Owning and running a large horse boarding facility has been a dream come true for me. I love the life and even though it is physically demanding and a seven day a week job I still feel like I have found home for me and my career. The down side of horse boarding is that you will never become rich in this career. I believe you can make an honest living boarding horses and live comfortably but horses are expensive to own and if you are boarding them then you will quickly realize that the money might be coming in each month but it will go out just as fast to pay for all the monthly expenses to keep your farm in operation.
One of the craziest ideas I had years ago was to bring in a lady to give body massages to any boarders that would like one. Since we have a large barn and many people come to our facility I thought it would be a great idea. After all who doesn't like to have their body massaged? I met with a woman that worked as a masseuse and she told me what I would need to have at our barn to make it work. We have a small room off of our lounge that is always empty so I quickly started getting it ready. I painted it and put carpet on the floor. Hung curtains and put pictures on the wall. We had a table in the corner for a CD player and special lighting so the room would be soft. After the room was done it was nice enough to sleep in. The lady brought her table and set it up and I posted flyers all over and she spent a day at our barn talking with people and introducing herself. She was available to come two days a week for a few hours so we had a sign-up sheet in the lounge. I was so excited and I was sure everyone was going to love this. It seemed like a win/win idea. The masseuse would make money and so would I.
Well a couple of weeks went by and not one person signed up! I couldn't understand why and so I started asking the boarders what they thought of the whole idea. After much talk I realized that nobody wanted to have a massage after they had been riding a horse. They felt sweaty and dirty and didn't feel comfortable. They also didn't want to have a massage before they rode because it would make them tired and then they would want to go home and sleep. If only I would have asked my boarders these questions first. Soon afterwards the room was closed up and the lady never came back. I had done all that work to the room and for nothing.
It was a learning experience to say the least. Years later I laugh about that idea. It was one of my craziest ideas but it sure sounded good at the time.
I have had many others ideas over the years and many of them have been very successful. We now compost our horse manure and sell it every spring and we sell completely out of it. With forty horses that is a lot of manure! We also just had our first Vinland Stables Christmas tack and craft sale and it was a total success. We had almost seventy vendors all in our arena and the turnout was amazing. I also believe clinics are a good way to bring people to your barn and make some extra money at the same time. The most successful clinics I have had here are the ones that are different. People are always looking for something new and different to do with their horse and having a clinic that no other barn has offered is a smart thing to do.
There are so many ways to make extra money at your barn and sometimes you just need to be willing to offer something different. You might be surprised at the ideas that will be successful. Above all else have fun.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are just starting out in your planning stages of your horse business or need some help now that you are in it, I would like to encourage you to check out my two books. My first one, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business" is my families journey of starting our horse boarding business and about learning from our mistakes especially during the first couple of years. My second book, "The total horse barn management makeover," is about the relationship between the barn owner/barn manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up when you are running a horse business of any kind. These books will take you deep inside the business world and will inspire and give you the tools to get through those tough days and situations. You won't find more honest books out there about running a horse business.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,