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Do Barn Managers Age Out?

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  • Do Barn Managers Age Out?

    Simple question.

    If you're looking for one, are you less apt to be interested in the, say, middle-aged and above set? What if the position required riding? Or not?

    How do you weigh youth/ strong back/ high energy vs age/ experience/ knowledge?

    I'm reminded of an expression I once heard: Youth and beauty are beaten by age, wisdom & treachery every time...

    Changes a-comin' for me, and I'm wondering if my shelf life has passed.


  • #2
    A tight job market won't help, but I would have to say if you have experience and good references that you should be able to land a position. Good help is still a premium.
    Can you travel to where there are more opportunities if needed?


    • #3
      We have a barn manager who is in his early 60's, but he does have a lot of hispanic help.
      Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
      My equine soulmate
      Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


      • #4
        If I was hiring a barn manager the main qualities I would want are experience, reliability, and good judgement. Those tend to come with age.

        I would also prefer someone who was comfortable with their career choice, and was likely to be with us for a while. Being past the age of having kids would be a benefit.

        The only issues I can think of with someone older is:
        1) May be set in their ways. I want someone willing to do things my way.
        2) May want more money than some younger idealist who doesn't know how much it costs to live and eventually retire...
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • Original Poster

          There are plenty of opportunities locally, so relocating would be silly.

          Having said that, i already have a proposal to consider. I was curious to see how the rest of horsie society viewed middle aged mangers. My new position does entail some riding, but owner knows I'm a bit fluffy right now and will need to work up to anything challenging. But my 30+ yrs experience makes me attractive, I suppose, at least to this individual.

          FYI, some mucking one day a week, overseeing tack ups, turn outs, routine & emergent medical issues, ordering/ budgeting, scheduling vendors/ farrier/ vet, packing f/shows, yadda yadda yadda. We didn't get into it, but I'd be happy to help w/AR/ AP, billiing, etc. It's all very exciting.


          • #6
            Sounds like a great job opportunity! I would much rather hire a middle/+ ager than a teen/young adult any day! Good luck!


            • #7
              Coming off a 2 + year stint as a Barn Manager and now working as an office manager let me point out one area where we horsey folks shoot ourselves in the foot....BENEFITS.

              I don't care how old or experienced you are, health issues come with the territory. Especially if you're "fluffy" and need to work up to being fit, things happen. With 30 years experience the owners should kick in for health care. I know it doesn't happen often. But with the work load for the job we often sell out our logical needs, to go with our desires to work with horses.

              Also get the right amount of $$$$$ $600 a week with benefits is a starting point for more and more barns now a days. So don't go below that!!!

              "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


              • #8
                I feel my dark humor funny bone kicking in....

                Sad to say it but recent experience suggest employers prefer 'em younger and cheaper. Forget all the lip service about how they want someone really qualified, experienced, etc. They want someone young, cheap, and sad to say it, more easily intimidated.

                I was confused when I was 16 and hired as a 'barn manager.' I was glad for the job, but never did understand why they wanted me, barely experienced as I was at the time.

                Now I know.

                They just want someone who will work themselves to death, for relatively little pay, who has a good heart, good intentions, and love for the horses. The last three will (mostly) make up for a world of virtual zero in the knowledge department. (Ask me how I know...)

                You can be very experienced, and employed, provided you are willing to work for a wage that is similar to when you had almost no experience. But over time, I reckon' it only works against you. Now that I know a lot more than when I was 16 I can be called on for a lot more things. Except, of course, getting paid more...

                Now employers expect employees to have their own cell phone, so they can be reached 24/7 no matter what. But ask the employer if they are willing to pay for internet or cable in the barn apartment and you will be called a spoiled, entitled slacker.

                Prospective farm employers have no compunction telling people they don't want anyone who has children, dogs, or any intentions of acquiring either. They do like it if you have a spouse, because they want someone to build fences and dig ditches for a cheap rate. Preferably, that spouse can 'work exchange' for the housing. That way the employer can have maintenance done on the farm, not pay a second salary, and tell you how lucky you are to have the deal.

                Keep in mind that they don't want you and your spouse producing any children, just fencing and oil changes to the tractors from him, Thank You. If you have a note from the doctor verifying that one or both of you is sterile, that wouldn't hurt the prospects of you landing the job....

                Good God I'm funny....
                "Friend" me !



                • #9
                  Isabeau, did you work in Virginia Beach too? Hahahaha! A letter from your doctor. Anywho, good laugh. Folks in that area thought paying anyone $8/hr was sufficient no matter what the experience, better if they would take $7.50/hr which is what the government stables at Oceana were paying. That was last year.
                  "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                  • Original Poster

                    Isabeau: You are 100% correct on your views of sterile spouses, no dogs and cheap labor. I've seen jobs like that, have given counter offer 'contracts' and have been called 'cute' because I used the term 'per diem'. "Oh... you must READ..."

                    That facility, to this day cannot hold onto a BM, because they offer housing, for a reduced rate, but pay barely above minimum wage. Here on the Eastern Gold Coast, there's no way to make ends meet, unless you have a spouse to supplement household income.

                    Yes, no dogs allowed (because the last person who took the job had pets, but supplemented *their* income by selling drugs, and liked to sample her product). The critters rarely went outside.

