Product Review: Barnes Tack Room

I think it’s safe to say we all want the best for our horses and are willing to do whatever we need to do to achieve that. Our horses do so much for us and they deserve to be as comfortable and happy as possible. As a result, we go to great lengths finding quality tack that not only looks stylish but also fits our horses well and allows them maximum comfort and performance. I wanted to share with you this amazing up and coming tack company I’ve recently discovered that far exceeds any expectations I’ve ever had about my tack.

Barnes Tack Room is probably the most amazing thing to happen to equestrians and I’m so excited for them to become more well known! They have put so much attention into the details and have come up with some innovative designs to really allow the horse and rider to be their best. Everything is made out of the best quality leather I’ve ever seen and it gets better – it’s reasonably priced!

I recently received a leather girth and stirrup leathers from them and let me just say – I’m obsessed. I’m a tough sell on leather girths. Quite frankly, I’ve never been a fan of them. Every leather girth I’ve used has been so stiff and just didn’t really seem to allow the horse freedom of movement – even after oiling multiple times. When I took my leather girth from Barnes Tack Room out of the box I was completely blown away. The leather was so soft and supple and it was like no girth I’d ever seen. It felt like it had been used hundreds of times before but it was brand new! My horses love it. It fits the shape of their body perfectly and you can tell just by the feel of it that it is so comfortable for them!

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One of a kind – the beautiful detailing and comfort for the horse make this girth something special!

Not only are their products wonderful, so is their customer service. I’ve lost count of how many bad experiences I’ve had with tack companies – even some of the more well known ones! It’s like no one truly values making customers happy anymore! It’s so refreshing to see a company that values their customer service just as much as creating quality products!

I highly recommend checking out Barnes Tack Room. Their instagram is @barnestackroom and their website is barnestackroom.com! They have so many beautiful, innovative, and functional products that I know you guys will love! I myself have a bridle and martingale on the way and am definitely seeing a few more bridles and maybe a saddle from them in the future!

P.S. I have more awesome news: I have a code for 10% off your order! It’s StephanieBTR10%

OTTB or nah

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The majority of my instagram is dedicated to my journey with the many ottb’s (off the track thoroughbred) I train so naturally I get asked a lot of questions about my process. I’ve trained close to 10 ottb’s over the past few years for the hunter/jumper world. All of them come straight from the track (with the exception of one that I bought from my friend.) When you’re buying straight from the track there’s no videos of them going under saddle, no free jumping videos, no trials, or anything like that. All you have to work with are conformation photos and videos showing a walk and a jog. That’s not a lot to go on especially if you’ve never bought an ottb before!

So let’s start from the beginning. Most of my horses are found on Canter USA (canterusa.org) If you use Canter make sure to look under trainer listings to find the horses that are still waiting at the track for their new homes! Canter is my favorite place to go when I’m looking for my next prospect. They do a very good job at giving an in depth description on the horse including any vices, injuries, or physical limitations the horse might have. That’s not to say trust everything on there completely – there certainly are trainers that are not full disclosure type of people so you have to watch out for that.

I look for big, well balanced, uphill horses that have a kind eye. I prefer a younger horse with minimal starts (there’s less of a chance anything’s going on with their legs.) I steer away from any horses with injuries because all of my horses are for resale and when you start asking a lot of money for a horse then there’s really no room for previous injuries no matter how well the horse recovered. That’s not to say horses with injuries can’t go on to have successful careers, they most certainly can, but it’s just not something I can afford to deal with in what I’m doing. I like to zoom in on the legs in the conformation shots and make sure their legs are clean. I look for any signs of a bowed tendon, ankle rounding, splints, etc. If the horse passes my leg inspection then I’ll watch the videos of the horse jogging. The main thing I watch for is soundness. It’s hard to get a good idea of how they really move because they are so nervous and uptight at the track, but you can tell if they’re off or if their stifles or hocks are bothering them. I definitely don’t go any further with a horse if they appear to have stifle issues. Stifles can be tricky to manage, hocks are easier to deal with but even still not ideal. It just depends on how much maintenance you want to have! The movement on every ottb I’ve had makes drastic improvements after they leave the track so I don’t worry too much about short choppy strides in the video, although if you can find a horse with an already big stride at the track, that’s definitely a plus! If I like what I see then I’ll text the trainer of the horse and get a time within the next few days to go see the horse.

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When I’m at the track, I’ll ask any questions I have about the horse (I don’t like to ask questions through text because it’s too easy for trainers to lie), I run my hands over the horses legs to check for heat or anything out of ordinary, and I watch them jog. If everything looks good, then I take the horse home with me. I don’t do any sort of pre purchase on any horse I get off the track. There’s not ever any time to do it (I’ve seriously had to race people to the track for a horse. Maybe not like an intense head to head race down the interstate but I have bought a horse a few hours before someone else was supposed to buy him!) Some of the trainers are ruthless! They don’t care about any sob story you might have about why you think you deserve the horse over the other people interested. The first one to show up with money and a trailer is who gets the horse. That’s typically how it is in all of the horse industry though – not just at the track.

With exception to the last two horses I bought, my ottb’s have all been complete nuts their first few days at my barn. I had one horse that coliced for two days straight, one that bucked in his stall non stop, one that reared constantly so he could see into the stall beside him… I think you get the point. I hate to make it sound so terrible but that’s just how it goes sometimes. The hardest part to me is those first few days dealing with all the crazy antics but when they start settling down they are the best horses in the world.

