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Is this a firing offense? Opinions sought

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  • Is this a firing offense? Opinions sought

    Please give opinions on the following scenario:

    New barn help (high school senior wannabe vet) has been in training for 1 month today. Work: 2 days after school mucking, feeding, turning out. 5 hours work = 1 free lesson or trail ride.

    Up until today she has usually been supervised closely. 8 stall barn; horses are color coordinated (halter, lead rope, feed bucket are all the same color). There is a chart on each horse's door listing height, breed, markings, color, bucket/halter/etc. color, and other pertinent information. There is an additional chart in the feed room with the same information.

    We had some minor mixups in the beginning, but everything seemed to have worked out, and tonight was her first night "on her own". A detailed note was left for her with cell phone numbers for me, and 3 boarders on property asked her to let them know if there were any questions.

    When I came home and went to do barn check, there was a slight problem. My 17 hand bright bay TB gelding was in the wrong stall - the stall of my 15 hand almost black 20yr old gelding. The 20yr old gelding was out.

    So....these 2 geldings got the wrong hay (alfalfa/coastal mixup)the wrong feed (senior vs pellets) and the wrong turnout.

    There was no note on the board as to why this was. I called her at home and asked how the horses had behaved - "Fine". Any problems? "No."
    When I mentioned the horse mix up, she said she understood that this was a problem.

    I told her that I needed a few days to think about this, and that I will telephone her next Monday to let her know if I want her to continue to work. I will pay her for the hours she has left instead of taking them out in lessons.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Please give opinions on the following scenario:

    New barn help (high school senior wannabe vet) has been in training for 1 month today. Work: 2 days after school mucking, feeding, turning out. 5 hours work = 1 free lesson or trail ride.

    Up until today she has usually been supervised closely. 8 stall barn; horses are color coordinated (halter, lead rope, feed bucket are all the same color). There is a chart on each horse's door listing height, breed, markings, color, bucket/halter/etc. color, and other pertinent information. There is an additional chart in the feed room with the same information.

    We had some minor mixups in the beginning, but everything seemed to have worked out, and tonight was her first night "on her own". A detailed note was left for her with cell phone numbers for me, and 3 boarders on property asked her to let them know if there were any questions.

    When I came home and went to do barn check, there was a slight problem. My 17 hand bright bay TB gelding was in the wrong stall - the stall of my 15 hand almost black 20yr old gelding. The 20yr old gelding was out.

    So....these 2 geldings got the wrong hay (alfalfa/coastal mixup)the wrong feed (senior vs pellets) and the wrong turnout.

    There was no note on the board as to why this was. I called her at home and asked how the horses had behaved - "Fine". Any problems? "No."
    When I mentioned the horse mix up, she said she understood that this was a problem.

    I told her that I needed a few days to think about this, and that I will telephone her next Monday to let her know if I want her to continue to work. I will pay her for the hours she has left instead of taking them out in lessons.

    Comment


    • #3
      Not necessarily worth firing her over...was she apologetic? I'm sure she must've had a million things going through her head as it was her first night alone. Perhaps you could explain that mistakes like this are costly as the horses could've colicked from the wrong feed, and that she needs to be absolutely sure of who goes where. If there is a pattern of negligence or irresponsibility then yes fire her, but not over her first mistake.

      Remember you arre dealing with teenagers...prone to mistakes and mood swings. They ARE going to make mistakes. As long as it isn't continuos, I say give another chance.
      Remember...though eagles may soar, weasles never get sucked into a jet engine.

      Soar like a weasle my friend.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds a little ditsy for Vet school!

        How easy would she be to replace? How is the quality of her work, with the exception of this mix-up? Does she try hard? You might want to consider a second chance if she really made an honest mistake, and hasn't been careless before. If she has a ho-hum, oh-well type attitude, well, she won't mind if you ask her not to come back.

        It's always nice to offer a second chance, but not at the expense of your horses' welfare - the 20 yr. old could easily have foundered.

        Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          people are always making excuses for teens anymore. Well, I was a teen, and would never have made a mistake like that! I would have called, I would have made sure I understood everyhing......didn't you lead her around by the hand the days before??

          I am thinking that she is not vet school material, and I am tossed on whether she should continue to work for you. I guess I would sit down with her and ask her wha she was thinking...did she even realize that she had made the mistake???? I suppose if I were really nice, I would give her one more shot depending on the discussion we had had-if not, she is a flaky kid most likely who can't follow directions and doesn't really want the job.

          Sorry--I am sure there are really dedicated, bright kids out there that would do the work-god knows I was one, as were a lot of my friends. You don't need flakes dealing with your horses.

          The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
          Ellipses users clique ...
          TGFPT,HYOOTGP

          Comment


          • #6
            if you have made the job fool proof as can be and previous workers did ok with similar training. then this one will likely continue on the same path when you go to teach a new skill. there is an underlying problem you are not seeing,
            inept or in a hurry to leave, a stoner, distracted by?
            whatever. you dont need this every time
            if you dont see an underlying problem, warn em and if it happens again loose em.
            more hay, less grain

            Comment


            • #7
              >Sounds a little ditsy for Vet school!

              1. She will be weeded out.
              2. She won't want to go to vet school by the time she is a sophomore in college.
              3. You have to be somewhat ditzy to get into vet school. Sorry I'm rather biased. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

              As far as firing or not. It's rather harsh to judge somebody based upon one act.

              This is something I think you need to take responsibility for. Asking our advice for fun is ok but please don't make any major decisions based solely on our advice.

              I am 20 years old. I am a biology major in my Junior year in college. I'm not going to vet school (never wanted to) but I am definitely thinking about research molecular bio. I know kids who want to go to vet school it doesn't make them geniuses or even hard working. All it means is that they like animals and they think that being a vet is a good way to work around them all the time (ha ha).

              I remember being a teenager. I still make mistakes. I get nervous. I am somewhat a perfectionist and I overthink things and most of all I have self doubt which makes me do the most stupidest things.

              But the other problem is I feel that if I ask too many questions adults get impatient with me. For example I'm taking a lab course and I feel that by now the teacher is so infuriated with me because I ask so many stupid questions that only requires common sense. But I doubt my common sense so much I have to ask everything.

              Now If I was working for you and I was feeling like you were infuriated at me for asking so many questions I'm not sure if it would be such an easy decision to call you when you might be in the middle of dinner or watching a good movie. Even though my brain says: but she would want you to get it right. My more innate instincts say: don't make her mad.

              I don't know if this is what the girl was thinking. Probably it wasn't. But maybe she had some other thoughts. All I am trying to say is that I think it's best to judge whether you should keep her or not is your impression. Do you think that she is just a ditz? Do you think she just spaced out because she was nervous? Was she apologetic? I would have been practically crying.

              Comment


              • #8
                A mixup like that could have seriously reprecusions (sp).

                Personally, I'm only a year older this that girl, and I don't see how a mistake that severe could be simply made. Like any other employee- just because she's a teen should not make her exempt from what would happen to an 'adult' who made the same sort of dangerous mistake- she should be treated like any other worker would.
                If you would fire an adult for that sort of mistake, fire her. She didn't do her job. Simple as that.

                Sarah

                "Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one's horse as he is leaping."~ Julius Hare
                ________
                Sarah
                formerly known as Alohamora
                \"Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one\'s horse as he is leaping.\"~ Julius Hare

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am a senior in college who has finished all of my veterinary school applications (well there is that one supplemental still hanging over my head but let's not talk about that one!). I agree with the others that this does not sound like the type that's going to make it through vet school.

                  Whether you want her to continue to care for your horses is a more personal issue. I think it does hinge on the rest of her outlook and how she handled the mistake. You might want to see LMH's thread about barn help before you give up entirely. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

                  *****************************
                  Custom Needlepoint Belts

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with lilblackhorse! I started mucking out stalls as a teenager and was responsible for an entire barn with 30+ horses and 12 stalls. I often had to look after the place while the owners were away and was always 110% reliable.

