Boarding a friend's horse, what's fair to charge? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 05:25 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Eastern TN
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Boarding a friend's horse, what's fair to charge?

So I know this all heavily depends on the area, but to give perspective, board in our town is anywhere from $300-$400 for full board. Boarding is also a very scarce thing. Low end that doesn't have riding arena, just strictly a barn and pasture, with hay and bedding provided, and them feeding and turning out, is around $300-$350. The one facility that I know of that charges near $400 has almost no turn out space, your horse is almost always stalled, and has a small riding arena. They also charge extra for blanketing, giving supplements (even though you provide, etc). You provide everything but hay and bedding, and they do all the labor minus exercise your horse for you (they do, but for an added fee).

Anyway, this is one of my best friends. She's the one who I currently am leasing a barn with where we keep our horses. We split everything 50/50 and have a really good working dynamic as well as friendship. I know her horse as well as I know mine. I trust her. The place we're at is 100% self care down to that we even have to maintain the pastures. We provide everything as well, including hay, feed, and bedding. We used to pay $100 a month, but that felt high for what it was, especially since our stalls were way too small (8x9...). I talked to our friend who's barn we are leasing (we take care of his horse too), and got it down to $50 each. We go twice a day, depending on the day (we alternate), but both of us muck our own stalls and take care of our own horses unless one needs the other to take over if one has to go out of town, etc. Self care has been a nightmare because it's so much traveling, and what gave me the motivation to finally get my own farm set up sooner than later.

With that said, hopefully that's enough backstory to get an idea of the area and what our current situation is. I just built a new house, and currently waiting my turn for the barn builders to come put up my barn. She needs to know what I'm going to charge her to plan for her budget so I need to come up with a fair figure. Also please keep in mind she's my wheels -- I don't own a trailer, she takes me everywhere I need to go with my horse (I don't ask her to take me to lessons even though she has offered, I didn't want to drive her nuts). So relationship has a lot of give and take on both parties, I really want to stress I want to remain fair and don't want her to feel like I'm overcharging. Our friendship is also very important to me, so I never want money to become an issue. So far it hasn't, and we've done really well for over a year working together on the barn lease at current place.

To make this easy, she's going to provide everything for her own horse. What I am providing is a stall, full use of barn, pasture/turn out, feeding, mucking, watering, haying, trailer parking, sheeting, blanketing, fly spraying, etc. and anything else a regular boarding barn provides. So basically labor and the cost of water (which is expensive in my area). I really, really don't want to over charge her, but I also want to make some money back from what it'd cost to keep a second horse. She said she'd come 3-4 times a week depending on her availability to come clean her own horse's stall to give me a break. Since our horses are moving together, I won't know how much only one horse will cost to keep, and then double, so I'd have to come up with a figure to start with.

What would be a general price to start at going into this?
Hope that makes sense and thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 08:29 AM
Join Date: May 2017
Location: NW Connecticut
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Charge her for everything that you may buy for her horse to consume (hay, bedding, etc., if it's simpler that you just order and get everything), and subtract everything that she spends for you and your horse to consume (seems like gas and mileage from what you wrote). Well, you get the idea.

From that break-even point (so basically everybody has paid for their own horse and usage), you decide on a scale between "friendship" and "business". Your phrase "board in our town is anywhere from $300-$400 for full board. Boarding is also a very scarce thing." would imply you are thinking on the business side of things because you are considering a fair market value. I can't help you with that, because every business owner can charge what the market will bear.

If you are thinking on the friendship side of things, I'd just make sure that you don't spend any of your money on her horse and be done with it.
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Central Hill Country Texas
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We board my daughter's former teacher's daughter's horse...boy that's a mouthful. We charge expenses plus about fifty dollars a month.

I don't know how stable the hay prices are in your area but, ours tend to fluctuate depending upon rain. That fifty dollars is to ensure that if hay prices suddenly skyrocketed like they did a few years back that we aren't eating the costs (no pun intended). That $50 gets set aside in case I need to call the vet in an emergency situation or we hit a spate of bad weather and I need to buy bedding for his stall.

Basically, we make nothing for our time but, ours are on turnout 24/7 so barring terrible weather, no stalls to clean etc.
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Palmyra, Wisconsin
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If you want to keep the friendship don't count on her to provide her own hay, grain, shavings or anything else the horse will need on a daily basis. I say this because if & when she doesn't supply these things you will have to anyway. The same goes for stall cleaning, you do it so you know it's done.

If she's a good friend you may want to just charge pasture rate even though you are doing full care. That way at least your costs are covered, as in feed, water etc.

Too many friendship go sour due to deals when someone feels like they are being taken advantage of. Keep it simple.
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natisha is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2015
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I agree with @natisha - even though the horses will be at your home there will be a lot of extra work. There are things you may want to consider. Does her horse eat the same feed as yours? Do you use the same bedding? How often does her horse need blanketing, fly spray, special supplements? There will be wear and tear on your barn and fencing you may want enough extra to set aside for these things. Also, she says she will be out multiple times each week to clean her own stall but that may fall to the way side since she knows you live there. Best intentions today do not always get followed through on.

Shaving can sometimes be purchased at a discount if you buy in bulk (we buy a pallet or 2 at a time when they are on sale) this may be easier if you are the one in charge of getting bedding or feed.

Congrats on your new home and barn - it is very exciting! Sit down with your friend and talk about actual costs and work on a fair price as a team - she will appreciate that and you will feel better.
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: New Mexico
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Even though this is a friendship thing, I would still have her sign a boarding contract. Since it is also a first time thing for you, I would also tell her you may need to adjust your fee after the first month or so once you have an idea on just how much it costs you to take care her horse per month. You may find that it costs you more or less than you initially thought and you can adjust the fee as you see fit in order to make it more fair to both you and her.

