Wellington, FL (May 13 , 2019) — The 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) will go on the books as another wonderfully successful season and remembered for when the world’s finest equestrians and horses gathered together to give it their all in the show rings of Wellington, Florida. Behind all the glitz, glamour, and glory of every ribbon won by the riders, however, is an often unsung hero who is responsible for managing every little detail of the barn, and most importantly, maintaining the wellbeing of the horses. Omega Alpha, makers of all natural health products for horses, understands the vitally important roles that barn managers play, which is why the Omega Alpha Barn Manager of the Season Award was created to give them the recognition they deserve. Throughout the past winter season at WEF, riders and barn owners were given the opportunity to nominate their barn manager for this award. This year, three outstanding barn managers were recognized and presented with the award which included a beautiful commemorative bit box, a $100 gift certificate for a night on the town, and a customized assortment of Omega Alpha products. Lila Chase of Southgate Farm and Julie McKean of Bespoke Farm both received the same amount of glowing nominations, and they therefore tied for the dressage manager award, and Amy Barrett of New Vintage Farm won the hunter-jumper manager award.
Award winner Lila Chase from New York has been working with renowned dressage rider Ashley Holzer for 13 years and has been her manager at Southgate Farms for the past 2 years. “I love the horses, and I actually happen to love the people here,” Chase says about her job, “We’ve all been together for a very long time, and I care deeply about all creatures – four and two legged!” she smiles. It’s this love and commitment to relationships that explains the large number of nominations that Chase received for the award, including one from Holzer herself. “She does not stop,” Holzer describes, “This girl does not keep hours. Because she has her own horse and rides Grand Prix as well, she understands what it takes from a rider point of view. She understands that riders get nervous at horse shows because she’s been there, done that,” she adds.
Chase explains that her number one priority as a barn manager is time management. “I’m a very anxious person,” she explains, “so I’m probably more anxious than all of (the riders) about getting them to the ring on time and making it perfect. My goal is that everyone can just show up and focus on the hard part, which is the riding, and I can do all the picky other things,” she continues. Chase was thrilled to receive the award, and was eager to follow up with Omega Alpha to customize the assortment of products she won for her own horse, Bernoulli. Bernoulli is a 13 year old Dutch Warmblood who Chase has owned since he was very young. The pair are looking forward to showing in Intermediare II this summer and competing in Grand Prix next season.
Julie McKean also won the dressage Barn Manager of the Season Award in a first ever tie for the prize! McKean is manager of Ruth Holgan-Poulsen’s farm, Bespoke Farms, and spends the winters in Wellington, FL and summers in Plainville, VT along with the team at Poulsen’s Dressage. “We have such an amazing barn family here, with such a great group of clients and working students,” McKean describes, “If you’re in the industry long enough, you’re going to have really good seasons and you’re going to have bad seasons,” she continues, “I feel like I was the best barn manager that I could be this season because I had the best team and the best clients. So, I really share this award with my girls, Kristina Lane, Olivia Henriques, and Emilie Goddard!” McKean goes on, “I think what they like about me as a barn manager is that I’m serious about the wellbeing of the horses and their care, but when it comes to me, I don’t take myself too seriously, and I’m the first to laugh at myself. I’m not an infallible leader, and I like to foster their own independence and confidence in making decisions. I just love nurturing the personalities we have in here and letting them bloom and letting everyone express themselves. We just have so much fun!”
Apparently, working with McKean is a lot fun because one of the nominations said that she leads the team in song and dance. McKean laughs, “Yes, we do have a lot of random outbursts of singing and dancing!” However, she goes on to say that being an effective barn manager is not all fun and games, “I develop systems and protocol for everything, and I teach this to my team members and it helps us operate smoothly. Since we do have horses that compete, I take special care to label and keep stored away any prohibited substances, and also have protocol for the usage of these things.” Probably the best nomination for McKean came from Bespoke Farm’s owner Ruth Holgen-Poulsen when she wrote, “In all my 27 years of coming to Florida, my barn has never been run this well.”
McKean says she is looking forward to using the Omega Alpha products with her own 20 year old Hanovarian mare named Stellina who is a lesson horse at the farm. She is also excited about beginning to work with Stellina’s 3 year old son back in Vermont. Mainly, she is just thrilled with the award. “I’m honored and so appreciative that someone thought to honor barn managers this way,” she smiles, “because we work really hard, and we get pretty tired, and it’s just nice to get this recognition.”
Omega Alpha was also excited to recognize hunter-jumper Barn Manager of the Season, Amy Barrett of New Vintage Farm in Woodstock, Georgia. Barrett has managed the farm, which is owned by Julie Curtain, since 2012, and the nomination form submitted by Christina Fisher and Julie Curtain says it all. “Amy is one of the hardest working barn managers and professionals we have worked with in the industry,” they write, “She gives 110% all the time, no matter how big or small the task is. Her attention to detail and organization is amazing. All of the horses in her care are extremely happy and healthy. She knows each and every one of them and takes pride in making sure they are comfortable and ready to do whatever their job may be. Amy always shows up with a smile on her face and has the best attitude. You can tell that she is happy and excited about her job. Always charismatic and calm, Amy is a major and important member of the New Vintage team. We are lucky to have her!”
Barrett says she couldn’t do her job without the support of her team. “I feel like I am mostly successful thanks to our whole New Vintage Farm team. Nothing would work as it does for us without being able to work together. Patience, being organized, and being able to go with the flow are huge. Every day is a new day with horses so I have to be ready for anything!” she explains. “I love how every day is a new beginning. I love the travel, the people, and how there is an unlimited number of things to learn,” she adds. In addition to being a successful barn manager, Barrett is also a horse owner herself. “I co-own a horse with one of my best friends. His name is Retro,” she describes, “We bought him about 6 months ago. He was actually imported as a hunter last summer, but as I like to say, he’s a little bit ‘spicy’ so we are slowly moving our way along in the jumpers. He absolutely loves his job as a jumper now!”
As if Barrett wasn’t busy enough this season as a barn manager, she also spent a lot of time planning her upcoming nuptials as a bride-to-be. “My fiancé’s name is Dustin Bowles and he is also in the horse world. He works as Show Secretary and Technology Coordinator for shows here in the Southeast. We are getting married September of this year in the North Georgia mountains! And yes, we did meet at a show one year, but it is really nice being with someone who understands us crazy horse people! He definitely deserves his own award for that!” she laughs.
Barrett says she is thrilled with the award and wants to thank Omega Alpha for the recognition. “This award is really special for me. This was my first year ever at WEF. I had only dreamed of going before. Julie used to go in the past and it had become a goal to be able to go again. We worked really hard to be able to not just go to WEF, but go show with a very successful group of horses and riders. I was blown away by all of it and this just topped it all off!” she explains. She is really looking forward to receiving the customized assortment of Omega Alpha all natural products. “We have used some of the respiratory products and I could always see a noticeable difference in the horses’ performance, We ask a lot of our horses so we really focus on keeping them happy and comfortable and finding the right supplements really makes everything better.”
Omega Alpha congratulates Barrett, McKean and Chase on being named Barn Managers of the Season and appreciates their dedication to keeping horses healthy and happy from the inside out. In addition to recognizing horses in optimum health, Omega Alpha, a Canadian-based company, offers an extensive line of all-natural products for humans and other animals as well. Clients everywhere have experienced the benefits of Omega Alpha to help improve and maintain respiration, digestion, joint health, hormonal balance, immune health, detoxification, muscle rehabilitation, endurance, and performance. To learn more about the company, visit www.OmegaAlpha.com or call 1-800-651-3172.