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Barn Manager Salary

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  • Barn Manager Salary

    What is the salary range for an experienced barn manager (F/T, 5 days a week, no stalls) at a high end show facility (30-50 stalls)? Do you provide health insurance? Paid vacations? Paid holidays? Housing? Other perks?

  • #2
    Full time farm managers only work 5 days a week? Maybe I've been in the racing world for too long and I need a reality check.


    • #3
      You're kidding, right?


      • Original Poster

        Nope, I only work 5 days a week, so I don't expect someone working for me to work 6. Horses are 24 x 7 as it is, without planning to work 6 days a week. Everyone complains it's so hard to get good help in the horse business, but between the low wages and the hours it burns so many good people out and they "get a real job". One of the better run barns I know doesn't pay crazy money, but they only have people work 5 days a week, AND they offer health insurance. They keep people forever.


        • #5
          I've decided that how much someone is willing to pay for good help is directly proportionate to how dedicated and long lasting said someone wants help to be.

          I make $300 a week (so $1200-$1500 a month) plus one stall (I provide grain and shavings) and a small, not very well insulated apartment.

          I work 7 days a week, have no vacation (paid or otherwise) or insurance. Now, I only work 5-6 hours a day (I pretty much flat out refuse to work more then 6 hours a day, once everything pressing is done, since I work 7 days a week).

          I am responsible for cleaning stalls, re-sanding stalls (all horses are on sand), feeding, scheduling and being here for farrier appointments, keeping all buckets (feed or water) clean, keeping all horses groomed and manes/tails detangled, and all the millions of other things that go with running a boarding barn. I'm also expected to answer the phone whenever my boss calls no matter what time it is. (Seriously, I've been lectured for not answering the phone at 10:30 pm when I was in my bed ASLEEP.) If I'm going to be gone for more then a couple of hours I'm supposed to call boss and tell them this.

          I'm burned out and ready to quit horses completly.

          So, if you are the one wanting to pay someone to manage your barn, you have to decide how much it's worth to you.
          Do no harm but take no s***
          Owned by Good Lil Train since 2014


          • #6
            Assuming that they are supervising a few stall cleaners and maybe a working student or two and are not responsible for doing the financials then I'd say $35-45K to start for someone DOE and any other perks like flexible hours, vehicle or housing. I live in a fairly expensive area, I'd imagine you'd be competitive offering in the low to mid 30s in many parts of the country for a basic BM position. A higher salary would be appropriate where the manager is supervising a large staff, handling breeding stock or rehabs, has sole oversight of the property, or is doing the bookkeeping too.

            I once worked at a barn where I had the opportunity to ride a horse or two and earn commission on sales or to teach lessons. Those are ways to keep someone if you can't afford a competitive salary.


            • #7
              It isn't a matter of how much an employer is "willing to pay" when you're talking about a commerical barn. I guess if you work for an individual, it's a matter of how much they want to part with. It's how much money is in the budget to pay salaries. You realize, of course, that it is reflected in the boarding rate. Hay, grain, bedding, utilities, rent, repairs, insurance, staff to manage, staff to muck, staff to mow, enough staff to offer days off.

              I can't imagine a BM that would work 5 days per week unless it involved simply organization, bookkeeping, ordering and some staff supervision. There would still need to be money in the budget to pay for all feeding, mucking, and eyes-on supervision of the care of the horses. Most BMs are expected to be responsible for handling emergencies and interacting with clients. Horses colic after hours and on holidays and weekends. Clients come to the barn after work and on weekends. They want to see the manager to discuss their horse's needs.

              I once had my clients' horses boarded at a place that had such a BM. She had decent business experience, but really had no clue about how a barn should run. She made a nice salary and got free board on a horse. She worked M-F "normal" hours. During our stay there, hay ran out on the weekend, emergencies occurred with no one experienced to deal with them. Very expensive board, but the care was poor. She was more of a "business manager". Needless to say, this "business" went kaput, because they ran out of money.


              • #8
                Originally posted by silver2 View Post
                ...then I'd say $35-45K to start for someone DOE and any other perks like flexible hours, vehicle or housing...

