Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barn notes from boarders: Part I of a series

Imagine you're being paid  $8 to feed and water 24 horses. You'll have to hustle to do this in an hour, making the pay rate a reasonable $8/hour. Above the garbage cans of horse feed is a formidable wall of supplements. Each horse gets 1-2 supplements and a few get meds that have to be dosed with a syringe.

Now tell me...
Would you want to try to follow these instructions? On the positive side, it's nice that the note has a date, but it's not a stellar example of barn communication. It doesn' help that the pen is running out of ink, either! Here are a few tips...

  • The dying pen makes part of the note unreadable. Type the note up on a computer (preferred) or use a Sharpie fine point marker so that the whole note is readable. 
  •  How much oil per feeding? 
  • Does the horse get oil in the p.m.? It's not clear to me.
Suggested rewording
FEED CHANGE: As of 10/24 [horsename] gets...
1/4 scoop his food
1/4 scoop pellets
2 handfuls of complete
AM baggie
oil (how much?)

1/4 scoop his food
1/4 scoop pellet
PM baggie

Regular readers will know that barn work is a subject close to my heart.  Thanks for listening (again).


  1. We have an Excel spreadsheet for regular grain(s), daily dewormers and anything else all or most of the horses get. Each horse has two numbered buckets (by stall numbers) and feed gets made up in the morning for that evening and the next morning.

    Then there is a separate typed sheet with the supplements for each horse, and the supplements are arranged in the feed room by horse.

    And there is a binder on a shelf in the aisle that has three sheets for each horse - one for worming, one for vaccinations and one for other - vet visits or other observations of illness or injury.

  2. *Sigh!*
    delete delete.....
    I was going to write an "I think all boarders should..." response, but they'll never understand.
    Barn workers rejoice to see your posts on this topic. We hope that some boarders will learn that it isn't magic fairies that get their horses fed twice a day, nor super-duper-pooper vacuums that clean their stalls automatically.
    Soldier on, sista!

  3. Notes like that are just one reason we don't do public boarding anymore!

    BTW, most printer inks run or bleed very badly when they get damp, so place the printed page in a gallon ziplock bag or use a sharpie and print in block letters.

  4. $8 to feed a bunch of horses. Been there, done that. It sucks. Throw in doing their rugs (blankets?) too and it really sucks. :-(

  5. Write the name and dosages on the baggies or if feeding out of buckets, write the dosage on the bucket, send a type written note to the barn manager and the staff, and if possible track someone down to let them know of changes. I am so glad that I do my own feeding now and don't have to worry about it.

  6. Even easier to make a chart. OR, as I used to do, put the feed out myself, in a special bucket--although I know that's not always possible.

    I always TRIED to make it as easy as possible for the people taking care of my horses. Success? Hard to say, but my horses were always fine.

  7. The "two handfuls of complete" makes me laugh. Seriously, can you see the difference in your horse from two handfuls? What size hands??!

  8. I have been at several barns where they have the owners make up their own baggies of supplements so the person that is feeding just has to dump them in and add oil or grain. It saves time and allows the owner to make changes easily and be sure their horse is getting the supplements. It works well if the owner makes a month's worth at a time. Sorta like smart pak!

  9. Now that I use Smartpaks, I'll never go back... It makes things so much easier on the people feeding my horse (which sometimes includes me) and I never have to wonder whether he's getting exactly what he's supposed to be getting. That company better never go out of business, I'd be up the creek!

  10. Dry erase boards are the way to go. I've had 18+ horses listed on a board, in a grid, with each type of grain, supplements and hay listed and amounts for each. If you have a co-op barn it's the only way to go. My rule is, if it isn't updated on the board, it doesn't get fed.

    I also use color coded buckets, and baggies if there are any sticky or overly complex instructions. One barn I was at everyone had their grain in gallon zip-locks, with am or pm written on them. Much easier on the feeders.

    Now I have a barn with only my horses, and only occasional other feeders helping out. I put horse name, stall number, bucket color, feed amounts, hay amounts and supplements. When I feed I do the next day's buckets then, so all you have to do is dump the feed in the stall and put the horses in.

  11. At he barn I board at, all horses grain/supps/meds (which don't have to be given with a syringe) are pre-made/pre-bagged by the owners in advance.

    It follows the same idea of smartpaks. Making feeding easy for staff, ensuring the horse gets the proper amount of whatever it needs.

  12. Amen to good communication! I fix feed on the weekends, and good communication makes things so much easier!


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