                    They were expected to work IIRC, 7 - 11a.m. 7 days a week, then back to work 3 - 7 or 8 p.m. six days, plus put up any horses after rides beyond that, AND do night check at --get this-- 11 p.m. And it *had* to be 11 p.m... So essentially they wanted 24/7 coverage for what worked out at the time to a little over $2 an hour, once you figured in the housing, of which the ee had to pay electric, gas, phone & cable. And let the boarders use your kitchen and bathroom.
                    Of course you were encouraged to get a PT job off the property for the 5 hour break midday... **headdesk**

                    Fortunately, the offer in front of me is a lateral move financially from where I am now. Some holidays, sick days, taxes & worker's comp are the provided, but I have health insurance through my spouse. Also a stall is available should the need arise. I must say, I've known this person for many years and have worked with them before. We work well together, and have already formed a mutual respect. They know I squeeze a penny till it bleeds, and I know they're fair and don't ask anyone to do what they, them self aren't willing to do as well. I've been around the block enough to call the vet only when necessary, and have a good idea what's going on before he gets there.

                    Trainer is one of the rare breeds in the area.. VERY talented mid-level with very good connections, wealthy clients, and an expanding program. They're still out there, you just have to do your homework on folks and have the self esteem to say no to the slave drivers, and tell 'em why.


                    • #11
                      I would prefer an experienced and reliable barn manager instead of an inexperienced young individual.


                      • #12
                        I too would choose a more mature, experienced individual that can spot colic from 500 yards than some kid that's been catch riding for a few years and playing Jr. Professional.

                        It also helps if they know the difference between Banamine Paste and Paste Dewormer.


                        • #13
                          Sounds like a great opportunity!

                          I would have said before it depends on your definition of the term used. If they are in fact the Barn Manager, then likely at a public boarding/lesson facility their actual manual labor responsibilities are limited. They'll have grooms and stablehands to handle the daily turnout, feeding, mucking, grooming, lesson prep/tacking, etc. In that case, I feel there is a direct correlation between age/wisdom/experience and desirability.

                          In the instance of smaller barns, I've seen a large number of young (20s-early 30s) barn managers succeed due to their energy and enthusiasm. But clients find it a gamble until a BM has established themselves and proven their lasting ability and dedication.

                          In your instance, it sounds beneficial considering you're familiar with the trainer and would essentially serve as more of an office manager with some fun barn duties. And you have 30+ years of experience which puts current and potential clients at ease. Sounds great!
                          If you are not the lead elephant, the scenery never changes.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jasmine
                            Our barn manager is in his 40s. I'd rather a mature individual who has possibly outgrown the young adult silliness, and isn't as likely to get caught up in teenage-girl drama. Provided that person isn't one to say "I know it all already, I'm too old to learn."
                            This. I'd rather have someone old enough to know what they're doing, but not someone who is going to say if, say, I want my hay fed a particular way, "No, that's wrong, I've always done it this way."
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                            • #15

                              I sense we have walked some similar paths. I do love the "separate part time job for the 5 hour 'break' in the middle of the day." Of course, it is easy to find a job close by for exactly that time slot. And really, you can eat a sandwich in your car while driving between the jobs.....

                              Your 'lateral move' sounds like you have the good advantage of knowing the parties involved well. So they should not have a problem with your age (unless you've some how led them to believe that your aging process has been frozen, and you will stay your current physiological age indefinitely.) Oops, I used a big word. Now you know "I READ."

                              Funny stuff Sansena. I have toyed off and on with doing a Barn Mangers Blog. Sounds to me like we could team up for some good story telling...
                              "Friend" me !



                              • #16

                                You are a bit cynical and I urge you to not paint everyone with the same brush.

                                The barn where I board my horse provides housing-including cable/internet, allows pets, pays a decent amount, is giving her lessons because she needs to learn to ride better and basically treats her like gold - so those kind of jobs do exist. They don't provide any benefits-nor do they have any for themselves since the economy just doesn't allow it.

                                This doesn't mean, however, that the person isn't expected to work hard and sometimes, esp in summer during show season, works lots of days in a row. But that's the life she chose and it comes with the territory. That's why I have a regular day job and am a customer now, instead of an employee...
                                Not my monkeys, not my circus.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                                  but not someone who is going to say if, say, I want my hay fed a particular way, "No, that's wrong, I've always done it this way."
                                  This to me is more of a worker position, than a management position. Hiring a manager, they should be able to, well, manage. That means making management decisions. You would probably have more success with an appropriate candidate if you called them a supervisor, or just barn help.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Sansena View Post

                                    I'm reminded of an expression I once heard: Youth and beauty are beaten by age, wisdom & treachery every time...
                                    Changes a-comin' for me, and I'm wondering if my shelf life has passed.
                                    we are very disappointed at the choices of many barn owners "barn managers" as really nothing more than 22 yos females who are more blessed with breasts than common or horse sense...but such places have a different "barn manager" every year...so their tenure is often short lived

                                    gimme a non neurotic 50 yo any time

                                    Tamara in TN
                                    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                                    • #19
                                      Sounds like it really depends on job title vs responsibilities.

                                      Working students or barn help (muckers, feeders, etc) are not barn managers. The managers I have known ordered supplies, feed, made appts with vets and farriers, handled shipping issues (like who's going to the show and doesn't have their own trailer) and pretty much kept the barn owners and trainers on track and informed.

                                      If you're mucking stalls in any capacity other than an emergency, imho, you're not really a "manager".
                                      Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Gestalt View Post
                                        If you're mucking stalls in any capacity other than an emergency, imho, you're not really a "manager".

                                        Thanks, but I truly AM the manager.

                                        I muck 27 stalls a day (except weekends when the help shows up), in addition to feeding, bringing horses in, cleaning aisles, landscaping, jump building & painting, mowing, ordering supplies, making vet appointments, helping the boarders with a lame or ill horse, researching new deworming concerns, foaling and training youngsters, collecting & breeding stallions, getting semen on counter to counter flights, tracking shipments thru the night, getting the youngsters started undersaddle, marketing the younsters, showing them, hauling, paying bills, sending out statements, updating the website, taking and editing photos and video, ...