                (Sorry...I just couldn't contain myself. Oh how I WISH this was possible!!!!)
                Whoever said money can't buy happiness never owned a horse.


                • #9
                  We need to remember that we are competing with other business.
                  You need to pay what someone else would pay them working in any one other kind of office, at least, to get them to stay.

                  Many stables use slave labor, people that will do anything to work there, for whatever is given to them.
                  That is how I started working in the horse industry, but eventually most people realize that they have to be able to have some other life, more than 24/7 the stable and horses.

                  As long as there are slaves around to do it for the glory of being around horses, you can name your price, if you find those people.
                  If we are honest employers, we will see that all are paid a decent wage and don't let them work into burnout.

                  Around here, salaries for agricultural labor are set by the larger cattle feedlots.
                  There are hundreds of them, this area and dry, moderate climate is ideal for that.
                  Most of those feedlots are part of some larger business and have fair salaries, good health plans, bonuses according to how the cattle under their care perform, pensions, stocks and their dividends in the company for those employees that stay there for so long.
                  Everyone else tries to set salaries according to those and what they can afford, although few can match the salaries and perks of the bigger business.

                  I wonder if you could ask some of the better barns in your area and then go by that?

                  As someone said, the area you are may make a big difference in what salary is fair, for someone living there.


                  • #10
                    OMG 5 days a week!!! are you hiring??? I would trade good money for 5 day work weeks especially with health insurance as well!!!


                    • #11
                      It depends on what the job entails and how long and loyal you wish to keep your staff members. It's possible to have a barn manager that works 5 days a week: if said manager is both extremely well organized and has a good, responsible support staff and is available via phone.

                      A lot of barns seem to think that a barn manager is slave labor - $300 a WEEK? Tell me they're including housing in that, because around here, earning $15,600 per year before taxes wouldn't buy you even a room in someone's house to rent, much less food.

                      Any job needs to make for a decent quality of life if they want to keep a happy staff. Believe me, there are plenty of jobs out there that do this, and "the pleasure of working with horses" doesn't buy food, healthcare, or pay the bills.
                      They're small hearts.


                      • #12
                        And those that board their horses need to be willing to pay for the quality of care that they desire.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Trixie View Post
                          It depends on what the job entails and how long and loyal you wish to keep your staff members. It's possible to have a barn manager that works 5 days a week: if said manager is both extremely well organized and has a good, responsible support staff and is available via phone.

                          A lot of barns seem to think that a barn manager is slave labor - $300 a WEEK? Tell me they're including housing in that, because around here, earning $15,600 per year before taxes wouldn't buy you even a room in someone's house to rent, much less food.

                          Any job needs to make for a decent quality of life if they want to keep a happy staff. Believe me, there are plenty of jobs out there that do this, and "the pleasure of working with horses" doesn't buy food, healthcare, or pay the bills.
                          It includes very crappy housing. Not insulated, so it's extremely cold in the winter and hotter then hell in the summer, despite space heaters and window A/C units.
                          Do no harm but take no s***
                          Owned by Good Lil Train since 2014


                          • #14
                            These threads always pi$$ me off. I am appalled at the wages that continue to be paid in the horse industry. Owning and riding horses is one of the most expensive hobbies around. People that can afford to own their own horse(s) make an average household income exceeding 110K a year I read not too long ago. Yet the people that take care of our horses, teach, etc, get paid, quite literally, food stamp wages to manage a barn!

                            It’s usually NOT because the barn operates on a shoestring budget but because barn owners exploit the love people have for horses. I’ve seen it too many times and a long time ago was a “victim” my self (this was 15 yrs ago and wages haven’t gone up since then!). You learn to ride at the barn, become a barn rat, ride well, maybe get your own horse, want to help out with the other horses in the barn, get to exercise other peoples horses for free (you think it’s a great deal at the time and so does the BO. He/She charges the customer for having his/her horse worked but does not pass on some of the money to pay for your time) then start to do other duties and eventually you have reached the age where you get paid for your work. But since, at one time, you were doing all this work for free in exchange for free lessons, free boarding (which your parents think is a great deal), exercising other horses, etc, the barn owner knows that any money he/she pays you is to you a bonus. That’s how wages are kept low. And when you finally burn out, there is a whole new generation of girls and guy’s ready to take your spot and also work for next to nothing.

