Boarding other people’s horses, what does it take?

Based on the feedback and comments I’ve been receiving there are plenty of you that would love to set up a small to medium sized horse boarding stable or simply board other people’s horses as an extra source of income, but there is nowhere to go for real answers.

There is also the common myth that there is no money to be made in this business. Based on my own personal experience, I don’t support that myth. While you may not get rich in this business, you certainly can generate a descent second income that would allow you to work from home and provide your children and family a lifestyle that many would envy. What is also really cool is that with a little creativity you can make this business to be anything you want.

From what I’ve learned in my own research, designing and building the barn, setting up the business side of things and actually running the show, is that there are plenty of things that could turn your love into a nightmare if you’re not careful.

Some of my biggest fears and questions that were staring me in the face when I started this journey were:

  • Do I really know enough about horses and what they need?
  • Do I know what to do if they get injured or sick?
  • Do I know enough about their nutritional requirements?
  • How will I compete with the bigger barns?
  • Can I make money at this?
  • How do I attract the right kind of people?
  • What if my boarders don’t pay me?
  • Will people respect my property and home, and what will I do if they don’t?
  • What if things get stolen?
  • What if people decide to have a party and bring alcohol to the barn?
  • How will I deal with difficult people?

…and a host of other things.

And I’m not alone…

Over the past few years I’ve learned and developed a number of systems to deal with my realm of horse boarding. And for any of those issues that I’ve just mentioned, and many more, I’ve figured out a solution that works …

As a result I’m very interested in creating educational material and training programs that will have the highest impact for each of you contemplating getting into horse boarding, or perhaps for those of you already into horse boarding and wishing to improve your business.

Right now I’m in the process of creating an in-depth book which would also be available in an eBook format. From there I may expand it to a DVD or online self-study program specifically created for the small to medium sized facility, and perhaps even larger. The content would be focused on the ins and outs of setting up a safe and healthy environment for horses, a fun environment for boarders, and a good solid set of business principles and processes that ensures the health of the business itself.

The program would be for anyone wanting to get into this business and those already in the business looking to improve.

I have a ton of research already in front of me that I’m in the process of organizing. But I don’t feel that’s enough.

I need to know what YOU would like to know. What are YOUR top burning questions? Your frustrations? What kind of information is important to you? And of course, is something like this even something you’d be interested in?

To make sure that this is of TRUE VALUE to you I’d love to hear what particular topics YOU would love to see covered.

So, please do me a favor…

Leave me a comment below, and let me know your thoughts about this.

What do you think? Would you invest in a program like this one? What format would you prefer? For example: a book, an eBook, a DVD self-study program or an online coaching program?

What do you think the right PRICE would be for either one of these?

Do you have any recommendations of books, audio programs or videos I should reference to add to my own experience? Any tips of your own? Any key thinkers in this area I might not know about?

If you’re a barn owner reading this, what would be the top three things you would implement right away if you had to do it all over again?

Go wild in the comments – I sincerely appreciate it!!

And if you’d like to be involved with the occasional survey, question, discussion, or share your stories, leave me your email address to the top right from here. As an active participant you’ll have a chance to win a copy of the book once it’s published.

I look forward to your involvement!

Ronaye Ireland

Reader's Comments

94 Responses to “Boarding other people’s horses, what does it take?”

  • We just bought a horse boarding farm 6 months ago. We have one guy that is 3 months behind in paying rent and he never comes out to do anything with his horse. We gave him a contract that states that if your 60 days behind in rent we send him a certified letter saying that if he doesnt pay the full amount by a certain date the horse becomes the property of the business. He called me the other day and told me that he has a check for only 2 months and didn’t pay the late fee for either month. What should I do? Should I stick with the letter saying that if he didn’t pay in full then the horse is ours. Or should I give him alittle leeway and see if he will pay? Hes only come out once in six months. Ive been taking care of the horse.

    • Sounds like every other renter I’ve heard of (my parents owned rental properties for 30+ years). There is always an excuse and always asking for an inch and taking a mile. If you take the money, you are likely over the barrel when it comes to legally seizing his property. He could even get a lawyer and possibly come back and sue you when you take his “compromise” and his horse. Not only could he probably get his horse back, but likely a ton of money and potentially your farm because you “accepted the payment” even though it wasn’t per the contract.

      I would recommend consulting with your lawyer (or get one on legal business practices) before accepting this “compromise”, and determine whether you can legally keep the owner’s horse if they don’t pay fully. The problem is, now a days, common horses are not worth the feed and care you give them. Even if you tried to sell the horse, you’d be lucky to get a couple hundred dollars for them (my family owns Arabians, so we’re in the horse business). Unless it’s some great racer or reputable stud/mare, it’s not going to be worth much to recoup your losses.

    • To remedy a situation like this, you should have evicted the boarder after he was late after the first month!

      Never, never do you allow unpaid board to exceed past one month. Reason is, if a boarder does not pay their board within a few weeks of being due, then chances are, they were never intending to pay you at all OR they can no longer afford it.

      Either situation means that you will PROBABLY NOT receive your board. Therefore, immediate eviction is inevitable or should you keep boarding with him, take the risk that he will probably continue his delinquent habits.

      But, since YOU allowed this “dead beat” boarder to continue boarding his horse while continuing not to pay up, then to abide by your own contract, you must either demand full payment OR take over the horse.

      But, if you want to rid yourself of this problem NOW, then I suggest to take the partial payment he is offering you (making sure check clears or collect cash only). Then, WAIVE the third month board WITH an immediate (3 day) eviction notice (enough time to get trailering).

