Some of the most abused tracts of land I have ever seen in my long career in land management have been small “horse properties.” These commonly consist of 20-40 acre tracts carved out of a larger ranch that had to subdivide because of mis-management itself.
It dawned on me that there is a need for planned grazing workshops dealing with such properties. Is there anybody out there in that situation who would like to host a workshop? — jtl
I’m a stable owner, horse trainer and riding instructor. I am also sometimes a stall cleaner, tack cleaner and general barn help. I plan the lessons, pick the school horses, buy the tack, drive the tractor, run the business, answer the phones and do the accounting. I sometimes wear the hat of vet, farrier, counselor or therapist. The days get long and crazy but are always interesting and usually fun. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world! Here’s what my average day looks like-
6:00 AM- Wake up, let the dogs out and make the tea. I’m not a coffee drinker. Sometimes wish I was, but I do drink lots of tea. Hot tea, iced tea, lukewarm tea. If it’s tea, I love it. Well not green tea so much- but I digress. Time to put on the sweats and do some stretching exercises. As I get along in years, I find the exercises help me get in and out the saddle. It keeps my back happy after a few too many “involuntary dismounts”. Just another part of my day.
7:00 AM- Change into jeans, t-shirt, barn shoes and head out to begin feeding the critters. We always feed the horses first because they are the most destructive. After they are settled down, we feed the goats, pigs, chickens and dogs. While feeding we do our first “barn check” of the day. A barn check will consist of making sure all the stalls doors are latched, horses upright, eating, breathing, no gaping holes and otherwise acting normally. We also make sure the automatic water buckets are working but not over flowing and adjust blankets or fly masks depending on the season.
Once the feeding and barn check is done, I head into the office to check my schedule for the day. I’ll also take the time to write down any phone messages that came in overnight, adjust the lesson schedule to reflect the cancellations that came in, etc. Then it’s turn on the computer to check email and Facebook for messages. I’m always surprised how many people will send messages via Facebook. Email I get, but Facebook? Really? I guess I’m just old.
8:00 AM- Finally time for breakfast for my husband and myself. Something quick that doesn’t require much cooking- cereal, fruit and perhaps a hard-boiled egg. We use this time to catch up a bit and plan our day. We’ll discuss what’s broken and needs immediate attention. What needs fixing but can wait. I’ll tell him my lesson schedule, horses to be worked that day, etc. He will nod, smile and act like he’s listening because he’s one of the good ones. Then he will head off to work.
8:45 AM- Time to head out to the barn. First lessons begin at 9:00 so students are arriving. Turn on arena sprinklers and make sure everything is set up. Greet students and assign horses.
9:00 AM- 11:00 AM- Lessons- Keep the students motivated, safe and learning. If those things are accomplished, it’s a good day. Keeping everyone on top helps as well.
11:00 AM- My first mount of the day. I will ride 4-6 horses this morning. My assistant will bring them up saddled, warmed up and ready to go. She will also take the one I just finished with, cool it out, un-tack, groom and put it away. We trade off like this for the next several hours. Some of the horses she will ride. She likes the more “energetic” ones.
2:00 PM- Lunch time. Second barn check of the day before I head into the house. I take my lunch break in the office answering email and returning phone calls. I’ll also use this time to check for any new messages.
3:30 PM- Re-apply sunscreen. Afternoon lesson students arrive. We greet the students and assign horses. Lessons are usually on the half hour in the afternoon. 3:30 & 4:30. My assistant and I will usually split in down the middle and each take an end. This keeps everyone in their own space and better able to concentrate on their own students.
5:00 PM- Husband or assistant feeds horses while I finish up the final afternoon lesson. We have to be careful not to use those horses who are very food motivated in the last lesson. They can be difficult for the students to get back into the stalls safely. If a horse acts up, we make sure we are there to help out.
5:30 PM- While the horses are all tucking into their dinners, the feed person does the third barn check.
6:00 PM- Dinner and time to relax. Of course I have to fix dinner so it’s usually something easy like salad and spaghetti. Not much time for fancy food here. I tend to pre-cook and freeze a lot. I especially like using the veggies and herbs from the garden. Then on work days I can just throw something into the microwave. It works for us.
7:00 PM- Evening lessons start. I don’t do these every night. Only one or two nights a week. On the other nights I usually catch up on office work, update the web site, return calls or emails and reschedule lessons that have been cancelled. That’s if all the horses got worked. If not, it’s back to the arena after lessons to ride some more.
9:00 PM- Barn closes. I’ll shoo out any lingering boarders and complete the final barn check of the day. Make sure all stalls are latched, that all the horses have eaten their dinner and seem healthy enough to be left alone for the night. Put on blankets if the weather warrants. Make sure all the other livestock is tucked in for the night. Turn off the lights, lock the doors and call it a day. I kept my goal of only working half-days. Yep, 12 hours of work and I’m done!
9:30- Finally time to take a shower and put on some comfy clothes. I might even watch some recorded TV shows. That’s if I can stay awake. It’s not unusual to find me asleep on the couch with the TV running.
11:00 PM- Off to bed. I hope for sweet dreams and that I don’t hear the clip-clop of hooves from an escaped equine during the night.
Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual. This is the ideal squeal to A Handbook for Ranch Managers. Although the ecological principles remain the same, what was originally known as “The Savory Grazing Method” now answers to a multitude of different names: ranching for profit, holistic management, managed grazing, mob grazing, management intensive grazing, etc. Land & Livestock International, Inc. uses “Restoration Grazing” under its “Managing the Ranch as a Business” program.” No mater what you call it, this summary and synopsis will guide you step by step through the process and teach you how to use it as it was originally intended. No more excuses for failing to complete your grazing plans.
You might be interested in this books supplemental volume: A Handbook for Ranch Managers.