I like to give my ottb’s a week or so off to hang out in the pasture with their new
friends. The following week I’ll get them out and start getting them used to cross ties and lunging. I don’t have a specific time frame I stick to when I’m training my horses. I do have a order in which I do things but you have to be flexible about when those things happen in order to successfully train a horse. I go off my gut and the horse doesn’t take the next step in training until I feel like it’s ready. Some horses progress quick and some are slower. Regardless of what brain your horse has, it’s important to remain calm and not get frustrated with them. After all, it is a huge culture shock to them to not be at the track or around racing anymore!

When I feel the horse is ready, I’ll get on them for the first time. It’s very brief and I might not even pick up a trot if the horse doesn’t feel up to it. Positive experience’s are so important for a young horse so slower is always better than trying to progress too quickly and scaring them. I like to introduce them to poles very early on in training. I have actually started letting my baby horses trot poles and jump their first fences on the lunge line and it has been working pretty well. It seems to really help with their confidence. In my experience, they always feel safer over a fence with a rider so if they realize they can jump it on their own too then they don’t really worry about any fence put in front of them! That approach may not work with all ottb’s but it certainly has worked with mine.

Thoroughbreds are hands down the best breed of horse I’ve ever worked with. Warmbloods are cool but thoroughbreds are cooler. You can’t beat their heart. If they respect you they will do absolutely anything for you. “No” just isn’t in their vocabulary. I am beyond thankful to get to work with these amazing animals everyday and I look forward to all my future ottb’s I’ve yet to meet!

-Stephanie

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Controlling Anxiety

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas! As the year is coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about everyone’s favorite thing – New Years Resolutions! Okay, but seriously how many of us actually keep our resolutions? I don’t even plan on making any this year because I know they’ll last for 2 days tops. Lets face it, I love chocolate (and food).

I do, however, have several goals that I am wanting to accomplish this coming year: I’m hoping to get a patent for a design I’ve been working on, I have a young grand prix prospect that I’m wanting to have doing the 1.20m’s by the end of the year, I am wanting to start a breeding operation (I have step 1 done already – I bought a mare!), and I am hoping to get some of my long term project horses sold for a nice chunk of change. The list goes on and on but these are my big goals for next year!

If you’re like me, you probably get a little bit anxious thinking about everything you want to accomplish whether it be for the day, month, or year. A little anxiety can be good because it keeps you motivated, but too much can be crippling and then it’s time to find ways to deal with it. Over the years, I’ve found a few tips and tricks to help me deal with my anxiety so that I can continue to have big dreams and reach them!

Tip #1 – Make lists!
I can’t tell you how much I love making lists and how much they’ve helped me to keep my mind calmer. Literally the first thing I do when I wake up is make a list for what I need to do today. It helps me stay more focused and it’s pretty rewarding to get something crossed off the list! I know that sounds silly but I promise it’s rewarding. I make lists for everything now. I have a whole notebook full of lists for what tack I need to get, what my short term and long term goals are, what horse shows I want to attend, etc. Lists are awesome and if you haven’t discovered them already I encourage you to give them a try!

Tip #2 – Exercise
Whether it be going for a quick walk or a 5 mile run any form of exercise is good for the mind and body. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body meaning that any anxiety will be gone at least for a little while after you finish your workout. Plus, running will help strengthen legs and I don’t think I need to tell anyone twice about the benefits of strong legs with riding horses!

Tip #3 – Keep working
A friend posted something on Instagram years ago and I don’t remember the exact words but it was something like “The best way to treat anxiety is to keep working” and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’ve had days where I just get so anxious that I can’t get myself to do anything but as soon as I do start doing something my anxiety goes away. This kind of goes back to what I said about being able to cross things off the list – it’s so good for the anxious mind to feel like things are getting done.

I genuinely hope these tips will help anyone like myself, so that we can continue on accomplishing anything we wish to! I hope you all have had a great 2016 and have an even better 2017. And if you make New Years resolutions, I hope you last longer than I ever have!

Until next time,

Stephanie

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introduction & a quick look inside the life of a professional

to start off with, i just wanted to say how excited i am to be apart of the preppy equestrian team! i thought i would go ahead and give a quick introduction on myself. my name is stephanie prince and i’m a professional hunter/jumper trainer based in southern illinois. i currently have 7 horses, 4 of which are personal horses and the rest are sale horses. most of my horses i get off the track and then retrain them for the hunter/jumper world.

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only being 23 and having just turned professional a few months ago i’m still learning how to run a successful operation and balance that with a successful riding career, but what a fun learning experience it is. i’m so grateful that i get to do what i love for a living, especially something that is so rewarding. there is nothing better than seeing young horses take the next step forward in their progress, whether it be learning their flying changes or moving up to the next level in the show ring, etc. it is equally rewarding watching your students learn and grow and be successful in and out of the ring.

all that success does not come without hard work though. gone are the days where you only have yourself to worry about. i spend a minimum of 10 hours at the barn daily schooling horses, teaching students, doing barn chores and whatever else that might need done. i put in so much time planning and managing my horses careers, my career, and my students careers as well. most nights i spend reading books or doing research online on training horses or looking for new project horses. it’s quite frankly exhausting at times but so totally worth it.

there is still so much for me to learn in managing a profitable horse business but i have come so far already and am looking forward to what’s in store. everyday i learn something new and that is one of my most favorite parts of this sport. the most recent lesson i’ve learned is to not undervalue my work. whether it be what you charge for riding lessons or your asking price on a horse, don’t cheat yourself. you work really hard doing this so make sure you’re getting what you deserve! it took me a while to learn that but it’s such an important lesson to learn in order to have a successful (and profitable) horse operation.

i look forward to sharing my journey with you all and again i’m so happy to be apart of the preppy equestrian team! it should be a lot of fun!

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