What Does a Barn Manager Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
A barn manager oversees the proper care of horses, supervises employees, and maintains buildings and grounds. They may work in many facets of the equine industry. Showing, racing, breeding, and boarding operations generally have a barn manager to handle the care of the horses and management of employees.
They may also advance to higher level equine management roles such as assistant farm manager, farm manager, or operations director. Some barn managers go on to open their own facility after gaining experience working for major employers in their division of the industry.
Barn Manager Duties & Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to perform the following tasks:
- Feed horses.
- Muck out stalls.
- Turn out horses to paddocks.
- Wrap horses' legs.
- Assist with veterinary treatments.
- Supervise employees.
- Manage employee schedules and payroll.
- Order supplies, equipment, and feed.
- Pay bills and maintain records.
- Arrange transportation to shows or races.
- Schedule lessons.
- Handle the scheduling of routine veterinary visits and farrier visits.
- Repair broken fence boards and equipment such as automatic watering machines.
Barn managers must be highly skilled in all aspects of horsemanship and possess a solid working knowledge of basic medical treatments, equine nutritional needs, and equine behavioral management techniques.
They are responsible for overseeing the general maintenance and upkeep of the barn. Managers may even be called upon to fix broken fencing and farm equipment if the stable does not employ skilled laborers for this work.
Some barn managers specialize in performing less common tasks, such as assisting with foalings, acting as a stable’s riding instructor, and operating farm machinery.
If the barn is involved in a competitive show or race, the barn manager is often in charge of all aspects, such as arranging transportation for the horses, filling out the required paperwork, and ensuring the horses are properly vaccinated and meet all the necessary requirements to qualify.
Barn Manager Salary
The salary for barn managers can vary widely based on factors such as level of experience, specific duties, geographic location, and industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes barn managers under the category farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, which earned the following:
- Median Annual Salary: $67,950 ($33.63/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $136,940 ($65.84/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $35,440 ($17.04/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
PayScale provides salary information for ranch managers as follows:
- Median Annual Salary: $39,513 ($19.00/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $71,858 ($34.55/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $22,417 ($10.78/hour)
Source: PayScale.com, 2019
Many barn manager positions often come with associated perks, such as an apartment or house on the farm, use of a farm truck, board for a personal horse, free riding lessons, paid vacation, and health insurance.
Education, Training, & Certification
No formal education or licensing is required to become a barn manager. However, it is beneficial to have a good understanding of horses, as well as business management in general.
- Education: A college degree is not a requirement for securing a barn manager position, though it does lend strength to the applicant’s resume. Useful education would include a Bachelor of Science degree in a field such as equine science, animal science, or equine business management.
- Training: The equine industry places significant emphasis on practical experience. Barn managers usually start their careers as interns or assistants before advancing to management positions. Aspiring barn managers should gain as much relevant experience for their resume as possible before seeking out a position. Some universities offer barn management internships, such as Ohio State University's Department of Animal Sciences. An internship at the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center is another way to gain industry experience.
- Specialization and Certification: A barn manager's industry focus may include working in a hunter jumper, eventing, dressage, saddle seat, cross country, Western pleasure or reining, horse racing, foxhunting, therapeutic, or breeding stable environment. Some barn managers also specialize in a particular breed, such as thoroughbreds, quarter horses, or Arabians. To become certified in a particular area, contact an organization such as the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), which offers instructor certification clinics for barn managers, riding instructors, and others in the industry.
Barn Manager Skills & Competencies
To be successful in this career, you should have the following skills:
- Interpersonal skills: A barn manager must have excellent interpersonal skills, as they interact professionally with owners, students, employees, and equine personnel on a regular basis. Boarding stables must be particularly concerned with maintaining strong relationships with their clients and addressing any concerns.
- Computer skills: Computer skills are becoming increasingly important for equine industry managers, as many record-keeping, bookkeeping, and payroll management systems are computer- or internet-based.
- Mechanically inclined: Skill with basic tools and repair equipment generally proves useful to those involved in the equine industry.
- Physical and mental stamina: Barn managers may need to lift, fix, or manipulate heavy equipment or machinery. Horses that are sick, injured, or in labor will need focused and efficient caregivers to help them which may also involve manipulating the horse into a particular position.
- Business management skills: A barn manager needs to be skilled at running the barn like a successful business. They should be proficient at record-keeping, payroll, and inventory management, as well as handling and scheduling events, supervising employees, and overseeing the upkeep of the property.
Barn managers must also be extremely familiar with the type of competitive events in which their horses take part, as well as the injuries that are likely to occur during these events. They must also be very familiar with the breeds of horses under their care, as each breed comes with its own specific quirks and history.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers is expected to stay the same until 2026. However, with the continued growth of the equine industry, barn managers should readily find work in the popular showing and racing divisions of the industry.
For this job, the environment may vary, depending on the tasks at hand. For example, in bad weather, the majority of work will likely occur in the barn where the animals reside. However, in good weather, work may occur outdoors tending to the animals, distributing bales of hay, or fixing damaged fencing. In addition, some office work at a desk may be required, which can include using a computer and other necessary office equipment. Travel may also be required to attend competitive events and shows.
Barn management is full-time work and may include irregular hours, such as evenings, weekends, and holidays. Sick, injured, or foaling horses may require tending to during off-hours, where the barn manager may need to call in and assist a veterinarian. Traveling to and participating at events may also require some overtime hours.
How to Get the Job
BUILD A NETWORK OF INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
Join an organization, such as the Equus Foundation, American Equestrian Alliance, and the US Equestrian, to meet others in the industry, which can lead to a full-time position. Equisearch provides an extensive listing of industry-specific organizations and associations.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in barn management also consider these similar careers, along with the median annual salary:
- Ranch Manager: $39,513
- Horse Trainer: $32,227
- Equine Veterinarian: $65,018
- Horse Farm Manager: $45,802
Source: PayScale.com, 2019