This post today is near and dear to me because I talk with so many people who are going through the same struggles and stress that I went through when we opened our boarding barn years ago. When my husband David and I decided to build a large barn with indoor riding arena I thought it was going to be easy. I had been around horses for years and worked at a few barns in my life and I thought to myself, how hard could it be? The truth is that I was a person who loved horses but was not a business person at all. I really didn't have a grasp on what running a barn was all about when it came to dealing with clients and taking care of the financials. Working for a barn was hard work but if there was any problems I just went to the barn owner. Now I was the barn owner and the problems all came to me. It was a whole new world.
You are going to go through many changes especially during the early years. Don't be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes because they are going to happen. Your learning curve is going to go through the roof and how you did many things in the beginning will change and that is okay.
Many "Firsts" to come during the early years
You are going to experience many "Firsts" during your first couple of years of business. Some will be great but many of them will have you thinking twice about your decision to start your business.
You are going to experience the first time someone is not happy with the care you give. You will experience the first time you have to talk with someone who is not following your barn rules. You will listen to an angry client because their horse has come in with bite marks and they want to move their horse to a new paddock and then you will have to decide how you want to handle it. You will have your first conversation about paying the board on time and dealing with late board payments. You will have to be the referee when there is drama and figure out how to put a stop to it quickly. You will have to talk with a client about their difficult and maybe even unsafe horse at one time or another and the response might not be what you envisioned. You will experience the first time you need to ask a boarder to leave your barn. There will be the first time that you have to call a husband or parent because someone got seriously hurt riding and an ambulance is on the way. You will experience the first time you have to call a boarder to tell them that their horse is seriously hurt and they need to get to the barn right away. You will experience the first time that you comfort and cry with a boarder because their horse was just put down. The list will seem endless but with every hard decision and first time experience will be many wonderful firsts to come also.
The good "Firsts" that come with the job
You are also going to experience many wonderful firsts during the early years and those are the things that will keep you going through the tough times. You will experience the first time you make a decision with confidence and you realize everything is going to be okay. You will finally understand for the first time that people can leave and wonderful new boarders will come that will make your barn even better. You will experience the first time you are able to help and educate a new horse owner and you see their face light up because they just learned something new. You will see people growing and learning new things all the time in a safe environment that you created and it will bring you joy. You will experience the first time you realize that your boarders have become a family and they will protect your barn from any negative talk they hear on the street. You will experience the first time when you realize that your boarders trust you with the care of their horse completely and that is when you know you are doing things right. It doesn't get any better than that.
Keep going and don't give up. Learn from each experience both good and bad. Remember behind every successful horse business is a person that made many mistakes along the way and chose to learn from them and move forward.
Remember behind every successful horse business is a person that made many mistakes along the way and chose to learn from them and move forward.
The first couple of years will be the most challenging and you are not alone. Every new barn owner, manager, trainer and every other equine professional goes through this and how you decide to deal with all of it will set the tone for your barn and business. I encourage you to find a mentor who has been in the business longer and is a positive and honest person to help you when you are struggling. We all could use a fresh pair us eyes to look at a situation from the outside because when you are in the middle of it daily it can become very difficult to see how to fix the problem.
I am going to be totally honest and tell you that I didn't like my new job as barn owner and barn manager when we first opened. The first couple of years were extremely difficult for me and I felt very alone in the journey of growing and learning. I don't want anyone to go through what I did. It can be so much better in the beginning. The best part is once you figure out what works for your barn it gets only better from there. I love my job so much now and I still love going out to the barn each and every day and hearing all the nickers as I open the barn doors. There is no better feeling. It will happen for you too.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are looking for an honest book about horse barn management, please check out my book "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." This book will give you a very realistic view of running your own barn. It will change how you think of horse barn management and it will encourage you and give you the tools to make the tough decisions you will have to make as the barn owner or manager. This book is a must have for anyone that wants to run their own horse business. Get ready to change your barn, business and life in ways you never imagined.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business,