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Being a Barn Manager

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  • Being a Barn Manager

    I am seeking information on what it is like to be a barn manager. I am wanting a change in life, and feel that being around horses will be a great change for me. I grew up riding and competing in show jumping, and grew away from the sport in college because I didn't have the time; however, after doing some soul searching I have decided that I want to go back to the industry. Horses have been a part of my life for a long time, and I find them to be something that keeps me centered and settled. I have found a few jobs in Massachusetts at hunter/jumper barns, but I want to know what to expect before applying.


  • #2
    Barn Managers have a very hard job. I was practically running a barn at my current age of 16, do to the barn manager/owners daughter never wanting to do anything but sleep and make cookies. You have to deal with customers who are never happy, and you have to do a lot of the work yourself, depending on how many workers you have helping you. You also want to ask around about your future employer and see what type of person they are (I wish I would have). It can be a fun and rewarding job, but it can also be very stressful. It dreadful or fun, like I said before it really just depends on who you would work for.


    • #3
      There is a wide disparity in the types of jobs that "Barn Managers" do, as so many BO's have a differing idea of what the title entails. To some, it means being in charge of everything, including daily feeding and mucking, turnout, etc. To others, it is more of management job: payroll, scheduling, ordering, human resources (of farm/barn workers), show entries, payment of farm bills, vet/farrier scheduling, lesson program scheduling, etc.
      Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


      • #4
        There is no universally accepted definition of "barn manager" outlining specific job duties.

        Ask specifically what the position with each potential employer is going to consist of. You should have as many questions for them as they have for you.

        A Barn Manager can be anything from a $7 an hour glorified mucker with the title to an actual manager supervising staff, light bookeeping, vet schedualing, record keeping, payroll etc. That can pay pretty good for the industry.

        You probably can get familiar with each operation before your interview by just asking around about their reputation and driving by.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          Don't want to be a Debbie downer here, but be realistic about expectations. To be a barn manager, you need very strong skills in both horse care and on the business side. Not just dealing with people but with actually running a business as well as the care of the horses in the barn. It would be extremely difficult to step right into a management position with ( I'm assuming, sorry if I'm wrong) no prior BM experience and having been out of the industry for awhile. It might be easier to reach your overall goal of being a BM by starting out as more of a general laborer until you get back into the swing of things and some recent experience under your belt.


          • #6
            I'm with sidesaddle rider. It varies as far as what duties you may have as a barn manager but all in all, it can be a pretty tough job as when things go wrong a lot falls down on you. It's a lot of responsibility. If I were you, I'd maybe start out by doing a working student type job.


            • #7
              I think the OP wants a job, not an unpaid working student position where labor is swapped for saddle time, rarely works for adults that need a wage to live on.

              Anway, since barns are so different, we really can't help OP with specific skills. If she has a bit of a business background and can hadle light office work, that would be a huge plus if it's actually a barn managment position.

              I'd sure want to start as a barn bookeeper or secretary instead of a mucker or groom if I wanted to get to the management side of the business.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #8
                Before you do - read this thread - especially post #57

                "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren


                • #9
                  I think a lot of people don't realize that being a barn manager is more of a people job than a horse job. It's customer service and personnel management, first and foremost. Managing, you spend less time actually dealing with the horses and more time directing help and sorting out customer scheduling and problems. If you like horses better than people, it may not live up to expectations.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                    If you like horses better than people, it may not live up to expectations.
                    Like many parts of the horse business!


                    • #11
                      To me, the traditional "barn manager" job includes managing feed/turnout schedules, scheduling vet/farrier/chiro services, scheduling arena riding times (if you have multiple trainers/assistants), keeping up with the horse show schedule (scheduling for transportation, packing lists, special vet requirements or passports), managing your employees, customer service and payroll. But to some people it may also include actually feeding, cleaning, turning out, etc. Pay can range wildly depending on location, barn size, and duties.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                        I think a lot of people don't realize that being a barn manager is more of a people job than a horse job. It's customer service and personnel management, first and foremost. Managing, you spend less time actually dealing with the horses and more time directing help and sorting out customer scheduling and problems. If you like horses better than people, it may not live up to expectations.
                        And this is the EXACT reason that I leave the management of my family's farm up to my mother. I LOVE the horses, I DON'T do people.
                        Originally posted by EquineImagined
                        My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.


                        • #13
                          It's an up-at-dawn pride swallowing siege.....

                          Just sayin'


                          • #14
                            Get things in writing. If you think that a BM is the person who supervises the person(s) who muck stalls, and the farm owner thinks you are the person who should muck, there's a problem.


                            • #15
                              I was a barn manager for 5 years until I walked out in 2008. I hated doing that to my students and my fellow instructors, but the barn owner became increasingly hard to work with. When I was told that I needed to vote a certain way in the presidential election to keep my job, that was the last straw.
                              I was paid approx. $30k per year and I worked 70 to 90 hours a week (That works out to about $8.90 an hour). I was responsible for the employees and all of the horses. I hauled horses. I wrangled children. I took care of the owner's dogs, teenager, and home. I wrangled the owner's ex-husband.
                              I nearly lost my marriage and most of my self worth. Thankfully, Mr. Hasahorse is wonderful.
                              There are better ways to make money with horses.
                              My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
                              ReRiders Clique


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by hasahorse View Post
                                When I was told that I needed to vote a certain way in the presidential election to keep my job, that was the last straw.
                                Barn rat for life


                                • #17
                                  Its what you make it, don't worry, follow your heart, just make sure your heart is in it and you will do just fine... or better!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Jsalem View Post
                                    It's an up-at-dawn pride swallowing siege.....

                                    Just sayin'

                                    And a bit of that.
                                    Been there done that. It was scheduling farriers, vet, vaccinations, exercise schedules,feed schedule, managing mexican men (which was not easy for a young white girl and held lots of drama), managing trainers and boarders who always want their horse put first, feeding, staying later than everyone else, keeping barn drama to a minimum, keeping track of used supplies or services for the book keeper, and keeping the BO happy.
                                    A little bit of riding, which was most likely interrupted by a boarder with a request or a groom with a question.
                                    It was a people job more than a horse job for sure.
                                    Don't get me wrong. I loved the horses in my care. It was one of the hardest jobs I have ever had in my life.

                                    And like Hasahorse said so well I too lost most of my self worth.
                                    "Half the failures in life result from pulling in one's horse when it is leaping."



                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Jsalem View Post
                                      It's an up-at-dawn pride swallowing siege.....

                                      Just sayin'


                                      • #20
                                        mmmm....sounds like a hard physical and mental job. Worst part would be putting up with the neurotic owners.