Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Running a Horse Stables

I received an e-mail from a reader in September, sorry it has taken me so long to respond - it just fell through the cracks: "You don't know me but someone who boarded their horses at the Fort Bliss Horse Stables told me about your site and that you used to run the Fort Bliss Horse Stables. I am a stay at home Mom with schooled aged children and am thinking about opening up a small boarding stables. My husband supports this if I can give him an idea on the costs and problems and potential income produced by this venture. We have an 8 acre plot with our house and the area is horse friendly, although you would have to trailer someplace to ride in open areas. Can you give me some tips or problems areas to consider? How much should I charge for boarding one horse?"

I could talk to you for hours on this subject listing all the problems areas and things to be concerned about. The first thing to understand is this is not a money making deal. The way to make a little money with horses is to start with a lot of money. There would be a lot of work on your part at very low pay, even less than what the minimum wage would support.

Some people start out boarding horses because of their love for horses, but as soon as it becomes a business, it ceases to become fun and becomes work.

If you are still interested, you will have to determine if you want to run a "full care" facility or just provide space and facilities for owners and their horses. Basically, full care would be much harder on you, but you would retain more control.

For instance now when I board horses, I charge $300 per horse per month for basic full care. This includes a 15x15 foot covered stall, and access to a 80x160 foot arena and 45 foot round pen. This also covers hay, cleaning the stalls, manure disposal, water, feet getting trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks, and worming.

I figure the cost of water, feed, trims, worming and manure disposal to be $180 to $200 a month, so we are paid $100 to $120 a month to do the manual labor of cleaning the stalls twice or more a day, and turning the horse out almost every day. Plus having eyes on the horse most of the day in case of problems. So payment for labor turns out to be $8 a day. Try finding someone to clean your stalls and dump manure, clean and fill water buckets, and throw feed for $8 a day.

So you can see why I say this is not a money maker.

If you just rent a facility for boarders and they have to provide their own hay and wormers, clean their own stalls, and make their own trimming/shoeing arrangements then you will much sooner than later have a problem with someone not fulfilling their end of the bargin.

There is a women about a mile from my place who ran a boarding stables for several years. She only charged $150 per month full care. But the stalls were small and put together which various components - mostly wood; water buckets were very dirty and often ran dry; they only cleaned about twice a week (if that); and the hay she bought was often better used on cows,...sometimes called #2 hay. Yet she was full most of the time.

SO really the only way to own and run a private stables is to have full care, so you have control of the feed and rules on cleanliness. I have seen too many facilities charge a very minimum fee for full care and the horses are standing in manure, water and half the time their stock tanks are dry. You get what you pay for.

When I ran the military stables, people went to great lengths to avoid obeying the rules. Dogs and Horses get along, but not necessarily your uncontrolled dog and everyone else's horse. People over feeding or under feeding horses and not liking worming on a schedule; did not like obeying the turnout rules. Sometimes dumping manure in piles in the arena or round pens. Horses with untreated injuries. Unbelievable.

Just a lot of problems mainly with people. If only they were honest like their horses. You should have a list of rules posted and have the boarding owner sign a copy. Again, post your rules. Get paid in advanced. Consider a deposit. Consider part of the payment to be a "work day" where the boarding owners contribute to the upkeep such as painting, repairing fences or panels, pulling weeds, filling and leveling stalls, etc.

And try this out on a limited basis. Interview and pick your boarders. You may even want to talk to lawyer and an insurance company, and, check your state laws on liability. Good luck and safe journey.

1 comment:

  1. Great views. It is a difficult a task to run a stable. First difficulty is regarding choosing a good stable manufacturer and the second, caring stable and horses is a challenging one.