Mucking out--can't get it just right
 
 

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Mucking out--can't get it just right

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  • Efficiently mucking
  • Muck out

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    05-22-2014, 09:58 PM
  #1
Foal
Mucking out--can't get it just right

My daughter (12) has been volunteering in her barn for about 6 months now--once a week. Her duties are to muck out the stalls. She's mucked out in other places before and there was never a problem with her work--she's a bit slow, but very conscientious. She really does want to do the best job she can and to please the BO.

Her current BO is regularly critical of her work. It is either she wastes too much bedding, or she leaves some small amount of wet bedding. My daughter says she does her best, double checks and tripple checks, sifts through again and again--that's why she's slow--and it still is never right.

I'm starting to suspect that nothing will be ever right for this BO. She's very particular about how the stalls are, and I think she'll be perpetually critical of anyone who mucks out.

My daughter asked the BO several times on how to improve and stated that she wants to do a better job, but the BO won't explain much. Maybe it is impossible to explain--you sort of have to develop a feel for it?

She's getting frustrated, because she thought that by now she'd improve enough to gain more approval from the BO, but she says her reaction has been the same from the beginning--consistent and matter of fact criticism.

My daughter and I would like some mucking up tips. Could you share your experiences? How do you achieve the balance between not wasting the bedding and yet leaving the stall without any wet clumps? Is there an accepted standard, or it is up to each individual BO?

Is it possible to do a stall badly if one does it twice and really tries to sift it all through and remove all manure, all wetness, and not to waste too much bedding?
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    05-22-2014, 10:34 PM
  #2
Foal
For some people nothing anyone else ever does will ever be perfect. My tip, without knowing the whole situation, is to have your 12 year old move to a more positive and less-nit-picky environment if that is possible or to stop mucking out for this person who will probably never be satisfied.

My experience mucking out for people is this: every place seems to have a different standard. Some places are big on conserving as much bedding as possible and some places are more into having a super clean stall.
     
    05-22-2014, 10:48 PM
  #3
Weanling
There is no such thing as a perfectly mucked stall. The BO is just being an unappreciative and unkind individual. Your daughter is volunteering for goodness sakes! You cannot muck without picking up a small amount of bedding. Scoop, sift and move on. There is no real trick to it. I will simply rake towards the wall or corner and then scoop it up(after first picking up the good dry bedding and moving it away). When it's wet, you are naturally going to pick up more bedding. I also volunteer and the BO is just glad to have my help.
Your BO is just being a B in my opinion.

My best to your daughter and don't let her feel bad.
     
    05-22-2014, 10:49 PM
  #4
Yearling
Highly critical and won't offer to show her how she wants her stalls done...time for your daughter to move on and not beat herself up.

So...that said...
She could try this way...I use to work for the biggest anal PITA boss about stalls...

Muck fork and wheelbarrow at the ready, now go in and take the horse out so the stall is empty and safer for her to work in. Put that horse on cross-ties or another stall, in a t/o but out...
So, in the stall she goes...now go pick up the manure she sees easily. Once on the fork she gently sifts side to side so the shavings stay in the stall and only manure goes in the wheelbarrow.
Do the entire stall this way.

Work in a circle that way you always are double-checking your work.
Now once all easily seen is removed she will start to gently scoop and toss against the stall wall causing the manure to roll out, down and easily scooped up, sift again out the shavings...dump in the wheelbarrow.
All the way around the stall.
She will now see that wet spot to scoop and toss out. Even if she digs and splats the wet spot she can easily see it and feel the weight of it and scoop and toss it away...
Once that is done she gently starts to pull down a small amount of bedding from the wall at a time...any manure she sees, scoop, sift and toss.
It will take time till she gets a rhythm and comfortable handling cleaning and tossing shavings...
She will though have clean and dry stalls with no hidden wet spots or manure balls.

If that doesn't please her "boss", tell "the boss" she can clean her own stalls!!

     
    05-22-2014, 10:52 PM
  #5
Trained
It has to be just so because.....? Horses are pooping and peeing on it?
     
