Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part Two

We’re excited to share week two in our Eventing Tips and Tricks series! Last week, we caught up with Courtney Carson, barn manager for 5* eventer Doug Payne, and this week, we’re sharing insight from Emma Ford, the incredible top groom and manager who has been behind the scenes for Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton for more than a decade!

Meet This Week’s All-Star Barn Manager

 

Emma Ford – Emma Ford has been an integral part of the team at Phillip Dutton International since 2005, including traveling with the two-time Olympic gold medalist to multiple World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. She took a year off in 2013 thinking that she was ready to slow down, but she missed the action and soon returned in 2014 and has been a top go-to for eventing grooming tips and tricks ever since!

 

 

Q: What’s one thing that you don’t go to the ring or start box without?

For the dressage and show jumping phases a towel, hoof pick, and fly spray are always in my backpack in case dirt needs to be wiped off. For horses that don’t like to be sprayed, I use the towel to apply fly spray to their heads and ears.

When heading to cross-country at the larger competitions, I always have spare studs and a wrench in case studs need to be changed in the warm-up.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

Truly bonding with each horse. Knowing them well enough that a slight change in attitude or eye alertness means catching a health problem before it becomes too big.

I like to know what makes each horse tick. Each horse is an individual; what they need to perform their best at championships is paramount. Some horses love the individual attention, whilst others want to be left alone. I have one horse that has to be hand-grazed first thing in the morning otherwise he is anxious for the rest of the day.  Another horse gets very nervous before cross-country, and taking him out for a hand-walk prior to tacking him up seems to relieve some of his tension.

Q: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of the job?

Learning to delegate and communicate. I am on the road with the advanced horses a lot through the show season. Being able to establish an at-home team that can keep the barn running smoothly is key. Over the years I have had to learn to trust people within the job to take care of the horses as I would – but also to not micro-manage!

Q: What items do you use most often in the barn?

My Multi Radiance M4 Cold Laser. I use this to help heal cuts, address sore muscles and acupuncture points, and rehab soft tissue injuries.

The Posture Prep Cross Fiber Groomer. It’s a grooming tool that allows me to massage the horse’s body to help release fascia whilst lifting dirt and bringing out the natural skin oils.

Towels! I’m endlessly drying horses’ legs, applying sprays, removing dust, and cleaning boots and surfaces – there are never enough towels!

Q: What is your biggest time-saving trick in the barn?

Thinking ahead! We have a training log book. Each day I try to list everything that needs to happen, lesson times, medications, icing, wrapping. This helps the staff to look at the day “as a whole” and be more efficient. Knowing these things ahead of time helps us to do day turn-out effectively and determines when horses are to be ridden (i.e. night turn-out horses get ridden earlier in the day). Rather than continually having to ask me what needs to be done, staff can go to the book and work it out for themselves.

Q: What’s your best grooming tip?

Allowing your horse to dry in the sun after bathing. This could be hand-grazing or letting them rest on cross-ties outside to dry. We are fortunate enough to have a horse walker. Many skin issues are caused because horses are put in stalls while they’re wet and without good airflow. The skin remains warm for a long time and provides a great environment for fungus and bacteria to grow and cause havoc wherever micro-abrasions might be present.

For more from Emma and clinics on horse health and management visit www.worldclassgrooming.com!

Photos courtesy of Emma Ford

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!

Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part One

We’ve shared tips and tricks from some of the top hunter barn managers in the country, and some of show jumping’s “grooms to the greats” shared their insight with our BarnManager team. Now, we’re excited to learn from the barn managers behind some of the best eventing riders in our new Eventing Tips and Tricks series of blog posts!

First up, we caught up with Courtney Carson, barn manager for 5* eventer Doug Payne (who was recently named to the U.S. team for the 2019 Pan American Games to be held this August)!

Meet This Week’s All-Star Barn Manager

 

Courtney Carson – Hailing from Illinois, Courtney has spent the last three years based in Aiken, SC, as the barn manager and head groom for Payne Equestrian and eventer Doug Payne.

Q: What’s one thing that you don’t go to the ring or start box without?

“I always have a rag with me. Even if I can’t get baby oil or something out of my pocket, I make sure to give their noses and mouths one last wipe and tell them to “be good.” I also try to check their girth one last time just in case. Plus, I always have cookies waiting for them at the end!”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

While doing well at the big events such as Land Rover Kentucky are great, most times it is something as simple as a four-year-old doing its first show.

