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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2000
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    Keswick, VA
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    7,868

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by scrbear11 View Post
    It sounds like you hired a bunch of mexicans... Honestly- What did you expect from people who barely speak english and are illegal?!
    Aren't you sweet. Honestly, the biggest screw ups of my post were all performed by American workers. We've had good and bad help, like I said, but the mexican grooms have by no means monopolized the mistakes and incompetence. The best workers I've been around, the ones that I mentioned at first that get hired away, those have all been from Mexico or Honduras, and I'd take them back in a second.
    I'm sorry that you have a prejudice towards them, as they do make up the majority of the labor pool in this industry. It is extremely hard to find an american groom who doesn't want riding to be the main part of their job, and who will work with other grooms without belittling them or delegating them the majority of the work. English is teachable. Skills are teachable. Manners and work ethic are not.



  2. #42
    Join Date
    Mar. 19, 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    2,401

    Default

    Trudat CBoylen!



  3. #43
    Join Date
    Dec. 10, 2005
    Posts
    338

    Default

    oh all these stories are too funny but I agree with everyone pay well, health insurance, and respect, please thank you so much! would be nice
    As I have been there, as barn manager, trainer, rider groom, shipped horses , set up at shows and tacked for head trainer, there's only so much one person can do before they get burnt out and leave



  4. #44
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2007
    Location
    Virginia--wahoowa!
    Posts
    749

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by scrbear11 View Post
    It sounds like you hired a bunch of mexicans... Honestly- What did you expect from people who barely speak english and are illegal?!
    Wow. I found that to be completely unnecessary and horribly offensive.



  5. #45
    Join Date
    Mar. 18, 2007
    Posts
    323

    Default Why I believed the grooms were illegal - long

    "CBoylen;2972675]..... It's almost impossible for a professional barn to pay on the level of a private barn, so that is where most of the help goes once they learn the ropes and enough english to present themselves well."

    For those that wonder why it seems Ms Boylen is treated with kid gloves, it's because she has had the good fortune, and no doubt smarts and savvy, to own the great mare Rox Dene, considered by the HJ world
    to be THE BEST hunter ever. To have seen her show was a great treat.

    This is the first post of CBoylen and I, too, thought she just was doing the $200 for a 24/7week Mexican immigrant thing that the BNT,LNT and the fellow down the road here in TX do. I guess they could be French Canadians or Germans, but we jump to the conclusions we've seen in our own environs. SCRbear11 wasn't displaying bigotry so much as seconding the standard of not hiring illegals of any type.

    The illegal immigrants that I have known working in the horse world were either treated very well or very badly, just depending on the barn. But both groups were intimidated by the thought of jail & the INS and put up with workplace and wage atrocities that were clearly in violation of the labor laws of Texas. This is a state that has no doubletime provisions, but even here workman's comp insurance is required. This dehumanization of employees is simply not ethical, right, or whatever makes your conscience twinge. I know guys who've been here for 10 years and one creepy trainer after another tells them they'll get them their green card. I don't know what the laws are, but it never seems to happen. Can you imagine risking your life and paying thousands of dollars to go home for the Holidays, knowing you might not be able to get back? Your family is counting on that $200/week to survive. These guys are really under a lot of pressure.

    Regarding the labor laws - they are the only protection anyone has from being treated "like a slave". You are entitled to x number of breaks, overtime pay, and while your employer may not have to pay health insurance, they are required to have workers comp to cover your doctor and hospital bills should you be injured on the job. Never been hurt by a "safe" horse? Stick around, you will be. This is another area trainers try to skimp on,which is crazy when you consider the liability. Most BNT and private barns are owned/run by people with a lot to lose. Makes you wonder if the grooms and "working students" who are too intimidated by their "bosses" to sue isn't a little convenient.

    It shouldn't be hard to keep good help. Lots of people love horses yet recognize their riding limitations, so are happy to groom. Treat them like humans (or your favorite horse!) pay their social security so they'll have at least something when they retire, and get it that "there but for the grace of God go I".



  6. #46
    Join Date
    Sep. 6, 2003
    Location
    WA, Land of the damp Thongpend
    Posts
    2,451

    Default Sorry you are wrong.

