|Campers with strong backs|
You might think barn chores are the ultimate in unskilled labor. A strong back for shoveling manure is the only qualification needed for the job, right?
Wrong. If you want the humans and horses to be safe, if you want the horses to stay healthy, if you want to avoid chaos and waste in your barn, you need barn staff who know what they’re doing.
|A true Pony Farm camper SMILES|
while dumping manure!
The Weight of WaterTo be sure, the job does require considerable strength. Everything in a barn is heavy:
- A typical water bucket holds 5 gallons. That's 41.5 pounds of water per bucket.
- Hay bales weigh about 40 pounds each.
- A wheelbarrow full of manure might as well be concrete.
- Stall doors are very heavy, particularly when you are opening or closing them with one hand while the other holds an excited horse.
Air Traffic Control of Flying Hooves
|This is Dawn. She|
always smiles like that.
Food and time outside their stalls are very important to the horses (Roxy!), and they can be nervy when coming in or out. A horse may try to shove past as you open a stall door or paddock fence. You could get stepped on or jammed against a wall if you’re not prepared for it.
The bolder horses turned out in the OC like to come flying in together at a gallop. Dawn’s advice for getting them to slow down and behave: “Wave your arms and try to look big.” I’m not sure I could pull that off, but the horses don’t mess with Dawn.
Some horses have strong opinions about other horses and it’s best that they don’t encounter each other in transit. The extra horses that arrive for summer camp can be quite jumpy at first.
I see Dawn handle all of this like an air-traffic controller at LaGuardia. She knows the stall and paddock of every horse and who their turnout partners are. She knows the safe, efficient sequence to bring horses in and out. She knows who shouldn’t eat grass along the way, who needs a fly mask, and who won’t put up with fly spray.
(Dawn also knows who’s naughty and nice. She lets me have the nice horses when I help with turnout.)
Love Optional but Highly DesirableSo far we have these required job skills: physical strength, kindness, critical thinking, a knowledge of horse behavior, sound judgment, steady nerves, and the ability to make yourself look big. Jordan and Dawn know the horses as well as anyone on the farm, and they love them, too. I don’t know if love is necessary for the job, but I know it makes life better for the horses.
See you around the farm.
Rider and Volunteer at Touchstone Farm