The biggest thing I can say is you want to make sure it is not only fair to her but fair to you as well. If things end up happening down the road and she is unable to purchase feed, vet care, farrier care, etc. and you take it upon yourself expecting to be reimbursed but keep getting IOUs (if you read through the forum there are plenty of stories like this) it will be a real strain on not only your friendship but you own health and finances. That's why I suggest writing up a boarding contract that stipulates how much and when she is expected to pay the boarding fee every month, that you are allowed to adjust the boarding fee as needed in order to cover your costs, that she is expected to cover all additional costs such as feed, supplements, vet care, farrier care, etc. and to reimburse you within [X] amount of time for any emergency costs such as an emergency vet visit. I would also make a note in there if she does not pay the board within [X] amount of time a late fee of [X] amount of dollars will be tacked on and then if the fee is still not paid by [X] amount of time you will follow procedures for your area for evicting her from your barn. By having everything in wording and signed by both parties there will be no questions later if something were to happen (or not happen). If she is expected to do any work at your barn such as clean stalls on the weekend or do property maintenance once a month, include that in the contract as well. You can find free premade boarding barn contracts by Google search or write up your own.

I know it can be weird having a friend sign a legal contract, especially with the threat of "eviction" written somewhere in there but it really is for your protection should worst come to worst and for the clearest understanding between the two of you so there is no miscommunication or misunderstandings.

As others have said, have her pay for anything she or her horse uses and then I would charge her an extra amount (your choice depending on what you see as fair, probably in the $25-$75 range) per month for your time, labor, and care of her horse plus any wear and tear her horse may cause to your property and barn.
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 01:14 PM
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So many excellent previous posts with good advice.
Although you are friends, this needs to still be a business deal so you not be taken advantage of and have a way out if in the future you need to remove her, her horse or possessions from your land...

Figure out your costs for hay and feed, add in plentiful bedding. Remember feed and bedding costs fluctuate during the not cut yourself short.
Now add a reasonable amount for covering costs for water, fuel for your tractors to pull that manure spreader around, wear & tear to your equipment and how much "storage" of her trailer on your land is worth...
Add for fixing any damaged anything that can happen from fencing to buckets to just anything.
Your time is worth something...the responsibility as the property owner you now have on you 24/7...
Sick horse, storms coming and needing to prepare... maintaining of the grounds, moving of her trailer to mow and neaten the will all now fall on you.
She is already setting you up for more than a few days of care being all your responsibility...
Things you never thought of before are now all your responsibility...
You also need to figure a way to cover with your homeowners insurance policy the fact you will have someone else's horse and trailer, possibly tack on your land...heaven forbid something happens, again you are responsible.

I know you are in "planning stages" for the barn and fencing...
I keep thinking about your gate sizing...
10' sounds big till you need to bring through the hay delivery truck or possibly a spray truck to weed and feed those pastures...
I honestly would go with larger. 14' - 16' wide.
I have 12' and it is a tight fit when you are towing something and need to pivot a turn.
I wish I had known, it would of been done different.
Your walk-through gates to turn out can be 6' which allows plenty of "space" to safely go through but allows you control of horses rushing past others.
I see many farms by me do 2 gates at the same opening where they are joined together and chained shut, but when needed fully open they are 16' - 20' which for most is really overkill but for tractor trailers moving in and out filled with tons of hay or loaded cattle trucks...they need that extra space.
Just some other thoughts I've had....

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post #8 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 03:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: North Dakota
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I pay $100 a month per horse for pasture board. I don't stall my horses (personal choice) but there are 2 stalls available for whoever to use when needed. I clean my own stall when I use them. I buy my own shavings for the stall when I use them. I also park my trailer on their property. I buy my own feed. I don't put anything in the barn -- I just keep all my stuff in my horse trailer.

During the winter when hay is fed, I pay an additional $60 a month a horse. (So they provide hay.)

I feel it's very reasonable.

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post #9 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 03:42 PM
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I pasture board my horses at a friend's place for $100/month-- they provide hay (right now the horses are all on pasture 24/7) and they catch each horse at least once a day and groom and feed them. I provide the grain I want my horse fed, and also take care of his deworming, vaccinations, hoofcare, etc. I can work off part of the cost by doing chores when they're away for a few days here and there. I park my trailer on the property, and will be able to keep tack in the barn once their tack room is built (it's nearly done). They're older, so if I help with things like fixing fence, clearing out deadfall from the grove, etc. I can make a bit back against board. We bought a round pen to share as we're both training/rehabbing horses right now, and will work out a deal as to who buys who out of that when the time comes. They don't have stalls, but if one were needed, we could make one from the round pen panels, and whoever is using the stall would pay for bedding.
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-15-2017, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: OK
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Do a boarding contract. Spell out everything and keep it simple. I agree with everyone who says, charge the going minus whatever you think hauling and friendship discounts are worth. So, charge $350/month board - $75/friends and family minus $50/75/100 (whatever you normally would pay for hauling each month) and that's your balance. Should she not be able to do the hauling, she'd only get the friends discount. That way your expenses and labor are covered. I have never been one to separate pasture from stall, all horses here have a stall and pasture, no turn out fees, no blanketing fees, just cost for when vaccinations are given, cost for farrier and they pay their own vet. It's all right in the contract and when I bill each month I bill the full amount, write off any discounts, add the farrier if he's coming, add the price of vaccines plus supplies when it's time for those, no charge for administering it, deworming is covered in the board. Keeps everything simple, I won't get rich but I don't go broke either.
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