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Would you pay for a mid-day feeder or check?

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  • Would you pay for a mid-day feeder or check?

    Dawned on me today as I was asking my vet about becoming an equine massage therapist which I am still contemplating....but.... We were talking about my horse being a hard keeper and having poor teeth. I have been feeding him a 3rd mid-day meal for a while now and he is finally picking up weight and looks great. But as I am searching for work next year when both of my kids will be in full day school, I had a remote idea and wondered if anyone would find it useful to have someone check their horses mid-day and feed the ones that need a 3rd or mid-day feed? I don't want to horse-sit as a.m. and p.m. wouldn't work for me, but would love to do mid-day checks, etc. There must be others in this situation that cannot feed a 3rd meal but would find it incredibly helpful for the older guys.

    Today I was at my barn in the stifling heat and the horses had almost drank all of their water, so I refilled their buckets and thought of it then too.

    Good idea or not? I know it wouldn't pay much but I am in a very horsey area - very small family and private barns everywhere which is what I was thinking of....most big barns would probably have someone on site or a manager...but could work for smaller places while the owners and few boarders are at work, etc.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    I certainly would have. My old guy passed away two years ago, but for the last several years of his life he was what you could call "high maintenance". I moved him home two years before he died, and I used to leave work every.single.day to run home, feed him/refill water/change blankets/make sure he was still with us, etc. Then I'd have to turn around and race back to work. It was pretty stressful, and I would have loved to have someone responsible and knowledgeable who could feed/water/check on him at lunch.
    In memory of Rebuff (1974-2009)

    Rest in peace, my sweet man

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    • #3
      I tried to start a business doing this a few years ago. I was marketing myself as 1) barn sitter 2) relief help for the back yard barn owner who wanted some relief 3) grooming and 4) mid day checks.
      I had some people hire me to come clean stalls a few days a week, a barn hired me during flu season when half their help was out, and I did a few barn sittings during vacations. Somebody else hired me for 3 weeks when she hurt her back. But I concluded one thing...unlike dog people, who will gladly pay $20 for a dog walking service, horse people are cheap. They balked that I wanted a minimum of $15. I tried to structure my fee so that I charged a flat travel fee of usually $10 (if the barn was in my neighborhood, I waived it), plus a fee to perform the desired task. Depending on what was wanted, I charged $5 per service and up. I gave multiple horse discounts. I thought I had very reasonable charges and usually made $15-25 per visit. The barn that I filled in for during flu season really gave me a hard time when it came time to pay me..even though she knew my fees up front and I waived my travel fee (big upscale dressage barn, money was not an issue for her). The woman who hurt her back really appreciated my help. My best client, ironically, was a chicken farmer who traveled alot and paid me to feed and collect eggs. (Easy work except for the few attack roosters). I had originally started the business because I thought that the people who worked could really utilize me..bringing in horses at noon during the summer before the heat and storms hit and taking off blankets in the winter..I know I would have! But they just didn't want to pay for the service. Go figure.
      Lori T
      www.calypsofarmeventers.blogspot.com
      www.facebook.com/LoriTankelPhotography
      www.facebook.com/LTEquine for product updates on the lines I rep

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      • #4
        I have a good friend who does this full time. Fully insured. Does all animals, not just horses. She seems to make decent money at it and is RIDICULOUSLY busy! Not sure what part of the country you are in. We are in MD. I believe she is looking for staff if your in the area. Dakotas Legacy.
        Boomer's Hopes & Dreams
        On Facebook
        Tia - The Rescue
        RIP Boomer - May 21, 1989 - November 3, 2010

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Lori T View Post
          ...unlike dog people, who will gladly pay $20 for a dog walking service, horse people are cheap.
          I was going to suggest that a more lucrative option might be to offer mid-day dog-walking/potty break services. As Lori T. noted, I expect it will be tough to get horse people to pay a reasonable fee for your services.

          Another interesting idea: I have a massage client who offers a sheath-cleaning service. She charges a flat fee per horse and while it doesn't earn her a living wage, it seems like it provides a tidy sum of "pocket money."

          Glad to hear you are still interested in massage! We have a certification class set to start July 6; would love to see you down here if it's feasible!
          Equinox Equine Massage

          In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
          -Albert Camus

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          • #6
            Even though I feed a 3rd flake of hay (late @ night) myself, I don't know that I'd pay for the service unless I had a horse who medically required mid-day feeding.