We just had a six-year-old do his first CCI-L back in May; he was the first horse that Doug broke from nothing since I had started, and he was amazing all weekend. To see how far he had come in a short amount of time, and to see the potential that is there, was incredibly rewarding. I remember when we couldn’t turn him out without a halter and lead rope attached because you couldn’t catch him!

I also love when our students come back from a show or a round, and they are so excited to tell me about how they did. These guys work day-in and day-out for me, so to see their work pay off is one of the best things.

Q: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of the job?

Keeping all the wheels moving in the right direction. We are a 60/40 split between 3-day event horses and hunter/jumpers, so there is always a lot going on. This keeps us on the road quite a bit with very little turnover time while at home. It is very important that I have a good crew at home who communicates well, and we all work cohesively together. I would much rather hear from six people that we need to order hay or grain than come home to nothing, and I have to jump in the truck immediately and go pick some up as soon as the store is open. Doing the multiple disciplines means that the type of care and body maintenance is different – my event horses are kept much more lean than my jumpers (and especially compared to the hunters!!), so staying on top of that and keeping mental notes in my head is difficult. Thankfully we have a great team, and I own a million white boards!

Q: What items do you use most often in the barn?

A good rubber curry comb is at the top of my list. Between the sand in Aiken and my desire to have them all as shiny as possible, I use my curry comb a bunch. I also like to keep a ton of Show Sheen or some kind of mane and tail detangler spray. I don’t brush tails unless we’re going somewhere or while at a show, but I load their tails up with the Show Sheen every day to keep them from getting dreadlocks. We also go through a lot of fly spray with the bugs in the South East.

Q: What is your biggest time-saving trick in the barn?

If it is finished, put it away! I try to write the daily list so that we would ideally be using the last dressage saddle before the first jump saddle makes an appearance for the day. This way all of the dressage tack can get cleaned and put away while we are tacking up horses who are jumping. I have a list of “standing chores” which includes hay, water, stalls, and laundry. If it is just me in the barn because the kids are riding, I may go ahead and tack up two of Doug’s horses then have a third one groomed off, so when he comes in and I need to bathe, get the next one tacked, etc. I am already ahead of the game. Then I can take care of the horses the way I want. I’m thankfully pretty good at multitasking, so it works. But as long as the kids are moving productively then it gets things done. Probably my biggest life-saver is that I put together a binder which lists all the equipment the horses will go in for each phase/type of ride. That way newer students don’t wander around the barn looking for someone to show them what tack to use.

Q: What’s your best grooming tip?

Pay attention to detail. Get to know your horses – their legs, coat, skin, eating habits, turnout behaviors, etc. and use it to your advantage. I have one horse that is super sensitive to the sand, skipping one day of washing his legs and skin funk shows up, but then the only thing that works on it is Micro Tek. I’ve tried every other anti-fungal shampoo with no luck.

I have another horse who eats half of his breakfast every morning, goes outside for a couple hours, gets ridden, and then will finish breakfast. All of these things are normal, but it scares everyone when they first start working for us. Don’t let the little things get to you, because horses spend every day of their lives trying to hurt or kill themselves, so things are going to happen that are out of your control.

Love them like they are your own. Communicate with your boss about how they want things done, and remember that everyone is on the same team. Never stop learning though, talk to other grooms, talk to vets and farriers, read articles, and keep an open mind. Things will work for some horses and not others, that doesn’t make them wrong. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Most importantly, find out what kind of treats your horses like the best and keep those on autoship through Amazon, Chewy, or Smartpak!

Photos courtesy of Courtney Carson

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!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – How to Prevent Your Horse from Getting a Sunburn!

Liv Gude’s advice on avoiding sunburn this summer! 

These tips are mostly for the gray and white horses out there, but any horse can benefit from a little cover up in the summer!

– Use sunscreen on noses and faces. The brands that have mostly zinc oxide-based versions tend to last a long time. (You will sometimes find them labelled as baby versions.)

– For socks or stockings, add fly boots.

– Faces and noses also benefit from full protection fly masks, including ears and noses. Add fly sheets, with a neck piece if needed. (Any type of summer horse clothing is best purchased in a light color to help keep things cool!)

