As a horsewoman, its difficult for me to imagine such a manly man afraid of a horse. Although, I can understand that for those who did not grow up around horses or had a bad experience with a horse early on could feel a sense of anxiety around a 1200 lb animal with essentially a mind of its own. Albeit, actor John Hardy is a professional and will do what he needs to get the job done. Got to say, I am looking forward to this new film that’s generating Oscar buzz!
New York’s JFK Airport will soon open a state of the art animal-friendly terminal for livestock traveling the world. This will definitely be great for overseas shipment of our fellow equine athletes for international competition. It will provide a safe, climate controlled space for them in between long hauls. The facility will also provide grooming, feeding, and vet services. Check out the computer-generated images of the proposed plan. Way to go JFK!
We all dream of that perfect barn. You know, the one with the sparkling clean isle floors and gleaming mahogany lined stalls. The perfectly plush climate controlled indoor arena that’s always empty. Large lush private paddocks with no trace of mud, rocks, or weeds. Yeah, we can dream. For those of us who are limited by budget and location, the number of quality barns and trainers available to us can be very slim. Here’s what to look for when choosing the perfect barn for you and your horse:
- Where to Start: When choosing a facility, you need to start with you and your horse. What are your goals for yourself and for your horse? Do you want to show? If the answer is yes, what discipline (Eventing, Dressage, Show Jumping, Barrel Racing, Reining, etc.)? If showing is important to you, you will want to choose a barn that either caters to this particular discipline of equestrian sport or has the infrastructure available to you in order to train (arena size, jumps, etc.). If the barn caters to Show Jumping, for example, and you do Dressage, make sure the owners and trainers are flexible in the event you need to bring in an outside trainer or move the jumps to practice a test. A Dressage lesson and a Jumping lesson in the same arena is do-able but not ideal. It will get very old very quickly when your horse spooks while you’re trying to canter down the long side of the arena because another horse took flight four feet from you. A facility that has multiple equestrian disciplines at the same facility is quite common. Ideally, choose one with multiple arenas and discuss with the owners the rules on each arena. Having dedicated arenas for each discipline is the best way to go. If you do not want to show, this won’t be your problem at all. You will want to discuss with the trainers or owners what are the regularly scheduled lesson times and try to avoid those peak times. Make sure you are not penalized for not showing (some barns will charge a non- showing fee or still charge for lessons, etc.).
- Do Your Research: Search “horse boarding Austin” or wherever your city is and then click on the maps tab to map out a route of properties to go visit. Look through their website for photos and general boarding info. Search Yelp and reviews for any negative posts or news stories. Join local equestrian clubs (ie: Central Texas Dressage Society) in your area on Facebook and post an inquiry on each page asking about stall openings. You will find many eager barn owners, boarders, and trainers willing to help! Don’t be shy. Ask lots of questions to get a feel for the boarding experience.
- Inspect the Property in Person: Once you have narrowed down what facility will work best for you and your horse’s goals, set up a time with the barn owner to get a tour of the facility. It’s time to do an inspection. Bring a notepad or smart phone and jot down your observations on the following:
- Overall structural integrity of the barn/ shelters. Does it look safe? Are there any broken boards, leaks, cracks in the foundation, etc?
- Is there any fire damage or flood damage (check the fema website for flood map)?
- General cleanliness. Does the barn look like its consistently cleaned? Clean isles, swept floors, hosed off mats/ walls? Does it smell fresh and airy or stale and with a strong smell of urine or mildew? Is the tack room neat and tidy? Does everyone have their own dedicated space for their tack, saddle, bridle? Is there an area to lock up your equipment? Is the tack room locked at night? Is the feed room organized? Is there a chart on the wall with the horses names and feeding schedule/ dosage? Is the feed well sealed? Does it smell like horse feed (fresh grain/ supplement smell)? Are there any flies, bugs, signs of rodents in the feed room, tack room, or other areas of the barn? What is their insect control program- do they use automatic sprayers, traps, or a supplement in the horse’s feed?
