Fifth week in Germany (Team Tate Groom Marina Lemay)

This past week has rolled by quietly, much like the last, and with the light workload at hand I’ve decided to explore around a bit more. I’ve come to find that there’s always a method, a protocol, a system or a routine to abide to, here, which is quite nice for an outsider! The average day will start by feeding the horses a sizable amount of an orchard-grass type hay (fed from a round bale on a large rolling cart; both economic and space-saving for a huge farm) to last them until the evening. At this point, we also top-dress their bedding with some extra straw, which is also on a flatbed cart for easy maneuvering through the stables.

Horse_sleepingAnother small cart with grain will then be rolled around each aisle and a portion will be doled out to each horse. Interestingly, just about every horse gets the same exact ration, unless they’re a pony or obese, in which case it’s roughly cut in half. It consists of about two quarts of whole oats and equal parts of a commercial feed called “Eggersmann”, which the Verband gets delivered in bulk loads of about ten tons at a time. In appearance, it’s not unlike Cavalor Perfomix; with rolled barley, cracked corn and extruded pellets.Horse_feed

The horses are then left to eat while the staff has a 30-minute breakfast in the break room. Afterwards, the horses are either longed, ridden, shown to prospective clients or put in the Euro Walker depending on their individual needs. By noon, lunch grain is dropped, and the staff goes on a two-hour break. (What! I know, right??) When we return, the rest of the horses are then ridden, the barn is tidied up, chores are taken care of, and hay is dispensed in front of each stall for that evening as well as for the following morning.

At 5PM, dinner rations are dropped and the day is done. There’s no Night-Check here, since I’m assuming it would probably be fairly time-consuming for such a massive facility.

Barn_Aisle_1The stalls are never picked out but, every few weeks, when it coincides with the schedule and the amount of horses on hand, all horses will be moved over to a separate barn for the day, and the stalls will be stripped and re-bedded. This process is actually pretty interesting! They open up the aisle ends and unscrew huge bolts from the stall walls, enabling the walls of each stall to be hinged back so that a corridor is formed for the tractor to remove all of the bedding in one fell swoop.Barn_Aisle_2

One thing I also thoroughly appreciate with the way the Verband runs is how “the bosses” (as they are aptly called) dispense daily schedule plans which are updated accordingly. As such, if a horse leaves or arrives, its name is promptly added to one of the rider/groom combo’s list of horses that need to be worked that day. The plan also includes client horses and horses that are getting the day off. It’s like a master sheet that enables anyone to be in the know of how the day will unfold, even when there’s a bustling staff of 20 and about 90 horses needing their daily work!