Day after day we see a weather forecast with highs in the 90s, and next week it's going to get to almost 100°f. Perfect if you plan to sit around a swimming pool with a cold beverage. Not so perfect if you happen to be a barn manager.
If you board your horse be sure to thank your barn manager and barn hands for all their hard work in all weather conditions.
Below is a lighthearted look at just a few things you will never hear your barn manager say in summer.
Oh goody, another scorching hot day ahead.
I think I'll ride at noon today instead of 7:00 a.m.
I'm so glad it hasn't rained in over a month. The straw-like grass is so beautiful.
I love global warming.
No, I'm not looking forward to fall.
I love mucking stalls when it's really hot. Makes me think I'm in a sauna.
Changing clothes two and three times a day makes me so happy.
I don't think I'll shower tonight.
Think I'll call in sick today.
This fly spray really works.
Hat hair is the best. Wet, hat hair is even better.
I love my farmer's tan, especially my pasty, white feet.
Here are a few of the must-have products that help me get through the summer.
We have a riding boot exchange at White Rose Equestrian
You're probably asking yourself, what is a riding boot exchange? Let me tell you.
For anyone with young children, you already know how quickly they grow. This isn't too much of a problem when it comes to buying them regular clothes and shoes as they can wear them often. It can, however, become expensive when buying equestrian attire if your child only rides a couple of times a week. That is where our boot exchange comes in.
It is extremely important for all riders to wear the correct kind of footwear. Not only does it keep their feet, reasonably, safe when they are walking around the barn and interacting with horses, it is also safer than non-equestrian footwear when riding.
Horseback riding boots can be either short, just above the ankle (paddock boots), or full length (tall boots). Paddock boots can be made to look like tall boots by wearing chaps. As a general rule of thumb, but certainly not written in stone, a rider will wear paddock boots until they either turn twelve years old or change from a pony to a horse.
How our riding boot exchange works
As I already mentioned, buying riding attire is expensive and is usually outgrown long before it becomes worn out. At White Rose Equestrian we collect boots that have been donated to us by parents when their kids outgrow them. They are available FREE OF CHARGE to anyone who needs a pair on the understanding that when their child grows out of them, they donate them back to us. Some weeks I give away two or more pairs.
We also collect out-grown riding clothes and horse equipment that we sell at VERY reasonable prices to our riders. All proceeds from these donations go to The Sam Johnathan Davis Trust for my grandson.
If you have any riding boots, clothes, or equipment you would like to donate, please reach out to us. Thank you!
It was a chilly 21°f (-6.1°c) this morning at the barn. And, it's supposed to get down to 4°f (-15.6°c) next week here in North Carolina. This is tiresome even for the most dedicated horse people.
So far this winter has been a combination of either mud or ice. Our northern neighbors like to mock us when we complain about the cold temperatures but we just don't have the infrastructure to cope with it for days on end.
The extreme cold makes everyday chores take much longer than usual and requires more energy and physical strength. If you board your horse please take a few minutes to thank your barn manager and barn hands for their hard work in all weather conditions.
So, as we patiently wait for a thaw from this frozen tundra here is a lighthearted look at some things your barn manager will never say, in winter.
Oh good a snow day.
I love freezing weather.
Breaking ice off of water troughs is my most favorite thing to do.
Mucking out twice, and sometimes three times, in a day because the horses can't go out, is awesome.
Going through twice as much hay because the horses are in all day makes me so happy.
I love it when the ends of my fingers turn blue, it really sets off my perfectly manicured nails.
Dragging water to the barn in coolers because the pipes have frozen is so much fun.
I wish it would snow again.
Changing blankets every five minutes because the temps keep changing helps to tone my biceps.
I can't wait to ride my bi-polar mare, who's been standing in her stall for days.
I think I'll call in sick today.
I wish the weather could stay like this forever.
Taking care of horses is a labor of love and looking forward to spring is what is currently keeping me going.
Here are five MUST-HAVES to help you get through the winter months.
Thermal underwear is an absolute must. Wearing layers helps to keep in the warm air that your body generates and also gives you the option of stripping off layers as it warms up.
Heated water buckets. Unless your barn is really, really well insulated there is a possibility that the buckets will freeze during the night. This is harmful to your horse as they need 24/7 access to water.
Heat Cable Kit. We have these on all the faucets in the barn. They heat the pipes if the weather goes below freezing. No need to keep taps dripping all night.
Phone friendly gloves. Most of us, nowadays, carry our smartphones with us wherever we go. With these gloves, you can use your phone without having to take them off.