- Are the stalls a good size for your horse? Do they separate stallions? Can the neighboring horse reach into your stall? If so, will this bother your horse? Does your horse kick or crib? If so, you’ll want to notify the owners and make sure either they or you provide a stall that minimizes the impact of this behavior on your horse and their facility. You’ll also want to review what you are liable for (ie: if your horse kicks a hole through the stall, who repairs it?)
- Is there a wash rack? Do you have to walk to it (separate from the barn) and is there ample lighting for times you will come in the dark? Does it have hot/ cold water? Is it functioning? Are there any mud/ mold/ drainage issues?
- Is there an office open to all boarders (not just barn staff) with a room for changing/ gatherings? Is there a refrigerator/ freezer available for you to store your horse’s ice wraps/ supplements?
- Is there a bathroom onsite? Is it accessible at any time of the day?
- Is there an indoor or covered arena? What is the footing like? Will the footing be okay for your horse? How often is it dragged (Should be at least once daily very early before any boarders arrive)? How often is it watered (Should be at least once a week)? Is lunging in the indoor/ covered arena allowed? Is turnout in the indoor/ covered arena allowed? What is their policy on poop removal? Overall structural integrity measure up? Is it the proper size for your sport? Will it be closed at any point due to weather, barn events, or private lessons?
- Is there an outdoor arena or round pen? (same questions as above)
- What is the turn out situation like? Will your horse get its own paddock or will it share? If sharing, what will be done to slowly introduce your horse to its paddock-mate? Will your horse be supervised? How long will your horse get turned out (time in/ out)? Will it be fed coastal hay during the day if there isn’t much grass available to eat? Will your horse not get turned out for any particular reason (weather, etc.)?
- Do the horses look happy/ healthy (well fed, fit, clear focused eyes, generally clean given the weather)?
- Make Sure You’re Covered: After the inspection, sit down with the owner to review the boarding agreement. If you need to consult a lawyer, do so. You should never sign something you don’t understand. Before you sign it, bring it home, review it and think of any questions you may need answered before you turn it in. The agreement should include language about boarding fees and the date of the month those fees are due, any penalties for late payment, how to send in payment (online or mail in check), and how changes in fees are managed. There should also be language in there about how they will do everything in their power (including calling a vet and making decisions on your behalf) in order to save your horse in the event you are not there or cannot be reached. They should also include all contact information for the barn’s management and staff, their policy on guests, outside trainers, and outside farriers. Typically barns mention something about not being liable for your horse if something were to happen to it that is out of their control (ie: it passes away, etc.). Barns will typically mention they’ll refund the remainder of the month should such an occurrence happen. It’s also pretty normal for them to not assume liability of your possessions at any time. Assume that if you keep that expensive saddle onsite, you are doing so at your own risk. In the state of Texas (and its different for each state) equine professionals and facilities are not at fault should something happen to you while you are participating in an equine sport at their facility. You are participating at your own risk. Finally, make sure you understand what you are paying for and not paying for (ie: blanketing, supplement distribution in feed, extra hay, extra grain, alfalfa, hoof picking, turn out, trailering, lessons, etc.).
- Ask for Referrals: The single best way to find out if this barn is right for you and your horse is to meet the boarders who have been there for a while (over a year). Spend some time getting to know them. Ask to watch them ride either in a lesson or practice. If you’re like me, your barn is your second home. You want to make sure you look forward to spending a lot of your free time with your new “barn family.” I can’t tell you enough how glad I am when I get to the barn and am greeted by my barn friends who are excited to see me and hear about my adventures with my horse- and my life outside of the barn. Your barn becomes your community and that’s part of what it means to be an equestrian.
Christmas is exactly 4 weeks away and before you know it you will be receiving holiday greeting cards from your family and friends. I don’t have kids- yet, so my pets are my pride and joy. I love holiday greeting cards that involve the entire family- dogs, cats, horses, whatever you’ve got. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing your kiddos all dressed up in their holiday finest, but there’s really nothing better than the dynamic between your furry friends.