    05-22-2014, 11:26 PM
  #6
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkylem    
There is no such thing as a perfectly mucked stall. The BO is just being an unappreciative and unkind individual. Your daughter is volunteering for goodness sakes! You cannot muck without picking up a small amount of bedding. Scoop, sift and move on. There is no real trick to it. I will simply rake towards the wall or corner and then scoop it up(after first picking up the good dry bedding and moving it away). When it's wet, you are naturally going to pick up more bedding. I also volunteer and the BO is just glad to have my help.
Your BO is just being a B in my opinion.

My best to your daughter and don't let her feel bad.
I have a feeling the BO is glad to have her around, but she just can't help herself--maybe perfectionism, and such.

The reasons my daughter wants to be there--she also takes lessons there (each lesson is paid, there's no discount or anything like that) and she loves how this BO teaches. From what I've seen, the BO is very positive and encouraging and knows how to push just enough, and my daughters loves it (especially after several less experienced instructors.)

Daughter says she's very different during her volunteer time. Not as encouraging and positive at all. She is not rude or mean or abusive, she's just very matter of fact and nit picky and keeps talking about her very high standards.

Basically right now we are trying to decide whether to persevere there and volunteer, or to just take lessons there. The barn is very calm and drama-free so this is a plus as well.

I've asked the BO myself several times, and I'm not sure what to make of her reaction. I'd usually say, "How's my daughter doing? She really wants to do a good job for you but is worried she isn't improving."

And the BO would say, "Oh yeah she's eager to learn. She'll get it eventually. She is not exactly the fastest, ha ha."

So I can see that she is not super pleased, but not really displeased either. She started volunteering there after a barn hand left, so the BO really needed help. Now she might not need that much help and sometimes there's another person there as well (I'm not sure whether paid or volunteer).
     
    05-22-2014, 11:32 PM
  #7
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy    
Highly critical and won't offer to show her how she wants her stalls done...time for your daughter to move on and not beat herself up.

So...that said...
She could try this way...I use to work for the biggest anal PITA boss about stalls...

Muck fork and wheelbarrow at the ready, now go in and take the horse out so the stall is empty and safer for her to work in. Put that horse on cross-ties or another stall, in a t/o but out...
So, in the stall she goes...now go pick up the manure she sees easily. Once on the fork she gently sifts side to side so the shavings stay in the stall and only manure goes in the wheelbarrow.
Do the entire stall this way.

Work in a circle that way you always are double-checking your work.
Now once all easily seen is removed she will start to gently scoop and toss against the stall wall causing the manure to roll out, down and easily scooped up, sift again out the shavings...dump in the wheelbarrow.
All the way around the stall.
She will now see that wet spot to scoop and toss out. Even if she digs and splats the wet spot she can easily see it and feel the weight of it and scoop and toss it away...
Once that is done she gently starts to pull down a small amount of bedding from the wall at a time...any manure she sees, scoop, sift and toss.
It will take time till she gets a rhythm and comfortable handling cleaning and tossing shavings...
She will though have clean and dry stalls with no hidden wet spots or manure balls.

If that doesn't please her "boss", tell "the boss" she can clean her own stalls!!

Thank you!!! This is very helpful. Maybe indeed she lacks an efficient system and the BO can't verbalize and explain it. I'm going to print it out for her and ask her how it compares to what she does.

How long does this method take per stall? The stalls are big (not sure of the size, but bigger than I normally see.) The BO says it should take about 8 minutes per stall. It does take my daughter longer at the moment.

The horses are usually out when she comes, unless it is bad weather, and then they move horses to empty stalls while she mucks. This barn is very strict on safety, so she is not allowed to muck if a horse is in the stall.
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    05-23-2014, 12:05 AM
  #8
Yearling
I use to do 14'x14' boxes with 8-10" deep of bedding at least.
My stalls were completely turned every day, dry and clean is a understatement.
Once I found a rhythm and comfortable doing my stalls it took about 15 minutes start to completion with fresh bedding added. Normal cleaning, about 10 minutes...
Oh... I wasn't a "kid" either but a late teen or twenties at the time so my size was considerably more and more strength...

As for doing them on a "volunteer" basis and still paying full-freight for lessons...
Don't do that to yourself or your daughter please.
She/you earn the right to a discount on what is paid for a lesson, some kind words of encouragement and since "the boss" isn't paying her who cares how long it takes!!
I think you are being taken advantage of with what you now disclose... your daughter is saving "the boss" a salary, and still paying full-price for lessons...."NO!"

