If you enjoy working with horses, you might want to consider making them your business. There are many business opportunities in the equine world, including horse trainer, boarding stable owner and horse breeding facility. Before you open your doors, however, you need to do your homework.
Be Prepared for the High Cost of Entry
Those attempting to gain a foothold in the equine industry can expect significant financial barriers to entry, simply due to the amount of space required and the cost of properties that are suitable for horses. Boarding facilities who plan to offer turnout need to provide a minimum of one acre of pasture per horse so the property doesn’t become overgrazed. In addition to the pasture requirements, boarding facilities and training stables need a large outdoor ring, preferably with lights for nighttime riding, and perhaps an indoor arena as well.
Depending on the location of the facility, all this could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many new horse trainers choose to lease an existing facility as a way to save money, but even the cost of a lease can be quite high. Equine industry business owners will need to budget for these costs, as well as the additional costs associated with the horse industry.
Cover Yourself with the Right Insurance Coverage
One of the most significant costs in the equine industry is insurance. Horseback riding is considered a high-risk activity, and that means the cost of liability insurance can be quite high for a training facility, boarding stable or other equine facility where clients are permitted to ride.
Before opening any type of equine business, would-be business owners should speak to an insurance agent who specializes in the equestrian industry. Talking to a specialist is essential, since the average insurance professional will not understand the ins and outs of the horse industry and the importance of proper insurance coverage.
People Skills and Horse Skills Go Hand in Hand
Many people get into the horse business based on their love of animals and their ability to read equine instincts. While working as a horse trainer does require a natural ability to bond with horses, a surprisingly large part of the job is spent dealing with humans. It is, after all, the owners who pay the bills, and it is the job of the horse trainer to deal with those owners and their expectations.
Owners often bring their horses to a trainer with the expectation that they will go from unbroke colts to finished show horses in a month or two. Dealing with those overambitious expectations is just as much a part of the job as training the horses in the barn.
The High Cost of Supplies
The ongoing cost of supplies is another important consideration for those in the equine business. The cost of hay runs from $3 per bale to more than $6, depending on the quality of the hay and where you live. Horse feed prices range from $10 to $30 or more for 50 pounds, while a bale of shavings can cost as much as $10 depending on quality and location.
Researching the cost ahead of time is essential, since costs vary so much from place to place. Costs tend to be higher near major cities and lower in rural areas, but the best thing to do is check the costs in the area before establishing your business.
Not a Nine to Five Job, More Like a Five to Nine Job
Running a horse business is anything but a nine-to-five job, and as an equine business owner you need to be prepared for the amount of work the business will involve. The horses need to be fed, watered and ridden every day, whether it is sunny, rainy or snowy. If you plan to go on vacation, you need to make sure you have a reliable backup on hand who will not only be able to take care of the horses but take note of any problems that occur while you are gone.
Paying attention to these factors will help you get the most from your business, while also avoiding the pitfalls that trip up so many well meaning business owners. Working with horses can be very rewarding, but as with any type of business, it pays to be prepared.