The following are tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to deliver picture perfect holiday greeting cards:
Plan Ahead– You should start planning your holiday photo session in late October, early November to have photos ready and cards delivered by Christmas. Look at the family calendar and choose a few dates that work well for you and those you want in the photo.
Choose A Photographer– Do your research here. The worst thing that can happen would be to get your photos back and they’re all terrible after you’ve spent all that time and money. Ask friends for referrals or check reviews online. The most important things I look for in a photographer are:
1) Responsiveness- do they call or email you back right away? They should return your call or email within 24 hours or move on. There’s plenty more that will give you better service.
2) Warmth/Friendly- do they make you feel comfortable right off the back or do they seem rushed/ annoyed/ distracted? They should focus solely on you during your initial conversation with them and seem genuinely interesting in getting to know you and your family.
3) Open/ Flexible- they should be open and flexible to your ideas on outfits, location, time of day, etc. It’s their job to recommend what works best based on their experience but ultimately you’re paying them and its your photo session. You should be able to get what you want out of it.
4) Price- ask for pricing in advance. You’ll need to know if they have an hourly rate or if its by the session. Ensure that you will get rights to the photos or if there’s an additional fee for the digital copies. Cost of prints if you want them and cost of retouching if needed.
5) Experience- make sure they have had experience taking couple/ family/ pet photos before. Taking pictures of a family is very different than just one person or two adults. They’ll want to know the tricks to get kids and animals to focus on the camera and stay happy. I used a local equine photographer for mine since she’s used to working with horses and know they can’t just sit still.🙂
Dress to Impress– Choose your outfits well before picture day and make sure everyone tries them on and feels comfortable in them. If they’re not comfortable, it will show in the photos. Stay away from colors that are close to your skin tone or that will wash you out like blushes, pinks, and whites. If you’re taking photos outside or near a barn, think of complimentary colors to that will contrast well with the blue sky, green grass, white fence, red barn, etc. Also make sure your makeup isn’t too overbearing. It should be just a little more done up that your normal everyday makeup so it stands out on camera, but don’t go overboard. Most digital cameras these days will pick up everything.
Arrive Early– If you’re involving your horse, arrive early to groom him and get him settled if needed. Bring a change of clothes so you don’t get yours all dirty in the process. If he’s never seen a camera before, give him some time around the camera to see it, smell it and hear the clicking before you mount or start taking close up shots.
Relax and Have Fun-Relaxation is key. Animals will pick up on your excitement and anxiety. They’ll get tense and it will be impossible to get them to stand/ sit still and focus on the camera. Relax, take deep breaths, and allow the photographer to do their magic. If your horse/ dog won’t stand/sit still, take them on a short walk and have the photographer take some casual, not posed shots. You may like what you see when they capture a normal/ quiet everyday moment with your furry companion. Having a few treats on hand is always a good distraction as well. Just avoid grass for horses as it can leave a green foam on their mouth. Not the prettiest for pics.
Get Printing– When the photos are ready your photographer will email you or mail you the files in a USB stick or CD. Check out easy holiday card builder sites like Shutterfly.com or Minted.com. They usually have great deals like free shipping or free return address printing. I highly suggest getting your return address and family/ friend addresses printed on the envelope or on a sticker. It will save you a ton of time and totally worth the extra cost. Always order a few extra for those you forgot to include on the first round. Plus, you’ll want an extra one for your fridge. They’re too cute not to show off!
Save your Photos– Don’t forget to store your files in a safe place. Always backup if they’re only on your PC. Your photographer may save these, but you never know. They could also charge you an additional fee as well.
