Owning a Boarding Stable?
Lately I have been thinking about purchasing and opening a boarding facility. I have had horses for years but only really boarded for a year or two. I know some of the general stuff that goes into it but I would really like someone to inform me about it. What all goes into it? Liability, bedding and other costs? Is it enough to make a living off of? Pro and cons? If anyone has anything they can share I am all ears and really interested! I am from ohio if that helps at all!
Most places that offer boarding don't make money from the boarding. They either lose money or break even. The money comes from training, lessons, etc.
In order for you to make ANYTHING, and we're not talking about a earning living wage, we're talking about ANYHTING, over bare bones expenses, you have to do EVERYTHING yourself and you have to have a significant occupancy.
Its not like caring for your own horse and only mucking and feeding your own horses.
It's mucking DOZENS upon DOZENS of stalls two to three times a day. Follow by feeding the same amount of horses again two to three to four times a day. And that is the minimum level of effort. Because then you have to water all stalls and then pastures, and fix fences/pipes/feeders/stalls, you have to manage feed, and bedding, and you have to do the financial accounting for everything, then depending on your turnout setup, you have to move those dozen upon dozen of horses around from stalls and turnouts out to pastures grazing. and when you do that (twice a day; in and out), you have to do it in a specific order in order to manage horse personalities (who can be turned out with who, what horse CANNOT be the last one to be brought in, who HAS to go in and out with their special buddy etc.) And during this time you have to take a full minute to individually care for each horse checking for new scrapes, wounds, swelling, lameness, temp changes, feeding changes, thrush, gut sounds and general behavior again for ALL of them), and heaven forbid you need to change stall blankets for turnout blankets.
And then after everything is done you have to clean. Again.
In order to get the most money from your boarders you needs to be attentive, clean, and have a high attention to detail, because if a boarders horse goes lame or gets an abcess and you do not notify them right away, you are done.
If its the middle of winter and all of the horses are blanketed, and you are not removing those blankets every day, you can very quickly miss a horse loosing weight or have a blanket rub that gets infected, and again you are done.
Its not taking care of your horses, its taking care of other peoples horses BETTER than you take care of your own horses.
It is back breaking hard labor, that is all day-every day, you never get to be sick or go on a vacation.
Yes, you can hire people to do a lot of stuff, mucking feeding etc. but every dollar you pay out is money that isn't going in to your own pocket or back in to the barn. You have to remember that when you are hiring someone else, you are giving your paycheck to someone else.
When I had a barn liability insurance, water, power and feed are almost all of the boarding costs. B/c the actual facility was on my property my mortgage was paid for by my husbands salary, but if you're not that lucky you have to include facility use or lease costs, plus you need to factor in long term overhead for random stuff like, pasture reseeding, additional arena footing, additional turnout footing, manure removal costs, and saving for when things go wrong or saving for things to make life easier. A bare bones tractor and front loader starts around $3,000 to $5,000 and heaven forbid it breaks down. Or even worse and unfortunately far too common, a minor problem you were aware of like loose board that you were planning on fixing later in the week .. well a boarders horse OF COURSE hurts it's self on it and you are liable. You can't or don't want to file an insurance claim one something less than $1,000 b/c it will drive your deductible through the roof, so you need to cover the cost for the vet bill and all after care, and you get to care for the horse instead of eating or paying for cable or internet.
Owning and running a boarding facility is a great way to kill your love and joy for horses.
Of the two couples that I know well,
1 - The lady runs a full service boarding for retired horses, most of which have owners that have retired out of state. They never see the owners, so no hassles, but it just pays the taxes on their farm. She does it as a hobby and they live on his salary
2 - A larger farm that does boarding, breeding, lessons, hay, rental properties, etc. They lease out their full service boarding facility so someone else has the hassles and work, and just run a coop (self care) facility. Still some hassles, but only the facility maintenance work, and it does make a little money. Overall, they do pretty well because they are so diversified.
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we were boarding 15 horses here for a long time. quite honestly the measly 50 bucks a horse I made for working 10 hrs a day was NOT worth it in the long run. People in and out of your home... drama... crap breaking.. people stealing stuff. I ended up kicking out all of my problem boarders. I couldn't handle them anymore. I now SELECTIVELY board 4 horses with great owners who are RESPECTFUL! I still don't make barely any money but the small amount extra cuts down my feed bill for my horses.
