Does every step you take around the barn have purpose? Do you have an efficient work flow? Does your staff know what they should be doing at any time of the day? Do you have a maintenance schedule, a vet schedule, an organized work space? Do things get put back after use? These are simple questions that can have a huge impact on how efficient your day to day operation is!
We recently visited Slate River Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. Slate River is one of the most recognized cutting operations in our industry. Barn manager, Kellee Clarke, has been with Slate River for 9 years. She walked us through her routines that help keep everything organized and everyone on track.
Staying Organized & Keeping Everyone On Track:
One of her key tools was the use of whiteboards. “I love whiteboards. You write everything on whiteboard and everybody can go check the whiteboard and see what’s coming up for the day,” Kellee stated.
The key to a successful day actually starts the night before at Slate River. Kellee updates the whiteboards and plans out the following day. Everyone knows when walking in that morning exactly which horse is going to be exercised, what vet care it needs if any and what else needs to be done with each horse for that day.
Kellee also lists the working order for the day set by trainer John Mitchell so the staff can anticipate when he needs the right horse, tack and whatever else he needs.
“We try to eliminate all the miscommunications that can happen when you have a lot of people in a barn,” Kellee explained.
A good tip Kellee mentioned was numbering the saddle racks when new employees join the team. She places a corresponding number next to the horse’s name on the whiteboard so that they know exactly which saddle goes on each horse.
Another whiteboard is placed out by the arena. There Kellee lists each horse and the date that the farrier last worked on them, to keep everyone on the same page. She also keeps an up to date walker list for their Sunday routines and turn out schedule for whoever is in charge that Sunday. Every time a horse is placed on the walker, their name is written on the board, followed by the time to keep a precise walker schedule for each horse.
Feeding Routines & Nutrition:
“Our horses as we know, are in a hard training
program. So they are athletes, and we treat them as such,” Kellee said.
Slate River has used the same feed for 7 years. “We’ve recently changed supplements, which I think are very important,” Kellee said.
Their supplements are all pretty standard. Each horse receives the same supplement regimen, unless they have a particular issue that needs to be addressed. If a horse is receiving a special supplement, Kellee usually places that supplement directly in front of the stall.
The feed bin is refilled everyday to ensure that the feed isn’t sitting out in the open for too long. Within that feed bin is a measuring cup for each supplement so that every horse receives the exact amount needed without any variation. They use a long stick-like tool to mix up the feed and supplements evenly to ensure that the horse is receiving an even mixture, rather than having the supplements fall to the bottom of their bucket and not being consumed.
Kellee uses the stall card method to document each horse’s nutritional needs. She personally goes through and determines each horse’s ration to ensure they are getting what they need. That ration is placed on the stall card on the front of the horse’s stall for everyone to see and know what to feed each horse.
Keeping An Organized Vet Room:
Kellee said, “I try to keep this as organized as possible so that anyone can walk in and find what they need.”
“In certain situations you need to be able to come to the medicine cabinet and [say to yourself] I need this right now,” Kellee explained. Kellee organizes most things in drawers and labels the front of them so that anyone can go straight to what they need, or return something where it needs to go.
One important thing she practices is safe needle usage. Kellee never uses the same needle that she draws the medicine up with, to administer to the horse. “Needles are one of the most important things,” Kellee said. She uses a larger needle to draw the medicine into the syringe, disposes of it, and places a new, smaller needle on the syringe to administer the medicine. “This keeps from using a blunt needle. No horse likes this process so I try to keep it as easy and painless as possible,” Kellee said.
Gloves are also a really important thing to keep in stock in your vet room. A lot of the drugs and treatments used are not good to get on your skin. Kellee highly recommends keeping gloves in bulk supply and easy to find and access.
Another whiteboard is used to keep up with the doctoring routine in the Slate River barns. On this board is also the worming schedule. Kellee keeps this so that anyone can come to the board and see which horse needs to be doctored and taken care of.
For more amazing tips and insight to a high-functioning busy cutting program like Slate River Ranch, watch the full video with Kellee under the general video category or Outside The Arena category at chtolive.com.