Getting a real grip on how you want to handle these issues and your boarders will take some time and even going through a couple of seasons will be part of it. For many this is the most difficult time of year when running a horse business.
Horse hair and mud everywhere!
Once we jumped to forty horses things changed overnight. I never realized how fast a barn could become a total disaster in just one day. I had boarded at large boarding barns and had even worked at a couple good size barns but to be honest I never really noticed the mess much when I was an employee. Once you are the barn owner it is an entirely new reality. Springtime came that first year and horse hair and mud was everywhere and even though I had quite a few people that did a great job sweeping up, I still had many that would forget to sweep up or didn't do a good job at all.
I found myself in new territory reminding my boarders to sweep up after themselves before they rode and before they put their horse away for the day. It was extremely uncomfortable at first but it was something that was a necessity. You need to remember that many of your boarders will come from other barns where they might not have to sweep up before they ride or sweeping up was not a big deal at all. This is not important in some barns but if you want your barn to stay clean then you need to remind people until it becomes a habit. I guarantee that most of your clients will love and appreciate a clean barn and they will respect you as a barn owner if you take the time to enforce this rule so all can benefit from a clean barn.
Dirty blankets and no place to put them
When the warmer temperatures come the blankets start to come off. What do you do with thirty or forty blankets? If you are boarding horses then you will most likely have horses with two or three blankets and they are all at your barn. This was something that I had not thought of at all when we opened our barn.
Not only did we have a lot of blankets to deal with but they were extremely dirty. I had people putting them in the tack rooms and everywhere and I had to figure out how I wanted to deal with this real fast. I first made a quick rule that no dirty blankets were to be in the tack rooms at all. This helped keep the tack rooms clean and even though I love the smell of horses, I don't like the smell of dirty blankets! The second thing I needed to think about was a designated place to hang blankets until we knew the weather was going to stay warm enough that the owners could finally take them home. We put up blanket bars in the back by our hay room and that changed everything for the better.
Once the weather is warm and the blankets are no longer needed I send out an email or letter to all my clients to have them take their blankets home by a certain date. This is something that you need to be direct about because if you just assume that your clients will take them home, I can guarantee that you will have few that will hang in your barn all summer long. You might feel like you are bothering people but you need to remember that if you want a clean barn with everything in its place then this is part of it and your boarders will understand. I have never had someone upset at me because I had to remind them to take their blankets home. They have always been very good about it but it is up to you as the barn manager to make it happen.
Making a great first impression
You need to remember that this is your business and your lively hood. You only have one chance to make a great first impression when potential new clients come for a tour at your facility. This is also where you live and it can be very frustrating if you come out to the barn day after day and it is a complete mess because your boarders did not clean up after themselves. After your boarders are done riding and they put away their horse they go home for the rest of the day. The barn is out of sight and out of mind for them but you are still there. Trust me when I say it will start to bother you once you are doing this on a daily basis.
Today I encourage you to start working on some of these areas that maybe you have let go because you didn't want to upset your boarders. Give some guideline on what you expect at your barn and it might be difficult at first but once they get into a habit of keeping a very clean barn, it will make your job so much easier. You will be proud of your barn and so will your boarders and that is great for business and the atmosphere at your barn.
I have to admit that springtime is my least favorite time to give tours of our facility. No matter what you do it is hard to make anything look pretty during this time of year. Thank goodness the drab and brown only last a short time before the grass starts growing and everything is green and beautiful again. Getting through this time can be much easier to handle once you get everyone doing their part to help keep the barn clean. A clean barn is a happy barn!
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are thinking about running a barn or have been doing it for a while you have come to the right place. Probarn management was created for you. We are passionate about helping you problem solve when it comes to horse barn management and all the real issues that come up throughout the year. My goal is to help you run your business with confidence even when tough decisions need to be made. It is a journey that we all take and it helping each other will make that journey so much better.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,