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Talk to me about your barn's staff

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  • #21
    When I boarded, there were 12 horses in the main barn and another 5 in the owner's private/separate barn. Three full time workers who did stalls, feed, turnout and property maintenance. The senior groom looked after the owner's horses and also groomed and tacked for their rides. He got $80/day plus housing, the use of the farm truck and pretty frequent bonuses. The other two guys made $55/day plus housing. Each guy worked six days a week at home. The senior guy also went on the road when the owner's horses showed, and presumably made more per day.

    At my small private barn, I currently have just 4 horses. My groom works six days a week, mornings only. She feeds, does the stalls, does a light grooming and turns the horses out. She makes $50/day and gets 2 weeks paid vacation.
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina

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    • #22
      It’s me. I’m the barn staff! Jokes aside my in-laws water my horses and make sure they are still inside the premises and aren’t 3 legged.

      Back in the day (a few years ago) we had 2 workers, who worked 6 or 7 til 5. Mucked stalls 2x a day. Fed 3x. One was the more regular horse handler/groom. Other did all the arena dragging, farm maintenance, odd other tasks. They worked 6 days a week. Head of horses varied from 10-20.

      Clients usually had their own grooms. We would have a max of 4 horses each.

      I was a working student/ended up being assistant. I was usually the first one there and the last one to leave! About 140$ a day. Salary. I got lots of perks, riding very nice horses and only had to pay for my board and vet/shoes.

      https://www.instagram.com/streamlinesporthorses/

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      • #23
        Totally depends on the workload, style of horses (H/J vs reining for example) and the facility and its layout.

        Out west where we are, I was once told that one full-time helper could feed and clean for about 20 horses and have a few hours left over to do gardening, clean other than stalls, do repairs, etc each day.. These are for horses that are kept in stalls or pens and turnout is part of the owner or trainer's responsibility, not the facility.

        I have found the 20:1 ratio to work pretty well in these circumstances, which is feed/clean/upkeep/grounds. Figure out what works in your circumstance then hire enough help. It would make no sense for me to have 50 stalls- 40 or 60 fits my plan for 2 or 3 helpers, respectively.

        Facility layout and equipment makes a HUGE difference in this kind of planning, too. How many steps to the manure dump is something you need to think about, and how long that trek takes. We have become much more efficient over the years for both labor time and equipment (example: bigger, better-balanced, and of course more expensive wheelbarrows can save each employee 30 minutes a day in reduced trips to the muck heap) but it's still 20:1...our 'working smarter' takes some pressure off our helpers, and allows us a little extra time for bigger upgrading or repair projects.

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        • #24
          Where I board there are about 30 horses, ~20 in corrals, 10 in the barn. There are two guys there M-F, one gets Saturday off, the other Sunday. They feed in the am and pm and clean stalls and corrals daily. They also do lunch feeding and blanketing for the horses who get those extra services, which are additional charges to the board. Turnouts are managed by trainers or owners. During the week the guys also take care of barn maintenance along with the owner/manager, which includes watering and dragging arenas and round pen as well as road maintenance, weed whacking, general repairs to fences, lights, waterers, etc. They also have done a fair number of improvements in the year I have been there - upgrading a few of the corrals, adding an additional turnout, building a nice vet/farrier cross-tie area and replacing the roundpen walls. They are currently installing mirrors at the dressage ring.

          I don't know whether they are paid hourly or salary or anything about benefits, but they both live on-site as part of the compensation.
          "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

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          • #25
            Originally posted by Miss Motivation View Post
            Totally depends on the workload, style of horses (H/J vs reining for example) and the facility and its layout.

            Out west where we are, I was once told that one full-time helper could feed and clean for about 20 horses and have a few hours left over to do gardening, clean other than stalls, do repairs, etc each day.. These are for horses that are kept in stalls or pens and turnout is part of the owner or trainer's responsibility, not the facility.

            I have found the 20:1 ratio to work pretty well in these circumstances, which is feed/clean/upkeep/grounds. Figure out what works in your circumstance then hire enough help. It would make no sense for me to have 50 stalls- 40 or 60 fits my plan for 2 or 3 helpers, respectively.

