Eating Healthy at Horse Shows: Five Ways to Stay (or Get) on Track

We carefully plan our horses’ meals, weigh their feed, and provide them supplements and the proper nutrition that they need as the athletes that they are.

Our own nutrition and needs as an athlete, however? That often looks more like a skipped breakfast as we’re rushing out the door, whatever burger or fries we’re able to scarf down at the horse show food stand, or that delicious Nutella-filled crepe calling your name from the crepe stand.

The fact is though, as riders, we’re athletes too! If we expect our horses to perform their best, it’s important for us to fuel our bodies in a way that allows us to ride our best.

We know it’s not always easy with busy show days and tempting, convenient food vendors, but here are five tips to help you stay (or get) on track!

1) Don’t Skip Breakfast! 

It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for horseman and women, it’s often the most skipped meal of the day! Our days start early, and we’re often in a hurry to get to the barn or the show ring. However, by skipping breakfast, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure.

To get the most of your breakfast, try to intake a combination of protein, carbs, and fats to give you energy and to keep you satisfied until lunch time.

“If you start with a good breakfast, you’re geared up for the day,” said amateur equestrian Michelle Durpetti, who trains with True North Stables. “I’m not as hungry; I’m not as inclined to go get fries or something like that. It’s so easy to forget at horse shows that you are also an athlete.”

Durpetti recently began placing more of an emphasis on her own nutrition while at horse shows, and she and trainer Caitlyn Shiels start most days with their own smoothie blend.

“I heat up almond milk every morning, and I use a superfood greens powder,” said Durpetti. “I add in probiotics and prebiotics, and it has an apple and cinnamon taste. It kind of tastes like old school oatmeal.”

Show jumper Hannah Selleck of Descanso Farm is another rider who has made her own health and fitness a priority, alongside that of her horses, and even on her busiest mornings, she ensures that she doesn’t skip a protein-filled morning meal.

“Sometimes I’ll have a coffee, ride a few, but then make sure that I get protein and eat breakfast,” said Selleck. “I never want to skip a meal or feel like I don’t have energy, so I make sure that I’m eating throughout the day when I’m showing.”

2) Plan Ahead 

It’s no secret that you’re more likely to grab a sugary snack or order that convenient burger and fries when you let yourself get to the point that you’re starving or don’t have other alternatives readily available, so it’s important to plan ahead!

By the end of a long show day, it’s normal to be exhausted and to want to reach for whatever is available or to grab a quick (likely, unhealthy) dinner on your way home. Instead, try to meal plan or prep your meals in advance if you know you’re not going to feel up to cooking after you’ve finished riding and showing. Pre-made meal services are also a great option if they’re within your meal budget, and Pinterest is a great resource if you’re looking for meal prep recipes like these or these!

3) Keep Snacks on Hand

Planning ahead and packing snacks go hand-in-hand! As a professional hunter/jumper rider and trainer riding a number of a horses a day and going from ring-to-ring, Shiels relies on pre-packed snacks, so she always tries to keep a banana, dried fruit, and almonds in her ring backpack for a quick pick me up when needed. For Selleck, turkey jerky sticks and RX Bars are her go tos!

Apples and carrots also make great snack options (for you and your horse!), as does trail mix or a pre-prepared protein shake. Other protein sources like hard-boiled eggs, tuna packets, or no-bake protein bites also travel well and can make for a great pick-me-up. (Google “no-bake protein bites” or “no-bake protein energy bites” for a number of quick, easy recipes!)

4) Stay Hydrated 

Keeping your body hydrated while showing is just as important for your health as proper nutrition!

Try keeping a cooler packed with ice, small water bottles, and sports drinks at your stalls, on your golf cart, or near your horse trailer so that you never have to worry about finding something to drink at the show. (As an added bonus, packing your own drinks will save you money at the horse show, where drinks are often more expensive!) Thirst is also often mistaken a hunger, so by quenching your thirst, you may be less likely to go looking for something unhealthy to eat! Try to steer clear of sugary, caffeinated sodas during the day, as they won’t do the job to keep you hydrated and will only give you a temporary boost before your blood sugar drops.

5) Make It a Group Effort

Keep yourself on a healthy track by encouraging your barn mates to do the same. Hold each other accountable to healthy eating and offer to take turns providing healthy snacks or filling up the barn cooler with waters and Gatorades for the team. Consider swapping recipe ideas, packing group lunches, or even creating fun challenges like all trying to drink a certain amount of water each day of the show. Have fun with it, and enjoy feeling better as the group of athletes that you are!

