In Part 1, we discussed the horse as your employee. We also talked about suitability to perform the job at hand, horse behavior as a result of pain, and how all of it adds up to potential risk and liability for you.
What can we do to reduce our risk and liability? Simple. Ask the horse how s/he feels about her/his job with an employee engagement survey. Determine the key performance indicators (goals) for the horse in his/her job, then develop a set of questions. Start out with at least five and no more than ten questions, where the horse can be rated on a scale from one to five. Work with the horse to complete the survey.
What are your key performance indicators? What are the most important aspects of the horse's job? These will vary based on the type of riding you do with your horse. With these specific factors in mind you can develop specific questions to ask your horse(s).
The sample survey below is very general. All of these questions will apply to any type of riding, but there may be additional questions to ask based on the key performance indicators you identified. Some corporate employee surveys ask 60 questions, so there truly is no limit on the number of questions you can have in your survey. In the beginning the recommendation is to keep it simple, then expand and get more specific as a better understanding of what the data means is developed.
Questions to ask/read from the Horse
Neutral (Neither Agree nor Disagree)
The horse appears to be content/happy with his/her job every day.
Does the horse have the necessary skill-set to perform his/her job correctly and effectively?
Does the horse feel his/her voice/opinion is heard when s/he speaks up?
Does the horse feel valued/appreciated for work s/he does?
The horse is encouraged to grow, develop and learn.
The horse understands his/her job requirements.
When the horse does a good job, the horse receives the praise and recognition the horse deserves.
Poor performance is evaluated in a respectful manner to determine a resolution.
The horse is treated with respect.
Some of you may be thinking how do I ask a horse these questions? You know your horse better than you think. Trust your instincts when completing the survey. Here are some tips for completing the survey.
A horse that runs to you ready to be saddled is a horse that is very happy with his/her job. A horse that is pleasant to work with and goes with the flow will be a horse that is satisfied or neutral with his/her job. A horse that seems depressed is an unhappy horse with his/her job. A horse that is biting, kicking, pinning ears, attacking other horses, or attacking you is an extremely unhappy horse and most likely in pain. The key here is to notice behavior changes. The horse was happy before and is not happy now. Think of it like your computer was working great one day, and now you cannot send emails. These changes will be clues that something may be off with your horse. All of these factors will assist you in completing the survey accurately.
Coming up in Part 3 - so what does this mean for me and my horse?