            Facility layout and equipment makes a HUGE difference in this kind of planning, too. How many steps to the manure dump is something you need to think about, and how long that trek takes. We have become much more efficient over the years for both labor time and equipment (example: bigger, better-balanced, and of course more expensive wheelbarrows can save each employee 30 minutes a day in reduced trips to the muck heap) but it's still 20:1...our 'working smarter' takes some pressure off our helpers, and allows us a little extra time for bigger upgrading or repair projects.
            Good point regarding the layout. Where I am is fairly close to your 20:1 ratio situation in terms of workload, except the layout is pretty spread out and not well designed (IMHO). There seems to be a lot of wasted time and effort moving food/equipment/manure around the property so we end up with closer to 15:1. They have been doing a number of bigger projects, too, so that eats into the ability to manage more horses.
            "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

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            • #26
              I've seen a few set ups.

              Barn 1
              HJ barn, all horses in full training. Around 20-25 horses. BM, trainer, and two riders, plus stall cleaners who finished by 6am. BM was responsible for turn in/out. This involved extensive blanketing and boots on most horses, and many went out only for a few hours. Many horses turned out in indoor arena for ten minutes at a time during winter. Washing/grooming horses and feeding for BM too. Riders would help with turnout and feed sometimes. Most staff was 7-4 with lunch 6 days a week. Facility maintenance was separate as stalls and arena were leased. At one point there was an additional groom who packed for shows etc. No idea on pay, this was ten years ago.
              This barn had the best balance for the employees, but the least turnout despite excellent care otherwise. Same employees for years.

              Another example:
              Lower level HJ barn, 15-20 horses. BO, BM/trainer, one groom. 12 horses inside, 6-8 horses outside, 30 acres to maintain. Groom did stalls, turn in/out, blanketing, feeding. Horses were fed 5 times a day at this facility. Horses out a few hours in winter and longer or overnight in summer. Days regularly 10-12 hours, 6 days a week. Days highly variable depending on weather/needs. When rained, no gator to haul manure to distant pile. Often not enough paddocks or stalls. BM/trainer dragged/watered ring, rode/lunged, scheduling.
              This barn didn't have the best balance for employees and many tasks were unnecessarily complicated. High turnover for extra help.

              Another:
              30 horses in training. Most live in paddocks 24/7 unless rain, or come in from 12-5pm in summer. 2 staff members in AM to feed, turnout (depending), clean stalls or pick paddocks, blanket. 1 groom who tacks up horses for the pro, does training rides. 1 BM who primarily does scheduling/appointment setting, but sometimes helps with feeding, turnout. Generally takes 3 hours per feeding if turn in/out is needed. The AM staff leaves around 3pm, and PM staff sometimes consists of boarders/working off. Pay is hourly.
              This barn has decent balance for employees, but there can be a disconnect in information between the shifts, especially with random workers coming in PM. Facility maintenance isn't a priority. Tons of turnout makes staff and horses happier.
              Wish I had salary info for all

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              • #27
                Staff? What is this thing called "staff"? Just me, these days. We simplified horse care to make it easy care, better for humans, better for horses too. Probably not the information you are looking for, but there it is anyway.

                We used to keep horses in stalls with run out paddocks, usually around 25 to 30 horses at a time. Used to hire a local kid to help with at least some of the stall/paddock cleaning. "If you want something done right, do it yourself".
                www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Thank you all for so many helpful responses, it is so beneficial to hear how other barns are running things! Here's our deal....19 horses all turned out in individual grass paddocks from 7-2, weather permitting. All need blanketing, and some turnouts are quite a hike from the barn.

                  Day to day, horses obviously need to be grained, turned out, stalls cleaned, haynets hung, water filled. The arenas need to be drug and aisles blown. In the summer, workload increases due to mowing and pasture maintenance.

                  Current management has (IMO) way too many people (4-5 any given day) and is losing money. Staff is inefficient, and often forgets basic things like refilling water buckets or feeding supplements. They are paid hourly and seem to waste a lot of time chatting with boarders or each other rather than getting the work finished.