    Not every LEGAL employee in the US can speak English properly - I work in IT and we have a guy who is from China and a US citizen and I can BARELY understand him. He doesn't speak English at home. Just at work. He has been here for over TWENTY YEARS!!

    Oh and it's really much easier to get people an HB-1 visa than an agricultural one. However the people coming from India or where ever on HB-1 visas are hired by large companies for less money than they would pay a US citizen and don't have any skills that unemployed US citizens don't have, actually most of them lately are less skilled.



  7. #47
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2008
    Location
    Ojai, CA
    Posts
    110

    Default

    lazy comes in all colors and passports (or lack thereof). as does stupid. and unmotivated. and unreliable. and not to mention my favorite un-trust worthy. and lets just not even mention disloyal. good people are hard to find, when you find them, treat them to the respect, good pay and all the good fortune you can muster.



  8. #48
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2003
    Posts
    1,400

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by onlyleftsocks View Post
    lazy comes in all colors and passports (or lack thereof). as does stupid. and unmotivated. and unreliable. and not to mention my favorite un-trust worthy. and lets just not even mention disloyal. good people are hard to find, when you find them, treat them to the respect, good pay and all the good fortune you can muster.
    This is the best post in this thread. And it's concise!



  9. #49
    Join Date
    Apr. 11, 2006
    Posts
    329

    Default

    you might also add that it's not only important that the BO/BM be respectful but the clients as well - it should be made clear to customers to treat help with respect and dignity and to realize they are not slaves either - and the BO and BM should enforce this by making it clear that anyone who steps over that line is in danger of being banned from the barn.

    also think it's important to set-up a pathway of opportunity so that workers can see how staying with you equals greater opportunity and that as they invest in you you will invest in them - this can be anything from increased responisbility, i.e. movement to management, and/or additional benefits/pay to maybe even classes or a paid vacations or something

    finally, think it's also good if it's a show barn where there is incentive based on horses performance...i know one of the barns i rode at had a pool that all the owners contributed to where the horse who did the best got 50% of the pot, the groom who put forth the best effort that show (as voted by the trainer) got 25% and then 25% went to the groom who's horses had the best turn-out...there were usuall about 25 of us on the road so we would all put in 20, which was above what we tipped them but didn't exactly break the bank...i've also known some trainers to tip out there grooms is they win a class (this is more in the jumpers)....



  10. #50
    Join Date
    Sep. 2, 2007
    Posts
    23

    Default so did not

    read every message on this thread, but my 2 cents come down to this:

    treat your employees how you'd like to be treated if you were someone's employee.

    humanity is a religion.



  11. #51
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2008
    Location
    Ojai, CA
    Posts
    110

    Default

    case in pt- bad employer- think thermal hits last year.



  12. #52
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2006
    Posts
    2,954

    Default

    Speaking as someone working in the horse industry: It's not about the paycheck. Mostly. It's about having respect for your employees - not taking advantage of them - treating them like your family - and having a drama-free atmosphere. And health insurance. Nobody can afford independent/non-group health insurance & be able to pay any other bills on a minimum wage job - at least not in either of the states I have worked. I love my job most days - and it's not because I make a lot of money (though for the work I do I do very well) - but because the people are nice, they love their horses, and I am never taken for granted. They have bent over backwards for me and that means more to me than any paycheck.



  13. #53
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2004
    Location
    DFW
    Posts
    334

    Default

    Hidden Acres, since you are going to make sweeping generalizations about Texas farm owners and/or trainers, you may want to at least brush up on your Texas labor law facts.

    Worker's Comp insurance is, for the most part, VOLUNTARY in the state of Texas for private businesses.

    http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/pubs/fact...mployright.pdf

    So, you are wrong when you say that farm owners are required to carry worker's comp. insurance (and suggest that they are breaking the law by not doing so). Yes, it is a very good idea to have it...but it is VOLUNTARY.



    Quote Originally Posted by HiddenAcres View Post
    [

    But both groups were intimidated by the thought of jail & the INS and put up with workplace and wage atrocities that were clearly in violation of the labor laws of Texas. This is a state that has no doubletime provisions, but even here workman's comp insurance is required. This dehumanization of employees is simply not ethical, right, or whatever makes your conscience twinge. I know guys who've been here for 10 years and one creepy trainer after another tells them they'll get them their green card. I don't know what the laws are, but it never seems to happen. Can you imagine risking your life and paying thousands of dollars to go home for the Holidays, knowing you might not be able to get back? Your family is counting on that $200/week to survive. These guys are really under a lot of pressure.