      You DO NOT need a contract to evict anyone off of your own property for any reason. Especially when the customer is no longer paying for your services. Hint: try to “not pay” at any business and see what happens…you will be kicked out immediately!

      This way, you rid yourself of a problem boarder and only lose one month’s board. Many times it is worth bypassing the stress of dealing with such a boarder and its possible consequences.

      Then learn YOUR lesson to not to ever allow non-payment of board past ONE month. You need to change your contract to 30 days so as not to drag it out and allow dead beats in the first place. If you have a legitimate case where you want to give special provisions on board to a certain boarder (an established good boarder), then you can always do that outside the contract.

      But then YOU are in control of your contract and not the other way around! Remember, YOU own the barn and it is YOUR business. You should write an enforceable contract and hold all boarders to it. If a boarder doesn’t want to respect and adhere to your contract in any way, then trust me, you do NOT want them as a boarder anyways!

      Stable Business Owner for 15 years

  • My husband and I just bought a small 20acre ranch with 16 stalls and it’s all cross fenced 4 pounds complete watering system. 3.75mile sand track. And a 18 pen dog kennel we are thinking of starting boarding for extra income, but are not sure. I. Have had horses my whole life. But we are not sure about there being much of a profit, any advice?

  • Other questions I would address are:
    -How much acreage per horse?
    -How many times per day would you need someone to check on the horses?
    -How much would it cost to have people check on the horses, feed/water them, clean out the stable, etc? — And I’d provide these costs in “cost per horse” for 1-2 horses, 3-5 horses, 6-10 horses and up because I’d assume the cost per horse is going to go down as you grow because you’d obtain an economy of scale.
    -How much room in the stable do different types of horses require (for themselves and storage for the horse owner for saddles, etc).
    -Is there a different going rate to board horses of different types?
    -What types if fencing are best for the pasture and what is the average cost per linear foot?
    -Lastly, I would discuss different barn/pasture layouts showing benefits of being able to have 2 to 4 different groups of horses separated from each other.

  • We are looking at purchasing 40 acres in Colorado where in a couple of years my husband would like to open a dog kennel. Right now the property is set up with 12 paddocks (unusual co fig I have never seen for horses before), an open barn/loafing shed, an arena and ponds. I am not a horse person but would like to learn as this would be excellent for horse boarding. I would definitely like some assistance and your book/dvd could be extremely beneficial.

  • I am looking at purchasing an established boarding facility. Unfortunately the boarders left once this place went on the market. Altho my daughter is knowledgeable in the horse world, I am an amateur. Because we have been boarders for years I feel I have a good grasp on boarding routines. My main concerns identifying concerns with horses and getting boarders in quickly along with them being confident in our ability. There are several barns in the area and am considering offering board at a little less and/or layered services. My spreadsheets indicate I could do this. I would be interested in this book…quickly.

  • Hi I need some advice I have a miniature stallion that will be gelded when it gets warmer, but I want a small horse or pony to ride. Thing is I can’t afford buying one, or feeding another horse. Can anyone give me an idea of how I can find someone to let me keep their pony or small horse at my house and let me ride it but they pay the expenses?

    • I am sorry to say, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If your wanting someone to keep their horse on your property so you can ride it, then you should not charge them for board.

      Meaning, the service of keeping the horse is equal to the service of leasing a horse (this would be a lease).

      You are not going to find anyone (in the right mind) who would allow you to ride their horse while you charge them too.

      Now, if your willing to take care of the horse for free in return for being allowed to ride the horse, then it would work.

      Understand that most leases are the same as the cost of the monthly board. And some leases also require you to pay farrier and vet bills as well.

  • I would love to read your book and would also love a DVD! I was wondering though, how would you properly make a contract for your boarders to sign?

  • Hi Ronaye,

    I am thinking of starting a boarding facility. My ideal situation would be boarding +/- 8-10 horses, plus my four. My husband’s and my biggest concern is the finances to start it up. We live in a pretty expensive area, already own a home and have a mortgage. Do you have to start with a significant amount of money? What types of loans are out there to start a small business? Who/where is an appropriate place to seek advice on finances and transitioning from our current home to a property for a boarding facility? How are you supposed to know how much you can spend on a property that is all set up for horses? (Does it work like buying a home where you are approved for a certain amount based on your current income?) Help, please…

    • I’m not an expert, but from what I’ve learned growing up on around horses, you typically need at least 1 acre per horse, and enough fencing/gating to create different fields that you can move the horses into such that you have enough space to “quarantine” a pasture or two to reseed/regrow before the horses are put back on it.

      With 4 horses already, you should know the general cost of buying feed/hay/wood shavings/watering/shoeing/medical bills/fly masks/ropes/bits/electricity to maintain their living arrangements, so that should give you a good idea of the cost of the rest of it. A decent size barn with stalls and storage for hay will likely run you $40K to $60K for materials and labor, about half of that if you have the carpentry skills to build them yourselves. The fencing/grass seed isn’t cheap either. You’ll want at least some good horse wire fence (not the kind they can easily walk down) and at least metal posts and maybe a line of barb wire or electric fence with plastic anchors to keep the horses where you want them.

      You’ll also need to have the personnel to go out at least twice a day to tend to the horses and the stalls. This includes tools like a wheel barrow, rake and pitchfork to scoop those stalls out, a place to put the waste (large compost pile or spread out in a remote area) and putting in feed/meds/water as needed in the buckets, and brushing down/washing down the horses when they roll in the mud. Depending on your location in the country, you’ll also need to invest in horse blankets and/or fans for the stalls to keep the temperature reasonable.

