My former days as a Property Manager/Groom started and finished with one major task - the “Property Walk Around”. I was looking for everything, and really hoping that I found nothing! Here are some of the things that I would be spotting, inspecting, cleaning, fixing, calling for bids on, and panicking over. Not all Grooms have the title of property or barn manager. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s sometimes the Grooms that do most of the walking around and noticing of potential hazards to the horses in their care!
-The grass and dry paddocks. How were the gates, latches, fence boards? Anything need adjustment, repair, replacement, painting, cleaning?
How was the ground? Too wet, too dry, manure to picked out? Drainage ok, or did I need to grab a shovel and move stuff around or dig a trench for drainage? Do the sprinklers need adjusting? I was constantly testing the sprinklers!
-The arena. Did the footing need to be raked away from the rails? How are the rails? It was a dressage barn and we routinely moved the dressage court. Sometimes when we moved it, we would scrub the rails and posts. (This topped the list of least favorite chores.)
Does the footing need water, a drag, or flattening? And if “yes” how was that going to happen with rides and lessons going one? Timing was always critical here.
-The plants and trees. No weeds allowed! Although we did have a team of gardeners that came at least weekly, there was always daily maintenance to be done. Not only to keep the paddocks weed free, but also the paths and around the landscaping. A great time to do squats while working, saves some time at the gym later.
-The lawns. Most of the lawn maintenance involved keeping the lawns free of dog poop. Those of us that brought dogs to the barn did so on the premise that dog droppings better be picked up by the dogs owner!
-The plumbing. This includes in the restroom, the barn for filling water buckets, the sprinklers, the washing machine, and all utility sinks. Leaks, rusty faucets, clogs, breaks, you name it, and we knew how to fix it!
-Electrical stuff. For the most part, the electrical stuff needs to be checked at least yearly by an electrician. Mostly because that’s the safest way to do things, and also because I’m sure I would shock myself badly if I even ventured to try anything. In between inspections, keep your eyes on the lookout for exposed wires, popped circuit breakers, hinky outlets, and anything that’s not working 100%. It’s too dangerous to ignore electrical “issues”.
-Hot wire or electric fencing. Hot wire is a great way to protect your fencing at the farm, but only if it’s working! Some wide electrical tape will become ineffective when dusty and dirty, but can be easily cleaned with a hose. Make sure it’s all working on a regular basis! Usually involved some testing. And by testing, I mean I had to touch it.
-Outdoor paddocks behind the barn - Also known as runs, these areas attached to the barn need inspections. Look for twigs, branches, rocks, stuff that may have blown in. Also make sure the footing is safe, drains well (trench digging time?) and is clean. This is a common area for horses to create a urine spot, so you may need to regularly clean that out, too.
-Manure disposal - was it time to call for a dumpster pick up? What about for the household items? Was rain in the forecast where we needed to cover the manure dumpster, or was it empty enough that the rainwater was able to easily drain?
-Outdoor waterers - are the automatic waterers or troughs in the paddocks in working order? And are they clean, or full of grass/hay bits and bugs? I kept a bucket with a brush, some rags, and sponges for this very task. Not a hugely pleasant task, but was great when I needed some “alone time”, as very few volunteers for this job!
I think the most commonly used app on my phone is the weather apps. So much of your day and week can revolve around the weather. Horses need to get out before a big storm, but you also need to take care of some things before the first drops hit. Such was my life as a property manager, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg!
What other things do you keep on top of at the barn?