Barn Managers- size of farm/salary/benefits?

Barn managers, can you describe your facility, how many horses, how many other workers there are, your general duties, and your compensation/benefits in as much detail as possible? Also, very importantly, do you get free board for your horse as part of the deal? :slight_smile:

I have been asked to be the barn manager for a small boarding facility and I am trying to get an idea of what would be reasonable compensation/benefits to expect. It is an 8 stall eventing barn with a dedicated trainer, all private boarders. I would do daily turnout, and blanketing if needed. I will be in charge of feeding/haying, scheduling vet/farrier/chiro/hay delivery/shavings delivery/picking up feed/etc. Probably some bookkeeping or at least tracking expenses so I can be reimbursed, or perhaps they will give me a business CC. We haven’t gotten a chance to nail down all the details, but I expect to do pretty much all the usual barn manger stuff. I don’t have to muck stalls as they pay one other individual to do that.

I have read lots of threads on here regarding the topic of barn management, but haven’t found one explicitly answering this question in lots of detail, just some answers here and there, but if there is one and someone wants to point me in that direction I would be grateful :slight_smile: I’m looking for as much info as I can so I have some hard data when approaching the barn owners to discuss details on job duties and compensation.

Thanks in advance for your responses!! :smiley:

Don’t go down any road at a place that will “reimburse you” for expenses.

I haven’t been a barn manager for a few years. I was paid a pittance ($1200 a month) and made most of my money in services (clipping, grooming, exercise rides, training rides, healthcare, etc). I had field board included for 1 horse. There were 40-50 head of horses on the property at any given time. I managed/ordered the feed, maintained vet/farrier/deworming schedules, mucked, fed, turned in/out, blanketed, repaired fences, doctored horses, etc. I worked a 5 day week (one weekend day). One day a week I was the only person on the property (which was heavenly). The other days I had 2-4 people around, and I had to manage what they were all up to. I was also assistant to the BO who was also head trainer, so there was a lot of horse fetching, tacking up, warming up, cooling down, etc.

Do NOT take on a job that does “reimbursements”. They either pay for what they need, or they really don’t need it and don’t get it.

BM for a 7-stall lesson barn (no boarders), 11-12 horses on site, all turned out in fields (~10 acres) unless weather dictates they be stalled. Indoor arena. Fields are fenced with White Lightening.

Responsible for:
*scheduling vet & farrier visits, and being present during those visits.
*sourcing & scheduling hay deliveries (semi load at a time). If normal hay guy is out, this also means I have to find & pick up loads of hay by myself- load/unload 40-60 bales on my own.
*purchasing, delivering and unloading feed, the feed store is a ~90 mile round trip.
*I do not have to clean tack, but I do monitor the tack for repairs, and either take items to be repaired or shop for replacements.
*washing blankets/saddle pads, and sending any out for repair that need it.
*general farm maintenance - fences, doors, everything… even light plumbing and electrical
*manure disposal compliant with NMP
*AM feeding, but PM feeds are done by lesson staff
*there is much more, I just can’t think of any more details right now…

Most purchases are billed to the barn owner, though there are instances where I have to pay out of my own pocket. I do not always submit these receipts for re-imbursement, as some purchases are “my preference” to make my OCD stop screaming. If I submit a receipt, it is always reimbursed, though it may take weeks. No biggie.

I can also submit mileage if I so choose, though I never do. I try to coordinate my “work barn” feed runs with my “personal” feed runs, so I am killing 2 birds with one stone, and I would NEED to go to the feed store anyway. I do have use of a company truck & trailer, but IF I drive the company vehicle then I can’t pick up my personal feed, and would have to make ANOTHER 2-hour round trip in my own vehicle.

I could board my horse(s) if I wanted, but I choose to keep them at home.

The company offers benefits, but I have never looked into them, as I have everything I need thru my husband’s employer.

For all of this, I am paid ~$6k per year.

It doesn’t sound like much… but the barn I work at is a non-profit therapeutic riding center. What I get paid is PLENTY in my eyes, as long as it allows the program to continue and reach more riders!

Won’t let me edit… Barn I work for sits on a 100+ acre property, but only 10-15 acres of it are devoted to the horses. The rest of the property is heavily wooded and VERY hilly, or used for other programs.

If you are going to be an employee you will be paid and base salary and the employer will pay additional sums in Social Security, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, etc. Those run about 20% of salary (but in some places run much higher), so if the employer pays you $10/hr. then your real cost is $12/hr. This is by way of information as many folks don’t understand this.

I would guess if a reasonable living wage starts at $15/hr. (as many advocates of that as a legal minimum wage would argue) then that should be your “bottom line” number if you are relatively new to the profession of “barn manager.” If you have more experience then the number should be higher. If you expend your personal funds on barn business then you should be promptly reimbursed. You should expect mileage if you use your personal vehicle on barn business. If you travel on barn business you should get lodging and meal reimbursement. Better you should get a “barn credit card” for out of pocket expenses and only have to worry about tracking mileage.