  • What makes one barn more expensive than another? How do you know how much is too much and how much is too little? Where does the profit come in? And how much exactly is the profit percent wise from each boarder?

    • Your question is too vague to answer, but if this helps, read on:

      Stables need to fit the area (location) they are in as far as size, cost, and type.

      For example a stable that costs one million dollars plus to build is going to have a higher boarding price tag because of the higher costs of upkeep, insurance and mortgage.

      If you have an area with boarders looking for a deal or self serve type boarding, then you need to offer it or something similar.

      No matter what, though, you should always pull in a profit. If you are not, then raise boards to do so. Your business will be short lived if you don’t (you will go under).

      Set prices according to your stable’s size, condition, amenities, and the services you want to offer. Profit will depend upon how much you choose to set the board compared to the prices of your mortgage, insurance, utilities, maintenance, feed, bedding and equipment(just to name a few).

      Unfortunately, there are no easy clear answers pertaining to horse boarding. Good luck!

  • We just purchased our dream property after several years of saving and moving up over time. We just moved to Portland from Colorado but we are here and settling in nicely. We have 14 beautiful stalls, an indoor and small outdoor arena and 4 turn-out paddocks. Based on Equine insurance rates I do not want to board more than 10 Horses – I have 3 personal horses (lesson horse, brood mare and show horse) leaving 7 open stalls for rent. I would like to offer boarding, onsite training and lessons. I would consider us a small private stable w/opening for a few select clients. We are currently putting together our “have to have list” (for the business) and the “would like it but it can wait list”. I would love to see something like that added to your book (a checklist of essential start up items).
    How to find a good equine attorney for contract assistance and setting up a P.C. or LLC which one is better? How to find a good insurance carrier (this was quite a learning experience for me). How much liability insurance do you really need to be safe 1M/2M or more? I would love a profit/loss spreadsheet example as tool to mirror (again just someplace to start) people can customize it but that’s so much easier than starting from scratch. Going into this with an actual business plan and a budget vs. winging it is big key to longevity and success. It’s a passion but… it has to be treated as a business if I want to see profit :) I have had some tremendous mentors over the years so I feel that I have a pretty strong grasp on it but… when you get down to the specifics it gets a little overwhelming. Our goal is to be ready and advertising in the next 45 days. Any info or advice that will get me there on time is always appreciated!

    I would love the actual book to add to my collection. I refer to my text books and training manuals regularly. $17.00 to $35.00 sounds about right to me depending on length and content.

    I saw someone mentioned grants? I would love more info on any grant programs available.

    • Hi Peggy,

      Thanks for you input :) Excellent comments that I’ve added to my list for inclusion.

      With respect to finding a good equine attorney … I came across Equine Legal Solutions on LinkedIn and will be checking them out more closely in the future. I don’t know anything about them but I found her web site to be quite in-depth. Perhaps something worth checking out for you? Looks like they’re based in Portland.

      Good luck with your journey, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me :)

  • I have just purchased a 100 acre farm with 2 50 ft x 500 ft chicken houses and several people has told me they would make perfect horse stables I have always had horses and wanted to open a boarding place for horses, but I live a good 45 minute drive from a large town. I would like to see you address the use of these type bldgs and also the feasibility of a boarding facility this far from a city.

    • Hey David, is there any chance you could send me some pictures of the buildings? Send them to I’ve got a few more questions for you too.

  • I think this is a BRILLIANT idea! As a matter of fact I am currently trying to figure out WHAT I need to know to start a small horse business. Horses are my one true passion and my husband and I are dead set and motivated to make it work for us! We have a 10 acre property and are wanted to board and train horses as well as teach riding lessons and offer short trail rides. I grew up riding and taking riding lessons, however I have not been on a horse in about 5 years! I am a brand new mother and trying to find the time to learn what I need to in order to start our stable in the next 5-10 years. My first riding lesson is tomorrow morning (getting back in the saddle). I’ve had so many questions: What kind of education will I need? (i.e. hands on? Hands on plus a degree? Hands on plus a certification? What’s the best school? What do I look for when choosing a place to learn why I need to?) What do I need to know about horses? What do I need I know about my property when planning for horses? (i.e. grass for pasture, clay or dirt arenas, type of fence). Will horses jump the fence and take off if they are trained to jump? Are there specific questions I’ll need to ask my boarders before accepting their horse into our stable? What kind of insurance will we need? How much do I pay my staff? What types of contract agreements are required when accepting boarders? Should I board females only? Are geldings as aggressive as some stallions? My heart is set on this business. I am young and have plenty of time for learning. How do I get there? Looking forward to your book!!! I hope you choose to go for it!

  • I would be very interested in a book. In Ct.where I live we are very close to the Westchester NY border where many families look to keep a horse that is only 1/2 to 45 minutes away from home. Our Town is without a doubt a HUGE horse town !
    I have 5 acres & 2 barns already on the property & have been asked more than once about boarding , but the Wife is very hesitant with regards to privacy & insurance issues etc.
    I could really use some advice. Perhaps even if I had someone who managed this for us/cared for the horses as well as us.
    Our entire family & especially my Daughter loves horses, but this is not something I want to dive into before doing all my homework.
    I really could use some advice , NOW !!

    • Hi Fred,

      That’s awesome to see you fired up! I know there are plenty of people out there that say you can’t be successful at this business, but I don’t share that view.

      You can earn a good living at it. Granted, you probably won’t get rich, unless you’re very creative about your business, but you can have a lifestyle that for most of us looks like a dream and something far out of reach.

