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
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
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
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
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
- 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?