Go back to going for lessons, enjoying your ride time and the "doting" instructor not the hag who has not a nice word for her free labor!!

Sorry...the golden goose just laid a BIG FART of an egg...
..yup, my opinion!
     
    05-23-2014, 01:07 AM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy    
I use to do 14'x14' boxes with 8-10" deep of bedding at least.
My stalls were completely turned every day, dry and clean is a understatement.
Once I found a rhythm and comfortable doing my stalls it took about 15 minutes start to completion with fresh bedding added. Normal cleaning, about 10 minutes...
Oh... I wasn't a "kid" either but a late teen or twenties at the time so my size was considerably more and more strength...

As for doing them on a "volunteer" basis and still paying full-freight for lessons...
Don't do that to yourself or your daughter please.
She/you earn the right to a discount on what is paid for a lesson, some kind words of encouragement and since "the boss" isn't paying her who cares how long it takes!!
I think you are being taken advantage of with what you now disclose... your daughter is saving "the boss" a salary, and still paying full-price for lessons...."NO!"

Go back to going for lessons, enjoying your ride time and the "doting" instructor not the hag who has not a nice word for her free labor!!

Sorry...the golden goose just laid a BIG FART of an egg...
..yup, my opinion!
Thanks!

I'm ambivalent about this, to be honest. I guess I'm not super confident that her contribution is that valuable and I don't know how to ask for things. When she first started, I knew this BO had high standards and that she will have a lot to learn before being actually useful. There's training and supervision involved. It wasn't the right moment to talk about any kind of reimbursement.

Right now it takes her probably 20 minutes to do a stall, if not the whole 30--due to her not being as strong as the BO, and probably not having a system, and doing the same spots several times because she's worried she missed things. Daughter says she still can't sift as effectively and fast as the BO.

She does about 4-5 stalls on a good day. She'd gladly do more (and has done more) but if there's another helper there she get to the stalls quicker and to my daughter's disappointment (ha ha, seriously, she gets disappointed if she doesn't do enough stalls) she doesn't have more than 4 stalls left.

And then the BO walks into each stall and does a light sifting to check it. And it is never a "good job."

So realistically speaking, at the moment my daughter "saves" her what, an hour of work? Not much. I'd feel awkward to even ask for any kind of reimbursement for this. Yeah, technically every couple of months she could have a freebie lesson. I'm not comfortable even mentioning this.

I think if the BO is a decent person eventually she might offer something like that herself--when daughter is actually able to be of more help. On the other hand, if her MO is to be perpetually somewhat critical, then maybe this is how she safe guards herself from ever giving a free lesson--the volunteer contribution is never up to her standard. Tricky.

I printed out your steps (thank you again!) and I'll see what daughter says about her own method and how it compares, and we will see if the BO will notice the difference.

Then we'll reassess. Daughter loves many aspects of being there, loves learning new things, just loves being around horses. The only problem is that she's becoming insecure about whether she's doing a good job, and desperately wanting to do a better job.
     
    05-23-2014, 01:22 AM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy    
As for doing them on a "volunteer" basis and still paying full-freight for lessons...
Don't do that to yourself or your daughter please.
She/you earn the right to a discount on what is paid for a lesson, some kind words of encouragement and since "the boss" isn't paying her who cares how long it takes!!
I think you are being taken advantage of with what you now disclose... your daughter is saving "the boss" a salary, and still paying full-price for lessons...."NO!"

Go back to going for lessons, enjoying your ride time and the "doting" instructor not the hag who has not a nice word for her free labor!!

Sorry...the golden goose just laid a BIG FART of an egg...
THIS! I completely agree with what horselovingguy said. You daughter does not need to clean stalls if you are paying full price for lessons. It's great that she wants to help, but I just can't see what she's getting out of it besides being constantly beaten down (not in a malicious way, but never receiving approval can be harsh for a 12 year-old). Cleaning stalls is a great experience and doing it efficiently is a great skill to learn, but it's repetitive work and it takes awhile and some arm and back strength and sweat to develop a system that works for you in order to get it done quickly. Your daughter has had the experience of mucking regularly and now she has that tool and the dedication needed to do it over-and-over under her belt, I think she should move on to other skills that will also help her in her pursuit of riding and horsemanship.
     

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