    Regarding the labor laws - they are the only protection anyone has from being treated "like a slave". You are entitled to x number of breaks, overtime pay, and while your employer may not have to pay health insurance, they are required to have workers comp to cover your doctor and hospital bills should you be injured on the job. Never been hurt by a "safe" horse? Stick around, you will be. This is another area trainers try to skimp on,which is crazy when you consider the liability. Most BNT and private barns are owned/run by people with a lot to lose. Makes you wonder if the grooms and "working students" who are too intimidated by their "bosses" to sue isn't a little convenient.

    It shouldn't be hard to keep good help. Lots of people love horses yet recognize their riding limitations, so are happy to groom. Treat them like humans (or your favorite horse!) pay their social security so they'll have at least something when they retire, and get it that "there but for the grace of God go I".
    Last edited by Elmstead; Jan. 31, 2008 at 08:51 AM.



  14. #54
    Join Date
    Sep. 15, 2002
    Posts
    994

    Unhappy

    As a Canadian reading this (and similiar posts in the past on COTH) there is always a derogatory comment of one sort or another about "Mexicans" I don't understand the hostility towards these people and I don't wish this to turn to another discussion apart from the original posters thread but boy do you guys seem harsh and discriminatory.

    I assume that because of your proximity to the Mexican border you have lots of Mexican born people that work in the USA and good for them if they are hard working, experienced horse people. The comment from a recent poster about the "French Canadian" workers made me laugh too. Now I live in a province right beside Quebec and that is not a term I hear very often either. Was that meant as a derogatory comment too?

    Why can't everyone just keep to the topic without raising ones ethnicity all the time......just my thoughts as an "outsider" to the USA equestrian scene.



  15. #55
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 2007
    Posts
    265

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seal Harbor View Post
    Oh and it's really much easier to get people an HB-1 visa than an agricultural one. However the people coming from India or where ever on HB-1 visas are hired by large companies for less money than they would pay a US citizen and don't have any skills that unemployed US citizens don't have, actually most of them lately are less skilled.
    Well that's just not true!

    This past year the H1-B Visa available quota was completed out in less than 48hrs of the issuing day. Ag visas are still available for issuing.....



  16. #56
    Join Date
    Sep. 11, 2003
    Location
    Nuevo Mexico
    Posts
    4,253

    Default

    After reading this whole thread, I still wonder why I can't keep good help. I know that the people I've had here like it here: I pay very competitively, offer flexible schedules, have a great work environment including a heated/ac break room, offer the choice of pay raise or health insurance after 3 months (so far everyone who's stayed that long has chosen the raise), and have been told just about every time someone quits how much they enjoyed their time here...Heck, since I hurt myself, I even have lots of riding opportunities!

    While I can't compare with CBoylen's list of employee snafus, it's probably only a matter of time. I've had employees who've shown up drunk, whom I've had to bail out of jail, one who seemed to have at least one loose horse every time he cleaned stalls (of course none of these lasted too long which was fine). I'm willing to give just about anyone a chance, but IME there is a wide gap between the "good" ones I wish would stay forever and the "bad" ones who make me want to run this place singlehandedly. But almost without fail, the great help I've had moves on to jobs in IT, retail, marriage, somewhere they don't have to drive to get to, etc. What gives?



  17. #57
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2000
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,836

    Default

    But almost without fail, the great help I've had moves on to jobs in IT, retail, marriage, somewhere they don't have to drive to get to, etc. What gives?
    Most "barn help" jobs do not offer a lot in the way of room for advancement. An IT job does, plus most likely better pay and bennies.



  18. #58
    Join Date
    Jul. 15, 2005
    Location
    Cambridge Springs, PA
    Posts
    3,096

    Default

    Vandy - I think the big problem is that you just cannot live a good life off of a barn job (stablehand/groom, etc). It's pretty rare to be offered health insurance and the pay is just not great. Most people, I think, view these jobs are a stepping stone while they are trying to get where they want to go (those are the good help). Other people are irresponsible, or looking for under the table work, or desperate .. and those are the people that you have problems with sometimes.

