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I am thinking of firing my barn help ... advice?

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  • I am thinking of firing my barn help ... advice?

    So, we have this employee whose job is to do the errands around the farm, feeding, cleaning, fixing what breaks, and the like. Not onerous tasks by any means. He is responsible for only 6 broodmares. He's been with us for about 3 months. He's a bit clutzy, a couple mares got out because he left gates open (thankful for our perimeter fence!), the water tank has been dry a couple times that I've personally discovered, a number of tools have been broken - he just a bit careless. Recently, the paddocks have not been cleaned in a couple weeks and with 6 horses pooping, that's a big mess. This week's severe cold snap makes it too cold to be out there, so it will have to wait now until the weather breaks. He's been late a few times as well - one time showing up at 10:30 - The work day is 8 AM to 5 PM, 5 days a week. Now we're wondering about the reliability with the feeding.

    Our feeding plan is very simple. A total of 3 whole bales are fed to those 6 mares spread out in 3 feeds through the day, starting at 8 AM (so 1 bale per feed). With the last feed at 5 PM, they get their wet mash/pellets. There is a chart in the grain room as to who gets what mash, although they're all pretty similar so it's not complicated.

    We've been noticing cut partial bales over the last week or so. There should not be any partials, so made a note to ask him about it. Walked over to the paddocks to say hello to the girls, and the water tank is bone dry. Now, I'm really frowning. Fill the tub, everyone drank, heaters were still working. Gates were locked, all were tucked in for the night. Fine.

    DH asks him about the cut bales, 3 times asking direct questions, getting vague replies of something like, "using up what was left over". Wanted to know if bales had been found moldy as a possible explanation, but he said no. I quickly summed up exactly what I thought was going on - specifically, the mares were not getting the specified hay and were, in fact, getting signifciantly less. Furthermore, it had been the case for at least a week or longer? To which he finally admitted that yes, this was the case.

    Okay, so in mild weather this may not be a big deal, but when you have pregnant WB mares in varying stages of pregnancy, with the added bonus of plunging temperatures that are very cold at -25, inadequate roughage calories becomes a big deal. On top of this leaving a tank dry is asking for colic and pregnancy losses. Horses need to eat to stay warm and they won't eat if they're thirsty. So, I'm very annoyed by this point.

    I spelled it out for him - I want 3 bales fed each day. WHOLE BALES. 8 AM, 1 bale. 12:30 PM, 1 bale. 5 PM, 1 bale. (I mean, this is simple stuff??). The water tank MUST be filled EACH AM. Feed their mash at 5 PM before you go. Clear?

    He's off work now until December 27th for Christmas, but I have to admit, I'm considering letting him go. Mares are approaching important nutritional stages of their pregnancies and I need someone I can trust feeding them.

    Thoughts? Would you let this person go? Re-do the barn chores/routine training? (He's been here for 3 months.) Hope for improvement?

    In February I have to leave for 1 week trip due to work, and DH will be gone up north for several months. This employee will be alone with my horses ...
    Practice! Patience! Persistence!
    http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

  • #2
    Yes, I would fire him now. If he's that negligent and untrustworthy with you at home and able to oversee as needed......lord only knows what he'd neglect when you're gone.
    In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.—Thomas Sowell, Is Thinking Obsolete?

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    • #3
      I would let him go. If that was my horses he was neglecting (and it truly is neglect) I would have let him go already.
      Is he a horse person, or just some guy looking to make a buck?

      Comment


      • #4
        My question...What's taking you so long to decide???? This person is NOT doing his job!! Maybe stealing some of the hay?? And I would not tolerate two occassions of MY horses left without water. There is no way I would leave him alone and hope my horses were getting the proper feed and care while I was absent. He has already proven to be reliable...to FAIL to do the job!! End of discussion!! You can hardly find someone WORSE than this guy!!! "Hit the road Jack!!"
        www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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        • #5
          The way the economy is, you won't have too much of a hard time finding someone to fill his spot.

          Actually, you have been a lot more patient then I would be in your situation. If someone works for you that person needs to do as you say, not just *decide* what to feed. That and the water situation would be instant deal breakers for me. He would be out that same day.

          Best of luck with your situation
          www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Well, sometimes I can be a firecracker and a bit perfectionistically demanding when it comes to my mares, so I was trying to take a step back and breathe...

            He started out good, apart from being clutzy, but he's been slipping this month for sure. I'd pretty much decided he needs to go, but for some strange reason, I felt like I needed confirmation that I wasn't being too harsh! What can I say...

            He actually is a horse-person and has a couple horses of his own. So, I try not to think about their care....(maybe he boards).
            Practice! Patience! Persistence!
            http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
            https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

            Comment


            • #7
              I'd let him go. Your feed schedule is very straight forward. I'd worry that anyone who couldn't remember to drop a bale am, lunch, and pm would eventually make a mistake that could jeopardize the safety of one of your girls.

              Comment


              • #8
                Unless you're sitting on him all day long, he's making more mistakes than you're catching. And when you question him about it, he's not taking ownership of the mistake, so he's not learning from his mistakes and fixing them. So that means it's worse than you realize and there's really no chance it's going to get better. Because he's dealing with animals, you're not going to get much of a warning, if any, before a horse gets hurt or sick. What you've witnessed is really your warning.