                            If you think about it, these jobs are really the lowest of the lowest jobs out there on par with being an apple picker... True poverty jobs that require you to work physically hard and long hours usually 6 to 7 day’s per week. No insurance, no retirement, no sick time, no time for your self. It’s cut throat as well. When you realize that you’re being exploited and ask for raises, benefits, etc, there are a slew of other boy’s and girls ready to take over your job for nothing and the BO knows this.

                            I highly respect those of you that do this for a living. I understand your love for horses and working with them. I've been there (long ago) and done that.

                            It is a vicious cycle that can only be stopped if everyone involved refuses to work for free. If you don’t, you’ll never make dime. Form a professional association! But I know that's unfortunately never going to happen.


                            • #15
                              I don't know if things are quite as bleak as HookedonReefing pictures them, but I can't quite imagine how a barn owner would pay a "good" salary with benefits. The better (more famous) race horse trainers are able to pay a little better than the sport horse barns but the race trainers are charging $85 - $100 a day & losing money even at that (& still can't afford to offer much in the way of benefits - if any at all).

                              I know how much hay, grain, straw, mortgage interest, insurance & other stuff costs. By the time those are paid, there's nothing left from board income to pay staff.


                              • #16
                                HookedOnReefing: I am a barn owner, and I began to type a thoughtful, informative response to your VERY cynical and ignorant post. Then I decided you're just not worth the time and effort. I can only hope that someday you get to try to run a business as tough as running a barn, keeping those horses entrusted to you well-cared for, keeping the facility in excellent shape, keeping the rings groomed, the fences repaired, the hay loft full, paying the IRS on time, and keeping ALL of the employees and clients (and your spouse) happy. And doing this while still maintaining your OWN sanity and keeping your OWN love for horses alive and well...pretty much for ZERO dollars. Good luck, with your attitude.
                                Whoever said money can't buy happiness never owned a horse.


                                • #17
                                  Island Girl, you're my hero....


                                  • #18
                                    Islandgirl, you are VERY wrong to assume that I don't know what it takes to run a business. I still do...

                                    While my post is cynical, it unfortunately is reality for all but the largest barns. It's by no means ignorant. Look at it from the perspective of the employee, then you might understand. You are reading my post while wearing the barn owners hat. But what about the employee who makes 18K gross or less and no benefits?

                                    I understand your perspective, I realy do I've been on both sides of the fence. But don't tell me or say my post is ignorant, cynical yes, but not at all untrue.
                                    Last edited by HookedOnReefing; Feb. 2, 2009, 08:42 PM.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Jsalem View Post
                                      And those that board their horses need to be willing to pay for the quality of care that they desire.
                                      I'll second that. I'll also add they need to be willing to pay enough in board to allow barn owner's to pay decent wages.
                                      Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
                                      Paradigm Farms on Facebook


                                      • #20
                                        If you want to employ monkeys, then you pay peanuts!

                                        If you want good staff to provide a good service and be loyal and dependable then you reward them well.

                                        Mine has a degree in Equine Science and is a BHS AI. And she works a 5 day week but weekends included. It's a very rare treat that there's not weekends involved. She's flexible though and very reliable. If we're very busy she'll work longer and swaps days off when necessary with other staff. The way we work it is that all staff are paid Annualised Hours whereby they get the same amount of money each week no matter whether they works 60 hours or 30 hours. And the hours do vary at different times of the year and with long days in the summer and very short days during the winter months. On average though it's a 40 hour week.

                                        I pay mine the equivalent of just over $37,000. The senior member of staff also gets a cottage and phone and broad band connection funded and then free upkeep for her 2 horses. Also gets all workwear for free and lunches are provided at work. Her competition expenses are all paid for and she gets a % of any winnings.