Your Turn: ‘The Book’

Just because it’s too cold to ride doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. Holly Mooney shows us how she uses the off-season to get organized.

The Book

At 28 degrees, today is the warmest it has been all week in our neck of Maryland. While it feels as if we’re living in a pre-Aslan Narnia, Spring will be here before we know it, which means there is preparation to be done, shows to get ready for, conditioning to work through… but, it’s just so darn cold. So, today while I stay snuggled in my house, and Emmy stays snuggled at the barn, it’s time to organize THE BOOK.

What is ‘the book?” you ask. I’ll give you a brief history. My eventing trainer has her version of ‘the book’ (hers is more like a tome at this point) and she has encouraged all members of our team (those who own horses, AND those who borrow) to get one. Basically, it’s just a binder of horse related paperwork, but it’s also so much more. It’s an ongoing history of my horse, our relationship, the work we’ve done, the things I’ve bought (this portion is minimal I swear DH!). It’s part record, part scrapbook and if you don’t have something like this I HIGHLY recommend getting one started while winter keeps most of us (I hate you Ocala) in its grip. So what’s in my version of “the book?”


A happy picture of Emmy and me after our first ever jumper round where I almost fell off, but she graciously helped me out.


Front Pocket:

I keep my check book and bills due in the front pocket. This is by far the most depressing section.



These include:

  • Registration: all of our AQHA paperwork
  • Medical: several copies of Emmy’s Coggins report, her vaccine and preventative medicine record, a copy of her pre purchase exam, all supplement and feeding information, contact information for the equine vet, insurance agent contact information and an FAQ about our plan and after-hours/emergency contact information
  • Dressage Tests: the actual returned tests from each of our competitions, as well as hard copies of the tests we work on/compete now
  • Receipts: barn invoices, equipment receipts, and all paid invoices with check number and date paid written on them
  • Notes: an extra copy of my USEA medical card, articles, notes from clinics, things to ask my trainers, travel plans for Rolex, mailer about the upcoming Horse World Expo


 Back Pocket:

This is sort of my “catch all” for anything left. It holds my awesome team calendar, stickers, even Emmy’s “for sale” paper a friend found in a port-a-potty shortly after I bought her (don’t worry it’s been doused with Lysol).


Back Cover (Calendar and Training Record):

Back here my touch of OCD really shines through. I keep a running record of what we work on each day and basic things that happen. For instance, on December 16th we had “grumpy head-tossing nonsense.” See how fun it is to look back! It details lessons (including if I already paid for them or will be receiving an invoice), days off, things we tried, exercises we did, clinics, if we jumped or did flatwork, and any other horsey-related gatherings or goings on attended. This sort of record may seem excessive, but it’s what works for me. I usually can’t remember what I had for dinner the previous night, so I’m sure as heck not going to remember what I did 3 days ago at the barn.


The way I organize my book and the things I keep work for me. Everyone’s version is sure to be a little different. For example, one of my teammates writes a report after each competition so she can remember things that went particularly well, comments from dressage judges that they didn’t write on the test, and notes about the occasional “oh crap” moment. Another teammate uses an accordion file instead of a binder.

So, whether you’re just starting your own edition or your version needs a little TLC, get to it while the weather is cold and uncooperative! Don’t forget the plastic sheet protectors to save your documents from horse slobber (or worse). In a few weeks when the sun is shining and you’re out at a show, you’ll be happy when you just so happen to have an extra copy of Old Dobbin’s Coggins report handy!

Holly Mooney is 30 year old aspiring eventer, who lacks the bravery necessary for her sport. Her quarter horse Emmy is an absolute professional who has competed through Beginner Novice with her previous owner. Emmy is still trying to convince Holly of the proper speed, tempo, and distances for cross country. While her lifelong dream was to own a horse and compete, Holly often finds herself thinking, “Oh my god, what have I done?” Luckily, her chestnut mare is a much better eventer than she is.



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