      I find this business very intriguing purely because of all the dynamics involved. And when you do it right, it can be very rewarding, especially when you have a family who loves horses.

      If you have some immediate questions, please post them or send me an email. It will take me a bit to get this book together. I already have a stack of topics to cover and am still collecting!

  • I am looking to get out of my boarding biz..I have 2 of myu own horses..8 boarded. Love the horses…the people drive me berserk…invasion of privacy and lack of respect of my property is the worst! We Came home one Easter and a boarder..I mean the WHOLE family was here fishing in my lake, riding their 4 WHEELERS all over my 23 acres!! Without even asking! On Easter!! Then, on Mothers day we were relaxing grilling out and they pulled in to see their horses and all came running to the patio where we were clearly having private family time and invited themselves to our party!! My fiancee and i finally flipped and it was ugly..they are still here and still driving me nuts but not as bad..bringing all kinds of kids to ride w/o signing releases..people dont realize the amt of liabilituy ins we pay! And how dangerous it is to have kids unfamiliar w/ horse behavior around the barn! I have caught them actually riding MY personal horse iin the arena with out asking me!! Another boarder is really nice and always willing to help out but is ALWAYS late on her board. 1st of the month I have to pay my $600 hay bill, $400 grain elevator bill and $1700 house pmt to keep this place going! Those who have never had horses in their own back yard dont realize how much work it is and how much it costs! THis lady doesnt want to pay on time but acts like her horses are kids and calls all hours to chk on her horses..(her “babies!”)Grrrr….no privacy, all work no freedom to go anywhere and relax,just breaking even, etc etc…Seriously thinking of getting out of this!!

    • I feel your pain, as I own a boarding stable and go through similar situations as well.

      But to remedy such sticky situations, you MUST be firm on your boundaries. Post barn rules accordingly (including no riding stable horses without permission). If a boarder breaks a rule, remind them kindly about the rule and why it is there.

      If the same boarder keeps on breaking rules, hold a private meeting with him/her. Explain that it will no longer be acceptable to break rules at your barn.

      Be firm and also let them know that there will be consequences for breaking rules (like board may go up to hire a “watch out” person or install security system). If there is a reason that hurts their wallet, then THEY feel the pain, not you any longer.

      Remember that a so-so boarder is not worth the stress for you and your family. That said, it is best to rid your business of problem boarders. Believe it or not, you attract more good boarders to your barn when all the bad eggs are gone!

  • I charge a nominal boarding fee and I ask for the owners to share barn duties, I have family out of town so every other month or so I go away for a week or so and this helps me out. I just had an incident where a boarder refused to do any barn duties including feedings and shows up only once a week at most. She stormed off a few weeks ago about me wanting to get her to cover some feedings, and she came back yesterday yelling again and again refusing to do any share of feedings. I have told her she needs to find a full service facility which will cost her a lot more, but she won’t get her horse out of here. Stuck with taking care of a horse I don’t want, how do I make her go? HELP

    • Unfortunately it is a common problem where you (the stable owner) are honoring your part of the deal, but the boarder is not.

      If she refuses to keep up her part of the boarding agreement (the agreement you made with her upon boarding her horse), then you must refuse to continue boarding with her (i.e. you will have to evict her).

      Give her a one week ultimatum to either do the work she originally agreed to do or she will be evicted (this way she has fair warning). If she continues the same behavior, then by the end of the week give her a 3 day eviction notice (gives her ample time to get trailering).

      If she does not leave within 3 days, call your local police and tell them you have a person who is evicted off of your property and refuses to leave. You request the police to inform her that she is to leave your property immediately.

      With a police officer now involved the boarder will more than likely go and fast. This way, you take full control over the situation thus by not allowing the boarder to continue to take advantage of you. (Note: Depending on your agreement, you may have to refund any unused portion of board.)

      Something to think about:
      What do you think SHE would do if YOU failed to do your duties (like feeding her horse)? She would probably break the boarding agreement and leave asap, right? So, if SHE is not doing her duties, then YOU break the boarding agreement and get her to leave asap.

      I am sorry to be so bold, but there is no place, time or room for boarders who do not uphold their portion of boarding agreements. And stable owners who choose to lack authority contribute to the problems of the horse stable business.

      Then, apply these same tactics to each and every boarder who tries the same with you. Remember, your stable is your business. Understand that when you demand respect from one boarder, you will get it from the rest.

      Eventually your barn will fill with good boarders leaving your stable organized and tended to while you’re away! It all starts with you, what things you allow and how you take control.

      Good luck!

  • THis would be awesome. I’m a vet tech student and this is my long term goal after I receive my degree. Main points I would appreciate would be 1)Start up costs 2) What is necessary and what is just nice to have and could be added later? 3)What should be included in your basic care cost and what would be extra? 4)THe best way to handle vet and farrier bills with the owners 5)How to handle trouble horses or trouble owners 6) What to include in your boarding contract that is usually left out 7) Trainers and how to find good ones.
    I’m sure I’ll have more but these are just a few. I would spend a hefty penny on a book or an ebook that contains all the information to start it from the ground up. THanks

  • I may be off here because the topic is a book on starting a boarding facility. I would love to know what happens to the family who can not afford to keep a horse, but they always seem to have 5. I have been watching this horse community It is crazy. I know so many families who come to every horse show, have a trailer, show clothes and the likes of any tack Imaginable. They spare no expense to pay a trainer to get the horse show ready, they take lessons, they even board these horses, Now here comes the kicker…. They are broke. I am not singling out a single family, but a community of horse people who pay so much more to have horses and they don’t take care of their selves, I just cant wrap my head around the idea of having horses and not be able to afford anything else.