                Now, in business if the person has been with us long enough, I like to give a verbal warning, written warning, then fire. That said, with a new employee that just doesn't, better to cut your losses quickly before anybody wastes too much time.
                Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

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                • #9
                  Well, sometimes I can be a firecracker and a bit perfectionistically demanding when it comes to my mares, so I was trying to take a step back and breathe...
                  I'm the same, so I can definitely relate. Hope you have better luck next time, and find someone suitable soon.
                  www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by ako View Post
                    Unless you're sitting on him all day long, he's making more mistakes than you're catching. And when you question him about it, he's not taking ownership of the mistake, so he's not learning from his mistakes and fixing them. So that means it's worse than you realize and there's really no chance it's going to get better.
                    Very good point. Well said.
                    Practice! Patience! Persistence!
                    http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
                    https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, sometimes I can be a firecracker and a bit perfectionistically demanding when it comes to my mares, so I was trying to take a step back and breathe...
                      I'm the same, so I can definitely relate. Hope you have better luck next time, and find someone suitable soon.
                      www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rodawn View Post
                        Well, sometimes I can be a firecracker and a bit perfectionistically demanding when it comes to my mares, so I was trying to take a step back ...
                        I'd pretty much decided he needs to go, but for some strange reason, I felt like I needed confirmation that I wasn't being too harsh! .
                        Get over it. Really. You're probably putting more effort into making it work than he is. Been there. And when I got to the point where I ended up pulling the trigger and firing any individual causing me that much grief, it was always a huge relief! And every time - without fail - my team was ultimately happier. I just learned that if you get to the point where you think someone has to go, you have to trust that. It's easy to be too nice and try too hard to make it work. But that's not going to fix it.
                        Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SCMSL View Post
                          The way the economy is, you won't have too much of a hard time finding someone to fill his spot.

                          One would think, wouldn't they? Actually it is quite difficult to find people who want to do manual labor jobs, who are reliable, intelligent enough and physically capable enough for the demands of the position, don't steal, drink or do drugs, don't cause drama, and don't think they know a better way of doing things than the way they are being told to do them. Very, very hard to find good people for manual labor jobs.

                          So, OP, before you fire guy weigh the trouble you know versus the trouble you don't. I would have a sit down meeting, you and your husband and employee, outline your concerns, make it clear that if expectations aren't met he will be terminated, and in the mean time start interviewing new candidates.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think he should be let go. He's neglecting your horses, and putting them at risk for problems. There should be zero hesitation on it.

                            I hope I don't come across as a jerk, but some of this is on you too as the boss. If he hasn't picked the paddocks in two weeks, why has it gone that long unnoticed? There's no doubt in my mind that you're missing a lot more of his messups. Who knows how often he comes in on time, or skips out early, or takes a super long lunch.

                            How is it easier to feed a partial bale instead of a whole one? I don't see his logic in that choice, unless he was thinking you were overfeeding and that he knew better?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Lots of people skimp on hay when they shouldn't but that is to save money. No reason not to do exactly what you say when it's on your dime. I used to have employees complain that I used too much bedding. Same thing, I am paying for it, give them the bedding.
                              McDowell Racing Stables

                              Home Away From Home

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                first time I found a dry water trough he would have been let go. messy I can coach you into success, neglectful in a way that puts my animals in danger I have zero tolerance for.
                                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by DancingArabian View Post
                                  I hope I don't come across as a jerk, but some of this is on you too as the boss. If he hasn't picked the paddocks in two weeks, why has it gone that long unnoticed? There's no doubt in my mind that you're missing a lot more of his messups. Who knows how often he comes in on time, or skips out early, or takes a super long lunch.

                                  How is it easier to feed a partial bale instead of a whole one? I don't see his logic in that choice, unless he was thinking you were overfeeding and that he knew better?

                                  Valid points - due to new systems being installed I have been needing to travel a LOT for my job, which is why we hired a fellow in the first place. Normally, I'm able to work 100% out of my home and we don't need a fellow. During the winter, DH is away for weeks at a time due to his job in the far north. My job is going quiet for now until mid February, so I'll be home and able to get things back on track and a new person hired, but I'm concerned - there are also some valid points about finding someone who really is reliable.

                                  Interestingly, my mares have not lost any weight and my 18HH big hard keeper is the first to tell me when the calories are missing. Instead, all are plump, so that makes me think he is actually feeding as required, but is instead stealing hay and thought it better to admit to the lesser charge of "missing" hay feeds. Hay stack is too big to do a count, so it's hard to tell how much is really missing. Maybe he needs the hay for his own horses. If that's the case, I would have rathered he discuss it with me. I would have been willing to provide free board for up to 2 horses as a part of a benefits package. Not being honest means this opportunity is lost for him. Sad. Bad economics make people do strange things they normally might not have done. It grieves me to fire someone right at Christmas, but my horses are my first priority. Thanks all, for your support!
                                  Practice! Patience! Persistence!
                                  http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
                                  https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    So.gone.
                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    ---
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Does he seem like he WANTS to do better? Does he need a checklist to help remind him?

                                      I mean, the guy shows up--that's more than some will do. So not making any excuse for no water or stealing hay or whatnot...but if you think he might be teachable, manageable...I'd try.

                                      You gave him a talk. See what he can do while you look for someone else I suppose.

                                      But maybe a more concise list would help. Some people really need that in order to get in a habit.
                                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I am 100% sure LMEqT could do his job correctly. She is 9.
                                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                        ---
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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