Monday, December 1, 2014

Survey Results and Priorities for 2015

It’s important to get feedback from clients, and at PHH we take that seriously. Maybe it’s the nurse in me that wants to continuously evaluate, assess, plan, and strive for improvement, but whatever the reason I know it’s important to me and our farm.

Now I can’t work miracles, and I’m not millionaire (big bummer right?) – so the next best thing is to get everyone’s feedback and input to prioritize the things we can change. That’s what we had in mind when we launched our 2014 feedback survey in early November.

We have the results back – and I want to say a big thank you to the many people who responded. We had a variety of responses from lesson students, summer camp clients and boarders. It’s great to have the variety of people responding so that we know each area of our clients are represented.

I want to share with you some of the key themes that came from the survey, and what we’re going to do about it:

The biggest thing that most people agreed on is that
  •       You want bigger paddocks & less mud

We want to thank you for your patience on this. We know it’s an issue. We did a lot of scraping this year…. And the paddocks looked beautiful for all of a day or two, and then it rained and we were back to mud. Scraping regularly didn’t work and we know we have to do more than that. We didn’t do more than that this year because we didn’t know where the arena was going and what will be destroyed and levelled with the construction.

Now we know where the arena is going and what is happening to the paddocks.
We’re going to do what we can. We have drawn up plans to drastically change the farm. Literally not one paddock or arena is staying the same.

We’ve already started some of this fencing work… if you were up last week you would have seen some changes and if you come this weekend you’ll see even more work is being done. Until it’s all frozen and we can’t do anything, we’ll keep making improvements!

We will continue to have ‘sacrifice’ paddocks to preserve grass during vulnerable times otherwise the grass doesn’t get a chance to grow. What we are changing is making fewer paddocks so that they will be larger grass sections, and we plan to better utilize the back field, dividing it into two so the paddocks become very long and have a lot more space. We are going to look at a paddock paradise system to create more ‘tracks’ that force horses to have to travel longer distances to get to their grass or hay so they have to move more. We are going to go from 4 fields sharing the back pasture to only 2 paddocks sharing that space so you can imagine they will have a lot more. The grass ring will become a paddock, and part of the front lawn will become some pasture. It’s going to be a lot more fun for the horses.   

We will look at mud solutions for the sacrifice paddocks including grading. These things cost mega $ (like upwards of $30,000 to do 4 paddocks), so we will focus on fencing and more space for 2015 and may not get to installing tiles or concrete slabs until 2016 (we want to research it and do it right the first time… not cheap & wrong). I am very excited to reveal our paddock redesign in spring and this should be completed by the summer or soon after the arena building.

  • ·        You want a heated viewing room – you’re going to get it. Once the arena goes up we will look at building a heated viewing room before the next winter. This will likely not be central heating, but will have some form of easy to use heat for the winter.
  •      You want more obstacles: Yes! We are completely redesigning our obstacle ring and are moving it to the sand ring and surrounding area with a hill so we can build ‘stairs’, we’ve already built a new balance beam, bridge, and teeter and already have wood purchased to build a water splash box, brush box, and a turn around. If you have any ideas for obstacles please pass along  - or if you want to build any obstacles for us, please let us know and we’ll happily supply all materials!
  •      You want the barnyard/barn to be kept tidy and all students to respect the equipment: we really appreciate that you want to help keep the farm tidy… it is seemingly a constant battle to keep garbage picked up, feed bins put back, etc. We have already posted a reminder checklist in the barn, requested our daily helpers to help with keeping things tidy and will do our best to keep reminding all clients and visitors to do their part to help keeps things tidy. I also recently went through the barn back to front and completely tidied it all up and we installed new blanket hooks and saddle racks to help keep it tidy while tacking up. We encourage you to work together to help keep the farm tidy, or let us know if you notice anyone not understanding how to keep it all organized.
  •      You still want an outdoor round pen: We’ve looked at the design and we’re going to keep the round pen in the general area where it is, but it will be redone and shifted a little. The fencing will be installed professionally, and we will plan for this space to be used as part of the neighbouring paddock when not in use. We will also add sand to improve the footing in the pen once it has been rebuilt in its slightly different location.
  •      You want the shelter in paddock 2 to become a hay & storage shelter: okay! We will plan to move it nearby for that purpose, it will also help to keep the barn area tidier because the wheelbarrow, etc can be stored in there.
  •      You want.... lessons, trails, summer camp, horse shows, more cowboy events, trailering services to our clinics/events, the Halloween poker run, and horse agility – you got it! Look for dates being posted in the new year. Summer camp is already available and lessons and trails are continuing.
  •      You want even bigger lockers – okay! These will be among the first things to go in the new indoor arena once built (after footing and lights).
  •      You want an online webcam to watch the horses in their paddocks from home – we already have cameras that watch the horses (but they also watch the barn, entrances, etc) and we will look into either making this footage available to you, or installing more cameras that are dedicated to just the paddocks for watching.
  • ·        Some of you want more professional looking jumps: We’re going to start with getting a better paint job on the jumps we have now and hope you like it. Look for this to happen in spring/summer.
  • ·        Some of you want a 'real' washroom: We’re going to investigate costs and look at options. No promises here yet J

You also gave us a lot of valuable comments and suggestions – we are looking at them all. Some of the feedback included that we need to remember to be on time, have clear goals in lessons, and maintain tidiness in the farm. You also gave us many more positive comments about how much you enjoyed our services, our coaches, the variety, and general comments about loving our farm – thank you so much for both the positive & constructive criticism.

Even though the survey is now complete, please don’t hesitate to give us feedback or share your suggestions. We want to continually do better and your ideas matter.

We also want to encourage clients to keep communicating their goals and learning needs to staff to make sure you are learning what matters most to you. Please also tell your instructor if you enjoy a lesson or activity, and on the flip side also let them know if you don’t enjoy something. We are experts at reading horses, but not necessarily people… please leave the guess work out of it and tell us what you’re thinking!

We’re posting this so you can see how we plan to put your suggestions into practice. It’s part of our commitment to you. We think what we’ve planned is realistic and we can accomplish in 2015, but please keep in mind sometimes things can change and may shift our timelines or priorities…. Or who knows, maybe we’ll end up buying a bigger farm :)

Thank you again for all of your input, we hope you like what we’ve got planned for 2015!

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