Featured Image Credit: Palmetto Carriage Works Facebook
At the Big Red Barn, Palmetto Carriage Works has twenty hand-selected, caring barn hands. This is a team full of well trained, knowledgeable, and dedicated people who take the animals care as seriously as their employers do.
A barn hands daily responsibilities are feeding, grooming, harnessing, and hitching twenty-five or more horses and mules. In a week a single horse can go through about 2-3 bales of hay plus about 8 quarts of grain per serving (on average two serving per day). Throughout the day a barn hand tends to many horses and mules, on average grooming a horse takes 7-10 minutes, of course, the condition of the horse can affect that time. Some horses need a full bath in the mornings, while others can just be brushed and are ready to go.
After cleaning, a barn hand would dress the horse in dray (its harness). Putting on their collar and collar pad first, then they would put on the actual harness. Because they use a floating style harness, it is all one piece making it slightly easier to put it on. The hames sit on their collar and then are buckled at the bottom. Once the hames are buckled, the girth (the band around the belly) is fastened and the remainder of the harness is stretched out over their back. Lastly, the bridle is placed on their head.
Again, each horse is different, the horse may be incredibly stubborn, making it much harder to complete this process, while others may be incredibly laid back and let you put on the harness with ease. Most barn hands have their own way of connecting with the animals, some barn hands find that when the animal willingly takes the bit when placing the bridle is a sign of companionship.
Each day in the life of a barn hand can be incredibly different. They always have to expect the unexpected, but they have great patience and a gentle persistence that is key to interacting with the animals.