Apply sunscreen or use full protection face masks to avoid sunburnt noses!

– Be super mindful of the sun if your horse has braids in; some horses will get sunburned between the braids.

– Get your vet involved if you find your horse has scabs or sores on the white areas, usually on the face or legs. You might think these scabs look like scratches, but horses can be photo sensitive and their pink skin will seemingly boil. It’s quite painful, and UV light can damage the skin quite quickly. Most horses with photosensitivity will despise being in the sun.

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

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!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Stress-Free Horse-Free Vacations

Liv Gude gives us some tips on what information to leave your horse sitter this summer.

Aside from the generally obvious things, like your emergency phone numbers, here is some additional information that you should put together for your caretaker:

1. Your horse’s normal vital signs – heart rate, temperature, and respirations.

2. Your horse’s particular way of telling you they don’t feel well. Each horse has their own language.

3. A list of your horse’s medications, as well as administration details – when and how. Most horses have that one way, and one way only, they will take something.

4. Any quirks that might put your horse sitter in danger – like that tickle spot that makes your horse kick out.

5. A detailed plan of what to do in an emergency – colic, hoof issues, not eating, acting weird, lacerations and first aid, etc. Let your horse sitter know where the first aid kit is!

6. A plan if your horse needs a refill of food, fly spray, etc. Do you have an account at your local feed store where your sitter can just zip over?

7. Detailed information about what is safe, and not safe, for your horse to eat as a treat. We so often want our horses to be spoiled when we are away, but not spoiled with something they are allergic to.

8. Instructions on how to handle your horse if they are acting like a fool, won’t be caught, are pawing at the gate, you name it. If you are in the middle of training or un-training a behavior, you want your horse sitter to be able to reinforce the same actions.

Happy Vacationing!

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

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

Five Ways to Master Your Show Ring Mental Game

Whether you’re about to jump a grand prix, ride a dressage test, enter a western pleasure class, or complete a 2’ hunter course, there’s a good chance that you know the feeling: that bundle of nerves or anxieties that leaves you sick to your stomach or tense in the saddle.

Or, maybe you’re as cool as a cucumber going into the show ring, but it’s after the class when a mistake has been made that the mental game gets the best of you, as you overanalyze and continuously critique yourself for the error. Or perhaps you find yourself struggling right in the middle of the class, with your mind wandering off to something that happened earlier in the day instead of focusing on the task at hand.

No matter what the particular struggle may be, equestrians everywhere are becoming increasingly aware and open about the importance of managing the psychological component of the sport. We’ve gathered five tips from top riders that could help you do just that!

1. Develop a routine.

Adrienne Sternlicht frequently listens to books as part of her pre-class routine. Photo by Jump Media 

There are countless articles online about the benefits of a morning routine for productivity and performance, and the same can hold true when it comes to a show-ring ritual!

Show jumper Adrienne Sternlicht frequently listens to books (including chapters titled “Fear” and “Desire” in the book Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D) as part of her pre-class routine, and that helped bring her a sense of calm before helping team USA earn gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon (WEG).

“All that routine does is bring comfort to uncomfortable situations,” said Adrienne. “I was so freaked out the first day at the [WEG]! I had no idea what to expect. I found comfort in being able to a) meditate and b) listen to books.”

Fellow show jumper Daniel Bluman says, “Routine is the most important thing that I think any athlete can go back to.”

Whether it’s taking a walk, meditating, napping, reading a book, grooming your horse, or polishing your boots, find a set of habits or rhythms that you enjoy and that help bring you to a place of calm and familiarity. They can help prevent you from anxiously having to overthink what to do next before you ride.

2. Know what works for you, and don’t be ashamed of it.

Once you find your routine, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to stick to it even if it doesn’t make sense to those around you.

For instance, while Adrienne prefers to keep busy or immerse herself in meditation or audio books and couldn’t imagine sleeping, Daniel can often be found napping by the grand prix ring prior to his round, and Olympic dressage rider Kasey Perry-Glass likes to keep things light.

“I was talking to a sports psychologist, and she asked me to think back to the best ride that I’ve done and what I did to prepare for that best ride,” explained Kasey. “I said, ‘I think I was laughing in the barn and having fun.’ Sometimes we think we have to be so serious and not crack a smile, especially for these team events. It has to be so focused, but sometimes focus comes in many forms. Luckily, I have teammates that love to joke around with me. The lighter I keep things the better I am in my head. Another girl on my team, loves to sleep; we have to wake her up. So, it’s interesting how everyone can be so different.”

