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Early Spring HOWA 2010

Owners Find Time to Operate Horse Stables

Unusual work schedules, versatile utility vehicle help manage and maintain popular business

Operating a full-service equine boarding and training facility can be a demanding and time-consuming enterprise. It certainly is for Jim Kittridge and Arlene Conley, owners of Greystone Stables, but they are not about to give up their day jobs.

Jim Kittridge and Arlene Conley

Jim Kittridge and Arlene Conley, owners of Greystone Stables, depend on their Bobcat 2300 utility vehicle and attachments for daily use.

That's because their unique work schedules allow them plenty of time to manage their popular stable near the border of Maine and New Hampshire.

Kittridge is a machine operator, a 30-year employee, at the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft plant in North Berwick, Maine. He works 12-hour days on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He devotes the other four days to the stable. Conley has been with Liberty Mutual Insurance for 25 years and works four 10-hour days at the Dover, N.H., office. She has Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday available.

"Labor is one of the most significant expenses of any business," Kittridge notes. "We can keep our costs down by being here most of the time. We have only one full-time employee."

They purchased the stable, located on 35 acres in Berwick, Maine, two years ago.

"Arlene and her daughter, who competes in equestrian events, had always wanted to own a stable, and when I was able to change my work schedule, we decided the time was right," Kittridge says. "We got lucky because the previous owner had started purchased a very nice layout."

The main barn, which is 70 feet wide by 96 feet long, has 22 stalls and an attached indoor riding arena, which is 70 feet wide by 175 feet long. A smaller barn has four additional stalls. The matted stalls are 12 feet by 12 feet. The facility includes 18 grass paddocks where the horses can exercise and graze every day. The smallest paddock is 50 feet by 100 feet; the largest 100 feet by 200 feet. An outdoor riding arena is 100 feet wide by 200 feet long.

"When we purchased the facility there were five horses being boarded here," Kittridge says. "We added our own horse and soon owners followed us from other stables. In addition to boarding horses, we have trainers that focus on hunter/jumpers, dressage and pleasure riding lessons. Horse owners can also bring their own trainers."

Equipment needed

While the facilities were excellent when Kittridge and Conley purchased the property, there was still plenty of work to do and no equipment with which to do it.

"I looked at a lot of products and eventually decided we would get the most use out of a utility vehicle," Kittridge says. "I saw a Bobcat® 2300 on display at a local fair, but believed it was out of our price range. Once I talked to the salesman from Bobcat of New Hampshire, it became obvious the price of the 2300 was similar to other machines, and it had a lot more to offer. The dealer delivered one for us to try and it never went back."

The owners of Greystone Stables were sold on the 2300 because of its versatility and attachment availability.

"We use it every day," Kittridge says. "Seven of our stalls have narrow runouts — where the horses can go from the barn to the outside — and the 2300 with bucket is perfect for clearing snow. If fact, we use it for snow removal throughout the property.

"Every morning and evening we load the 2300 up to deliver hay to the paddocks and three times a week we use it to drag the surface of the arenas. We also keep it busy pushing and spreading horse manure and attach the front mower to cut all the fields and pastures."

2300 Report card

Kittridge gives the Bobcat 2300 high marks for:

  • Comfort. "Everyone here that drives the vehicle says it's a pleasure to operate."
  • Traction. "It goes great through the mud and over our trails. The traction is excellent. The IntelliTrak® drive system automatically shifts — what could be easier?"
  • Hooking up attachments. "With the one-of-a-kind RapidLink™ mounting system, changing attachments is simple."
  • Well-built machine. "I've spent my entire work career in manufacturing," he says, "and the 2300 is put together very well, with a good power plant. The aluminum frame, which is both light and strong, is a big plus in this environment."
  • Dealer support. "Bobcat of New Hampshire consistently provides tremendous support and service."

As Kittridge and Conley continue to upgrade and expand their stable as they ease into retirement, they expect to count on the Bobcat 2300 to serve them well as a valuable multipurpose machine.

"Why not?" Kittridge says, "For the past two years it has been the backbone of this business."