                    Running my own barn now, I expect nothing less from the teenagers that work for me and have even had a few 12 and 13 year olds capable of working on their own without supervision, of course only doing small tasks. I don't think any teenager should have the responsibility of looking after a facility on their own, no matter how responsible and I probably shouldn't have been left to look after one at such a young age either.

                    I'd look for other help. Yes, mistakes can be made but she's been in training for A MONTH and still making a major mistake like that. And, as other have already stated, with horses that mistake could have had some serious repercusions like colic, etc. There are lots of hard working and conscientious kids out there that are responsible, regardless of what else they have on their minds.
                    www.DaventryEquestrian.com
                    Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
                    Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness
                    www.EquineAppraisers.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I went through this at work (not horsey) when deciding whether or not to let go someone who'd botched a couple major projects. I didn't let him go, but it was a tough decision.

                      Ask yourself if you feel comfortable putting your trust in her again. Do you think she's learned from this mistake and will be reliable in the future? Or are you always going to be stressed whenever you're not there to oversee her? It's great to give a kid a chance, but (unless you're doing this for goodwill and don't really need the help) the bottom line is that they have to be able to do the job they're hired for. And that includes being trustworthy when unsupervised.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It did sound like a pretty big mistake. Even I wouldn't have made a big mistake like that [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] . So I can see that it might warrent rejection. Then again I came home once to find my dad had put my two horses in the wrong stalls (this is after I've had them for at least 5 years, ok they are both bay but Jeff is blood bay and the other is dark bay) [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] but I wasn't too woried because they didn't get grain. And Dad is super nice to put them in for me sometimes. It's just kind of funny how he can't tell the difference when it's so obvious to me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't think this is a firing offense.
                          If you explain the problem and the possible repercussions of the horses being in the wrong stalls (few I think?) and the wrong food (likely more) and she's repentant, fine.

                          So she's not perfect. Perhaps she's trying to please so hard she just can't think straight? Happened to me as a kid.

                          OTOH if she shrugs it off, well...

                          In the majority of jobs people get warnings, then fired unless the misdemeanor was horrendous.
                          ----------------------------------------
                          PSSM / EPSM and Shivers Forum
                          http://pssm.xanthoria.com/
                          ----------------------------------------

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Give her a while. It is hard enough to find someone who will acatually show up. If she isn't like a horse person mistakes are bound to happen. What she made mistakes on seems rather dur quality, but give her a while longer. I mean, what do you have to lose? Giving her a quick lesson or letting her take a horse that needs to get ridden on a trail for a bit?

                            I'm just....
                            Sliding through life on charm?

                            forums.catchride.com
                            -----

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow, I wish that had happened in our barn when I worked there! When I started they didn't even have names on the doors! Feeding was by memory only....
                              Also, I think when I started, there were about 7 plain bays, who got their halters taken off in the paddocks!! Seriously, I learned to distinguish them by the length of their manes, or wrote down exactly where I put them if I was alone. It doesn't take long to figure them out, which makes this even harder to understand why this gal made a mistake with colour coded, different coloured horses.

                              But, as I read in Ruffian (and have noticed in real life) if she feels horrid about this, and it was an honest mistake, you can bet your bootie she'll never do it again, and you'll have a better staff member because of it.

                              I remember when the guy I worked for yelled at a fellow staffer for leaving binder twine behind when she opened a bale, and trust me, I never have left one behind since, and have minor heart palpatations whenever I see one loose anywhere!

                              Maybe if you've got a good gut feeling about this gal then give her another chance (I'm sure I made a few mistakes, just don't tell anyone since I'm perfect [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]). But if you get the feeling that she's just not able to cope on her own, then don't leave her on her own. These are your babies, and some people just aren't worthy of dealing with them.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                BUT when I was 14 I was handling a 40 stall barn on weekends and some evenings and never mixed up a single horse. I knew every horse, their blankets, their feed, and their supplements (and where they messed in their stalls), and that was after only 3 supervised work sessions, and a week on my own.

