Over the years we have had many people come through our barn and a lot of them have owned more than one horse. In fact I was surprised to see how many people board two or three horses at a time. Once in a while you will even come across someone that boards more than three horses and the higher the number the higher the risk. In many cases a trainer will have multiple horses and it is much easier for them to board at a barn than to have their own place. When you start to get boarders or trainers that have more than two or three horses the financial risk starts to increase. Are you ready if they pull up and leave?
Remember that every time a horse leaves you will lose some sort of income. It might only be a couple hundred dollars but it also could be a few thousand. Even if the loss is small monetarily there is also the loss (or added work) in everything you do to fill those stalls. Remember time is money when it comes to business. The transition to fill the spot, the paperwork, the time put in to acclimate the horse with herds and everything else all becomes a financial part of it.
Ways to protect yourself with a multiple horse owner
There are ways to protect yourself financially if you have a boarder that is going to bring in more than two or even three horses. You can decide the magic number that fits for your business. Every persons idea will be a little different depending on their financial situation.
1. If you have a trainer or boarder that has many horses - Make sure your boarding contract has a section that includes special circumstances for giving notice including multiple horses over a certain number. That way if the boarder gives their notice you are not scrambling to fill the huge number of spots. I would talk with your attorney and have him write this up so you are correct with the laws of your state.
2. You can ask for first and last months board (just like renting an apartment) so that if the boarder leaves under stressful circumstances you are not stressing trying to collect your money if they didn't leave a thirty days notice. Remember - you will have people once in a while that will just pack up and leave. Not everyone will stay the thirty days. In fact most people leave before the thirty days are up because either they are anxious to go to their new place or for many other reasons.
3. You have the option to say no to more than two or three horses. If you are feeling like the risk is too large, than say no. Losing a large number of horses at one time is hard in many ways and creates much more work for the barn owner. It is okay to only accept boarders who own two or three horses.
4. If you have a trainer that is renting five or more stalls, have a signed written contract with him but also with all the people who own the horses that are in training. The trainer might be working the horses and collecting the board but you still need to protect yourself if the trainer up and leaves. If this happens there is a good chance you will not be able to collect your money from him so you need to protect yourself.
5. Keep a current waiting list. Having a waiting list is a great thing but if the list becomes too old there is a very good chance that when you go to call people they will not be interested any more. A waiting list that is over three months old starts to lose its value. I have called people on my waiting list that had been on it for six or eight months and they almost never come. They have either moved to another barn and are very happy or have sold the horse and the list goes on. I believe in all the years that I have boarded horses I have only had one person come to my barn that had been on my list for over six months. People just don't want to wait or can't wait if they are in a bad situation and need to move their horse as soon as possible. Moving horses is stressful on the owner as well as the horse and people will avoid moving their horse twice if they don't have to.
For many barn owners the idea of having a family with many horses or a trainer with many horses boarded at your barn sounds like a great situation because it cuts down on people at your barn but remember the trade off is that the financial risks become much higher. It is something to really think about. Be smart and protect yourself so that you are not losing a huge amount of money all at once when the horses do leave. There are never any guarantees when owning your own horse business but you can do things to protect yourself against a possible huge financial loss. Be smart and don't let your emotions get the best of you. It is a business first and you have a lot riding on it.
If you would like to read more about horse barn management in a very real and honest view, please get a copy of my book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." It will change how you look at barn management in ways you never imagined. There is no other book like it on the market. It is real horse barn management.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,