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

How to Clean Your Grooming Brushes

When was the last time you really cleaned your horses’ brushes? If you’re like many of us, we venture to guess it’s been longer than the recommended every week to two weeks!

The good news is, washing your brushes is quick and easy to do, and it goes a long way in helping your horse be as clean and healthy as possible. (It’s tough to have a clean horse if you’re using dirty tools!) Consider setting aside 10 to 15 minutes every other week for washing your brushes, and then follow these simple steps!:

– Fill a bucket with warm water and a drop or two of shampoo. It’s best to stick to the shampoo that you would usually use on your horse, and it’s important to avoid using any rough household cleaners that could cause irritation to your horse or that could potentially contain harmful ingredients.

– After any loose hair has been removed from the brushes, add them to the bucket, and swish them around, allowing the loosest dirt and debris to come off. Then, work the shampoo into the bristles thoroughly.

– Once you’ve shampooed the brushes, allow them to sit and “marinate” in the bucket for five to 10 minutes to really get clean.

– After the brushes have had time to soak, rinse them out with clean water from a house. Then rinse again. And possibly again. It’s important to make sure that any and all shampoo is rinsed out of the brushes so that it doesn’t dry within the brushes later.

– When you’re sure the brushes have been well rinsed, shake them out, and lay them out to dry on clean ground or grass or on a shelf or similar. Be sure to leave the brushes laying on their sides so the water doesn’t consolidate at the bottom of the bristles and end up damaging the brush handle. And viola! Clean brushes!

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 Tips: Avoiding Frostbite on Your Horse

When tiny cells in your horse becomes so bitterly cold that ice begins to develop inside of them, it causes the expansion and rupture of the cells, which is what causes what we best know as frostbite!

Imagine this in a whole region of cells, like in your fingers or your horse’s ear.  These ruptured cells are now dead, which causes the area to have decreased blood flow and swelling and a whole mess of dead tissue. An important note here: this tissue will NOT grow back!

Major problems follow as the dead tissue can leak toxins into your horse and cause gangrene and massive infection, famous for being gross and black and generally dangerous.

Horses are typically susceptible to frostbite on their ears and their penises.  This is usually seen when a horse is sedated with certain types of drugs that relax the muscles that hold the penis in.  Then, the exposure sets in and you can only imagine…

A horse is at most risk in extreme cold, especially when there is no relief from the wind, or your horse is damp or wet.  A horse that is already compromised by being a hard keeper, or a horse without enough forage, or a horse with some medical issue going on is also at risk.  Some toxins found in plants and rancid feeds can cause vasoconstriction, which increases risk.

Fortunately, frostbite in horses is not extremely common and can be prevented by ensuring that your horse has shelter from the wind if it is turned out in extreme cold and that it is able to stay dry, to take in adequate calories, and to forage to generate normal body heat.

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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 Tips: Three Rules for Decorating the Barn at Holiday Time

It’s beginning to look a lot like…the time to decorate for the holidays! If your barn, or even just your horse’s stall, are on your list of areas to decorate this year, you may want to keep in mind these three rules from Live Gude of ProEquineGrooms.com!

1. Keep holiday decorations out of reach.

Garlands, ornaments, and lights will be utterly delicious and irresistible to some horses.  Arrange any holiday decorations away from the reach of every horse, even the least curious ones.  If you have a particularly clever horse that might use his powers of sorcery and contortion for evil and not good, skip decorating around that guy’s house. The trouble with garland and long stringed things is that they can easily create impactions if eaten.

Also think about the barn cats and dogs. Are they going to be tempted to grab some garland and zip down the barn aisle?

2. Don’t burn down the barn.

Sure, twinkly lights are the best!  However, overworked circuitry and extension cords increase fire risks.  If you absolutely, positively MUST have lights, make sure they are the LED version that won’t generate heat.

3. Don’t use poisonous decorations.

Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are all toxic.  Mistletoe and holly are definitely toxic to horses, dogs, and cats.  Poinsettia is mildly toxic.  You may want to stick to artificial varieties of these things.   Same goes for pine – while the real version is lovely, there is a lot of sap involved.

Happy decorating!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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 Tips: Winter Grooming for Fuzzy Horses

With unseasonably warm temperatures surrounding our BarnManager home base on the East Coast as we post this, it’s hard to believe that we’re talking about winter, but coats are growing in and the winter months are quickly creeping up!

With the approaching winter, we have two primary concerns when the horse is unclipped: dirt, bacteria, fungi, and moisture trapped on the skin by the coat and cooling out the horse after exercise.

