Stable and barn managers feed and clean horses, keep the animals exercised
and healthy, and keep saddles clean and ready to go. Their job requires an
extensive knowledge of horses -- from their nutritional needs to how they
give birth. They may also oversee the rental of stalls and handle financial
Racehorse ranches may have hundreds of horses. Often, these ranches employ
more than one barn manager. In other cases, a barn manager may oversee a stable
with six or 12 stalls. Either way, the work is fast-paced, constant and varied.
Horses can be fussy about what they eat and drink. They're usually fed
once in the morning and once at night, and they have to have a constant supply
of fresh water. Each animal will probably get a different meal, depending
upon whether it's a pleasure horse, a stallion, a show horse, a racehorse
or a workhorse.
Stable management isn't a 9-to-5 job. Days start as early as 6 a.m. and
finish well into the night. Since stables need tending every day of the year,
many managers must work weekends and holidays.
At times, managers have to be available to assist horses 24 hours a day,
especially during foaling season.
Lauri Kenny is a stable manager. "You have to be here. It's a 24-hour-a-day
job [in the spring]."
Many barn manager jobs are live-in positions -- a free apartment or room
is offered as part of the employment compensation package. Others receive
the same benefit for their horses -- free stall rental as long as they're
employed by the stables.
Stable managers need to be in good physical condition. The job requires
lifting heavy bales of hay, buckets of water and bags of feed. Managers should
also be competent horse riders and able to work long days shoveling out or
hosing down horse stalls.
Computers can control the lights and heat in a stable. Science has advanced
understanding of animals' diets, and even helped shed light on what type of
barn design is the most efficient.
Barn managers often develop strong bonds with the horses they care for,
especially those that they track from birth.
According to equine teaching specialist Nicky Overgaard, managers know
their horses' pasts in order to care for them properly and give them the time
"You don't necessarily have to be there [all of the time]....It depends
on your horse and the situation. It depends on the horse and her past foaling,
if she's had complications or anything like that," says Overgaard.