    • I agree, it is mind boggling. I guess it is no different than the “gambler” who spends his last dollar in the casino. It is an addiction to some and they cannot see it is hurting their wallet.

      Or there are the ones who have to “save” every animal even when it is not financially feasible. I feel for the horses who end up deprived in these situations.

      This is where we should educate ourselves and others about the large burden of horse care and how important it is to be financially ready for horse ownership.

      Then help work to reduce the amount of horses…in other words, stop breeding them or stop supporting irresponsible breeders.

      Even better, spread the word too!

  • An affordable Ebook sounds great! Some issues I’ve run into in thinking about boarding for friends is hidden costs (ie, extra electric to run the well pump, or tank heaters, fans ect) and especially my insurance and liability. As I’ve read, by boarding a horse, it puts me in to a different category from my own personal horse keeping to commercial status…even if I don’t make any profit. Also there is the concern over drafting contracts and also drafting & posting any state required forms/waivers/signage etc. It has definitely been a lot of work trying to cover all the contingencies… still working on it, would LOVE a book to help!

  • hello if the person that is suposed tobe the ownerof horse dosent pay anything for her over a year and when she was brought to me she was very abbused and starved i spent every day try to win her trust it took me about a year for her to trust me 100percent now the abbuser took her the other day and sold her didnt say anything to me i havent even herd from this guy in 8 months can he do this?what are my rights i want my lady back i have no idea where she is and if they are even feedingher please let me no what to do uits drivingme crazy ilove her
    thank you

    • Hi Rosa,

      Did you have a contract in place with this fellow? If you don’t have contracts in place then unfortunately you leave yourself wide open to situations like these without recourse.

  • I would love to see some extra info regarding dealing with “out of the norm” horses like stallions, pregnant mares, mares with foals, weanlings/yearlings. Things like policies, pricing differences, safety issues, etc.

  • I have better news we are not selling and are making a point to get out to the stables we live 20 min away. So yes I would be interested in your book. Hard Copy is nice but a ebooki or ibook-(did not know they were called that.)would be awesome, too. I am sure our library would love to have one also. I do not have boarders but we do have an indoor and out door arena. I would like to get people out there but have not been advertising lately. We just dropped our boarding insurance, so we would love to see your book I am sure. Let me know when you do it. And I vote under $30 at least maybe cheaper depending how much you put in it. Ebooks and Ibooks less.?? Thanks.

  • i live in northern Alabama & am looking to purchase / start a boarding facility. i have 25 yrs hands on experience & much book knowledge about horses but my main concern in this “adventure” is the cost. what kind of grants or loans are out there? i have researched this area & there are lots of horses & horse people but not many facilities where people can board. im not looking to make a huge profit, i just want to provide my knowledge & assistance to people & horses in need. I DON’T however, want to sell my right leg just to have to close the doors in a year. thank you for any help :)

  • yes that would be wonderful.

    • Do you have any specific questions?

  • I am in the state of Iowa and am considering selling my horseboarding facility. We have a beautiful indoor and outdoor arena on 20acres just south of Des Moines. We have the operation and our own horses but not enough money to move it forward. We have made beautiful progress but need help. If we had the right person in the business we might have been able to make a go of it. Now it is just sitting costing us. If their was a book I am afraid it might be too late. For the right person this is a dream come true(my dream) but money has always been an issue for us. We have not pushed the boarding thing while we were creating it but now it is more than ready and yet we find ourselves needing to sell it yesterday…. any advice?

    • Hi Donni,

      What kind of advice are you looking for? Are you looking at getting the business up and running and wondering where to start? Do you have any boarders currently?

      If you give me a bit more direction, then maybe I can give you some pointers?


  • Mine has always been if the stable is a little out of the way, in a private setting, not something relatively close to main drags and they have to be calm in the setting. The security of barn and stable area not only for my loved horse but for the workers and people visiting.
    I wonder if I’m being too cautious for my own good. When I have a new client, I always wonder if my cautious is going to come off being too protective for my own good–I’m not only trying to protect the workers, myself, and the horses, but the owners also. Is too cautious a bad thing?

  • Manure management and disposal practices reflective of environmental concerns related to surface- and ground water protection, and compliance with the Clean Water Act and its amendments, would be very helpful.

  • I have been thinking about starting up my own boarding facility and running kids programs out of it on the side during the summers. Ive been a stable hand, assistant trainer, wrangler, and barn manager and am currently going to school for animal management. My biggest question are what are actually the costs?! Like how much hay do you need to supply for 20 horse a month? How much does building an indoor area cost? What kind of cost would someone be looking at for property with a barn already on it verse building your own barn, fencing it? All I seem to be able to find is that it costs a lot, no actual numbers? But the biggest question I have above all else is how do you fund your start up if you have no money to start with or how could you get a first time business owner grant? I really like your website it seem to really answer a lot of questions.

  • Hi, I am in the planning phase for a horse boarding facility. I have concerns because I have a lot of book knowledge about horses, I have limited hands on experience. I am looking for a framework/guidelines on how to start…. I have placed adds for services to see if there is a need in my area but have not had many responses…what are other options… I will need to make a bit of a profit to keep up the facility… how do I make sure this happens…HELP!