When you have an unclipped coat, you have a great natural barrier to the elements, but you also have a way for skin funk, rashes, infections, rain rot, and unseen cuts and scrapes to invade your horse. Couple that with moisture from sweat, and you are creating a buffet for microscopic creatures to invade. You also have the huge task of cooling out and drying your horse after exercise to avoid skin funk and your horse getting chilled to the bone.

Here’s ProEquineGrooms.com’s Liv Gude’s advice for dealing with both!

Get acquainted with a vacuum for horses.

Use your fingertips – your bare-naked fingertips! You should be feeling your horse everywhere to make sure scabs or unusual skin funk, rashes, or rain rot are not forming.

Use your hands to examine the ribs and make sure that they are not poking out underneath the horse’s coat. Use a weight tape weekly to measure weight changes.

Take the time to hot towel your horse. Hot and damp towels are used to “curry” the horse in small sections at a time. Use a cooler to cover each section as you finish.

Utilize waterless shampoos. Many waterless shampoos are designed to clean spots, not do a whole horse, so read the label carefully. In combination with hot toweling, they can be a super way to bring back that “just washed” look for your horse.

Stay warm, and good luck this winter!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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 – How to Keep Your Stress Levels Down at Horse Shows

Showing is fun, expensive, awesome, sometimes disappointing, sometimes amazing, and often stressful (for some, especially as we head into the “Indoors” season)! But how can you keep your stress level low?  This largely depends on what works for you as a stress diffuser, but here are some tips that might help you!

Get prepared long in advance  It’s more than making packing lists and practicing your braiding skills, it’s about going to schooling shows, getting out to ride in a clinic, or exposing your horse in low pressure situations to all of the things he might see at a horse show.

If you’re doing it yourself, have your grooming, braiding, and tack cleaning game down pat – Put in lots of practice at home, and make note of how long it takes you. Then, add a big time cushion when you get to the show so that you’re not rushed.

Eat well, sleep well, breathe well – One surefire way to obtain this is to have a regular exercise routine for YOU.  Learn some mediation techniques, some easy breathing exercises, and notice your stress level before it starts to escalate.

Have a support system in place– If you don’t like to drive the horse trailer, hire someone to take this stress away. Bring a friend or your spouse. Make sure your trainer can be there to help you warm up.

Don’t try and cram it all in – If you think that a few classes over a weekend might be too much, then opt for one or two classes on one day. Most horse shows will let you trailer in for a day.

Try to make the whole show experience easy –  Aim to give yourself time to walk around, shop, watch your friends, and let your horse chill out.

Best of luck, and enjoy!

Want more tips on improving your horse show experience? Read “Six Ways to Make Horse Showing More Affordable” here! Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude 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!

Doing It Yourself: Tips and Tricks from NAYC Medalist Gracie Allen

Gracie Allen helped Zone 2 claim the Young Rider team bronze medal at the North American Youth Championships (NAYC) on August 2, before she was also presented with the Style of Riding Award.

Even without her well-earned medal and award though, Gracie would have still been a winner in our books!

While the majority of competitors at the NAYC have the assistance of a groom or trainer to care for their horse, Gracie is a standout. The 18-year-old from Moorestown, NJ, is largely the sole caretaker for her medal-winning mount, Rivage de Lormay. Gracie has had the ride on the 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding, owned by Horseware Ireland, for the last year and a half, during which time the gelding has lived at home with Gracie at her family’s Woodedge Farm in Moorestown, NJ.

Gracie says, “I take care of him and prepare him for competition, and that allows me to really get the best out of him in the ring. I know him like the back of my hand, so it really allows me to know what’s going on with him. If he even looks at me funny, I know there’s something wrong.

“I feel like he knows me really well, so it plays a huge role for us,” continued Gracie. “I know that whatever success I have in the ring is because of the effort I’ve put in with him.”

Gracie Allen (second from right) with her Zone 2 teammates after claiming the Young Rider team bronze medal at the 2019 North American Youth Championships in August. Photo by Jump Media

Caring for Rivage de Lormay herself has not only helped their partnership in the ring, it has made Gracie quite the knowledgeable horse woman.

Couple that with pointers and expertise from her riding instructor parents, Bob and Maureen Allen, and lessons from Olympian Anne Kursinski, and Gracie has garnered quite a few tips and tricks!

