Stalls

I did turnout/feeding/stalls on Sundays for so long, I wasn't sure I would remember what life was like before I started.

Things I get to do now that I'm not doing stalls anymore.

Stalls gave me the chance to own Connor three years before I should have been able to afford it.  I'm also, if I do say so myself, pretty damn good at it.  Gotta use that Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies degree somehow, right?

Overall, not doing them anymore has been a positive change.  I get to stay out late on Saturday night, sleep in on Sunday, and spend more time with my husband (who flies out every Sunday night or Monday morning, and flies back every Thursday night).

Sometimes, I miss it though.  I miss moments like this now:


And I miss out on the day-to-day details of Connor's life:



Although I really don't miss doing 17 stalls + feeding + turnout in the snow/subfreezing temperatures!  It took about an hour longer in the winter - and it was already a 4-5 hour job, if you were fast.

That bird is sitting on ice.

Days when chores were HARD.

(I do miss it when I get my board bill each month...)

I still try to do Connor's stall on Saturdays and Sundays, if I get out there in time.  I know how important just one less stall is to the girl that took my place, and I also like to keep an eye on his stall patterns.  It's weird not knowing him in that way anymore, and it helped me feel involved in his care, even as a full boarder.


Even now, I can't leave the floor dirty.  Must...sweep...


I got to train my replacement, and I told her "I'm constantly thinking of two things when I'm here: What could possibly go wrong in this situation, and what can I do to mitigate that risk?"  My example was, don't turnout the middle field horses first, which is separated from the track by coated high tensile wire, and then send the big field horses down the track, and run the risk of the two groups playing over the high tensile, getting a shoe stuck in it, and getting hurt and/or pulling the fence down.  It's never happened in the history of the farm, but I know it's possible.

My replacement is a good, responsible kid that I really respect, but we all know as equestrians that it takes time and a few mistakes to really think in terms of risk and the important details all the time.

Things I miss out on now.  Can you tell this is an eventing barn?  
I firmly believe that just like every restaurantgoer should be waitstaff at some point in their lives, every full boarder should be a barnworker at some point too. You never see the barn staff the same again after you've been there, and I try to be their easiest boarder if I can help it, and I know (hope) they appreciate it.

Have you ever done stalls before?

18 comments:

  1. I have never kept Suzie at a public boarding barn, all of the places I've kept her have been privately owned acreage/barns. Right now I more or less lease a barn/acreage facility and do all of my own chores, maintenance, etc. 7 days a week.

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    1. That's a whole other level of barn chores! I grew up with my mom's horse and donkey in our backyard, on a farmette with cows, chickens, sheep, and a bunch of pets. She most values being able to see her horse outside her kitchen window, which I totally respect, but after growing up like that, I most value having people to ride with and being able to take vacations. I can see the positives and negatives of both, though, and I can see it changing at different points in my life.

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  2. For the first couple years I owned Prince I worked off his board by having 8 stalls to clean as well as feeding/watering 3x a week. Then for the next three years I cleaned his stall for a reduction in board as well as occasional stall cleaning/feeding in exchange for rides and lessons.

    For the most part I loved it. My favorite sound in the world is the sound of a barn full of happy horses munching on their hay. I loved the alone time with the horses and being so involved in Prince's care. There's something very satisfying about tucking your horse in a stall that you freshly cleaned.

    However I will say that I think having to work at the barn in the winter is what gave me my hatred of the cold. I never minded it as much until I had to chip ice out of buckets and empty and recoil the hose in the heated tack room each day. UGH do NOT miss all of that!

    We also occasionally had stall flooding problems after a crazy rain. I don't miss that either.

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    1. Oh I am with you on all of that - even the stall flooding. We built the outdoor a couple of years ago, and it changed the water table and started flooding the little barn that it backs up to. We fixed it now, but I definitely had to strip two of those stalls once - and the manure pile is 400m down the track at the big barn. Blegh. I am with you - I love it, but not in adverse weather!

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  3. I have! Did weekends in college so I could keep my horse and afford to lesson/show. Didn't mind it one bit honestly. Something nice about it.

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  4. Stalls and/or barn manager for many years! I'm doing full board now and miss all the things you mention . I also try to make life as easy as possible for the people caring for my girls - I know it's hard work :)

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  5. I've ben working at stables and doing barn chores on and off for the past 4-5 years and i love it! i muck out stables, poo pick fields, feed, groom etc and get extra riding for it (As at the minute i'm not lucky enough to own my own horse) x

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  6. I ride at a self-care facility so I do my own chores on the days I ride and when I ride in the afternoon I have to come back in the evening a second time to feed. My husband thinks it's insane but such is life until I can afford my own horse and full care (or pay for a caretaker). While sometimes I hate all the driving to and fro, I do think it is important to get the full picture of all the care horses require though. I will forever respect & admire barn staff!!

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  7. 100% Agree! I have always been a boarder to works off my monthly bill by cleaning stalls (right now we are up to almost 13! eeps!). I would not be able to afford a horse if I could not work off some of the bill. And I'm happy to clean stalls. It's somewhat soothing to me, although in the winter months it is a bitch! :)

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  8. I've never done full board, but I actually could probably afford it now if I wanted to (which is a nice thought!) I've got a great Co-op system going with some friends right now, but I can definitely see me wanting to move to a more intensive training barn in the not-too-far-off future. I really value all this time of having to do the grunt work for my own horse though, it really makes the time I spend riding even more, plus there's that whole "learn the value of hard work!" thing ;) If I ever have kids in the future and they want to take up riding, I am totally making them do stalls!

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  9. I did stalls nearly every day for an entire year. 30 stalls + sawdust + cleaning waters + turning horses in and out (two at a time, by hand) + haying fields + haying & feeding horses etc etc....took about 5 hours a day. It didn't help that I didn't have a wheelbarrow for stall picking - instead I had buckets that I filled and dragged over to dump into a large tractor. Needless to say, I developed some huge arm muscles.

    I got to quit when I managed a job that paid enough that I didn't need the extra income (I worked at a barn different than the one I board at). I got so seriously burnt out on barn work that I want nothing to do with it. I'll jump back at it if I really need the cash, but for right now I'm content to let others do it. That being said, because of what I went through I have a huge appreciation for those who do take care of my horse.

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  10. I work off the majority of my board doing stalls/feeding/turnout, and I honestly love it. Yeah, there are days when I wish I could sleep in or not have to go out in crappy weather, but to me being able to be intimately involved in my pony's life and care is more than worth it. I also need to know he's being taken care of the RIGHT way, and I don't think I would be ok with being on true full care board and not being there daily to care for him and his buddies. Thus, my goal in the next few years is to buy my own farm and move the pony home!

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  11. Have I ever done stalls before? Every day, twice a day. ;)

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  12. i do the saturday and sunday morning chores at my barn and love the added time spent at the barn (and the paycheck!). but yea, with winter coming on everything is taking longer and longer to do... plus it means i get up earlier on the weekends than i do for my regular job. boo. not sure how sustainable this is long-term lol

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  13. I have been a barn worker in one capacity or another for all except about 4 months (not sequential) of my equine involvement. I'm currently just paying board and riding and it is glorious.

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  14. I've done general barn work before, but not really for any length of time. But because of that, I am definitely grateful to the staff!!

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  15. Every day :) Since I own my own my own farm and grew up on one, I am accustomed to it. When I was in school and not riding my own horse, I worked at barns. Just can't get enough :)

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