I think that Biggirlsridewarmbloods pretty much said it all. Unless you are qualified to give lessons you will struggle to make money out of the venture.
You have to be at the beck and call of the owners 24/7, if you want time off for even a day or if you are ill or need somesort of other medical attention you have to pay someone to take charge and then worry that somethings going wrong
I never had a problem with the horses but some of the owners gave me murderous thoughts.
Biggirlsridewarmbloods said it best, It's a lot of work running a boarding facility.
One thing I'd like to add is when dealing with boarders your going to have to expect late payments from time to time. We had to deal with it a few times and I know of several other people that over much larger stables and deal with it almost on a monthly Basis. PLUS they had to take over the care of horses the owners abandoned. They just stopped paying and were never heard/seen again. You need to prepair yourself for this possible situation. Happened to use with a boarder with three horses, he was nearly three months behind. We thought we were going to end up with three horses, well make that four cause one was ready to give birth anyday. That's how I got my horse Mea, He showed up and said he could only afford to pay for two months board and we could have the baby. Mom agreed to the deal simply cause it was better then nothing. PLUS we really don't wanna take on more horse if we didn't have too.
Then you might have to deal with "Boarder Drama" of various degrees. For use it was hardly an issue. Just had a deal with two boarders who were friends then were no longer friends and one moved away.
One more thing is if you allow stallions in your place, you'll need to take extra precautions on keeping him contained to where he belongs. So when a mare's in-heat he don't brake out, jump over to get to the mare. If that happens and a boarder or boarders mare gets impregnated, YOU can and most likely will be held responsible for the costs involved. In our barn we do NOT allow stallions simply because our barn is not set-up with added "security" with fencing etc. an we have mostly mares in our barn. If a new boarder has a male, we ALWAYS check before allowing them to board. You never know if the owner is lying.
Our barn was built in 2002, by Morton Builders, we did all the fencing ourselves and finishing up the landscape as well. Nothing big just 16 stalls both indoor and outdoor arenas. Three main turn out fields and we also have individual paddocks(25'x30')for each horse. I LOVE that the stall area of the barn is heated and we have a heated arena as well. Also have a hot water heater and a wash stall. The Hot water heater is nice to make the water temp comfortable for the horse baths. We have a electric gate near the drive-way entrance to help with securing the place. It's a 7day/365year job to keep up. We only have one open stall(we always keep one stall open), No outside board.
We have to fix the normal stuff: replace any broken fence boards. Gotta check EVERY day to make sure the fence and electric wiring to keep them away from the fence it intact. All gate and latches work correctly. If you keep horses outside and deal with winter. Don't forget to get heaters for the water troughs/buckets. Keep the water hose drain to prevent freezing up.
For equipment: I got 2010 New Holland L150 Skid-Steer I use to clear snow, dump the manure pile into the dumpster. re-level what needs it, etc. A 2002 Honda Rancher ATV, Hay elevator, 2007 Cub Cadet Garden Tractor, Push Mowers, Chain saw, string trimmers, Generator, tools of various kinds, gas pressure washer, air compressor,an so on. What you need for your place will vary.
Oh and another thing is you'll need a place for folks to use the bathroom, if there is no restroom facility in your barn.
For food we supply 60-70 of our hay grow in our own fields, rest we buy from a local guy. Grains we feed Purina brands like: Strategy, Omolene 100 and 200, Equine Senior, various supplements, plus what ever the owners have to give.
Gypsy BTW, LOVES Purina Omolene 100 and begs for it. So I put it in her big bowl and hold it for her cause, she only will eat it if I hold the bowl for her. She real attached to me for what ever reason. ( I had her for nearly three years, she's going on 11, she's a former show horse/barrel racer from her previous owner, now I just spoil her.)
Yeah it's ALOT of work, It's a dirty, thankless back braking job, but I don't mind. I'm a HUGE horse lover! So to me I like it, cause I know I can give the best care/SPOIL my mares rotten and I know they are safe and sound.
Forgive me on the long post and I'm sure spelling/grammar, etc. I've been up for the past couple days. All in all I Enjoy doing what I do, in regards to having our own barn.
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