Life in the Dream Barn: Growing “the Village”

Maryland-based dressage professional Kelly McGinn shares an update from life in her newly constructed barn.

I hope you have had some nice fall weather where you are and are surrounded by pumpkin spice everything! 

At the beginning of my last blog post, I had mentioned how it had gotten cooler, which I was very happy about since it was such a hot summer. Well … That was short lived! We had another surge of warm and humid weather and the bugs came back, which I wasn’t so happy about. It does seem like we are out of that pattern, finally! We have been able to leave the horses out longer each day, which I love.

After our Scott Hassler clinic, there was a little down time with no traveling and I was OK with that. I am very much enjoying just being in my own barn and working the horses. 

We have a lot more bridles now than when we moved in!
Stone dust to put down where we have some soft spots. The work around the barn never stops!
I finally got my countertop in the feed room! My kitchen for the horses.

I’ve talked quite a bit about the ideas and plans I have had rolling around in my head for a while for when I had my own facility and one of those plans was implementing bodywork for the horses. I definitely believe in excellent veterinary care for a sporthorse, but I also believe that we need to support our horses as athletes and keep their bodies limber and feeling good. 

Enter Courtney Molino. I’ve known Courtney for a while now. We met at a horse show a few years back and I have several friends in the business who have recommended her, so I knew that I wanted to incorporate her work for the horses in my barn when the time was right. Her business is called Hands on Horses and she has also started and educational program called Equilearn Institute which is a great way for owners and trainers to learn more about how their horses’ bodies work and how to support them through massage and body work. Courtney also incorporates the use of lasers, which is something I am personally interested in learning more about. We had Courtney here for a whole day and I loved being able to discuss each horse with her: their difficulties, what I feel, history, etc. I am such a geek with this kind of stuff! So it was really fun for me to watch the horses respond to her work and then to feel the difference in the training rides in the days after. It really does take a village to train a horse and Courtney is part of our village now!

Courtney doing some laser on Donny.
Here Courtney Molino is talking to Alex Roman about what she is feeling in Zoe’s body work session.

DT Editor’s Note: To learn more about equine bodywork, check out “Physical Therapy for Horses: A Visual Course in Massage, Stretching, Rehabilitation, Anatomy, and Biomechanics” by Helle Katrine Kleven. 

I started out in my new barn with six horses and then that climbed to eight and as I write this, we now have 11. I have a variety of different breeds, ages and sizes. I enjoy teaching and training any breed, as I believe good dressage makes any horse more rideable and trainable and therefore the owner can have a better partnership with their horse, no matter the discipline. 

I will say that I really love having riders in the barn that have goals. I am goal-oriented, so teaching riders that have a goal is very rewarding and I will do my absolute best to help my riders achieve their goals! It doesn’t matter if the goal is small or big, it’s a point for us to shoot for and that is everything. 

Tippy helping me teach.

That being said, in my next few blogs, I will introduce you to some of my students and their horses and what we are working on to reach their goals. I will discuss the struggles as well as the highlights, as we all know it’s not always so easy along the journey. I hope this will inspire some of you out there who read my blog (which I appreciate!).

As for our plans for showing this fall, we have decided not to do championships. Since we only went to two shows this summer and with a busy schedule here at the farm, it just made sense for us. I am hoping that 2021 finds us in a better place to go back to normal showing and being together. We have several fun events planned for the fall, including another clinic with Scott Hassler and a used tack and equipment sale.

If you’ve followed along with my blog from the beginning, you will remember me mentioning that my daughter doesn’t have a pony. Yup, I know…. You are thinking, How does the horse trainer’s own kid not have a pony? Crazy, I know! In my defense, when I was leasing a barn for my business, all the stalls had to be filled with training horses, so there wasn’t room for a pony. Lu has been taking riding lessons and she loves it and has been asking for a pony. So I put some feelers out and have found her the perfect first pony. So stayed tuned everyone! In my next blog I will update you on this monumental event in our lives! But don’t tell Lu—it’s a surprise!

Kelly McGinn is an FEI rider, trainer and coach. She has brought many horses and riders up through the levels and has enjoyed success in regional and national championships as well as year end awards. Kelly was also chosen to ride the Friesian stallion Lolke 372 in the opening ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games in 2010 in the famed 10 horse Friesian train. Kelly has trained with Scott Hassler since 1991 and she credits Scott for her teaching and training style as he has been a big influence in her education. Kelly has also had the opportunity to ride with many well known clinicians including Steffen Peters, Michael Klimke and Debbie McDonald. Kelly also participated in the Young Dressage Trainers Symposium for 9 years where she developed a love for the process of training young horses. She runs a small teaching and training business in Easton, Maryland, where she has a variety of different horses in training and believes that every horse can benefit from good dressage training regardless of the breed.

Click here to read more articles with Kelly McGinn.






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