In December, we talked to New Jersey based trainer, Amanda Steege. Amanda is the owner and head trainer at Ashmeadow Farm. She and her students have won tricolors at all of the biggest shows in the United States – and they also have a lot of fun in general! Ashmeadow nurtures a wonderful feeling of camaraderie for the customers and staff in the barn, and it also provides the very highest level of care for the horses. Honestly, I’d love to be a horse in Amanda’s barn!
Amanda has been using Stable Secretary since 2014. We sat down with her to find out about her, her barn, and how Stable Secretary helps her care for her horses and run her business.
Amanda with Duvall, one of the horses in her stable.
Q: Why does your barn use Stable Secretary?
Amanda: We use Stable Secretary to help us stay organized, and it also saves me time and money!
Q: What do you love about Stable Secretary?
Amanda: I love that it keeps track of when my horses are due for the farrier, vaccinations, worming, etc, and that it sends me notifications. I also love that I can enter in my services right from my iPhone in the moment before I forget what I have done. Before Stable Secretary, I did everything by hand and I think that I lost a lot of money because there were a lot of things that I forgot to bill for. I also love that through Stable Secretary I can accept credit cards.
Q: What would you say to other trainers considering subscribing to Stable Secretary?
Amanda: I would highly suggest Stable Secretary for any size business. In fact, I have recommend it to several of my friends.
Q: What types of horses and riders do you have at your barn?
Amanda: We have 12-16 horses in our barn, and we focus primarily on hunters. We mostly work with young hunters and with amateur clients.
Q: We have noticed that you’re particularly talented at developing young horses. What are some techniques you use with young horses that you could share with our readers?
Amanda: The most important thing with young horses is being consistent. We spend a lot of time working on flat work and gymnastics and giving our young horses the tools and confidence they need to enter the show ring.
Q: Could you share any health and wellness practices for horses that you think are the most important?
Amanda: We have a team of people at Ashmeadow that spends a lot of time making sure our horses are happy and healthy. It all starts with our barn manager, Tim Delovich, who creates an individual Feed and supplement program for each horse based on their needs. We also rely on our vet, farrier, chiropractor, massage therapist, and dentist. By working together, we keep our equine athletes at the top of their game.
Also, I am a big believer in the mental health of the horses, so they spend quite a bit of time eating grass outside in our pastures, and going for rides on our trails and in our hayfields to balance out their training time in the ring.
Amanda with Tim and their newly adopted dog!
Q: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding thing about being a trainer?
Amanda: The relationships we build with the animals.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing about being a trainer?
Amanda: The fact that it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no downtime.
Q: What would you say is your biggest strength?
Amanda: I think that my biggest strength is being able to listen to the horses and to make relationships with horses.
Q: You have had a lot of success in hunter derbies. What is the most challenging aspect of doing hunter derbies?
Amanda: I love the derby classes… I love how each one is different and has different challenges built into the course. That is probably what makes them the most challenging – you’re never quite sure what to expect from class to class!
From her start on the East Coast to her successful professional career at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Sarah Watson is no stranger to the stress of running a show barn. One of Stable Secretary’s first users, Sarah has experienced first hand how helpful Stable Secretary can be. We sat down with her to discuss her background in the horse industry and to find out how she implements Stable Secretary in her business.
Q: Tell us about you and your barn!
A: I started my professional career in Greenwich CT at Country Lane Farm, a really great family business that had loads of ponies and kids. There, I started to learn the ins and outs of running a business but never thought I would have one of my own. I went from there to Washington DC where I worked at Meadowbrook Stables with Miranda Scott teaching lessons and attending shows around the DC area. Also while in DC I traveled into Maryland and rode for Stacy Schaeffer and Kim Stewart riding horses at home and schooling at shows for Scott Stewart. I moved to Colorado in 2008 and after being an assistant for a few more years a dear friend and mentor, Nicole Webb, encouraged me to branch off on my own, and that is when Watson Equestrian LLC was born. I felt like I had learned what to do and what not to do from so many others that I really focus on keeping my business small so that I can give each horse and rider equal amounts of attention for the Hunter, Equitation, Jumper, and Pony rings.
Q: What is your favorite Stable Secretary feature and why?
A: I love that I can keep track of the horses Coggins and health records with Stable Secretary. Who really looks at a Coggins that often to know when it expires?! It’s so helpful to have Stable Secretary tell me when one is going to need to be redone so it’s one less thing I have to write down and remember.
Q: How do you use Stable Secretary on a daily basis?
A: I use Stable Secretary for the health record feature the most because it allows my brain to have a little more space! I can’t remember every date of every injection or medication given, so it is so helpful to just plug it into my app on my phone and be able to reference each horse’s records with a few finger taps.