Great article on how to “start” an off the track Thoroughbred. As a fellow OTTB owner and trainer, I agree with all of this. It’s a great starting point to building a foundation for your OTTB’s next career post-track. #OTTB #thoroughbred #racehorse
This past summer, my horse was frequently showing up with open sores on his lower leg similar to the photo above. My trainer was concerned they were summer sores as they were not going away with basic cleaning, disinfecting, and the Alushield Aerosol Band-aid spray. We decided to treat the sores like summer sores by combining a 2:1 mixture of Fura-Zone Ointment (you can purchase it at most tack stores or here at SmartPak)with ivermectin horse wormer paste (any brand will do) . Here’s how you apply the mixture:
- Wash clean the affected area with a gentle equine soap and water
- Dry area (dab gently, it can be sensitive)
- Put on rubber/latex gloves
- Scoop out with a spoon or wooden tongue depressor, 2 parts Fura-Zone to 1 part ivermectin on to a small paper plate
- Mix well
- Apply with finger (dab gently) onto sore
- Apply a clean gauze
- Wrap with vet wrap
- optional: if your horse pulls off the vet wrap or is out side most of the time, you can try these boots below over the vet wrap. I used fly boots to keep the flies off the affected area and that worked well for me.
- You also want to administer orally a separate ivermection only paste once a week for 3 weeks to help combat the sore from the inside out. Also, don’t forget to change the bandages and repeat this process daily- yep, daily! I did it after I rode as the bandages can slip during riding.
As always, make sure to consult your trainer and/ or vet before you do anything. There may be better solutions for your horse’s specific needs and environmental concerns. This is the method that worked best for me and my horse. Good luck and happy trails!
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event donated $10,000 to Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) in support of its work.
Equestrian sports at the Olympic Games will look radically different from 2020, if proposed format changes are approved.
FEI president Ingmar De Vos: “Why do we want to change our formats and the way our sport is presented? The answer is really quite simple, because we want to remain relevant in today’s ever changing sporting landscape and gain the exposure and visibility our sport deserves.”
“As the IOC President aptly said last December, ‘to change or to be changed, that is the question’. This is why we are here today, to lead that change. We need to take advantage of the excitement and drama of our sport, make it easier to understand, attract young and larger audiences, be broadcast friendly and see more nations represented in our sport.”
Some of the ideas being thrown around include:
- Cap the number of team members to three per discipline (currently its a variable 4-5)
- Separating individual and team events and removing team drop scores
- Total of 15 teams and 15 individual athletes
- Use heats to qualify the top 18 for the individual final
- Modernize the dress code, introduce music, and shorten the tests
- Show Jumping
- 20 teams and 15 individuals, with a jump-off for first place in both individual and team. If team gold is decided by a jump-off, all three team combinations would compete against the clock but only the best score would count.
- Mirror the current successful FEI Nations Cup format, with just the top 10 teams starting with zero penalties in the medal-decider final.
- Dressage phase would be one day only using a shorter test, and the traditional format of dressage
- Cross country and jumping would be kept on separate days
- Individual show jumping phase of the eventing would be used as the qualifier for the top six or seven teams to go through to the team final, with the potential of having all three team members in the arena together, jumping one after another, so that a team result would be instantly available.
- Change the name of eventing to “equestrian triathalon”
What do you think about all the proposed changes? I think anything to improve the understanding of equestrian sports and spark new interest in each discipline is a good thing. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me, “What is dressage? Do you jump stuff?” No, we try to not to leave the ground at all.
New formats will be voted on at the FEI General Assembly 2016, before being submitted to the IOC before its executive board meeting in early 2017.
Top 15 favorite gift ideas to give the horse-lover in your life!
(Or feel free to share and drop some major hints…you’re welcome!)
- Well, of course I had to start with my own design! Check out my new line of apparel and accessories at Cafe Press. I mean, what baby isn’t ready to piaffe?
- Love this adorable American Thoroughbred tee from One Horse Threads. It’s also eco-friendly (hand made local in the USA with eco-friendly ink).
3. This cream horse Rosamund Popover Blouse from Joules is perfect for a date night or casual Friday at work. I just adore the whimsical horse print and flattering fit.
4. Another Joules find! Did I mention I love Joules? I saw this Navy Painted Horse Marsha Intarsia Sweater at a local tack shop and couldn’t resist. It’s super soft and very well made. You’ll have one very happy (and cozy) gift recipient.