Laura Graves, the number two-ranked dressage rider in the world says: “I think it’s important to learn how you succeed: how you recharge, what drains you, and really how much you can tolerate.”

3. Recognize that you are not alone in your struggles.

Even Olympic riders and top professionals are speaking out more and more about their own fears, anxieties, and difficulties in mastering the psychological side of the sport.

Kasey recently shared, “Leading up to the Rio Olympics, my horse got overfloated with his teeth. He wouldn’t eat; it was just horrible. After Rio, I went through a pretty big depression. At the end of 2017, I took a big break and started talking to a sports psychologist, just getting my mind right again. [That incident before Rio] took the fun out of riding. Mentally, I just was not prepared for getting shot up into the high-performance world and then having all these things happen to me and not knowing how to deal with them. So, I think it’s really important to learn to be mentally strong. I think it’s important to stay true to yourself and take care of yourself and your mind.

“Even these big events that you go to, I try to think of it as a very small thing,” continued Kasey of her routine now. “Because if it becomes too big in my head, it becomes overpowering. Then I can’t focus. Two hours before I start my preparation, I feel sick to my stomach. I’m not nervous; I’m just anxious. Once I start braiding and getting him tacked up and all of that, it goes away. Then after my warm-up I feel pretty secure. I trust my training; I trust my coach, and she sends me in having full confidence.”

For Daniel, a two-time Olympian himself, the struggle often comes in overthinking his last ride.

“I do definitely dwell on mistakes. It’s a constant battle. To say that after the competition I’m not angry if I had a rail down, that would be a total lie,” Daniel says.

4. Try to avoid dwelling on mistakes or thinking about what could go wrong.

Daniel Bluman may glance a look back at the clock (pictured), but he is continuously striving to not spend excess time looking back at past show ring mistakes. Photo by Jump Media

Easier said than done, but by proactively and consciously striving to let go of mistakes and to focus on the positive scenarios, you are more likely to set yourself up for success.

“We compete a lot; we are all the time doing this, so [not dwelling] is something that I’ve tried to master through the years,” said Daniel. “Constantly, every competition, every week, I try to be better and to dwell the least amount of time possible. I just go back, see what I did wrong, how am I going to correct it, and that’s it. If I keep dwelling on it, then I start affecting the people that love me.

“People don’t want to be around you when you’re in a bad energy all the time,” continued Daniel. “It’s important to bounce back from it. I know people say, ‘Ah look how seriously he or she takes it. He’s been upset going to the gym 10 times a day because he lost that class.’ I don’t think that makes you better or worse. There needs to be a balance between work and sport, especially in our industry where we compete until our 60s. If we’re going to take it that seriously, then we’re going to be dwelling from the time that we lost until the time that we win, we’re going to spend most of the year dwelling!”

Adrienne says, “‘I don’t mind what happens.’ – I love that phrase. It’s sort of a yogi phase, and I love yoga. It’s a sort of ‘I will still be here tomorrow’ mentality. That’s the nature of my program also. With [Adrienne’s trainer, Olympian McLain Ward], he’s very much of the mindset, ‘okay, tomorrow we’re still going to come back regardless of what happens, and work together, and we will also come back to address whatever those issues are and fall back on our program and move forward.’”

5. Remember why you are doing the sport in the first place.

We have shared this quote from Daniel on both our BarnManager social media and blog before, but it is one that will continuously hold true:

“I try to focus on the reasons why I do the sport. I didn’t start riding because I wanted to win a five-star grand prix anywhere in the world. I didn’t even know that five-star grand prix existed. I didn’t start riding because I wanted to be the most successful rider in the history of the sport; I really just started riding because I loved horses. In times when I’m really anxious or I feel my head is getting ahead of me, I just really try to remember that thankfully we work with horses and not with motorcycles or with cars. We work with actual animals that have this incredible power to give us that feeling of calm of peace.”

Have your own show ring mental strategies? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Photos by Jump Media

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!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Avoiding Pasture Hazards

Liv Gude gives us some tips on avoiding common pasture hazards.