    I would love an ebook or dvd for under $30

  • Hi I have an oppertunity to lease a 4.5 acre stable with one outdoor one indoor arena, 12 single horse padocks, 20 indoor stalls and one large 1.5 acre paddock. I have managed a stable before. the arenas are in good shape,
    the grounds are clean, but the stalls and paddocks need some tlc, would the owner be responcible for this before i took over or do i have to put in the cash before i even advertise for borders? Any comments are welcome! Thank you

  • I have been considering this venture. My biggest question is whether it is better to find a facility with buildings already in place or is it better to start from scratch? I found a facility that seems like a good investment, but it’s expensive. At the same time, I feel like I could spend 3 times that to build a comparable facility.
    What is involved if you start with empty land and build all buildings? What is required and what is optional and / or recommended?

  • how much money do you get and how much money would you spend? I think that maybe i’ll start boarding horses too. I would be very interested in your book/dvd… and im sure alot of people too. I dont know if its possible for you but i know it would be a real succes if you could put your book on ibooks for the ipad. Your probably not gonna do that so, maybe just a book (i would not pay more than 20$).
    alybaba :D

  • About 10 minutes per horse to muck stall and replenish water. Another 15 minutes per horse to feed and add fresh bedding. Other feedings and turnouts need to be added on to the above times and are dependent on paddock/stable layout etc.

  • This book would be great. Does anyone have a rough estimate on how many hours would be spent per day for one person to board 10 horses?

    Thank You

  • This book would be great for first time boarders like me! My family wants to get our feet wet on boarding out other people’s horses at our place. We have the land and fencing, but not the information. Some of our friends have tried it, but they quit after a year. We previously had some friends keep their horses here when they were away, only on occasion though. I currently own three horses. Would the boarded horses stay with ours? (if the boarded horses had shots) or would (should) they be separate? Feed them all together or separate? Is there really a need for more boarding stables? I would buy the book! But I would pay no more then 50 for it. . .

  • We have had a boarding stable for about 3 years. We are not a part of the horse industry in that we don’t compete or attend shows. We just board horses and give basic riding lessons. We spend a large amount of $$ on trying to fill the barn. Right now the economy is down and we have very few horses. We would like to know the most efficient way to get customers for our service.

  • Yes, please write this book! (A standard book format, rather than an ebook, would be my preference.) On-line coaching would be helpful, too. I would love to have someone to ask questions like “What do you think I should be charging for daily bandage changes for a hoof abcess?”, for example. (It can be awkward to call your competitors for advice on some things…)

  • I would love and appreciate help in this area.

    A book outlining the do’s & don’ts and how to’s would be amazing. I am a land owner and wanting to set up boarding but would NEVER go half way. My children want horses too. I want to do it right and as you say…”horse people’ aren’t always very generous with their knowledge…

  • I would loove this book. It would be great to set up the Chapters for someone who has only ridden and never owned a horse to learn about everything you need to know to board your own horse/your first horse on your property and expand each section to deal with small/medium/and large boarding facilities. What are the differences in needs and policies.

  • Hi Ronaye, What perfect timing… I’m thinking of renting a barn expanding my herd and getting a few pasture boarders in. My biggest concerns are *insurance* how to research the best options and what is “required”.

    Other areas I need to research
    > the best fencing and where to get supplies.
    > best pasture/manure practices
    > how to negotiate large hay orders, find trust worthy hay dealers and how to test quality of hay
    > how to qualify boarders and horses before moving them onto the property

    Looking forward to your next book! :)

  • Yes! I would love to see a book like this. I would be sure to have lots of real barns and their real finances for others to learn from. I board and give lessons out of a rented facility. I would like to know about other unique situations.

  • I think a book would be a great idea!Although I would like to know the general cost of bording facilities and I would also like to know about the things to stay away from like the type of land,plants that grow nearby,and how much people should generaly charge for borders with and without indoor arenas. Also what type of people and horses that should be kept out of the barns…even though the horses have nothing to do with it,but the people/borders are the problem.A book on bording horses would be a great hit with horse people every where.

  • A fewof things you might want to consider for topics:
    -One of my biggest challenges has been price. Convicing my customers/potential customers of what they are paying for. I find customers have the perception that they are paying for a box stall, bedding, feed and hay and that’s it…they don’t seem to get that weaved into their board price is $$ for my time. For some reason customers seem to think they should just be paying for the cost of the horse to park its carcas in my barn and that my time doesn’t have a cost value “because I’d have to do it anyway for my own horses right”. My favorite question is “How come you charge so much, it doesn’t cost that much to keep a horse” Grrrr. I’m seriously considering putting a cost breakdown on the wall in the tack room with items like Stall Cleaning at -32 degrees $xx.xx per day and staying up til 3:00am with the vet (while your home sleeping or because I can’t find you) $xx.xx Some suggestions on justifying your board rate would be wonderful.

    2. I have a very good contract that specifies in plain terms how much money I want for basic care, when that money is due and what I will do if I don’t get that money. My contract also specifies other services such as grooming, exercising, blanketing, administering worming and other medical items and scheduling vet, farrier services etc. it is clearly stated that those other services have a price tag over and above the basic care board fee and that they must be scheduled and paid for ahead of time. If you could share some of your insights on how you get you customers to take this type of thing seriously that would be great mine always seem to find a way to get something for nothing out of me and I’m not a push-over really I’m not.

    3. My last one. Let’s face it long time boarders eventually become friends too, how do you deal with this when payments start coming late. I find this one very touchy I want to keep my long time boarder, I want to keep the friendship too but I don’t want to have to pay for it out of my pocket.

    I’m not cynical really I’m not I go out of my way for my customers because I am grateful for their business and I love my boarding stable business, but at what point due you risk a mass exodis of trailers down your driveway running to another barn because they have been irked by you sticking to your boarding contract.

