The business side of things …

I’m thankful that I understand what it takes to run a business. That doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement, but at least I do have a solid background to draw from. When I started my journey it certainly was a leap of faith. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My world unfolded in front of me and I just kept on making the next step. I have heard of others having similar stories – we just love horses, so why not?

There are many aspects to running a boarding facility and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not only about taking care of the horses, making sure their needs are met and that they are fed and watered. It also means planning and ordering supplies; managing employees; scheduling appointments with farriers and vets; arranging for materials, labor, and making repairs; and budgeting for major expenses and improvements. You also have to keep owners abreast of anything that goes on with their horses; screening new applicants and making sure new horses meet the health requirements. New boarders coming in should mix well with the current group. After all it’s the barn owner’s responsibility to build a community but it should also be a place where they enjoy going to work.

Once new horses come to live at the facility, the transition and integration of the new horse need to be carefully monitored. This is a stress full time not only for the new horse, but also the owner, the horses already living at the barn, other boarders and the barn owner. It takes time for new routines to set in and for everything to find a new happy balance.

I think one of the biggest challenges we face in this business is the difference between the cost of running a place like this properly and what people are prepared and able to pay. The cost of living goes up much faster than salary increases gobbling up our disposable income at rapid rates. Barns are almost hit weekly with price increases on feed, lumber, and bedding for example. This year alone with the rise in gas prices and fertilizer we’re going to be in for some unpleasant surprises. For some keeping a horse is not going to be a possibility anymore.

A second challenge we face is the lack of understanding and recognition of what it takes to run a facility like this. The amount of work and time commitment is phenomenal. Horses are hard on their environment and surroundings need to be maintained regularly. People can be quite demanding of the needs for their horses, reasonable or not, and then get upset if board prices are being raised or they get an extra bill. Some simply don’t pay their board. I have seen a number of barn owners get into this business with great enthusiasm and big plans only to find them a year later disillusioned and no longer willing to go the extra.

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3 Responses to “The business side of things …”

  • I was wondering if there is any good books, articles, and of course advice in regards to how to start up a horse boarding business. I want to look at all avenues when it comes to setting this business up, as well as including legal issues to watch for. Looking for advise where to start my research.

    Thank all

    • Hi Lisa,

      I don’t know of any books specifically on this subject. The ones I came across I wasn’t impressed with … they just didn’t have the depth I was looking for. It will be a while yet before I get mine published, but let me give you at least a few pointers that I have really found to attribute to the success of my business.

      1. 1. Have an application process in place.
        Ask for references, ask questions about the horse(s), and ask the prospective boarder what they like to do with their horse. In my process I also go visit the horse(s) and if possible spend some time with him or her to get a feel of their character.
      2. 2. Make sure you have a written contract in place between you and the boarder.
        If there are any disputes, this is your starting point of conversation. If you don’t have this in place, you don’t have a leg to stand on because it’s your word against them. Legal support will be hard to get too if you don’t have a written contract.
      3. 3. Set barn rules and post them in your barn and make them part of your contract.
      4. 4. Set a “focus” or “theme” for your barn.
        Mine is Natural Horsemanship, but you may be into eventing, dressage, western, jumping or what have you. When people are into the same thing you end up with a more cohesive community and less conflict.
      5. 5. Choose like minded people.
        When you share the same values things will run a lot smoother.
      6. 6. Keep your barn organized and clean.
        This will attract not only better boarders, but also helps you run a more efficient operation :)

      I don’t know where you are located, but I know that there are schools available around North America that offer programs specifically on this topic.

      Good luck and if you have any questions, let me know :)
      Ronaye

  • Does anyone know about how much it would cost to run a 40 stall barn on 16 acres, starting out with 10 boarders? The cost to purchase the property and barn is at $250.00.

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  • Do you have that nagging feeling that you may be paying too much for board and are worried that your horse may not be happy? Finding the right horse boarding stable doesn't have to be that overwhelming ... When you have the RIGHT information at your finger tips! Pick up a copy of my book How to Find Trouble Free Horse Boarding, Even if You are New to Horses.

    Do you have that nagging feeling that you may be paying too much for board and are worried that your horse may not be happy? Finding the right horse boarding stable doesn't have to be that overwhelming ... When you have the RIGHT information at your finger tips! Pick up a copy of my book How to Find Trouble Free Horse Boarding, Even if You are New to Horses.

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