Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Record Keeping

I try my hardest to keep thorough, accurate records of my horses' lives. When I was a Pony Clubber, I used the USPC Health & Maintenance Record Book, which is a great tool for logging the basics: the whens, wheres, and whys of feed changes, vet visits, farrier appointments, conditioning schedules, etc. (It's available as a free PDF download here if you're interested.) 

When I was responsible for managing 20 or so horses at the therapeutic riding center, I found it extremely tedious and difficult to log everything by hand. I was also terrified the notebooks and papers I wrote on would be misplaced, lost, or destroyed. I created a MS Word document that served as a template for every horse's records; the first page was a form which asked for basic information on the horse, like its name, age, color, markings, gender, height, and included a picture. Subsequent pages had tables for recording farrier and vet visits, deworming, feed ration/changes, and even bathing and udder/sheath cleaning. Each record had a blank page at the end of the document where I would type notes every time I worked with a horse, either on the ground or under saddle. If someone else (like a student worker or volunteer) worked with the horse, I'd ask for a brief report of what they did, how the horse behaved, and problems they encountered. Every horse had an electronic file of this nature that was saved on a drive shared between all employees (which was 3). My boss detested this method of record keeping, as she was not a computer person and could never remember how to access the shared drive. She was also concerned that the files would simply disappear one day. (Computers are magic!)

Unfortunately, I never bothered to recreate those forms as Google Docs or save them to a jump drive. I have a notebook where I keep Moe and Gina's important documents (Coggins tests, registration papers), but as for recording farrier and vet visits, rides, and deworming? This is where we're at:


That's my planner. When I ride, I simply write down a brief synopsis of what I did. When the horses have their hooves trimmed, I jot it down. It works well enough, but it's a pain to leaf through weeks of records and try to find something specific. Frequently, I also forget to write down how much something costs or when I ordered something online.

In the interest of digitizing my life as much as possible, I'm searching for a solution to the record keeping problem. I'm thinking of using Evernote to keep track; I like that it has both desktop and mobile apps, I can search it, and I can keep it organized how I choose. I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I'm really curious about what y'all use to maintain your horse's records. Pen and paper? Your blog? An app? Do tell.

13 comments:

agifthorse said...

I wish I was as organized as you! I started keeping track of various problems last year (just on notebook paper) when we were frequenting the vet, but honestly don't do much when life is peachy keen. I should though!

L.Williams said...

I feel like that is what my blog is for :)

Aoife said...

I would love to find an app that would store everything in a google docs type place. Came across the Rider's Diary on EquestrianTrends' blog...I like the sound of it but would rather it in app form.

http://equestriantrend.blogspot.com/2014/01/riders-diary.html

Stephanie said...

I find it helps me keep track of patterns! I also have a terrible memory/sense of time- at work, I'd think "Well, Cherokee started that wheezing thing a couple of weeks ago, so let's give it some time" only to go back and look at my notes and see that Cherokee actually started wheezing six months ago and it was a good time to call the vet! (Cherokee was fine; I imagine he is still wheezing along happily.)

Stephanie said...

Your blog is a great example of how to utilize the platform to keep records! Your posts are always very detailed and clearly outline what you did. I am way more vague! (And have a tendency to not post about my rides unless they're super fun or spectacular.)

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the link! I'd rather have an app for it, too. Googling "horse management app" yields a few results, but it doesn't seem like any of them really encompass everything I'd like. (I also have an Android phone, so some iPhone apps might be available.)

Beka Burke said...

I recently downloaded Evernote to my iPhone. I've utilized it exactly once in about three weeks. I think I'd use it more if I downloaded it to my macbook and my work PC, but I'm uncharacteristically hesitant. I like the app, I think it's pretty functional. But typing on an iPhone sort of blows.

One of us needs to market a planner that specifically asks all those glorious details. I think L should get on that. (L, I want stickers!)

I also wanted to say: we have similar handwriting, except mine is sloppier. Much sloppier.

SheMovedtoTexas said...

I am an awful record keeper! I need to follow your lead

Stephanie said...

Between this and the fabric covered tuna/cat food cats, we're going to have to open an Etsy store. But for real, I don't think coming up with a planner for this kind of thing would be very difficult. Come on, L, give us some of those sweet unicorn illustrations!

Stephanie said...

Really?! I would have guessed you had some super organized system in place!

Aoife said...

I'm android too!
*snap*
Please be sure to share if you come across anything as you are one step ahead of me and actively searching for things - I might try contacting the people how make the Rider's Diary and see if they have considered making an app ;-)

Austen Gage said...

Old post, but I'm still catching up from last week!

I use the iphone/mac/ipad app DayOne to keep track of my daily rides, hoof trims, and supplement/feed changes. Any scheduled events, like vet appointments, get put on my google calendar where I can see them when I review my schedule. With my busy daily schedule, having things on my phone and updated via "the cloud" is the only way I can manage to stay on top of things! I also love that DayOne allows me to include a photo with each post, so I can take a quick snapshot during my ride which can help me remember the exact ride when I go back and review.

When writing up my daily training rides, I also use a system I loosely call "3 Things." All that means is I try to write down three specific things about each ride. For example: 1. Worked on keeping my toes in. Made it easier to keep my calves and my legs from bouncing. 2. Horse was really focused today. 3. Shoulder-ins were fabulous, need to establish better bend and work on straightening out of them.

Obviously, I put waaaay too much thought into this. ;)

Stephanie said...

You are SUPER organized and that is awesome! I love your "3 Things" system- that's perfect for capturing how the ride went without getting into a lot of rambling details. Totally using that.

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