Some places, to save on taxes, will try and make you an “independent contractor.” If this happens then your base number has to increase by at least 20% and more likely 40-50% as you will paying a much increased Social Security tax, you’ll be responsible for your own health insurance, to cover yourself if you get hurt on the job and can’t work for a while, etc.

Will the market in your area bear these costs? I don’t know, but I’d certainly try and find out.

Good luck as you go forward.


Thanks for all the info so far! Especially regarding employee vs independent contractor, and the info about taking taxes into account. I should clarify that it is a live-on-site position. They have a very nice little apartment separate from the barn, so I would live there and my utilities would be paid. Ideally I would like to negotiate board for my horse, for obvious reasons. I want to make sure I’m not asking too much nor short-changing myself!


Back in what, 93? I managed a 14 stall facility that housed oh, 6 - 10 horses 50 weeks of the year. For two weeks it went up to 14 horses, utilizing temporary stalls. Private owner on private estate. Contributory health insurance, paid vacation and holidays off. Shared 3 BR house included, one other person there. Utilities paid. I worked 6 days a week, but was on call 24/ 7 and at the time I resigned somehow I had been working for 9 weeks straight.

Muck, t/o/in, schedule and attend vet/ farrier, order feed, manage budget, drag ring, keep them all fit, tours and lessons and pony rides as needed. Monitored/ managed lameness/ illness. Foal watch. Basically, it was just me doing everything and saving the owner from himself. i.e.: he’d come in at 2 a.m. after the bars closed, crank up the heat in the barn and show off his horses to his newest trampgirlfriend. I slept with one eye open so I could open windows and turn the heat down when he left so horses would not get sick. Not a fun gig in retrospect, but I lasted about 2 years there.

I made $30k annually. No stall. And even though my official hours were supposed to be 8a to 4p with a 9pm night check, it was pretty clear I was expected to be available 24/7… for real.

More recently I managed a 30 stall lesson facility, not much mucking, 3 other barn employees. No housing for me, but I could bring my horse for finite periods of time… like an extended weekend or if they had an empty stall for a month or so. This was in… um…2005? and I brought home $600 a week or so IIRC. I ordered grain/ hay/ supplies, watched the budget, AP, scheduled vet/ farrier, administered after care, monitored & treated for lameness, etc. They also offered contributory health insurance.

Both were in CT/ lower Fairfield county.

Wow Sansena that first job you described sounds overwhelming. 9 weeks straight?? :eek: My goal is to have a pretty robust contract, I feel that will serve as protection on both sides. They know what they’re getting, and I know what I’m getting into! :lol:

Location is Central Arkansas!

Wow Sansena that first job you described sounds overwhelming. 9 weeks straight?? :eek: My goal is to have a pretty robust contract, I feel that will serve as protection on both sides. They know what they’re getting, and I know what I’m getting into! :lol:

Location is Central Arkansas!

I think this is why it is better to find employment outside of the horse world to support your horse habit.

<quote>I think this is why it is better to find employment outside of the horse world to support your horse habit.</quote>

Yes I agree! Fortunately I have another job, but this opportunity came along and, if we can come to an agreement on everything, would give them a barn manager they trust (we are acquaintances from the horse world) and would give me a way to save money by not having to pay rent and (crossing my fingers) board. It’s a bit of a unique situation, which is why I’m trying to do my due diligence by seeing what is reasonable without being overreaching in what/how I request compensation.

I think a good place to start is to consider what your hours will be. Depending on how intense the care is, taking care of 8 horses (minus stalls) could very easily be a part time job. Or, it could be a job where the owners expect you to be available 24/7. The amount of work and the level of availability are important factors to consider.

When you look at what they are offering to pay you, be sure to look at the “total package.” For example, having a place to live (and possibly not having to pay utilities) as part of the job could be worth $6000-or more-per year. Realistically, it’s worth even more because that is a pre-tax benefit. If you were paying rent on your own, you would pay for that rent with money that had already had taxes taken out.

As far as board being included, I would say that depends on the position. If board is provided, I would also consider that part of your total package and expect to be paid a lower hourly (or salaried) rate to reflect that. Speaking as a barn owner, it seems nice to include board, but in reality it often doesn’t make sense. I think it would be very understandable if the BO chose not to include board as part of the package.

Instead of board, I would consider asking about health insurance. That’s a valuable benefit to have. It is also expensive to provide, so I would expect that to also lower your hourly compensation rate.

It’s hard to say exactly what fair compensation for this position would be, but I would not expect to get paid $15/hr, plus an apartment, plus board for managing 8 horses.