Now that spring is swinging, your horse’s world may have become a bit greener. Aside from the binge eating risks of all of that fresh salad, you should keep your eyes peeled for some pasture hazards that your horse may, or may not, avoid on his own.

If buttercups are something that cover your land, know that they are toxic to horses. Luckily, they also taste horribly, so most horses avoid them like the plague. However, horses will eat them if they have no other choices. So if you have a barren pasture except for some sparse patches of buttercups, you might want to add some hay for your horse to eat when he’s out.

Dandelions are not toxic, but they are super high in sugars which makes them delicious and tempting. Be wary of your metabolically challenged horse eating them. You might need to switch paddocks, limit turn out, or find another way altogether for your horse to get some turn out.

Also watch out for internal parasites. Pasture piles of previous poops often have worms just waiting to find a new host. If your horse’s pastures are not routinely picked out, you may want to double up on the number of fecal egg counts that you do.

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

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!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Fitting a Grazing Muzzle

Liv Gude gives us some tips on fitting your horse’s grazing muzzle


A well fitted grazing muzzle can help your horse stay healthy and trim, all while avoiding an increased risk of laminitis in some cases. But, muzzles can rub your horse bald, and even to the point of sores.

Some horses do best with a soft and fuzzy grazing muzzle that sits closely to their face. Some horses do best with soft and fuzzy, but a bit larger.

If you horse is really sensitive to rubs around the muzzle, look for a style that is made from stiff materials that can be held away from his face.

You must always use a breakaway halter of some style. Nylon halters must have a leather crown piece or some other breakaway option. Leather halters might be your best bet to attach a muzzle to, as they hand help the whole thing stay away from your horse’s face.

Adding fleece to halters is an option also. You don’t have to go for real sheepskin, you can get all sorts of colors and textures for rub protection.

If your horse likes to talk his muzzle off by hooking the nose and flipping the basket under his chin, you can get halters that have a face piece that connects from the crown piece to the basket. If your horse likes to remove everything by getting out of the crownpiece, braid some of his mane around it to see if that helps.

Happy grazing!

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

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!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Winter Fuzz to Summer Slick

Liv Gude gives us some tips on transitioning from winter fuzz through the spring shed and on to summer slick.


Horses shed when the days start to get longer, which begins with the winter solstice around December 21st. Most horses hold on to their coats a bit longer to begin the shedding cycle in February. Here are a few ways you can be prepared to help this transition.

▪ Use specialized grooming tools, like shedding gloves. Please stay away from metal blades and hacksaw blades. These can damage the hair and skin, and definitely can’t be used on legs, faces, bony parts.

▪ Help your horse shed themselves by giving them ample opportunity to roll in sandy stuff.

▪ Bathe your horse when the temperature is comfortable and safe. This helps convince hairs to come out!

▪ Add products to make them shine a bit more as your help transition. Grooming oils are nice to condition dull coats, and sheen products help with slicking up hair coats.

▪ Remember that a horse’s hair coat is ALWAYS shedding and growing – it doesn’t just happen twice a year. This is why a bridle path needs constant touching up, and a horse will regrow hair that you have clipped for wound treatment or some other reason. Therefore, you CAN clip a shedding horse. His summer coat will come in even eventually!

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

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 and Tricks from the Best Show Jumping Grooms to the Greats

The warm-up ring of the International Arena at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) is an incredible place to learn. Pull up a chair during a FEI class, and suddenly you have a front row seat to watch many of the top riders in the world at work behind-the-scenes.

Not only is the schooling ring a place to take in valuable riding lessons gleaned from the warm-up rides of the sport’s best showjumpers, it’s also where you can find and learn from many of show jumping’s top grooms, always on hand and attentive to their horses’ needs. So that’s just what we did. Our BarnManager team caught up with grooms from around the world to learn their tips and tricks, and now we’re bringing you insight from four of them!

Meet This Week’s All-Star Grooms


Denise Moriarty
– Originally from Ireland, for the last six years Denise Moriarty has groomed for U.S. Olympian Kent Farrington.

 


Tia Stenman
– For the last three and a half years, Finland native Tia Stenman has groomed for Torrey Pines Stable where she currently cares for the horses of the USA’s Spencer Smith.

 


Ninna Leonoff
– Ninna Leonoff has been a vital part of Markus Beerbaum’s team for more than 20 years after first moving from Finland to Germany to groom for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) gold medalist in the 90s.

