It’s a fact: The horse business is time consuming and labor intensive. Teaching, training, sales, and other moneymaking activities are just the beginning. The other tasks are endless—cleaning the barn, feeding and watering the horses, grooming, caring for equipment, ordering supplies, scheduling deliveries and visits from the vet and farrier, collecting payments, paying bills.
You may have help with many chores, but odds are you do a lot of the work yourself—and trying to fit everything in makes for very long days. Here, a group of busy professionals share some tips that will help you save valuable time.
1. Get Organized
How much time do you spend hunting for lead ropes, brushes, that bottle of fly spray? “Organize equipment, so you know where frequently used things are and don’t waste time looking for them,” suggests dressage trainer Sharon Curran of Bethlehem, Conn., who maintains a small boarding and training business at her home and also travels to train horses and give lessons at other barns. Once you’ve decided where each piece of equipment belongs, get in the habit of returning it to that spot after each use. “This is something I could do better myself,” she admits.
A place for everything, everything in its place—that’s important at horse shows, too, says owner, manager, and hunter-jumper trainer Sandi Teachman Carlton of Windsong Stable, a boarding and lesson barn in Battle Creek, Mich. When Windsong travels to shows, “I pack all the equipment in the tack area of the trailer the same way every time,” she says. That way, she knows exactly where to find whatever items she needs.
Hunter/jumper trainer Sandi Teachman Carlton relies on a small notebook and her Blackberry to keep her organized.
Organize paperwork as well, says Ellie Schofield, who co-owns Galloways Farm in Parkland, Fla., with her husband, Ken. Keep a notebook with copies of the current Coggins and registration papers (breed and show) of each horse that boards or trains with you. “After each horse show, review all the expiration dates on Coggins tests and memberships, so that they are ready for the next travel date,” she suggests.
Ellie Schofield divides her time between two Florida locations, which makes saving time a top priority.
2. Make Lists
Around the barn, establish a routine for feeding, mucking, turn out, and so on; then post a list of daily chores for the staff. “This helps employees know what needs to be done and when the chores are to be accomplished,” says Michele Edel, who with her husband, Jonathan, runs JEM Stables, a sales and training business in northwestern Connecticut. They use lists to help them keep on top of day-to-day operations, too. “We use a dry-erase board to do a daily list of what horses are to be worked and who will be riding them. We’ll also write times when customers are expected to arrive and which horses they are to be shown.”
Dry-erase boards have a prominent place in many barns. At Windsong, a board in the feed room lists each horse’s grain and supplements. “It’s all written down (with changes written in red for a week) so anyone feeding can quickly set up,” says Carlton. She also carries a small notepad and pen in her pocket, so personal lists and reminders are always with her.