                  I will begin managing the facility next month and am thinking one really good full time person, with a part time person to help with stalls and turnout, would be all we need for only 19 horses. I plan to hire two part time people that would each work half of the week so the full time person would get a day off, and the part time people would alternate working weekends. Of course, I'm also always available to step in to help or fill in for a sick staff member. Thoughts?

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                  • #29
                    As with everything in the horse world, It Totally Depends.

                    I find the best care comes from barns that employ an average of ~5 horses per worker. The more hands, the less work -- and this applies to horses too, where workers can give each horse the quality care they need without needing to rush through chores to meet their task-list of the day. Rushed workers may not cut corners or have their quality of service diminished, but they do tend to not have the time to devote to some more personalized/individualized care -- small things, that really make a difference in how the barn looks or is organized. Like folding the blankets just so, keeping the aisle immaculate, rings always dragged every AM, grain always accurately set up with no supplements missed.. these "small" things can go a mile in making a difference in the quality service your barn supplies - and are usually the first things to be cut from the daily task list when things start getting behind.

                    But one worker per 5 horses, is very rare and not the norm. Here, generally 20 horse operations have one chief person that is there from AM to PM feed (so turn out to turn in) and full time - and maybe a person that comes in 1-4 hrs a week to dump late night feed and do night check. This is not a healthy arrangement and is why there is such high burnout in the industry. If you want to keep your workers, you will not subject them to this. If you don't mind constantly looking for reliable help, go ahead and burn out your workers.

                    The more exhaustive the services offered (full care vs part or half - including things like blanket swaps as temps change, etc), the more likely you will need a second person. As a BM, I found the best arrangement for the 25-30 horse barn I ran was having two people for AM-Noon chores (which are the most comprehensive), and one person for PM chores (which really only consists of bringing in and dumping feed).

                    19 stalls, turnout, blanket changes, feed, and barn cleaning is a LOT for one person. It seems manageable when everything goes right -- but then you have to factor in the "minor" disruptions that cause major delay in a business day - hay delivery, veterinarian/farrier work, a horse that comes in with a cut or colic, and you'll see why IMHO it is imperative to have at least two workers so that in the event one worker is "held up" by something unavoidable, chores are still being done.

                    My suggestion to you, is to do the work yourself for a week, before you make any management changes. You may find the reason for inefficiency is as simple as, maybe the turnout is handled inefficiently, or the manure pile is too far from the barn and could be closer. I've taken over several barns now as a BM and I can tell you, there is always something that is a time-waster. Finding that issue and streamlining the chore process, usually makes a huge difference in time management.

                    I prefer to have my workers each have a set of chores - that way there is accountability. AM workers turnout, do stalls, set feed, and do water. Divide these chores specifically between each worker. I find it's best to have all hands on deck for turnout and stalls for the best time management and efficiency -- and then you can split the other chores like water (which cannot be sped up) and feed set up (which also usually cannot be sped up).

                    Everyone always has an opinion of how little or how much should be done -- but those people are rarely the ones getting their feet dirty doing the grunt work.
                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by SugarCubes View Post
                      Thank you all for so many helpful responses, it is so beneficial to hear how other barns are running things! Here's our deal....19 horses all turned out in individual grass paddocks from 7-2, weather permitting. All need blanketing, and some turnouts are quite a hike from the barn.

                      Day to day, horses obviously need to be grained, turned out, stalls cleaned, haynets hung, water filled. The arenas need to be drug and aisles blown. In the summer, workload increases due to mowing and pasture maintenance.

                      Current management has (IMO) way too many people (4-5 any given day) and is losing money. Staff is inefficient, and often forgets basic things like refilling water buckets or feeding supplements. They are paid hourly and seem to waste a lot of time chatting with boarders or each other rather than getting the work finished.

                      I will begin managing the facility next month and am thinking one really good full time person, with a part time person to help with stalls and turnout, would be all we need for only 19 horses. I plan to hire two part time people that would each work half of the week so the full time person would get a day off, and the part time people would alternate working weekends. Of course, I'm also always available to step in to help or fill in for a sick staff member. Thoughts?
                      Congrats on your new role.