            Honestly, it's hard for me to afford taking time away from the farm when I have to factor in the cost of a farmsitter coming 2X day.
            Adding a 3rd visit would probably make it near impossible for me to get away.
            I understand you are offering a single visit, but that is not something I have found myself needing...yet?

            I don't think it's pennypinching as much as most people with horses at home & jobs have discovered that the horses do fine with what feeding/care the owners can provide in the framework of their normal day.

            My pastures are far from lush - I feed hay year-round - but they do provide sufficient grazing so I can be comfortable in any weather leaving my horses for the 8h I need to be at work.
            For water I have a 50gal barrel just outside the barn in addtion to the 5gal buckets in the stalls.
            I have never come home to find all 3 drained (1 horse, 1 pony currently in residence).
            I only blanket in extreme wet and/or icy weather & horses have access to stalls if they decide they need to get out of the weather.
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by lovemyoldguy View Post
              I certainly would have. My old guy passed away two years ago, but for the last several years of his life he was what you could call "high maintenance". I moved him home two years before he died, and I used to leave work every.single.day to run home, feed him/refill water/change blankets/make sure he was still with us, etc. Then I'd have to turn around and race back to work. It was pretty stressful, and I would have loved to have someone responsible and knowledgeable who could feed/water/check on him at lunch.
              I'm sorry about your old guy

              This is a situation that I was thinking of though, and I would have to think they are fairly common. I remember a laminitis case at my old barn and the horse needed to be hand-walked a few times a day as it recovered more and more. Owner was a nurse and had a hard time getting to the barn.

              I used to be a pet-sitter (dogs, cats) - worked for a company, but most of the visits were a.m. and p.m. - I no longer do it as it didn't work in the summers when my kids were home from school. It was "okay" during the school year but some requests for for very early morning "let outs" which I couldn't do. I know what you mean about horse people being cheaper When I pet sat I personally got paid around $11 or $12 for a half hour visit. I would be fine helping horses for a similar rate if it's close-by, and a matter of refilling feed or giving grain, hand walking, etc. - certainly would want more to muck stalls, wrap/soak, etc. But gosh, I would gladly pay someone up to $20 a day when I am away to give my guy his mid-day lunch, soak some BP for evening feed, change a blanket and refill his water.

              I suppose I could market myself as "mid-day" only, and target commuters who are gone all day for both horses and dogs. (I'm in a big commuting area and a very horsey area outside of DC).

              Thanks for your feedback everyone. Definitely worth thinking about!

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              • #8
                I might have used the service many yrs ago when I had a horse with congestive heart failure and the prognosis from Cornell was poor. He was on meds that greatly affected his appetite. I used to take a 2 hr lunch break to drive home from work (40 minutes one way) just to get him to eat maybe a qt of sweet feed or whatever I could get him to eat. He was on 4 meals/day.

                Right now I do a 3rd feed on a new horse that came in that is lean, not skinny, just lean and I'd really like to get about 100 lbs on him and am contemplating doing a 4th meal as well. He came here 5/1 and I immediately put him on breakfast at dawn, a 4:30 PM feeding and a 10 PM meal. Right now I'm struggling with a nighttime turnout because of the heat and bugs so it's a dawn feeding (~5:30 AM), 12 PM and then 6 PM and turnout at that time. Problem is both horses got used to the 10 PM feeding so they come in and since I'm out at that time for the late night dog walk, I check on them so it really wouldn't be hard to do a 4th feeding. While the new guy could use it, my other horse does not need an additional meal as he only gets 1 cup of grain divided now by 3 ways and a handful of oats as well. I guess I could give him oats one time and then grain the next etc.
                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.

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                • #9
                  I used to have someone who lived around the corner from me who would do stalls and feeding for me when I needed her to. If I needed a mid-day check (if I was working late) I'd pay her $10 to swing by and top off water buckets and give my 5 a scoop of grass forage. She would also swing by to pull off blankets if I needed her to, or let the dogs out for 10 minutes. It was great, and I miss it. I found someone to do stalls, but they don't have the schedule flexibility she had to swing by mid day. Others I found didn't live close enough to make it worth the money.

                  I made sure to give her regular stall/feeding work, even when I didn't need it. I can't imagine you could make good money for "emergency" mid day care -- rather than a regular schedule of work. But if you were in my area, I'd be interested!
                  "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                  <>< I.I.

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