Behind every great business is a great leader. For Stable Secretary, that leader is Founder and CEO, Kate Rice Nilan. An avid equestrian since the age of 5, Kate began her riding career in the hunt seat and saddle seat arenas. Between the ages of 6 and 11, Kate called France home, and her riding lessons there tested her and pushed her beyond the average American expectation.
After arriving back in the United States, Kate moved to New Jersey where she began riding lessons with Nona Garson at the Ridge. “That’s when my friend Cara and I picked out my first pony,” Rice reminisced. “It was from an ad in the back of the Chronicle of the Horse – we went with our Moms to try the large pony and bought her… Poor Nona!” From there, Rice moved into the Children’s Pony Hunter Division.
Upon another move, this time to Massachusetts, Rice became a client of Peter Wylde. Riding with Peter throughout high school, Kate took the reins on Red Sox, a small junior hunter that she recalls, “had an amazing jump, but also had a bit of a bucking/runaway ‘episode’ every once in a while, which made him affordable!” Despite his minor antics, Rice and the gelding clicked, and went on to win at some major shows, including Harrisburg.
As college arrived, Kate sold her mount and headed to Dartmouth College, riding competitively for the Equestrian Team there. When college ended, Kate took a break from riding for a while, though it still called to her. First, she did web development and customer support at two software companies. Then, she decided to switch paths entirely: “I decided to get a Masters of Teaching. While doing that at Simmons College, I got a job riding some ponies and horses nearby. Once I graduated with my Masters of Teaching, I decided to take a horse job (of course!)!” Bouncing around in the horse world and gaining unique management experience, Kate went on to work for some incredible equestrians, such as Ginny Edwards, Peter Wylde, Sandy Ferrell, Amanda Lyerly, Kim Buzby, Cory Hardy, Leslie Emerson, and Anne Dotoli. Through these various outlets, Kate was able to learn what some of the most difficult elements of barn management included. Organization of records and documents seemed to be at the top of that list. “When I worked for other people, it would be so frustrating to try to find health history and documents if a horse was leaving,” explained Rice. “When was the horse last shod? Vaccinated? What does it eat? What meds has it had? Coggins, where is the Coggins?” She continued, “When I had my own business, I had a difficult time evaluating past health records. I had spreadsheets, binders, etc., but nothing gave me an easy way to view what the horse had undergone in the past to assess whether behavior might correlate with injuries/injections/ulcers, etc. Besides that, it was annoying and stressful (what if I forgot it!?) to lug the whole file cabinet to horse shows… Unnecessary stress and wasted time – both things aggravated me, so I wanted to find a better solution to my record keeping problem.”
Enter Stable Secretary. Launched officially in 2013, the expansion of the product has been impressive. “We have been growing ever since the launch,” stated Rice. “We are constantly working on the product, and we base our ongoing development on what users tell us they want. We add small things; we add huge features; we change the user interface; we update the mobile app. We basically build user suggestions right into the product to make it that much more useful for everyone. We also make sure it’s keeping up with current rule changes. For example, we had a microchip field from the inception, but we recently made it more prominent given the recent microchipping rules.”
Beside every great leader, there is a loyal team. Kate credits the success of the company to those that she relies on to help with the day-to-day functioning of the Stable Secretary operation. She stated, “The people who help with Stable Secretary are amazing. They have a LOT of horse experience, so they understand ‘horse people’ problems, and they sincerely value creating solutions for those problems… Everyone is hard working and supportive, we all want the same thing: to make it easy for barn managers, trainers, owners to keep track of important horse information.”
As Stable Secretary continues to grow, Kate’s goal is to maintain the usefulness of the product. She concluded, “It really simplifies the data tracking, and the communication, for the information in your barn. Plus, it goes everywhere with you – it’s all in the cloud and is accessible from pretty much any device. How could you NOT have it!?” With a cohesive passion for the equestrian community laying at the forefront of the operation, Stable Secretary is a surefire option for the ages.
Stable Secretary aside, here are five fun facts about Kate:
1. I ran a marathon and still run most days of the week. I love running.
2. When I was little, I was fearless and loved riding all the naughty horses, but now I’m old and have kids so I’m a total wimp!
3. I have a very supportive husband, 2 beautiful little girls, and 2 dogs – a 12-year- old Jack Russell named Elle who is the best white dog in the whole wide world, and a 2-year- old mutt named Oeila who is learning from Elle how to be the best black dog in the whole wide world.
4. I love dessert. LOOOOOVE dessert.
5. I still get really nervous when I show, even after all these years!
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