I was riding Rascal, our ever steady quarter horse, at a lazy, daydreaming walk the other day and lost touch with his slowing pace – until we were passed by a turtle.
This happens often in warm weather since Rascal is thermostatically controlled. By that, I mean when the outside temperature rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Rascal slows his pace to a ratio of his comfort level divided by the temperature squared.
Sensing my agitation, he must think, "No sweat, Doug, we’ll still get where we’re going, it’ll just take a little longer."
And from a horse’s perspective, what’s wrong with that? To a horse, time is an interval between feeding, naps and occasional work. To a business owner, time is an interval in which results happen that will reward the owner based on the value created by those results.
Put simply, the time available to complete a task is limited and pace does matter.
And that is true in your horse business. Think about all of the routine processes and systems that happen every day in your business: Feeding, watering, stall cleaning, bedding, turn outs, grooming, blanketing, bathing, and cooling out. Your pace and your employees’ pace determine the amount of time it takes to complete the routine work. This time is subtracted first from the total hours available in the work day.
Time available for instruction, training, sales and business development is determined after the time taken for routine functions is deducted. These tasks produce the revenue of the business and unfortunately, they are at the mercy of you and your staff’s efficiency at completing routine work.
So how do you improve timeliness on the horse farm? When Rascal chooses the pace of a turtle, I use a reminder system. It’s very simple. I just put a crop in my hand and he is reminded that he should move more quickly than a snail’s pace. He doesn’t need to be touched by the crop; it’s a signal for my expectations.
In spite of what may cross your mind, I don’t recommend using a crop on your employees, but here are tips on picking up the pace for each work day:
- Establish benchmark times for starting and completing stall cleaning and bedding. As an example start at 7:00 A.M. and finish by 10:30 A.M.
- Calculate an average time for mucking and bedding a stall. As an example: seven minutes.
- Post feeding times and stick to the schedule.
- Prepare a daily horse turnout schedule with regular time slots to eliminate confusion and keep the process moving
- Post the lesson schedule for the day for both employees and students to see to help reduce delays and encourage punctuality
- List the daily training schedule by horse and time slot to avoid casual interruptions.
While rushing through work only encourages poor results, defined expectations encourage a productive pace and feeling of accomplishment for all.
Do your employees clearly know your expectations?
Have you set expectations of yourself that encourage you to pick up the pace?