Yeti Rambler. Carry your cup-o-joe to the barn with you and keep yourself warm from the inside.
We'd love to hear from you. Let us know some of the things your barn manager never says in winter and follow us on Facebook.
I know the title of this blog sounds rather dramatic but that doesn't make it less true. Let me give you some insight into how and why my horses helped save my life.
In June of 2018 my adult son, Sam Davis vanished without a trace from his home in Charlotte, NC. The police thought he had taken off to clear his head and would pop back up again. I knew differently. As mothers, we know our children no matter how old they are. My husband and I pinned posters all over the area and I created the Find Sam Davis Facebook page. I regularly posted updates even though they were few and far between. Every Friday I would do a Facebook live video to mark the passing weeks.
My life was a living nightmare. Sleeping was difficult, eating was optional, and showering was no longer necessary. Every second I was consumed with dark foreboding thoughts, devastation, disbelief, and the enormous feeling of hopelessness. I had no enthusiasm, at all. I stopped teaching horseback riding. My only focus was on finding my child.
Days, weeks, and months blurred together. But, finally, after eight months of not knowing where Sam was a teacher at a local elementary school found what was left of him in some bushes after retrieving a wayward ball. My whole world fell apart. I thought I was prepared for the news but I was so wrong. My agony, despair, trauma, torture quadrupled in a split second. Even though I still had a teenager at home who needed me all I wanted to do was go to sleep and not wake up.
Learning to stay alive
All throughout this horrific experience, I had horses, cats, chickens, and a dog, not-to-mention people to take care of. Staying in bed wasn't an option. My barn became my sanctuary, even more so than normal. My horses had no idea what was going on in my life. To them, everything was normal. Night followed day and mornings meant coming in to stand in the cool barn, caressed by the fans, and lavished with breakfast and copious amounts of hay. Their soft nickers, judgeless eyes, and impatient stomachs kept me grounded.
Solitude is lonely, grief is even lonelier. Amazon Music kept me company while I took care of barn chores. I also discovered that an empty barn is a good place to cry. I can not count how many times I paced up and down the aisle weeping while talking to myself, to Sam. Trying to put into perspective what my new life now looked like.
Life goes on
Grief is a very personal journey. It is a journey, not a destination. Two years on I still have days when I don't want to get up. Unless you have experienced deep depression you can not imagine how difficult the simple act of putting your feet out of bed each morning can be. Think of yourself as very fortunate. But, every day I get up, get dressed, and head to the barn. I look at the world differently now. The sun is brighter, the dew on crisp mornings is clearer, the air is sweeter, and, most days, my smile comes more easily.
My barn is still my sanctuary. There is something very cathartic about cleaning stalls, grooming a horse, or sweeping the aisle. My horses know my secrets, and I know they won't tell. I feel Sam in the breeze occasionally, and I even smelt his aftershave one day, true story.
I am enormously grateful to my patient clients, my loving family, and the kind support from complete strangers. And, of course to my trusted horses who did, literally, help to save my life.
Let us know how your horses have positively influenced your life.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts please reach out to a medical professional.
The creation of a business can be a daunting task. There are many things that need to be considered. One of them is a catchy, name that is easy to remember. I didn't have that problem when I started my equestrian business in America. I had known, for a very long time, that my barn would be called White Rose Equestrian. But how did that come about?
As most of you already know, I am originally from England. Yorkshire to be precise. Our story begins there many, many years ago.
The War of the Roses
In the 1400s, England engaged in civil war as two rival branches of the royal house, the House of Lancaster and the House of York, battled for the English throne.
The conflict persisted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, with control switching back and forth between Yorkists and Lancastrians. The two adversaries finally united when Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, known as King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York. She was the eldest daughter and heir of Edward IV. The House of Tudor successfully ruled England until 1603. This ended with the death of Elizabeth I, the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and the granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.
The name "Wars of the Roses" originated because of the heraldic badges associated with two rival branches of the same royal house, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. The emblems continue to be represented extensively throughout the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire and are incorporated into each flag.
Since I am from Yorkshire, it only seemed fitting to carry some of my heritage across the ocean and into my business. The Yorkshire Rose is front and center in our business logo, as are the colors of the Yorkshire Flag.
I am proud of my origins and very grateful to all our wonderful clients and friends who support White Rose Equestrian.
Seven Ideas of What to Buy Your Horse For Christmas
Christmas is right around the corner and if you are anything like me you will have been procrastinating since the beginning of fall about when you were actually going to start your Christmas shopping.