    A bit of background. In my area there are several facilities from large with all the bells and whistles, to medium with some of the bells and whistles to small or private, I am in the latter category. The other two charge anywhere from $400 to $475 and a rare few in the $500 range for board. The folks in my category charge in the $225 to $270 range. Most of us are quite geographically close so competition for customers is pretty stiff.

    • Unfortunately, when barn owners are too nice and caring (probably like yourself), people tend to expect more out of you. They think that you will do anything to make them happy (and stay boarding).

      To curtail this, the barn owner must set limits and keep all relationships with clients strictly business. It is okay to mingle, but be prepared to put your business face on when needed.

      Most people are clueless on stable costs, and for that matter, any type of business costs. That’s why YOU are the business owner and THEY are not.

      Do not leave it up to boarders to decide your prices or listen to comment on them. If they do not like it, they will be looking around. When they find nothing better, then they stay anyways (and just pay it).

      All you have to do is ensure that you are priced correctly to what you offer. Then, don’t worry about what people think or say.

      You do what is best for you and your business. I have seen many barns go under in our area because they listened to boarder’s and trainer’s bad advice on keeping board prices low for them.

      Any barn that is around long term does what is best for THEIR business, not what is best for those people who just want a “good deal”.

      Boarding contracts are there for a reason…to abide by them so your business runs smoothly and everyone follows the same rules. If someone wants to make their own rules, then advise them to buy their own barn.

      There is a fine line between having boarders who are clients and boarders who are friends. It is easy for friends to try to take advantage of you, so be friendly, but stick to business.

  • These comments are typical of many horse owners, they will spend more on a flashy halter than something that could improve a horses life. If I wrote a book on stable management it would start off with pictures of nasty barns and then explain how they started off as nice barns. If you do not make a profit your property will become nasty. Chapter two would explain in detail that most horse owners are over educated with the bad information, colic is preventable and there is no such thing as a hard keeper. Chapter 3 would explain standards of care. Letting boarders deworm and give vaccines is malpractice because it adversely affects the herd health. Chapter 4 would explain how and why hobby farms are high on the IRS audit list. What happens when a stable takes business deductions for three years and then the IRS labels them a hobby farm. Chapter 5 would list some lawsuits against stables: a horse chocks on feed mixed with beet pulp, boarder leaves a gate open, boarder brings dog and dog bites kid etc. Chapter 6 would explain how pasture grass is not free. Chapter 7 could explain how many horse owners love the idea of being a horse person but do not love his/her horse. I had no idea until I managed a vet clinic how many horse owners spend large sums of money on tack, truck, trailer, and clothes but go for the cheapest feed, dewormer, hay, boarding stables and forgo vet care. Dog owners get fecal checks annually to check for parasites, talking a horse owner in to a fecal check is almost impossible. Chapter 8 could explain how owning a horse is a luxury. This is the part that many stable owners cannot grasp. Why would you charge less to board a horse than a kennel charges to board a dog. Why would you spend less on vet care than the average dog owner. Why would you compete with others using price instead of quality…Owning a horse is a luxury, owning a horse is a luxury. If someone cannot afford to provide quality care for a horse, he/she should not own one.

    • Thank you, Joe Stable… excellent observations!

      • Joe Stable, On your “chapter 8” I work in the vet field too, for every “wow, that bill is less than I expected” you get about 30 people who grumble about expense and 1 or two that either stare at you in shock or demand to get the bill reduced – and I work with dogs and cats.

        Many people dread having the vet out for this reason especially when it’s $40-80 farm call. Last time my vet was out he quoted $80 for visit, exam and antibiotic. After a half hour at my place where he said “you really didn’t even need to call me, he’s just sore and you’ve done everything exactly as I would have” he charged me over $250. The bill included “bandaging” he used my materials and did such a sloppy job I had to rewrap it after he left :(

        I’ve worked at a dog/cat vet and believe me, if you told the customers they could get cheaper care at a different clinic they would leave in DROVES. Just about every customer complains that their dog or cat costs too much. People spend more on dog vet care because it COSTS more than basic horse vet care. It costs more because their are more regulations and lawsuits.

        Most livestock owners (horses are livestock) are more knowledgeable about their animals’ basic needs than the average dog/cat owner. They know how to give shots, dock tails, trim hooves, formulate diets, etc. and most only need a vet when an animal is sick, injured or needs blood work like coggins. This is a GOOD thing. Each of my dogs cost about $20/ month in food and heartworm meds, so the $150 yearly vet bill isn’t too hard to swallow.

        Each horse costs $60 just in hay each month plus $20 in trimming ($40 bimonthly), $20 in sweet feed, $5 for worming, Red needs a new blanket this year ($100) Bud single handedly cost us over $500 last year just in broken fencing, chewed siding and fence reinforcements, Paul needs a new bridle his last broke while I was riding $20, Our electric bill for the month is over $200 because of the de-icer and will stay that way till March, He’ll need his coggins done again in March, and… god…. I have to stop before I realize any more costs my wallet is screaming at me. Don’t you DARE tell me that I am not providing quality care because I give shots myself, use the “cheap” vet and shop for better deals on my feed.

        My horses are happy, healthy and they have a home for life. If you truly care about horses, you shouldn’t waste your energy berating people who are doing the best they can for their animals just because they think that you are charging too much for your product. Believe me a lower price does not mean less quality, especially in veterinary medicine!! it often just means less overhead.

        The cheap equine vet in my area has a private practice of himself and his wife as receptionist. The expensive one has 2 vets, 12 techs and 4 assistants. They both charge more for vaccines than they cost. With laid back horses it is worth it to me to save the $5-10 per shot by doing it myself. It’s easy and how does it mean my horses have a lower quality of care?

