Making Life Easy

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Record keeping and financial management have come a long, long way in the past 20 years. Here’s a look at several software programs designed especially for the equine world.

Farm Management Software

It’s no secret that there’s lots of record keeping involved in owning and running a horse facility. This encompasses horse health records, lesson schedules, tack care, horse purchase and sales, breeding, showing, bookkeeping, invoicing, and more. The good news is that there are a variety of software options that help keep your records in one place and ultimately save you time. Time is money, and in this economy, improving efficiency is on everyone’s mind.

Different products offer varying records and tasks, so before you buy you should make sure you know what you want. And since they also come with a variety of price tags, you’ll want to figure out what your budget will allow. Many programs offer a free trial, which allows you to try them out before you buy. It’s a good idea to try two or three, to see which one works the way that you do and has the features that you need. It’s likely that no one product is going to offer everything that you want, so make sure to prioritize your needs.

What’s Available

If you do a search on the Internet for “horse software,” “horse management software,” ‘horse farm management software,” these following products show up most often:

EquineMax ES—www.equine­max.com—Offers Pleasure Horse, Performance Horse, Small Business and Nonprofit versions.

equineGenie—www.equine­genie.com—Specifically for horse businesses, large and small. Can purchase optional PDA (mobile devices) to track tasks while working. Featuring heuristic learning, it analyzes your entries over time, and makes suggestions that can result in improving your bottom line.

HiMARK$—www.himarks.net—Specifically for horse businesses, and one of the first on the market. Works with QuickBooks. Has options for breeding management.

Laraedo Ranch Management Software—www.laraedo.com—Web-based farm management technology with customer dashboard interface.

PaddockPro—www.paddock­pro.com—Web-based with versions for horse farm owners and managers, farriers, and veterinarians. Includes ability to manage all breeding information including tracking fertility and bookings.

Pica Publishing—www.picapub­lish­ing.com—Offers Horse Pro, Business Pro, Breeder’s Pro, and Race Trainer’s Pro versions.

RainierMyst Software—www.hal­cyon.com/rainmyst/—Offers BarnPro Business Edition, BarnPro Standard Edition, Farm Boss, Hobby Farm, BarnPro Professional (Racing) Editions. Also offers similar products for cattle ranchers.

Rendaivu—www.rendaivu.com—Offers web-based free version and desktop version for purchase. These two versions don’t currently sync up. Includes reproduction records for mares and stallions.

Sureshod—www.sureshod.com—Web-based technology that allows employee access and allows boarders to pay their bill through the system.

What Users Say

We asked a few users of these programs to share their experiences and here’s what they had to say:

Lori A. Torrini, of Deseos Arabians & Miniatures LLC, says, “Rendaivu is a free, on-line equine record keeping system that allows a private horse owner or manager of a large stable operation to keep track of horses, clients, expenses, and just about anything you would need to keep records on.

“At my farm, we have 39 horses on site. I had become so frustrated with stable management software that I’d purchased in the past, I started creating my own recordkeeping systems from scratch. Besides horse care we also teach riding lessons, and I continue my own education by training with advanced instructors. I wanted a system to log everything horse-related. I wasted my money on a lot of software that promised to be comprehensive and then did not meet my record keeping needs, and was not user-friendly.

“I stumbled upon Rendaivu during an online search and I put one ‘sample’ horse into the online database to test it out. I was so pleased with it and found it to be so detailed and easy to use that we now have all horses on our property entered, as well as all our students, my continuing education records, and all of our expenses and income. It’s easy to generate and print reports broken down just about any way you would like, and there is an event calendar option that will send you an e-mail reminder of vet appointments or anything else you have placed in it.”

Nadine Spiker, who operates the International Association for Equestrian Excellence, has been using Laraedo Ranch Management Software for five months. She says, “I’m a point-and-click kind of gal. I originally started by trying to use another software package, but was having technical difficulties with downloading it. I discovered Laraedo and used it when I was in charge of 31 horses. I used the recordkeeping function primarily, and the product far exceeded my expectations. I especially like that I can get e-mail alerts on my cell phone.”

Horse Show Software

Horse show software also comes in a variety of flavors. Key questions to consider are: size and frequency of shows; schooling shows or recognized; exhibitor access for self-service; billing and payment options. Typically, the larger the show, the more features become available. Your choice of software can make a big difference in how you delegate to your show staff.

Here again we list the options alphabetically:

HorseShowOnline—www.time­slice.ca—Started in the late 1990s, it provides USEF results export, show secretary for consultation, ability to upload directly to Equine Canada, and can publish results to the Internet.

Iopath—www.iopath.com—A low-cost solution for those farms hosting a small number of shows a year, or even just one show.

Show Secretary—www.show­sec.com—Designed for simplicity, it will accept entries and has the ability to integrate with Paypal.

Sport Data, Inc.—www.horse­showsoftware.com—This program includes USEF and Western breeds and disciplines. The software is scalable from the smallest schooling shows to the largest rated shows. It comes in Standard, Professional and Advanced Editions.

Final Words

With any product, remember to check both the company and any user groups that you might find online and ask about technical support. And at the same time, check into how the system and data are backed up and what your responsibilities are there.

Above all, find something that you are comfortable with because software should, at the end of the day, make your life easier.

Lisa Derby Oden provides business development, marketing, and association consulting services to the horse industry. She can be reached at: (603) 878-1694; lisa@blueribbon­consulting.com; or at www.bluerib­bonconsulting.com.