Horse Farm Personnel
So You Want a Horse Farm: Part 4 – Personnel
In this final part of “So You Want A Horse Farm,” we’ll talk about the critical issue of staffing.
Even if you are going to do all the work yourself, there will be some things that you might need to hire professionals to do, such as building, fencing, or machinery maintenance. If your property is located far away from any service areas, it will be much more expensive to have those types of jobs done. Also consider that a horse farm is a 24/7/365 venture, and if you are gone even one day, someone has to care for the horses.
You can have the most wonderful land, buildings, home and environment for your farm, but if you don’t have the right people in charge, your dream horse farm will quickly become a nightmare.
Most farms of any size need at least one person to help the owner/family muck stalls and do general chores such as mowing and weed-eating. Whether that person is a hired laborer or a do-everything manager will depend on the operation and the skill and knowledge of the farm owner.
Many horse farms have absentee owners or owners who want to enjoy the pleasure of the horses without handing the daily chores. How many people you need will depend on the number of horses on your property and the size of your horse operation.
In my experience managing farms with a large number of employees, it takes about two years to hire, train and integrate all facets of the farm team into a cohesive, efficient and proficient unit. So don’t be frustrated if you discover the first person you hire isn’t a good fit after a few months and has to be replaced. Or you might find that you hired a person to be a groom, and you discover that person isn’t very good handling horses, but he is a very capable mechanic. It only makes sense to utilize the skills that you have and not try to pound a square peg into a round hole. Nourish the talents of your staff and make sure they know they are contributing to the success of the operation.
The more employees feel invested in the farm’s success, the more cohesive the team will become.
If you or your manager keeps an open communication with the farm personnel, you might discover some of these “buried treasure” resources or abilities before someone hires that person away from you.
The Owners Role in Maintaining a Staff
As the owner, it is your responsibility to ensure all of your horses and farm employees have a safe working and living environment. You can delegate that responsibility to a manager, but you need to be clear that safety is a priority. Shortcuts that save money in the short term might cost you big in the long term. If you are managing the personnel yourself, you need to know the duties assigned to each person and ensure those tasks are completed in a timely and safe manner. You don’t want other employees becoming disgruntled because someone is “getting away” with goofing off during work hours. And you certainly don’t want someone creating hazardous situations for other personnel or horses.
You or your manager also need to know employment regulations for your town, county or state. There also should be a very clear chain of command, as well as very clear instructions of what to do in an emergency. Having each staff member know who gets called and where the closest emergency rooms are can save a life. And don’t forget something as simple as keeping stocked first aid kits in each barn.
Above all, be clear in your objectives, goals and direction. Give immediate instruction or discipline if something is done incorrectly, and make sure everyone knows when a job is well done!
Feel free to send your questions to me at Ron@EquineManagement.com and I’ll try to address them in future blogs.