Time is running out and I know one of the most important 'people' on your list is your horse. Yes, we buy stuff for him all year round but we HAVE to splash out on 'special stuff' at Christmas time. To help you decide, and also save you some money, here are seven simple ideas of what to buy your horse for Christmas. Some of them could also be used as gifts for your other horse-crazy friends.
New brushes to replace the worn-out ones in his grooming box. Don't forget to make sure they are color coordinated with all his other important accessories.
A heated bucket to stop his water from freezing. Not only does it make your life easier but a horse who drinks warmed water during cold weather is less likely to colic.
A Jolly Ball for him to play with while he's stuck in his stall during inclement weather.
Horses, just like people, can benefit enormously from a Magna Wave PEMF treatment. It works on a cellular level to help the body heal itself and relieve pain quickly and naturally.
To show him how much you really care you could bake him some home-made treats. Not only does it save money but you can be sure you know exactly what he is eating.
You know how photogenic your horse is and how much you like to show him off to your friends. Why not book a photo session for when the weather picks up?
Another good idea would be to buy yourself some lessons. A balanced rider makes for a happy horse.
I hope some of these ideas have helped you. If you have any ideas to share, let us know on our Facebook page.
I don't claim to know anything about football (American Football to my British readers) and have been known to ask questions when watching a game. It doesn't happen often as I would rather watch paint dry but that's another story altogether. One thing I would never do is comment or give my opinion or try to look like an expert on the subject but I'm sure I've asked a dumb question every now and then.
Here are some things non-horsey people have said to me over the years. I know this will resonate with my horsey friends.
What do you do for exercise? - Because the horse does all the work you know and mucking stalls takes no effort at all.
There's a dead horse in your field. - Yup, they lie down sometimes.
Doesn't it hurt when he nails the shoe to his foot?
You still take lessons? I thought you knew how to ride.
I used to ride as a child so I won't need many lessons.
Ewww he just pooped!
Doesn't it hurt them when you kick them with your legs?
What am I supposed to hold onto? - When I take away the reins for a lunge lesson.
Why is there white stuff coming out of his mouth?
Wow, that's expensive. - When I tell a non-horsey person how much I charge for board but don't explain all the other expenses like insurance, feed, hay, shavings, electricity, repairs, labor, and so on and so on…
Have you ever fallen off?
Do you have to feed them on Christmas Day also?
I don't mind getting up early, I'm usually awake by 9 a.m.
Do you rent out your horses?
I used to have a dog when I was a kid so I know how to look after a horse. - Yes, I did actually have someone say that to me.
What are you feeding him, I thought they just ate apples and sugar cubes?
How does the horse get out of the stall to use the bathroom?
What's that mark on his leg is he injured? - The chestnut. I can't count how many times I've been asked this.
Have you ever eaten horse meat?
Why do you need a saddle?
I once rode a cowboy horse. - I think they meant western horse.
How long does it take a pony to grow into a horse?
Aww, that's a cute foal. - Referring to a mini.
Just pull on the reins. - Advice from a parent to a child who was learning to ride a 20-meter circle.
Why are those horses wearing blindfolds in the field?
You can't include horse riding as exercise. - This wasn't said to me but to the parent of one of my riders by the P.E. coach at her daughter's school. I told her to tell him to come and take a lesson so he could see how wrong he was. A P.E. coach of all people???
This blog isn't intended to offend non-horsey people. It's just light-hearted observations shared with other horsey friends. Feel free to add any comments and questions you have encountered over the years.
The Things I've learned from Running a Lesson and Boarding Barn
This time last year, May 1st 2015, my husband and I rented a beautiful 125 acre property in Iron Station, just outside Charlotte North Carolina and officially launched White Rose Equestrian Center.
The property came with a 16 stall barn, indoor arena, outdoor arena, many secure fenced areas, and acres of amazing trails. It's a beautiful, unique piece of land and represented my 'field of dreams'. I knew it would be hard work but I also knew I could do it. I have loved the challenge, the fresh air, and of course the horses but it also came with a fair share of stress, sleepless nights, and 13 hour days.
The decision to take the barn was scary and one I didn't rush into. I crunched the numbers every which way I could and stepped outside my comfort zone but knew it was something I just had to do. There were highs and lows. Getting a 70 at my first rated show with White Rose Fandango (Annie) was one of the highs. The biggest low was telling my riders that I wasn't going to renew the lease.
Renting isn't for us. We want to run a quality operation and expect things to be up to a certain standard and it's difficult putting money into a property that we will never own. So things are on hold for a while.
It's been a great adventure and we very much appreciate everyone who came along with us.
Here are the things, in no particular order, that I learned over the last 12 months while running a lesson and boarding barn.
