New stable - looking for advise
I am planning on being ready to board horses in the spring. I will start mainly with pasture board and ease into stall board as I go. I have one stall built and will build more in the winter. I have the main paddock and fences started and will build more in the spring.
There is a lot of room to ride and I think that will be the main draw to my farm. If all goes well an arena will be built in a year or so. Sooner if there is a demand for it.
So, what advise would you give to someone just starting out in the boarding business?
Where do I go for good legal advise and to get a contract drawn up. I do not want to make an attorney rich if I don't have to so I want as much info before hand as possible.
Thanks in advance,
Eagle Eye 1
I would have everything set up before you get boarders in. I think you will attract more boarders and have more boarders stay if you're all ready to go, rather than just having a few things done.
I would see how many horses you would want to take care of. Would you be hiring help or will you be doing this by yourself. Once you know your limit, either build enough stalls for that, or have a few run in sheds that the horses can go into.
What type of fencing are you wanting to put up? Each type (wood, metal, electric) all have pros and cons. For looks, I like the wood, but I also like this PVC fence (you have electric run along the top board) and I think that looks really sharp.
If you don't want to build an arena, I would just suggest you have a designated area that people can ride in (Not everyone would want to ride on trails)
As for legal advice, I'm really not sure. I've seen numerous websites that have boarding contracts etc, but it all costs something.
Also, are you getting insurance for the place? If you are, make sure the boarders sign a release form.
Oh, another thing, I would start looking/asking around for feed/hay suppliers. And look into something to do with the manure (My Barn owner spreads the manure, others I know have it taken away)
I've never read this particular book, but I have several books from Cherry Hill and consider it all great advice.
Starting and Running Your Own Horse Business by Mary Ashby McDonald
Good luck in your horse business!
I logged onto the local library website, found the book, and requested a hold on it. When they notify me that it is available I will go pick it up.
Thanks for the advise,
Eagle Eye 1
no problem :)
Definitely write up a contract. A few hundred dollar invested in legal fees could save you thousands later on. State when board is due, what is expected from you and the boarders, barn rules (helmets must be worn, no dogs off leash, no unattended children, etc), amount of notice required when leaving, extra services (blanketing? extra feed? grooming? holding for vet?), what happens if you don't pay your board (interest collected? what happens if you abandon the horse?) And get insurance! If someone is injured, a horse or equipment is stolen, someone or a horse dies, etc. you have to be covered.
As far as the arena, I agree that you should at least have a designated riding area. It can be an empty paddock, or even an area that is flat. You just need to put up temporary fencing or even outline it with rocks or rail road ties. This helps people school and keeps them out of places they shouldn't be riding.
Read a lot of the posts around the forum regarding boarding. Are boarders expected to clean up after themselves in the isles? Are pasture boarders allowed to use cross ties? What about stalls? Do you provide a certain amount of feed and bedding or unlimited? Is blanketing allowed and who's responsibility is it? If a horse gets injured (in a paddock for example or while riding on your property) whose responsibility is it? As you can see from one of the other posts, even family members can have issues about boarding!
I am hoping to find some sample contracts and them get one created that fits my operation. I have used an attorney a few times in the paste and I trust them less and less each time. So I hope to have most of my items listed and ready before I ever meet with one.
This forum is becoming quite a tool for gathering information. Now I need to find a way to organize it all. lol
Thanks to all who have replied.
Eagle Eye 1
Boarding horses is a serious commitment and responsibility. I have found it helpful to really create a market niche for yourself and the "word-of-mouth" advertising will be your best way to ensure your boxes are filled to capacity with a waiting list also. Sit down and do some thinking about the environment you want to create for your customers (both people and horses) and what type of horses you want to care for. Base your market and business plan around that. This will help you assess what facilities you need to meet customer demands.
For instance, I have only adults, no competition or young horses, responsible and involved owners. I require references and check out each horse and owner prior to accepting it as a boarder. I provide a safe, happy and immpecably clean barn and use areas. The lights are on, the music is playing and the horses are in the pastures as much as possible. Personal, professional service is important and people are willing to pay for it. Keeping it professional is really important, especially if your facility and home are combined. I think the one thing that visitors to my farm leave with is the fact that it is very organized, super clean and every horse is happy, healthy and in great condition. I have also found that the adults really appreciate the fact there are no kids. Me too.
Good luck and a little thinking and planning will save you time and money in the long run. A good contract will save you lots of headaches and legally protect you. It is a necessity in the US. Have a "contract lawyer" with experience in the equine world help you, not just any lawyer. The initial business investment will be well worth it to protect your business.
AppyLover is absolutely right. Have everything in place before you begin to advertise boarding. You will appear more professional and your clients will be more likely to stay if they can immediately see the benefits of boarding the horses on your property.
I would also recommend an attorney who has worked with equestrian businesses before. He or she can help identify areas of legal vulnerability and will draw up contracts unique to your business.
If an attorney is out of the question, keep doing what you're doing now. Asking questions and researching online (and at the library) is your best bet.
An attorney is not "out of the question". I just don't want to go in to see one without knowing anything. I did that when I got divorced. BAD MISTAKE. A lot of basic verbage was left out. Then guess what - the attorney is happy to represent you to defend what he should have included the first time around. It is very hard to find a competent attorney in this area - I believe that the demand for them is too high. So they make the same amount of money (or more) if they do crappy work.
Anyway, I printed out the contracts that BeauReba posted a link to. That helps out a lot. Now I at least have an idea of what to include. I am in the process of developing a "farm rules" list to go with the contract.
My plan is to make a list of the things that I want in a contract and waiver and such and compare that to what an attorney suggests and end up with the best contract for my opperation. If I do not do that how do I even know that what the attorney drafts up is complete. I also need that information to determine if the attorney is even the right person for the job. I may have to go to the cities to find a competent attorney.
Thanks for all the help,
Eagle Eye 1
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