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Night Check Question

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  • Night Check Question

    We are hiring a new person to help out on the farm and have a question about what others require for night check. We have a 7 stall barn and the worker will live about 30 yards from the barn. In the past, we have required that they pick the stalls (this makes for less work the next morning), throw a flake of hay, top off water and blanket if needed. The horses are used to this happening between 7:30 and 8 p.m. each night and it takes about 30 mins. to do if one gets after it.

    My question is whether this is excessive or overly anal? Is a simple walk through to make sure nobody has colic the norm? All comments welcome as we are really wondering if we are asking too much or whether our concern for the welfare of our horses justifies this much attention. Thanks.

  • #2
    I do night check a couple times a week at a boarding stable where there are 12 horses. Night check chores are: feed night check grain (only a couple skinnies get this), toss a flake of hay to each horse, check water & top off if necessary, alter blanketing if needed. Sometimes I'll have to make up AM grain if the afternoon person didn't do so. In the process, it's expected that I will notice if any is out of the ordinary.

    I don't think what you're expecting is asking too much. All of the above chores only take 15-20 minutes for 12 horses and picking stalls wouldn't add much more time. I think that's a reasonable roster of chores.
    "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

    Comment


    • #3
      As long as you are paying, I don't see why it matters what you have them do. Yours is most definitely a reasonable request.

      If I scoop existing poop at a night check it definitely makes cleaning easier the next morning. Of course I keep my horses at home so it all falls on me.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have no employee but at night check (between 9 and 10 pm), we muck the stalls, give hay for the night, fill up water and monitor blankets and pregnant mares. We also go see the ones that lives 24/7 outside, to be sure fences are ok and everybody are fine. Takes about 20-30 mins, we have 3 in at night and 2 outside.

        I don't think you ask too much. If it's paid time.
        Les Écuries d'Automne, Québec, Canada
        Visit EdA's Facebook page!

        Comment


        • #5
          I have 11 stalls and go out every night around 10 pm (that's still 8 hours from breakfast!)........That is a proper "night check" IMO...........top waters, turn off lights, pick (lightly) stalls and throw the last hay........
          www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428

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          • #6
            Where we board there are about 30 horses (give or take those that leave for Florida). Night check is hay, water, grain for hard keepers and pick stalls.

            Being one of the last boarders up most nights (and with the snowy weather conditions as they have been), I have often times stepped in to help out. Takes me about 45 min to an hour to do the above and I'm not rushing through by any means.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks all for the validation. For the worker, the time is paid. When I do it, it is my favorite time in the barn. It's quiet, everyone is relaxed, lots of nickering going on, etc. It just seems to be a few minutes during the day when there is no drama - just personal time when all is good in the world. That said, after dinner and a couple of glasses of wine when the wind is blowing, the rain is coming down by the bucket full and the north wind is howling, I'm not so romantic about the whole thing. :-)

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              • #8
                When I do it, it is my favorite time in the barn. It's quiet, everyone is relaxed, lots of nickering going on, etc. It just seems to be a few minutes during the day when there is no drama - just personal time when all is good in the world.
                Cannot agree more. It's like if time has stopped, and it's a real quiet moment in (my going too fast) life.

                That said, after dinner and a couple of glasses of wine when the wind is blowing, the rain is coming down by the bucket full and the north wind is howling, I'm not so romantic about the whole thing.
                Bahaha. Yup... Until you actually are in the barn, doors closed. Then you are back to first part of your post.
                Les Écuries d'Automne, Québec, Canada
                Visit EdA's Facebook page!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I do night check three nights a week.
                  Throw hay, top off water, grain for a few, check everyone for 4 legs, fix blankets.
                  I love the quiet and the horse appreciation and it covers my ring use fee.
                  The only part I hate is opening and closing the perimeter gate in bad weather!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think if you are hiring then it is your prerogative to decide what you want done at night check.

                    While I don't see anything wrong with wanting stalls picked at night check, I personally try to only ask employees to do necessary tasks during late/early hours. For example, checking/medicating/feeding layups, checking mares/foals, etc. I do eyeball water buckets and hay, but only top off if needed. I try to plan that all the necessary work gets done at the evening feed, and then keep night check as efficient as possible. If a horse needs more hay or water I try to go ahead and just give that at the evening feed. Most of my employees work during the day, too, so if I have an employee working at night I want them to finish in a reasonable amount of time. I don't want my employees to get burned out, and I want the work schedule to be compatible with a reasonable lifestyle. If you have working students or shorter term help, or a worker that specifically covers night time hours this may be less of an issue.

                    Also, usually whoever does night check is usually working alone, so for safety reasons I also prefer to keep things simple. I don't really want anyone fiddling with the blankets on the cranky mare who kicks in the middle of the night.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have 3 at home, and I do all the chores. Mine are out all day and in at night. Night check for me is between 9 and 10 pm. I make sure everyone is ok, toss some hay in, pick stalls and prep the morning feed. DH sometimes comes with me and tops off water, fusses over them, and feeds treats while I work. It takes me about 20 minutes, including rinsing out feed buckets from the pm feed.

                      I would expect night check to be done, at a minimum to check well-being of all critters, hay and water. At my house that would take maybe 5-7 minutes.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Night check is generally between 8:00-8:30 pm. I also pick stalls, throw hay, prepare a.m. feed, top water, adjust blankets. Then sit in the aisle with a cup of coffee. In spring, summer & fall, I may have a second cup while checking email on phone. In winter, not so much..
                        HorsePower! www.tcgequine.blogspot.com

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                        • #13
                          IMO it is excessive and as someone in an employee position if I went to a job interview and duties included doing 30 minutes of chores every night before I went to bed I would lose interest in the job. What time do you expect your employees to start in the morning? How many days off a week do they get? Would they be doing night check every night, every night that they worked, every other night or what?