    The big thing is, if the horse industry in general wants to keep good help then the good help needs to be better off financially than a McDonalds or Dunkin' Donuts worker. I mean you are talking about a skilled position requiring a ton of responsiblity that is also somewhat dangerous and extremely hard work out in all weather. People are not going to stay in that role long term when they can get easier jobs, or even easier jobs that pay better... especially if they are struggling to pay for a small apartment and a old car. Who is going to live like that forever? People are thinking about their futures. Even if you offer housing, whoopie... that makes the person even more dependent on you and they still can't be self-sufficient in the world. What happens if they stay with you from say 35 to 60 yrs old and can't do the job anymore. Where will they live then? It's a dead end lifestyle. There are plenty of people who love the work but cannot stay in that lifestyle forever and I think the biggest reason is that you don't make enough to retire on ever, can't afford to pay off a mortgage on even a modest home, don't generally get bennies, etc. That is what makes people leave the industry.

    Then you have lack of appreciate which is pretty common. I remember grooming for 6 - 8 riders at A hunter shows... 16 hr days all told and only 1 or 2 would tip me $10 or so and the boss paid $50 for the day. And this is a pretty highly reputed barn... they actually had a magazine article done on them and how great a place it is within the last year. I was dog tired at the end of the day and you know what I generally got for my efforts? Bitched at by owners who thought I should be able to read their minds or follow vague instructions about when to get the horse to the ring. In fact, the only person I remember with fondness was a young trainer from another barn who would do the morning schoolings for my barn, she was easy going, appreciate and nice. I often thought maybe I should go work for her!

    Another example was that a girl who worked at a barn I managed was a very responsible, hard worker. Someone you could count on in a pinch and knew the job would be done right when she was doing it. The owner of the facility gave her the responsibility of managing the barn on weekends when we were away. She did great. But she was always introduced as "the part time barn help" to new customers. I know it hurt her and she told me how upset she was. She had taken on more responsibility and work with NO pay increase and felt it was not even appreciated. When I introduced her to people I referred to her as "the weekend barn manager" ... really made a difference to her. And people knew to go to her on weekends if they had concerns. I also did little things like, if there was a buy one get one half off on polos or something like that... I'd get the second set and give them to her. It doesn't take much to make people feel like they are PART of things and appreciated.
    www.hogbackhillfarm.com



  19. #59
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2003
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,966

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vandy View Post
    But almost without fail, the great help I've had moves on to jobs in IT, retail, marriage, somewhere they don't have to drive to get to, etc. What gives?
    Well, speaking as reliable help who is moving on to a different career (after seven years at the same barn), I can tell you my perspective.

    Reasons I've stayed:

    1. My boss is awesome. She is really great, and has created an excellent work environment.
    2. Learning environment. The BO is an amazing trainer, and I had the opportunity to ride in clinics and lessons free of charge. I can say with confidence that I've learned things and seen things at this barn that I could not have learned or seen anywhere else in the area. I've had the opportunity to learn from some of the most skilled trainers in their fields.
    3. Discounted board for my horse.
    4. Variety of tasks to do. It's not always the same drudgery -- sometimes we get different drudgery.
    5. I love horses and I like working with my hands and doing manual labor. It's great exercise and good for the soul.

    Reasons I'm leaving:

    1. Pay. My barn pays a fair wage, but I have goals I can't meet with this level of pay.
    2. The work is hard on your body, and an injury or disability could easily take you off the job permanently.
    3. I've realized that I'd rather have horses as a hobby than a full-time job.
    4. The BO is getting older and is not in the best of health, so the barn atmosphere has stagnated somewhat. We haven't had a clinic in a year, BO no longer teaches lessons, etc. No one is stepping in to fill this void, so the barn (collectively) is not progressing as much.
    5. I want a job where my hours (and paycheck) don't depend on the seasons or the weather.



  20. #60
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2006
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    88

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by scrbear11 View Post
    It sounds like you hired a bunch of mexicans... Honestly- What did you expect from people who barely speak english and are illegal?!
    Oh man, I don't even know where to start with this... By reading a list of silly and/or criminal anecdotes you assume the people referenced in those stories are Mexican??



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