Staying in bed until 6:30 a.m. feels like a sleep in
Going to bed after 9:30 p.m. is staying up late
Some horses are crazy
Some horse owners are crazy
Horses can pee twice as much as they drink
It never rains when you want it to
Horses that like each other can, for no apparent reason, suddenly not like each other
Male horses shouldn't be gelded until they've learned to poop in a corner
I would be rich if I were paid every time I said, "Put your heels down"
I would be rich if I were paid every time I changed the feed chart
Bailing twine, duct tape, and WD40 are a barn girl's best friend
You can't please everyone but it didn't stop me trying
Working outside beats working inside
Looking after a large lesson and boarding barn leaves little time to ride
Tractor driving is fun
Zero-turn driving is scary
Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton are great company when you're mucking stalls
It's great to be up before the dickeries
It's easy to get attached to horses even if they don't belong to you
No-kink hoses don't exist
Working 7 days a week makes it difficult to know what day it is
You can not teach your own children… anything!
Black coffee is better than no coffee
Cold coffee is better than no coffee
Any coffee is better than no coffee
Barn chores produce awesome muscles affectionately known as poop muscles
Growing up in a barn is great for kids of all ages
Fresh shavings smell wonderful
It's harder than you would think to get onto the People of Wal-Mart page
The bite of a horse fly hurts, really hurts!
You never stop learning
I get as much pleasure when my riders do well as I do when I win a blue ribbon
What people do is more telling about them than what they say they will do
Barn swallows (and sandy colored cats) are a great desensitizing tool for horses riding in the indoor
A 33 year old golf cart makes a great barn vehicle
Some people are magnets to anything that bites, stings, stomps, or kicks
Paperwork takes up way more time than you would expect
Eating fast food at 9pm is sometimes the only way to not starve
Good help is hard to come by. I am very grateful to those who were always there for me!!! You know who you are.
The most expensive clothes you own are your show clothes
There are never enough hours in the day
Barn germs don't count
A farmer's tan is a must-have summer fashion accessory
Walking over 140,000 steps in a week is easy-peasy
Hat hair is the only hair style anyone needs
Thank goodness for baseball caps
None of this would have been possible without the help and support of my wonderful husband
It takes a village
It's good to take chances
So as we move onto the next chapter in our lives I would like to thank our boarders, riders, helpers, and volunteers. The last 12 months have been some of the most trying, exciting, funny, tiring, exuberating, rewarding, and challenging of my life. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And as Dr. Seuss would say, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
Back in the summer on the way to one of the local shows I happened to car-pool with Bailey, the team captain of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte's Intercollegiate Hunt Seat Association team. Wow, that's a mouthful - UNCC IHSA for short. Anyway, we got to talking and I casually asked if they also had an intercollegiate dressage team. Turned out they didn't. So, in kind of a half serious, half joking manner I said, "I'll coach a dressage team for them."
Fast forward a few weeks and I'm told that they had formed a dressage team and that I was the coach. Awesome, nervous, excited… WHAT??? Were just a few thoughts that ran through my head.
Knowing absolutely nothing what-so-ever about Intercollegiate Dressage I attended the team meeting along with the hunt seat coach. I met some of the riders and was happy to know that Blair had ridden on an IDA team before. She had also volunteered to be the team captain. Things started to fall into place.
The team consisted of Blair, Iman, Taylor, Cody, and MacKenzie. Lessons started early September. My first task was deciding which level each rider should ride. Not being familiar with the running of an IDA team and not knowing what the competition was going to be like it was not an easy task but I knew the tests they would have to ride so I based it on that. Blair had ridden Introductory before and hadn't earned enough points to move up so that one was easy. Cody and MacKenzie were both competent riders but also riding on the hunt seat team which meant I would only teach them every other week. It's difficult undoing a forward seat in just sixty minute once a fortnight. So, Cody went into Intermediate with Blair and MacKenzie into Lower Training. Iman is originally from Germany and had ridden dressage before so she slotted nicely into Lower Training and so did Taylor. Our team was set… until Blair told me that we needed to have at least one Upper Training Level rider also. Taylor was the most 'aggressive' of my Lower Training riders so I bumped her up, without telling her I will add. She took the move very casually, thankfully.
Lessons consisted of a combination of basic equitation and riding position improvements and fine tuning the movements in the tests. We rotated between the horses available to us and developed a weekly routine. I saw huge improvements in no time at all. Blair and Taylor practiced at our own Introduction To Dressage Show and we began to get excited as the first show official Intercollegiate Dressage show drew closer.