Q: How has Stable Secretary improved your role in managing your barn?
A: Stable Secretary has improved my role in managing my barn because it saves me time for riding and teaching by making everything so accessible. When the vet or farrier comes for a horse, I can just pull my iPad or phone out and open the app, plug in what horse had what done, and then move on with my day. Stable Secretary reminding me every Monday of what I have coming up the next 2 weeks helps me stay on top of every horse’s care just the same.
Q: Would you recommend Stable Secretary to other trainers?
A: I would DEFINITELY recommend Stable Secretary to other professionals, and even just horse owners who like to be involved, or barn owners who manage grain etc. It’s just so easy to use and so much more convenient than just writing something down on a white board etc. Stable Secretary makes a horse trainer’s life easier, and I imagine it would make a barn manager’s a breeze! Having this information no matter my location makes running a barn full of healthy horses simple.
Find out more about Sarah at the Watson Equestrian LLC web site or Facebook page.
Dear Stable Secretary user,
Welcome to the first edition of the Stable Secretary Newsletter. Our newsletters will notify you of software updates, share tutorials, and point out other resources to help you manage your barn easily and effectively. Enjoy!
Referral Program: Refer someone to Stable Secretary and get money back!
Receive a $25 credit if a new user enters your name in the Referral space when they purchase a new subscription! (Please visit the Referral Page for more details.)
New Products and Features:
- Check out our other products and plans. You may be eligible for savings!
- Give your employees (and owners, if you want) access to your Stable Secretary account. You can control what they can see and do, and it will ease communication and record keeping.
- Keep track of your Competitions and Results in Stable Secretary! Now, you can track your horses’ and riders’ results at competitions. Feedback is welcome!
- Invite your Service Providers to login to your Stable Secretary account. Give your vet, farrier, and others the ability to view your horses’ health records.
- Coming soon – a Breeding section to track all your breeding records.
Winter circuit survival tips:
It’s that time of year again! Whether you are at WEF, Thermal, Ocala, or any other winter circuit, you are experiencing some form of the madness. Multiple weeks of showing back to back is fantastic, but it is also exhausting. As we are about half-way through the season, we here at Stable Secretary thought it would be an ideal time to compile a list of winter circuit “survival tips” from some of our top show barns across the U.S.
- Pace yourself and your horses for longevity. Don’t show or jump too much just because it’s convenient. You are the advocate for your horses and you need to keep their best interest in the forefront of your mind. Come up with a schedule and stick to it. Different horses have different needs but a good general plan is 2 weeks on, 1 week off. Also try to vary your routine a bit; showing every day is monotonous for both horses and riders. Take advantage of other opportunities on days off from showing. Go for a trail ride or try to find a new place to hack. Use a walker or treadmill if you have one available to help keep your horses in peak fitness.
- Involve a team of your vet, farrier, and body work person. It is a good idea to get a baseline vet check before circuit begins so you know your horse’s condition and comfort level before kicking it into high gear. Then have your vet come back mid-circuit to assess how your horse is holding up to the high demands of multi-week showing. This will help you stay ahead of potential problems, and correct them right away if they do appear. Of course if you notice any potential problems at any time during circuit, don’t hesitate to call your vet right away. Know your horses and trust your instincts; if something doesn’t feel right, it can never hurt to take a closer look.
- Debbie Stephens suggests creating a “show book.” Either create a binder for every show that you go to, or be sure to scan important documents and upload them to Stable Secretary. Include a photocopy of your entries, as well as the mailing receipt (Debbie recommends using FedEx or a similar service that offers tracking). Or, if you submit your entries online, be sure to print or save the confirmation page . Lost entries are something you should be prepared for. Also, keep a copy of the prizelist so that you always know where it is for easy reference. Then upload and/or assemble all documents that you will need for your trip, travel confirmations, hotel reservations, horse health paperwork, coggins, etc. It can be very easy to lose track of these documents, especially when you are busy showing over such a long period of time. It helps to have everything in one accessible place.
- One of the toughest parts about the winter circuit is that many farms have horses stabled on the showgrounds as well as at a farm nearby. When you are competing in one location for so long, it can be fantastic to have a home base where your horses can relax, enjoy being turned out, and take a break from the hectic horse show life. However, Havens Schatt reminds us how crucial communication between all members of your team is during this time. When you have horses in multiple locations, frequently traveling back and forth with their tack and supplies, it is easy for things to get lost in the shuffle. It is important that your team works together and communicates well. Looking for things, or trying to figure out what has or has not been done, wastes valuable time that is far too precious during this busy time of year.