                      I don't think you need 4-5 people for the work you describe in a barn of 19 horses, but I don't think you can reduce the staff to 1.5 and maintain a quality of care. Turnout and blanketing alone for that many horses is likely 3+ hours daily (at ten minutes per horse, may not even be enough depending on how much of a "hike" it is to get them to and from your paddocks.) Filling haynets, scrubbing water buckets etc all take time to do well. Also, it may be very difficult to find people who are willing to work only part time half a week plus every other weekend - that is a pretty difficult schedule and doesn't really allow for another job/income.

                      I personally prefer to offer a salary, and to be very clear about my standards. I pay a bit over market, but I am very meticulous and upfront about that. It takes my person close to 3 hours to do my barn which is just 4 horses, and that is despite a very efficient set up - we muck into a spreader, no running back and forth to a manure pile, the turn outs are all quite close to the barn. She feeds, mucks, does water buckets and feed tubs, does a light grooming and turns out. Before she leaves, she sweeps, makes sure everything is tidy and gates are closed.
                      **********
                      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                      -PaulaEdwina

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by SugarCubes View Post
                        Thank you all for so many helpful responses, it is so beneficial to hear how other barns are running things! Here's our deal....19 horses all turned out in individual grass paddocks from 7-2, weather permitting. All need blanketing, and some turnouts are quite a hike from the barn.

                        Day to day, horses obviously need to be grained, turned out, stalls cleaned, haynets hung, water filled. The arenas need to be drug and aisles blown. In the summer, workload increases due to mowing and pasture maintenance.

                        Current management has (IMO) way too many people (4-5 any given day) and is losing money. Staff is inefficient, and often forgets basic things like refilling water buckets or feeding supplements. They are paid hourly and seem to waste a lot of time chatting with boarders or each other rather than getting the work finished.

                        I will begin managing the facility next month and am thinking one really good full time person, with a part time person to help with stalls and turnout, would be all we need for only 19 horses. I plan to hire two part time people that would each work half of the week so the full time person would get a day off, and the part time people would alternate working weekends. Of course, I'm also always available to step in to help or fill in for a sick staff member. Thoughts?
                        I think you're on the right track. I would echo beowulf though and say that you should first understand and do your best to address inefficiencies and get to know the workers before you start hiring and firing. The workers could be poor employees and poor horsepeople. Or they might be decent employees who are currently badly managed with an inefficient and frustrating work environment. I would also echo Lucassb and say that 1.5 people is probably a bit too aggressive, (unless you want to not just pitch in occasionally but really help with chores every day) and that salary is my preference.

                        My experience is mainly with 30-ish-horse barns with a mix of full service show clients, basic boarders, and pasture ornaments. The facilities were fairly efficient but often with a few inefficient aspects like far-away paddocks. The barn staff (not trainers/riders) usually included four full time grooms who all did daily chores and a barn manager/head groom who "pitched in" regularly on daily chores but did not always muck. There was some division of labor in exactly which grooms normally groomed/tacked which horses, or who normally drug the ring, etc. but everyone was able to take their lunches and days off without the barn missing a beat. The ratio was about 1 groom per 6 horses. This was plenty when everyone was home and there were no special projects, and occasionally not quite enough when the group split up for shows or during special projects.

                        My favorite part of having a staff who all did all chores was that everything got done quickly when everyone participated - feeding 30 horses took about 20 minutes, including the pasture horses. Turning out/in 20 to 25 horses, most of which needed booting and blanket changes, took 30-60 minutes. Mucking, watering, and sweeping for 20-25 stalls took 1-2 hours, depending on the season. Having a team of non-specialized help was somewhat more expensive (nobody's getting paid minimum wage to spend all day mucking), but it was also ideal in a lot of ways (consistency of care, and less staff turnover when nobody's quitting every other month because they're sick of mucking all day for minimum wage).

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                        • Original Poster

                          #32
                          Thank you all - you have been immensely helpful

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                          • #33
                            i'd say 2 full time and the part time set up you suggest.

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