I can’t tell you how many comments and questions I’ve read from people who love horses and are thinking about changing their career path and become a Barn Manager. I thought it might be time to let these people know what it’s really like before they make a life changing decision.
First of all let me say that every Barn Manager position is different. This is just a general overview of my experience combined with others that I have worked with.
Now on to the important stuff!
Let me get this out. As a Barn Manager (BM), nine times out of ten you will spend more time working with people than with horses. That’s right I said it. This is a people job not a horse job. If you want a job working mostly with horses look into exercise riding or starting young horses.
While a BM does spend most of their day in the barn ordering feed and shavings, tacking up, cleaning, scheduling lessons, teaching lessons, you don’t usually get that quality one on one time that made you fall in love with horses in the first place. I spent several years after college as a BM for a local barn with a big lesson program and an even bigger summer program and let me tell you – although I really wanted to buy my own horse (I sold mine while in college), I was grateful that I hadn’t because the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was work another horse.
I’m not trying to convince you that it is some horrible job – not at all! On the contrary, I loved being a BM and I still miss my lesson girls every day. But it certainly was not what I expected when I took the job and I think it's only fair that I share that with others thinking about taking this kind of position.
My typical schedule was:
7:30 AM: Feed and Turn out/ Bring In - Hay
8:00 AM: Teach Lesson 1
9:00 AM: Teach Lesson 2
10:00 AM: Work Horse in Training
10:30 AM: Work Horse in Training
11:00 AM: Hay
11:30 AM: Teach Lesson 3
12:30 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM: Teach Lesson 4
2:00 PM: Work Horse in Training
2:30 PM: Hay – Clean Barn/Tack
3:30 PM: Teach Group Lesson 1
4:30 PM: Teach Group Lesson 2
5:30 PM: Teach Group Lesson 3
6:30 PM: Feed and Turn Out/ Bring In – Hay
7:00 PM: Clean up Barn and Close Up
7:30 PM: Go Home!
As you can see by the end of the working day there was not much daylight left for worrying about your own horse. Working the horses in training is not riding for fun, it's working on whatever that pairing (student and horse) need to be accomplishing, and after teaching 7 lessons you don’t want to walk anywhere or hear yourself talk anymore!
Like I said all positions are different. I just want to make it clear that your time and energy will revolve more around the people at the barn than the horses. Who wouldn’t love to be a BM who spends all day loving on ponies, hanging out with other horse people (sans barn drama), and getting some quality riding time in? I sure would and I’m sure that position is out there but unfortunately they are few and far between. If you do hear of one, let me know!
I ended up leaving the position for many reasons. But the thing that really stuck with me was how the actual experience differed from what I expected. I would consider taking a BM position again but only under the right circumstances.
What was your Barn Management experience like? Or have you ever dreamed of working in the horse industry? Share with us below!
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