difference in how clean the entire aisleway looks. Depending on how many stalls you have, this task can be a little time-consuming. Try to clean the stall bars three to four times a week to avoid too much buildup. Clean the bars with a wet towel or sponge, and if some have a lot of grime scrub them with a hard brush to remove the dirt. Hand-held dust wands can also be useful for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

3. Water Down the Aisle

A trick to keep the dust down and make your barn smell good is to sprinkle a mix of water and multi-surface cleaner along the aisleway. After you have finished sweeping, fill a watering can with water and a little bit of multi-surface cleaner, such as Pine-Sol or Fabuloso. Then sprinkle it down the aisle, in the grooming or wash stalls, and in any other open areas. Do this quick and easy task several times a day so your barn always looks nice and smells fresh.

4. Remove Cobwebs

Cobwebs are a common problem in most barns. Allowing cobwebs to build up can make a barn look older and dirtier than it is. One solution is to spend a little time every day or so using a broom or long-handled dust wand to pull down the cobwebs from the stalls, tack room, feed room, and aisle. This is a good task to do when the horses are turned out or not in their stalls so that you do not scare them.

5. Sweep All Rooms

Make an effort to sweep out rooms such as the tack room, feed room, or laundry room once or twice a day. People are constantly walking in and out of these areas after being in the ring, stalls, or paddocks, so dirt, dust, and footing can start to build up on the floor. Sweeping these rooms regularly will go a long way toward keeping the stable’s overall appearance looking tidy.

6. Fold Everything Neatly

Messy blankets and towels strewn around on the aisle or in grooming stalls can make an otherwise clean barn look messy. If you keep stable sheets and blankets on each horse’s stall, take time to fold them neatly. Consider storing turnout sheets in a separate room rather than on stall doors because they tend to be dirty. If you have coolers or anti-sweats in your grooming stalls, be sure they are neatly hung or nicely folded. Similarly, make sure towels are folded or hanging to dry in an organized way.

By adding a few simple tidying tasks to your daily to-do list, you can easily keep your barn looking first-rate. Even if your facility is a little older or not the fanciest, prioritizing cleanliness and organization can help bring your stable to the next level.

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!

Getting Paperwork Organized for an FEI Competition: The Check-In and Jog

Even after preparing the horse’s passport and completing all of the registrations and entry paperwork, there are still some steps before being accepted at a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) competition. Staying aware of everything you need and the timing of the FEI schedule at the show can help you make the best plan for your team and the horse. Read the first part of our FEI Paperwork blog HERE, and find the second piece HERE.

Before Arriving at the Show:

All FEI competing horses must be stabled in the designated FEI stabling compound. New in 2022, the FEI is now requiring a digitally signed waiver attesting to the horse’s health, as well as body temperature recordings of the horse in the morning and afternoon for three days prior to entering FEI stabling. This information needs to be recorded in the FEI Horse Manager mobile app. It should be completed by the staff taking care of the horse in FEI stabling throughout the competition. Temperature also needs to be taken in this manner for every day the horse is in FEI stabling.

Another important thing to check before getting to the show is FEI stabling credential passes. Only people with FEI stabling credentials are permitted to enter the FEI stabling area at any time. Some competitions give out credential wristbands at the veterinary inspection jog. At other shows, those with connections to the competing horse who wish to enter the FEI area, such as owners, riders, and trainers, need to apply for a stabling credential prior to arriving at the show and then pick up their pass – usually from the FEI office. There is a limit to how many people can have credentials per horse, and the number varies per show. It is a good idea to check how many credentials you may be given ahead of time if that might be a concern for your team. Look for announcements from the show’s organizers about when you should receive your credentials, how many are being distributed per horse, and if there are additional forms to complete.

Checking In to the Stabling Area:

All competing horses must arrive at the FEI stabling compound and complete the initial check-in process during the allotted time listed in the official FEI schedule. You will need your horse’s competition back number, so be sure to stop by the show office to pick it up. Plan your arrival to the show so you can promptly unload your trailer and have enough time to check-in.

The vets at the check-in verify the horse’s identity by scanning the microchip. They cross-reference that with the passport and back number. They also confirm the temperature logs and the horse’s temperature upon arrival to FEI stabling. Ensure that you come prepared with the horse’s passport, number, and enough help such that someone can hold the horse and someone else can take the temperature to present to the show vet.

Remember that once the horse has been admitted to the FEI stabling compound, it cannot leave the show grounds until it has finished competing for the week. Any time a horse temporarily leaves FEI stabling for exercise, hand walking, bathing, or competition, the person at the FEI stabling entrance gate needs to be able to see the horse’s back number to record when the horse leaves and re-enters the FEI stabling area.

Horses outside of the FEI stabling area need to be monitored by the FEI stewards. You must use the FEI-designated areas for riding, grazing, bathing, and competition. If the horse is temporarily leaving FEI stabling, it is essential that either the horse or horse-handler has the horse’s back number attached to them in some capacity. Many grooms choose to have a secondary number that they keep on them at all times when working in FEI stabling.

The Veterinary Inspection Jog:

The jog, also known as the veterinary inspection, happens at an indicated time after the check-in window. There might be separate jog times for different levels of competition if they are happening concurrently, or the jogs might happen simultaneously. Be sure to make note of the time of the jog and have a plan for your horse’s schedule. Some people like to have their horses ridden before the inspection so they are looser and more relaxed. If that is the case, you need to allow enough time to have the horse properly cooled off and groomed. Though it is not an official rule, it is generally expected that horses arrive at the jog nicely turned out. Remember that the jog is a veterinary inspection. This means that your horse should not have any tack or equipment besides the bridle. If it is raining, you could cover your horse with a rain sheet while you wait in line, but you’ll be asked to remove it for the actual jog.

At the veterinary inspection, the passport is checked thoroughly. You also have to jog the horse down and back for soundness on the designated strip. For this, you need the horse, passport, and number. If all goes well and the horse passes inspection, the stewards will keep the passport until the horse leaves FEI stabling at the conclusion of its competition week.

Make sure you factor enough time for the jog into your plans for the day. It can be challenging to avoid waiting in line since every horse needs to be seen at the inspection. Arriving a little early can sometimes help mitigate waiting for an extended period of time.

If you have a stallion, confer with a steward about where to wait for your turn to jog. In order to keep all the horses and people safe, stewards will usually keep stallions separated from the general lineup. They will slot them into the inspection when they can. If you have a particularly challenging horse to handle, it is always a good idea to speak with the steward ahead of time, so you can be as cautious as possible.

Don’t forget that you will need to jog your horse in a snaffle bit or double bridle. You will need to do this even if it is not something they use ordinarily. You can jog with the reins of the bridle, a lead line, or a lunge line. It is best to think about how your horse might react to the atmosphere at the jog and plan accordingly.

Making lists of what you need for each phase of the check-in and jog process can help you stay organized. Having reminders on your phone for different timings can also be helpful. While it can seem daunting at first, the great thing about participating in FEI competitions is that you are among the best athletes, stewards, veterinarians, grooms, etc. It is a great opportunity to learn, and the added intensity will make your successes feel even sweeter. Enjoy the experience, and don’t forget to retrieve your horse’s passport once you are done competing before you head home!

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!