  • I am boarding right now but would like to start my own place . I live in NJ , I see different states have different laws on waste removel (poop) . having that information and what things really cost before I jump in . my plan is not to take on any more than 10 horses so if barn help doesnt show up I can manage on my own , I have seen it over and over again when owners/managers get overwhelemed when staff dont show . the horses loose out ! as for book large paper back I like to highlight things , $25.00

  • I started a small boarding business 6 years ago and have not yet made a profit. I don’t really expect to make any kind of living off of it, but would like to make a modest profit (or at least a positive cash flow), sort of like a part time income – investment pay back period will be beyond my lifetime.

    We expanded from a 4 stall barn to 10 stalls that include an attached new barn with hayloft. Other investments include a grain silo and auger feeding system so we can get our grain in bulk at a better rate; a 15 yard shed for bulk bedding; a 10K solar electricity system so our electric bills in winter won’t be in the $600-$800 range for January and February, a couple of solar water troughs where the panel won’t be kicked or messed with by horses and gets enough sun light, lots of oak slip board fencing for multiple paddocks, and 5 double run-in shelters in the paddocks that are not off of stalls in the barn.

    Our strategy is to turn out all horses all day in large paddocks with shelter and water available. Most turnouts are big enough for 2 horses but at the moment we only have one paddock being used by 2 horses. Our two large pastures are used in season May – Oct and are off of 2 of the large double paddocks so the horses always have access to water and shelter.

    Our biggest expense comes from the heated 100 gallon water troughs in the winter (I believe)and we had hoped the solar intallation would help a lot, but the short days and the snow cover have reduced the elecricity output to a pitiful amount (Janurary was still $750 bill). So we are now turning off the heat to the water troughs from afternoon until the next morning when I first get up in the morning (a hour before the horses come out. So far it has been easy enough to break up the ice from being off all night. I’ll let you know if this change makes a big difference for the February bill.

    We buy our hay from a local farmer who will deliver (using our hay elevator) and we only buy 2nd cutting as we find the horses don’t like first cut and make a mess of it (the delivery cost component is the same) and we save on bedding when the horses eat up all their hay. We figure on 1/4 of a bale (45-50 lbs)per horse for each of 2 feedings (obviously more for bigger horses) and the grain varies by what the horse needs– all the horses on the farm are either perfect weight or a little fat.

    We are also very conservative in determining the turnouts. We never put mares with geldings. We will put 2 horses in a large paddock if they appear to get along and we watch it to see if they continue to be a good match. In the past, we found 3 horses together doesn’t usually work– there’s always the odd man out. The horses that have their stalls open to the back paddocks are given pasture at night but only paddocks during the day; and the other boarded horses that are in stalls for the night– get first shot at the pastures during the day. All horses have access to water and shelter.

    I really enjoy running the stable as there is always someone aroung to ride with and I get to meet a lot of people.

  • This is exactly what im looking for, however i dont have the time or patience to sit and read a whole book. Maybe a magazine format or a newsletter. However, if a book is easier, I would still be interested. Maybe $25? I live in the deep south (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), so our humid conditions have other factors to keep in mind. We dont have many closed barns, and what to do with compost and such is a problem. My biggest fear is what I can do legally when someone refuses to pay? Also what is a decent amount to pay a barn hand who feeds and mucks stalls? Minimum down here is 5.75. Thanks!

  • Hello,
    I have been running a boarding stable for the last 17 years and I think I could write this book!:) The horses were NEVER a problem, just the owners!!!! How do you deal with people that want to HANG out at the barn, pick your brain?
    With the economy and harsh winter my business has really slowed down. It’s actually a nice break! But no $. I still love all the horses and mainly have retired horses with a few active riders.

  • Thanks to your last e-book, I recently found a GREAT barn for my horse. I knew which questions to ask and what to look for, and I didn’t settle until I found exactly what I was looking for, in my budget. It took six visits, but I found the right one. My horse is happy and well cared for, and that makes me happy.

    I don’t know of anyone who is looking to start a boarding facility, but someday I may consider it. I would like to know what to look for in buying a horse boarding facility, what are the essentials, and what may be options for most boarders. In the northern climate where I live, an indoor arena is really important for a lot of folks, but having one adds to the cost. I also look at the condition of the barn, whether things are in good repair, whether the fences are in good shape, and how well kept the stalls are. I agree that the owner and his/her knowledge on the care and keeping of horses is key, as is the ability to contact them. Well posted information, newsletters, bulletin boards and white boards are essential for communication, with farrier/vet visits posted and deworming schedules. Trails and location are also important to me. I would also like to know general costs per month to run a barn, hidden costs, as well as what to consider when building a barn or shed.

    I hope this helps somewhat. I look forward to reading your new ebook.

  • I would personally like to read any books you write just keep it under $30.00.I think I would do is one, maitenance of fields and barns, appearance and condition is a big factor for me when I am choosing a stable for my horse. The second thing is advertisement, signs need to be obvious and easy to see. The other thing is cleanliness and availibilty. I have been recently looking for a stables and the four main things that made me interested (or not) in a stable were appearance, atmosphere, cleanliness, and ability to contact the owner.

  • I would love to see it in book form. Keep it under $30.00. I would be very interested.

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  • I'm currently running a horse boarding stable; am considering setting up my own horse boarding stable; am a boarder with stories I absolutely want to share...

    Yes please, I'd love to participate and give you my stories and feedback on questions you may have to help you with the creation of this new book...

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