“I started taking lessons with [Anne Kursinski] when I was 14,” said Gracie, who then spent a summer as a working student for Anne and now lessons with her on occasion. “Anne’s very big on horse management; it’s a big part of her operation. I worked as a groom and a working student for her for a while when I was a junior, and it was an invaluable experience for me. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. It really gave me insight into how to take care of my horses. My parents teach beginner lessons, which is a wonderful part of our industry, but being able to be there with Anne and see her system and how she does everything was incredible.”

 Here’s a bit of what Gracie had to share!

On preparing for and competing at the NAYC:

“It definitely gives me a big sense of pride taking care of him myself, especially coming here [to NAYC]. I really planned my show schedule around this competition, and it’s been a really big goal for me. To be able to come here and medal is a big accomplishment for me. When I do go in the ring and do well, I know that all of that is because of the hard work that I’ve put on, along with my parents and everyone who helps and supports me.

I came into these championships thinking that this was an opportunity that I really had to take advantage of because I don’t own any of my horses myself, so I don’t always know what the future is going to hold. I’ve been riding him twice a day to get him fit, and I’ve been feeding him every meal to make sure everything is completely compliant with [Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)] rules.

“I used the FEI database a LOT. My horse’s feed has about 25 different ingredients, and I was typing them all in. We have a lot of boarders, and if anyone sprayed anything near him or tried to feed him anything, I would have to keep an eye out for that. I was feeding him every meal and turning him in and out and making sure no one touched him. We had a day camp at the farm, with little kids, and I had to make sure they knew not touch him too! It was a little stressful getting ready for it, but now that I’ve done it and I know what I can and can’t use [under FEI rules], it’ll be easier next time.”

On time-saving tips:

“I always work on time management. That’s something I learned when I was working as a working student for Anne. I think drying a horse’s legs is very important, and we have a lot of fans in the barn so the horses can dry faster. It saves you time to put a fan on them after they have a bath or you wash their legs.”

Gracie Allen and Rivage de Lormay. Photo by Jump Media

On organizing her day:

“My main philosophy is to make everything simple. I tell myself that all the time on the way to the ring: ‘This is simple.’

“I really try to organize things very well for myself. When we’re at a show and I have multiple horses, sometimes the days can get really packed. I have to make sure I’m organized, and I know where I have to be and when. Being organized and making everything as simple as possible, not only for me, but also for my parents when they have to help me take care of my horses, is so important. They have to know where everything is and who goes when.”

On what she never goes to the ring without:  

“A chain. And treats. And a fly sheet.”

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Gracie!

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 – The Vacation Horse Sitter Checklist You Need!

Liv Gude’s advice on the information you should be leaving for your horse sitter! 

Your flights are booked; your bags are packed, and you’ve made arrangements with a trusted friend to look after your horses – but have you provided him or her with all of the information that may be needed?

Here’s a checklist of the details that you may want to leave your horse sitter before you head out of town!

– Emergency contact phone numbers for you, someone else in town, the vet, and your farrier.

– Clear feeding and care instructions, including any details of your horses’ daily routines.

– Your horses’ vital signs including heart rate, temperature, and respirations.

– Your horses’ particular ways of telling you that they don’t feel well. Each horse has their own language.

– Your horses’ medications and when and how to administer. Most horses have that one way, and one way only, they will take something.

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

– A detailed plan of what to do in various emergencies, be it colic, hoof issues, not eating, acting weird, or lacerations and first aid. (Be sure to let your horse sitter know where the first aid kit is!)

– 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 or have you checked your current stock on everything that may be needed?

– Detailed information about what is safe and not safe for your horses 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.

– Instructions on how to handle your horse if he is acting like a fool, won’t be caught, is 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.

Now that you’ve left behind the proper information, relax, and enjoy your vacation!

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 – Take Care of Your Horse’s Skin from Head to Toe

Liv Gude’s advice on caring for your horse’s skin from head to toe! 

Between heat, sweat, dust, and just horses being horses, there are a lot of skin issues that can pop up.

It’s important give your horse the once over from top to bottom with your fingertips and not just your grooming tools.

Rubs and marks from straps, spurs, girths, and tack can all create pain and swelling for your horse. You will see hair loss, and your horse might even be extra sensitive in that area before a sore pops up.

You might also find flaky skin, hairless patches that are not under tack, hair loss, scratches, oily crusty skin, and even weird itching without any obvious culprit.

Before you reach for your lotion or potion of choice, make sure you know what you are dealing with. Your Vet can help you here, and will be able to prescribe meds to clear up any skin issues.

Know that some skin issues are contagious from horse to horse – like rain rot. Ringworm, a fungal infection, is also contagious to humans. Some dandruff and oily skin spots can be caused by mites and mange.

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!