5. Fleece-lined hand warmer pockets!! There’s really nothing more quintessential British Isles than a tweed jacket. This is a must for every equestrian chic wardrobe. Check out this dreamy Dubarry Rowan Ladies Tweed Jacket. Swoon!
6. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished an intense ride and thought, “I wonder how hard I was really working?” It’s no secret that equestrians are among the fittest athletes in the word. A Fitbit is a great way to track your heart rate and monitor your performance after each ride…and not be late for another lesson!
7. Monogrammed or personalized gifts are perfect for every Southern Equestrian! You really can’t go wrong with any of the personalized giftables from Breavery. Adorbs!
8. Let’s face it. You own a horse, you shovel poop and walk through muck. But who says you can’t look cute while doing it? Wellies are essential for every horse owner. Just check out the tassel detail on these Joules Black Burlingham Premium Wellies.
9. Add a bit of bling to your show wardrobe with this Charles Owen Sparkle JR8 Helmet and be sure to get noticed next show season!
10. This is the best (hands down!) purchase I made last winter. Seriously, you need fur lined winter riding boots. No more frozen numb toes. These Stella Polaris Boots from Mountain Horse will keep your toes warm and supple all season long.
11. Looking for stocking stuffers or a small gift for that friend at the barn who always brings your horse treats? These Practice Arenas Boards from Dover Saddlery are just the ticket.
12. Enjoying a nice warm cup of tea is definitely part of my morning routine. And, every lady needs a beautiful tea set. I just love this monochrome tea set from notonthehighstreet.com.
13. Don’t forget the horse! Winter weather is very unpredictable in the south. Keep your horse happy and healthy year round with a blanket for every season. This blanket set from Smart Pak is your one-stop shop for all your blanketing needs.
14. For the Western Girls! We haven’t forgotten about you. Here in Texas there’s equal amounts of Western and English riders at my barn. This Kensington All Around Insulated Saddle Bag from Smart Pak is perfect for traveling and trailering to any show or trail ride.
15. On the ground feedback is essential to improving your riding. However, if you keep your horse at home and don’t have regular eyes on the ground it can be difficult to see if you are leaning too far forward or if you are getting the right amount of crossing in a half pass. Soloshot is a video camera system that can record you without an on the ground operator. It sets up in 30 seconds. All you have to do is wear the sensor and it will follow you around. Genius!
What’s on your wish list? Tell us in the comments below! Happy holidays y’all!
Fall is a glorious time of year in the South. The weather is perfect and all the color, spectacular. Most of all, we in the South love to gather with our friends and family to celebrate the holidays, good food, and football.
Channel Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren is quintessential equestrian elegance. Think plaids mixed with antique painted plates. We just love this tablescape from blogger Far Above Rubbies.
Monogram! Add a monogram wreath with fall florals or berries for a preppy welcome (and your guests will know they’re at the right house). We love this fall berry wreath found on Etsy.
Seasonal Pillow Cover. We love this harvest pillow cover and plaid throw from blogger Dear Lillie to create a comforting and inviting space to curl up and read a good book or drink a warm cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.
The Thankful Tree. Isn’t this what’s its all about? We get so caught up in the commercialization of holidays that we forget the true purpose of the day. Creating a thankful tree like this one from blogger Simply Vintagegirl is a great idea to showcase all the things you are thankful for.
DIY Floral Centerpiece. What better way to use up those pumpkins that have been sitting on your front porch since mid October than to create a floral centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. Check out Jenny’s home decor blog for step by step instructions on how to make the perfect pumpkin floral centerpiece at home.
Create a Festive Mantel. Here in Austin, Texas, we don’t get much use out of our fireplaces, even in the winter- even more the reason to jazz it up. We are drooling over these 10 gorgeous ideas from The Anastasia and Co to get those creative juices flowing and create a mantel your whole family will want to gather around.
Have other ideas you’d like us to share? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy Fall Y’all!