                          When you are an employee who lives on site it is very easy to get into a situtation where you feel like you are being overworked and taken advantage of, that you have no personal or free time and because you live at work you are expected to always be working or on call. If you want to avoid employee burnout and high turnover be mindful of how often in a day (even if it is not many hours) you expect your employee to work. If I am expected to work 6 days a week, feed and do stalls and turnouts in the morning, feed and bring horses in in the afternoon, and then come back and do a lengthy night check even though I might have only worked a total of 6 hours that day (or whatever, but less than a full time shift) it feels like I have been working all day and haven't had any time to myself.

                          I work full time at the barn I currently work for (6:30 am-3:30 pm 6 days a week) and train horses and gives lessons. The owners do night check unless they are out of town I occasionally do it (less than once a month) and night check is topping off water buckets and performing a visual check, plus letting their dogs out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Good to get the POV of an employee.

                            As another owner who has horses at home, night check is an essential part of my horse routine and my favorite one.

                            I would guess that all owners feel that night check chores are minimal, take no time and are very important. While from a barn worker's perspective, night chores would be viewed as an interruption to their evening off and are unnecessary, frivolous, and due only to nit picky BOs.

                            Isn't that always the way though when trying to find really good barn help; we want them to do it the way we do and 99.9% of the time that just ain't gonna happen. I usually go for some type of middle ground and never expect my barn help to do as good a job as I do.

                            I think the OPs night chores are very reasonable but the employee might not.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by florida foxhunter View Post
                              I have 11 stalls and go out every night around 10 pm (that's still 8 hours from breakfast!)........That is a proper "night check" IMO...........top waters, turn off lights, pick (lightly) stalls and throw the last hay........
                              We do final night check between 10 and 11 p.m. which is especially important in upstate NY at this time of year. Top off water, throw hay, pick stalls, pet/feed barn cats...
                              JB-Infinity Farm
                              www.infinitehorses.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The last night check at my farm is between 9:30-10:30 PM. I heat another bucket of water if necessary, pick up manure and any recent pee spots. I give anywhere from 1-3 flakes of hay, depending on size of the flake and the amount of hay left in their stalls. I've already done a 7:30 PM check with manure pickup, additional warm water and hay if they need more from their 5 PM dinner. Their stalls open to individual sacrifice paddocks so depending on the weather, I may shut the stalls any time from their 5 PM dinner to the last night check if it's pouring, snowing in the stalls with an east wind, or even really strong winds, like 50+ mph.

                                Warm water given generally from mid November through March.
                                Sue

                                I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Cluck View Post
                                  Isn't that always the way though when trying to find really good barn help; we want them to do it the way we do and 99.9% of the time that just ain't gonna happen. I usually go for some type of middle ground and never expect my barn help to do as good a job as I do.
                                  Not to pick on you, but I'm not sure that is a fair way to put it. I have employees that work very hard to do things exactly the way I want--or better. But a job is a job, and barn work is not a particularly well paid job either. Horses may be a passion of mine and hanging out at the barn may be fun for me and my clients, but to my employees it is a job and it isn't fair to expect them to sacrifice above and beyond what they are paid for to support someone else's luxury pastime.

                                  For those of you that work at non-horse jobs, what would your employer have to pay you to put your work clothes back on, go out of your house and put in 30 minutes to an hour of work every night just before bed?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    What are their other scheduled chores? Does a 6 am barn feed and turn out go with this?
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
                                      Not to pick on you, but I'm not sure that is a fair way to put it. I have employees that work very hard to do things exactly the way I want--or better. But a job is a job, and barn work is not a particularly well paid job either. Horses may be a passion of mine and hanging out at the barn may be fun for me and my clients, but to my employees it is a job and it isn't fair to expect them to sacrifice above and beyond what they are paid for to support someone else's luxury pastime.

                                      For those of you that work at non-horse jobs, what would your employer have to pay you to put your work clothes back on, go out of your house and put in 30 minutes to an hour of work every night just before bed?
                                      I actually pay pretty well for my barn work at $15/hour. Like I said I usually look for a middle ground between how I do the work and what I expect from my barn help. I probably could have worded what I said more prettily but it was quite fair I think.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I think it should be whatever you want it to be, as long as you are clear with the employee. If the employee doesn't think it's reasonable, they shouldn't have taken the job. I'm off to do one of my two nights per week of night check at my horse's barn (15 horses); this means driving 20 minutes through the cold and tonight's light snow, and giving everyone hay and checking for/replacing frozen water. For this I am paid at the rate of..... zero. We had to kind of push to get a night check at my barn at all (the BM lives offsite, and the property owners are not horsepeople), just so we could have peace of mind that no one's horse was going without hay and water between finishing up the supper served at around 4pm and breakfast the next morning at 7 or 8am. The BM and several boarders each take a few nights, but the boarders who do night check don't get any break on board. It's worth it to know that my horse has hay and water, but some nights.....

                                        I sure as poop am not wiling to pick stalls at night check, but again, I'm not getting paid. If you are paying the person, you get to call all the shots, as long as you are clear up front about what they are. If isn't a matter of whether or not the employee enjoys hanging out at the barn at night or not. It's a matter of them complying with your job description.

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