 


Josie Eliasson
– A Gothenburg, Sweden native, Josie Eliasson has spent the last three and a half years grooming for the USA’s Jessica Springsteen at Springsteen’s Stone Hill Farm.

 

Q: What’s one thing that you don’t go to the ring without?

Denise: “A towel. You clean your horse; clean your rider. It’s the most useful piece of equipment.”

Tia: “A towel. Often it comes to the rescue for a lot of things.”

Ninna: “A towel.” (We’re sensing a theme!)

Josie: “A towel. It’s so handy for everything – for your rider, for the horse, for everything. It’s just very handy and such a simple thing.” (Okay, it’s unanimous!)

Q: What’s your favorite or the most rewarding part of the job?

Denise (pictured left): Seeing the horses do well in the ring.

Tia: I love my horses; they’re my hairy children. I love the travel. There’s nothing better than when you get to know the horse, and you kind of can read their mind. I couldn’t do it like in a factory way. For me, it’s really important that I know my horses and that I get to be with them as much as I can, because this is the only way I can be the best possible groom.

For sure the most rewarding is when your horses jump great; they perform great, and you see they’re happy. They’re not really made to do this, what we make them do, so when I can see that they actually like what they do – like this guy here [Theodore Manciais], when he jumps around with his ears up, and he’s excited and he feels good and he’s enjoying it – I love that. If I can keep them happy during all of these travels and crazy things that they go through that’s really important for me, and that’s satisfying.

Ninna: When the horses are feeling good; when they are looking good. That’s most important for me. I think these days, to keep them feeling good soundness wise is important and rewarding. I really like to get to know my horses. I like to spend time with them so I know how they feel. Even brushing I can feel if they have sore backs or they’re tired or fresh.

Josie: Just to be with the horses. To be able to travel the world and work with them on a daily basis is just a dream.

Q: What items do you use most often in the barn?

Denise: A broom. Our whiteboard is our go to for any changes that come. Brushes, and the washing machine!

Tia: A broom. I use a lot of lunge line because I’m not big; I’m not strong. I’d rather have a little bit more time to react if my horses are being silly; I don’t like to take stupid risks. A hoof pick. I always have that in my pocket, even when I go to my car. Show Sheen is great because I hate to pull through a tail, even if it’s clean.

Ninna: A pitchfork! The curry comb. That one I use a lot; I like it a lot. Saddle soap. Probably a broom.

Josie: The different brushes, the curry comb for example, I use a lot. Nothing compares to a really good brush of the horse. Cookies! We use a lot of cookies; our different horses like different kinds of cookies.

Q: What is one time saving and/or grooming tip that you would give?

Denise: Just being organized and having your day planned. Being organized is going to make it run a lot smoother and be a lot less stressful. I make surethat my boots are laid out, that my ring bag is packed for that horse, and that I know what bit or bridle or chain and everything that [Kent] wants on the horse so that I’m not last minute panicked trying to figure that stuff out.

Tia: Maybe it’s not time saving for everyone, but I always towel dry my whole horse. After I give them a bath, I do a quick towel dry of the whole body because then they dry faster. If I leave the upper body wet, and I only dry the legs, the water from the top goes back to the legs, so I do a quick towel dry because I don’t like them to be standing wet for hours.

Ninna (pictured right): What I normally do – let’s say now I go back from the ring. I take his tack off and put him back in his stall so he can pee and drink. In the meantime, I normally always clean the tack. Then I go wash him. That way everything stays nice and tidy. I don’t like anything that is on the floor or looks dirty. I like to keep things clean. I always try to stay organized right away so that everything looks nice.

Josie: It’s really good to have the horses used to getting this care. For example, after jumping, we wash them, and we put them in ice and put on the magnetic blanket. Then, if they’re good and used to it, they can stay for a little bit, tied up or not tied up, while you have time to clean tack or do other small things. That really saves time too. Instead of just sitting there watching and waiting, you can get things done.

But also, when they’ve been really good jumping for you, I often also do just want to give them the time to take care of them! I just love to curry them. It does so many good things. It helps them with the blood circulation and everything; it’s a kind of massage. Obviously, it gets them clean, and you spend time with your horse at the same time.

Photos by Jump Media

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