BeeHoney- Great point about it being pre-tax. Hadn’t thought of that. I am definitely taking the living situation and utilities into account when figuring out the overall compensation I am receiving, as that is a huge factor and an expenditure on the BO’s part and I understand that.

Honestly, I would be pretty satisfied with just living expenses and board for my horse and no hourly wage, since I have another job and have health insurance through them. I have been saying “compensation” in my previous posts, but I mean that to include the total benefits I would be receiving: paid living expenses, and/or perhaps board, and/or perhaps a salary? Sorry that I didn’t clarify that sooner.

For anyone who wants to weigh in- do you think paid living expenses, plus board for 1 horse, and no pay, is asking too much? Or does that seem fair? (BeeHoney, would love your thoughts on this since you are a BO!) I’ve read through lots of threads from BO’s so I know the boarding and barn upkeep is EXPENSIVE and that the general consensus is that not much money, if any, is made on board. It’s not my intention to add onto their bills in a significant way, but I do need to make sure this is sufficiently beneficial for me at least from a cost-savings perspective.

From a brief conversation in passing, it seemed that they were willing to give me a discount on board, but no wages. So my only compensation would be living rent and utility-free, with a very minor discount on board. It wouldn’t save me any money on board vs where I currently board, and where I am now I have an indoor arena! :smiley: After perusing other BM threads discussing compensation I wasn’t sure that was a fair trade… hence me starting this thread so I could have something to compare!

Work out the hours you will be expected to work, and then figure out the cost of the living arrangement and see if it balances out.

Also will you be feeding twice a day seven days a week? Six days? Five days? And then yoyr hprse will most likely stay at another facility?

It’s not just about a compensation package, it’s also a work-life balance.

Make sure that everything is in writing. A lot of times a BM job in a small facility is not the same as say a BM job on a big commercial type farm. A lot tends to be discussed in passing.

When I went back to college later in life I ended up working for the BO where I boarded my horses. I also lived in a large (2000 sq ft apartment on the farm). BO wanted help with shows, boarders, paying bills, night checks, etc… No stall cleaning or feeding since there was other staff for that.

I made sure that what I negotiated was in MY best interest. Since some of what she wanted me to help with could greatly vary in time (shows lasting for 8 hours or 12 hours), I told her that I would keep track of the hours I worked (didn’t matter if I was working a show or paying her bills) and at $9/hour under the table I would deduct it from my rent and board every month. So she wouldn’t have to pay me actual money, if I worked off more than what I would owe for rent/board, we would just keep rolling it forward.

I worked for her for 2 years while in school and never had to pay rent or board. I also was not expected to be working 8-10 hours a day (except for weekend shows), so I had plenty of time for school, studying and riding my own horses.

Just make sure whatever you do works for you.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and advice! It’s fairly hard to estimate at this point, really need to have a sit-down conversation the BO’s so expectations and job duties can be discussed. Right now I thiiiiink 20 hours/week is in the right ballpark, but I could be totally off. Obviously I will have a better idea once we have our conversation about details. I definitely will be getting everything in writing!! That is a must :slight_smile:

20 hours a week seems like an awful lot just for a free place to live, at $15/hr that’s $1200/mo. Is your rent plus utilities more than that now? Could you get a different part time job that would pay you more?

20 hours a week seems like an awful lot just for a free place to live, at $15/hr that’s $1200/mo. Is your rent plus utilities more than that now? Could you get a different part time job that would pay you more?[/QUOTE]

If I read the earlier comments correctly it would housing, utilities, and board for her horse. Depending on the local market and the board/facility conditions and amenities that could easily be worth $1200/mo. And you don’t have to drive 30 min. in some direction to ride!!! :wink:


Think hard about tying the place where you live with your employment. , and make very sure you feel comfortable with the owner’s personality / mgmt style. If the job goes south–and based on threads here, BM jobs can go south pretty quickly-- you and your horse would need to find new lodging in a hurry.

You will have less privacy than you are used to, and it’s almost impossible to ever separate from your job since you’re there on site. Mr HH and I were on-site farm managers in exchange for free rent and board for my 1 horse. We did it on top of full time jobs-- I may have missed it but you are keeping your regular job and just doing this on the side, right? We had no drama and the people were great, etc, but the one thing that began to grate was the lack of boundaries/privacy/downtime. When you live where you work, you’ll get knocks on your door in the middle of dinner, or if we were BBQing in the yard, folks would walk over and ask a question or whatever. All well meaning, and each individual request on its own wasn’t unreasonable or rude. But the accumulation over the course of a few years made us feel pretty desperate to get our own place. When a car would pull in the driveway on Sundays (when the barn had no programming), I would feel irrationally upset.

That said, living rent-free allowed us to pay off all CC debt, one of the cars, and save up for a downpayment on our farm. So, if you use this opp’y wisely, and have excellent people skills, it can work out well for you.