Monday, November 8, 2010

Now Hiring!

Part of the challenge of running a boarding stable is in the hiring of good qualified staff to help care for the horses.   During the summer time, when school is out, there's often a surplus of young women seeking an opportunity to be able to breathe the scent of horses for hours on end .  But during the rest of the year, finding good people can be a lot more challenging.

We are now actively looking for a couple more people to join our team.   But they have to have the right stuff!   Horse handling skills, general horse health & care knowledge, handiness with stall & barn cleaning tools, a polite & respectful attitude towards clients and coworkers, and a strong belief that the overall wellbeing of all of the horses on our farm should be given the highest priority.

Interviewing candidates for these skills begins well before their first visit to the farm.   A little can be learned about the candidate via email and telephone.   And in this day of social networking and Web 2.0+, even more can be gleaned about a person by what they publish online about themselves and others.

When the face to face interview takes place, we look for the ability of the candidate to think in terms of safety.   Whether it involves approaching the horse in a pasture, handling a leadrope, opening a gate, or picking a hoof, each test in the interview provides an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate safety in action.

Being safe around horses is not easy to teach, and certainly is not an approach learned in a day or two.   This is a big reason why we only hire people who have a lot of experience with horses.   Not cows.   Not dogs or cats.   Not pigs.   Horses!

So, if you know of anyone in our area who is savvy about horses and wants some part time work, please send them our way!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Falling into Winter

Summer on the farm this year was dry.   The vegetable garden required watering to keep the crops growing, but WOW our artichokes, tomatoes, and hot chili peppers thrived.   The pastures all continued to have grass, but only due to careful management, restricting the number of horses per field.   And the grass on the riding trails did not need mowing every week, as was the case last year.   That meant more time for riding!

So far, autumn has been fabulous!   The fall colors in the trees came slowly, peaking on schedule, just in time for the local Warner Fall Foliage Festival, and continues to linger.   Very nice!   However, winter is not far away!

Fuzzy Coats & Heated Water

Most of the horses on the farm are already looking pretty fuzzy.   Jeddien and May, the matriarchs of the farm, both have good coats.   And Piper, dark brown in summer, is just now developing his deep silky black winter coat.

With the temperatures dropping into the 20's at night, we are already seeing ice on the outdoor water troughs!   And so this coming weekend, we will probably be putting the heating elements into the troughs, setting the timers, and start watching the monthly electric bills climb.   But each of our horses will have access to drinkable water all day long, all winter long, and that's vitally important for their continued health.

Trail Riding vs Hunting

From a horseback riders' perspective, one of the joys of fall weather is the lack of bugs!   The freezing nights and cool days keep the pesky flying bloodsuckers hibernating, allowing us to venture onto the trails and into the woods without having to fend off attacks!   The sound of crunching leaves under the horses' hooves sends out a loud warning to the deer and turkeys, which tends to make meeting them less likely.   And so, with no bugs and less likely encounters with wildlife, even the more timid horses tend to be a bit braver on the trails in the fall.

The downside of this time of year is that it's also hunting season.   Hunters are stalking and hiding in the woods across New Hampshire, hoping to shoot a trophy deer.   Hunting is posted as prohibited on our farm's land.   However, just in case, we still expect all of our trailriders to hack out with hi-viz vests.   Riding out in pairs and chatting while riding also helps make their presence known.   The slogan, "be visible, be safe!", definitely applies on the trails at this time of year.

Winter Training

Locally, the horse show seasons are put on hold from November to March.   But training and preparation for the Spring continues, albeit with less intensity.

Winter is a great time to work on submission, suppleness, and lateral work.   Since we allow our horses to develop their natural heavy winter coats, when we train, we do so in such a way as to avoid them getting sweaty and overheated.   Cooling down a hot, wet, heavy coated horse is not easy nor fun.

Of course, body clipping is an option, but requires extreme care in managing the horse's wellbeing as he is effectively "naked".   When we do clip, we find the trace clip most effective.

One of the trace clips we use, the "Medium Trace Clip", keeps the horse's back warm, but the belly is still exposed to the elements.   So for those colder days and nights, blanketing is still required once that clip is done.   There are variations to the trace clip, which can be viewed on this great Clipping Horses website.   For the youngsters being educated about clippers and those horses in very light work, the "Bib Clip" is very good.

So, Autumn is here!   And hopefully it's here to stay for another few weeks before Winter comes blasting in!

Stay visible, stay safe, and enjoy the fall !