                                I may have been the exception to the rule, but I don't think I'd want someone working in my barn if they screw up after a MONTH of training.

                                The only mistake I ever made as a teenager was leaving SMB boots on my trainer's horse overnight. That was a disaster and I still feel horrible about it to this day. I don't know but I think there have to be much more conscientious kids out there for barn help.

                                **and people say gov't employees are useless... HA!**
                                "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                                My CANTER blog.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  and getting up several times to check the 2 horses whose feed and hay and turnout got switched...

                                  I'm going to let her go. Little things (a halter on the wrong horse, a horse in the wrong pasture for turnout) would be FINE, but this is a BIG thing.

                                  But the other barn help I have are all younger but more responsible (double checking, asking if something doesn't make sense, leaving HUGE notes on the board for any differences...).

                                  Right now I'd rather get home on Tuesdays and do it myself (Tuesdays I teach students who have their horses at home) than to be worried about what I'll find.....

                                  Shiaway, I would never just go by the BB, but I am always interested in differing opinions [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    She would NOT necessarily be weeded out in vet school.

                                    A friend of mine had a horse with mysterious symptoms & she could not be there when the vet proposed to come & drawn blood. Vet said, no problem, I have an assistant, etc.

                                    Horse that was ill (later turned out to be EPM) was a bay GELDING with a stripe. The only other bay in the field was a MARE. As was later learned (MUCH LATER--many months), vet drew blood from MARE, diagnosis was incorrect, treatment was delayed, etc.

                                    Yes, the owner should have been there, BUT you would think a vet school graduate could tell a mare from a gelding, wouldn't you?

                                    I wouldn't just FIRE her, I'd give her a lecture & I'd give her parents the why for, also, because they need to know their daughter is NOT vet material before they waste a lot of money.

                                    I guess I need to add, that when I volunteered as a foal sitter at U of P (New Bolton), vet students would be foal sitting & studying for exams--on such questions as COLORs & MARKINGS of horses. It was pretty scarey to meet vet students who were totally clueless about horses & even downright afraid of them.

                                    www.rougelandfarm.com Home of TB stallion Alae Rouge, sire of our filly Rose, ribbon-winner on the line at Dressage at Devon.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

                                      When I came home and went to do barn check, there was a slight problem. My 17 hand bright bay TB gelding was in the wrong stall - the stall of my 15 hand almost black 20yr old gelding. The 20yr old gelding was out.

                                      So....these 2 geldings got the wrong hay (alfalfa/coastal mixup)the wrong feed (senior vs pellets) and the wrong turnout.

                                      There was no note on the board as to why this was. I called her at home and asked how the horses had behaved - "Fine". Any problems? "No."
                                      When I mentioned the horse mix up, she said she understood that this was a problem.

                                      I told her that I needed a few days to think about this, and that I will telephone her next Monday to let her know if I want her to continue to work. I will pay her for the hours she has left instead of taking them out in lessons.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                      Ouch--a little tough in my opinion. You probably have the kid shaking in her boots.
                                      Kids make mistakes--if you cant allow for it, then you probably shouldnt have a kid helping you.

                                      I used to do stupid stuff like that all the time when I was learning to 'do' someones barn--when you are new to horses (or new to a specific group of horses) its easy to get mixed up.

                                      Little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous!
                                      FairWeather
                                      CANTER West Virginia

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Tough one-I think firing would be harsh although I would feel tempted because I would be upset and worried about other mistakes.

                                        I have had adults work for me that have made mistakes similar and after they have worked for me for months....not that it justifies it but it happens.

                                        Does she have other good qualities? If so try to work with her...see if she can explain what happened-was she distracted? problems at school or home? then try to go over the routine again explaining the high risk of feeding improperly.

                                        Of course you will worry for awhile-but trust me-there are worse out there....like you go away for a weekend and the help doesn't show up (happened to a neighbor) and things like that.

                                        good luck

                                        "You can tell a gelding, you can ask a mare, but you must discuss it with a stallion." - Unknown

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