- “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Remember to thank your valuable team members! Trainers, assistants, barn managers, and grooms keep the show running. Make an effort to say thank you and you’re welcome, even when things start to get tough and everyone is tired at the end of the circuit. A little bit of appreciation goes a long way.
- Take care of yourself. The winter circuit is hard on people too! Make sure you are eating properly, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. It is far too easy to burn yourself out before circuit is over by ignoring your basic needs. Many people spend so much time making sure their horses can perform at their best, but forget to do the same for themselves. You owe it to your horses to keep yourself in top condition as well.
- Use Stable Secretary to keep all of your horses’ records with you while traveling. It can be invaluable to have this information available when the unexpected happens (as it often does with horses). But when all of your horses’ records are available from any phone, tablet, or computer, it makes a difficult situation much more manageable!
- Pace yourself and remember to have fun! After all, we ride and show because we love it, so when circuit gets crazy, it’s important to remember to take a step back and remind yourself to enjoy it.
Straight from the Experts: Sage Clarke
We had the opportunity to speak to West Coast farrier, Sage Clarke, about his career and all of the knowledge he has acquired along the way. As a 5th generation horseman, Sage started as an assistant at the young age of 12. By the time he was 16, Sage was very serious about his work and started to take the necessary steps to bring him the success he has today of working on top hunter/jumper performance horses. Because of his skill level, Sage has been asked to travel all over the world to work on some of these top athletes. Sage was kind enough to answer some questions for us:
Stable Secretary– Do you have any mentors or teachers? What was so important about them?
SC– I have several mentors, but a few of the main mentors are my uncle, Allen Clarke, and fellow farrier, Tom Reed. Allen taught me about thinking outside the box and how to always see the good and bad side of things. Tom taught me how to be safe and how to run a good business. He taught me how to treat it like a real business, not just ‘shoeing horses’. He emphasized the importance of book keeping, customer service, and dealing with vets.
Stable Secretary– Now for some basics, how long do you recommend between farrier visits?
SC – It varies depending on the situation, but generally I would say for show horses, 5 weeks is a good average amount of time.
Pleasure horses can be a bit different and really depends on the farrier. The longer amount of time that passes, you will lose your angles, but If you can get correct angles from the start, it will make the job last longer. Remember, horses always look good for the first couple of weeks
Stable Secretary – How do the seasons affect horses’ hooves?
SC – Quite a bit. It really depends on what area of the country you are in and the amount of moisture that you get. The moisture really affects the growth rate.
Generally, they glow slower in the winter months. During this time you need to be more pro active about thrush and also risk of abscesses also increases.
Stable Secretary– Do you have any major tips that you give horse owners for their horses to have healthy feet?
SC – Pay your horse shoer on time. I’m serious! How you show your appreciation to your farrier is by paying them, and ultimately, they are the ones that can keep your horses feet healthy.
Stable Secretary – Are there any dietary tips that you have regarding hoof health?
SC – Best results I have seen are by giving horse biotin based products.
There are a lot of supplements out there that have extra stuff that they don’t really need, but biotin is really what is important for the feet. There are companies that you can in your horses’ blood and they will tell you if there are any other deficiencies that might be affecting the health of the hooves.
Stable Secretary – If you could give horse owners one piece of advice about their horses in general, what would it be?
SC -Be pro active about treating an ailment with a horse. Use the best veterinary and farrier services possible. By trying to save money in these areas is it likely to cost more time and money in the long run.
Stable Secretary – “Story Time”! What is the worst thing that you have seen regarding a horses’ farrier situation?
SC – When I was younger, I saw a photo of a hoof stand sticking out of a horse’s belly. This stuck with me forever and this is why I make sure to always keep sharp objects away from the horses that I am working on. Even if it is more convenient to keep these sharp tools close by, it is always better to keep the horses safe.
Stable Secretary – What is your best story of working on horses?
SC – Rich Fellers came up to me and asked me to shoe 4 horses for him. I walked to the barn and asked who he wanted me to start with and he said Flexible. I was incredibly excited. That horse is a legend!
Visit our Support Page for Tutorial Videos, FAQ, and more!
Did you know that our Support Page has videos and written instructions to help you use all of Stable Secretary’s features!
- Use the Mobile App all day every day. It’s so easy to add health and service records while they happen, so you don’t forget to do it later. (view video)
- Print or email our Reports before a Vet or Farrier appointment, or use them to see who needs a Coggins. (view video)
- Add health records to multiple horses at a time. It’s quick and easy to use the Add Health Record form online to enter multiple vaccinations, wormings, shoeings, and more. (view video) .
- Add team members to make communication easier in your Stable. (view video)
- Look at our Resources page to find proven and recommended vendors and service providers to help you with the needs of your Stable.