Updated: Jun 24, 2019
Barn hours are something that a well-run barn should have but often the barn owner is nervous to put barn hours in place because they have this idea that is will hurt business. They worry that they will lose boarders or not be able to fill their stalls because of the barn hours. I have a few thoughts about barn hours and why I am a huge fan of them.
Barn hours are good for you and your family
Running a boarding stable no matter the size if going to be a seven day a week job and it won't close on the holidays. You are taking care of animals and they need to be fed and watered every day of the year. That is huge!! It may seem easy at first but I can guarantee that after you have been doing it for sometime there will be days that you wish you could stay in the house and sleep. You probably already know this but your days will start early and often will end late and if people are at your barn while you are working it can make things a little challenging at times. There are going to be days when you don't feel like talking or you are not feeling good and the last thing you want to do is have a conversation. You are not being rude, it is just real life when your job is often seven days a week and you never get away from it. It is much different than working at a job and then being able to leave and go home to your family and not think about it again until Monday morning. You never really get away from it (unless you leave the property) so it is important to build boundaries and barn hours are important in this process.
Our barn hours are 8am-9pm during the summer and that works out great for my barn. People will often ask me why our barn hours start at 8am. I have had a couple of people tell me that it seemed late to open in the morning. I always tell them - it is so that we can get the chores done without interruption and trying to work around people and horses. It is no different than other businesses that have hours. They might have hours for the public but they are still working before they open their doors. That is how we treat our business as well and it has worked well for my family. We are out in the barn 2 or 3 hours before the first person comes which allows for us to get a lot done with such a huge operation.
I often will tell people who are thinking about adding barn hours but not sure what their hours should be - If you don't want a phone call at midnight then don't be open until midnight! You are going to have many different clients and the times they can get to the barn will all be different depending on their work schedule and family situation. If you keep your barn open until 10pm then you will have people there until 10pm. If you don't want people at your barn at 6am then don't have 6am barn hours. If you don't want a call late in the evening then don't have late barn hours. It is as simple as that. Don't over think it.
If you don't want a phone call at midnight then don't be open until midnight!
Where you live and the type of weather you have will play a part in deciding what barn hours work good for your stable. If you live in a state where the temperatures get extremely hot during the midday then allowing boarders to come ride their horse early in the morning would be a great thing to offer. Also when you have people who show horses or trail ride, they could be leaving very early or coming home extremely late and letting them come before or after hours is a plus for them. Making special allowances for these types of things is a bonus if you have established barn hours.
Don't forget about the horses in your care
Call me old fashioned but I believe it is in the best interest of the horse to let them have quiet time without lights and noise of any kind. Let them munch on their hay, sleep and just be a horse. As people we never sleep anymore or it is interrupted by our phones going off or the constant sound of the radio or television. We are plugged into something all hours of the night and it is not healthy. I believe barn hours are good for the horses in our care because it lets them rest and even calm down if the day was busy or stressful for them. We need to remember that we may like our phones and radios on but they were not created like that.
Your barn hours will not work for everyone and that is okay. The right people will find you and will adjust their schedule to fit your barn hours if they want to board at your barn. Put your family first so that you don't burnout or lose precious family time because you were trying to please your clients first. You may not realize how important this in the beginning (I didn't either) but you will after a couple of years of being very busy. Barn hours are a healthy and smart way to run a stable.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! I wrote my newest book to give you an in-depth look into the business of boarding horses and all that it entails. This post today is one small example of what my new book addresses. If you are boarding horses or are planning on it, please check out, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business." It is a very comprehensive book on boarding horses and covers every part of it from building your barn or stable to solid barn management. I wrote this book because I realized there is an information gap when it comes to this subject and my goal is to help others so they don't make all the mistakes I made when we first opened our boarding facility.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business, Sheri Grunska