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Boarding Stables - The Core Of The Equine Industry

Updated: Dec 10, 2018

I am going to come right out and say it. The boarding stable (no matter the size) is greatly undervalued as an important part of the equine industry.  I never realized this until the last couple of years when I have had the privilege of talking to many barn owners and managers from all over the country.  The sad truth is many barn owners and managers are beaten down and wore out while every other equine professional uses their facility and benefits from the facility. Each equine professional brings something great to your barn but you need to realize that you also bring something great to your barn! Many boarders also unfortunately don't see the value and worth of a well-run boarding stable and what goes on behind the scenes every day.  I am not saying that equine professionals and boarders have been the cause for this burnout in boarding stables.  I am saying that for too long barn owners and managers have allowed themselves to get to this point of burnout and they don't see their worth in what they do seven days a week for the horses they care for.  There are many reasons for this and it comes from many different sources. 

I want to address the importance of the boarding stable and how it affects and even promotes other equine businesses to be successful.  No matter the size, the boarding stable is vital to the equine industry and without them the rest of the industry would wither and be in a very poor financial condition.  Now if that sounds like a bold statement then keep reading because I have a lot to say about this subject.

My concern is that many barn owners and managers feel like they are at the bottom as far as importance and value. After boarding horses at my barn for many years now I have gotten to see first hand how the industry works when it comes to the care of the horses.  There are many career fields of choice in the equine industry but most of the them except for trainers that have their own place, will travel to barns and stables to do their work on horses.  Veterinarians, trainers, farriers, and many special fields that all have to do with the care and betterment of the horse will come to your barn since that is where the horses are.  It is a great set up for every equine professional out there and it does make things very easy for the clients.  

Your responsibility as a barn owner or manager I find it interesting that many barn owners and managers that I talk to really do not look at themselves as an equine professional BUT THEY ARE.  I believe many of them are intimated by the college degrees and other certificates that other equine professionals have and many of them feel like a glorified stall cleaner.  I can say this because I felt the same way for many years and things didn't change in my barn or how I ran my business until I started to take myself seriously and understand the value I bring to the industry and my boarders as a barn owner and manager.  I also feel it is our responsibility to keep learning and up to date on the current health care protocols and being consistent in what you do at your barn will help in earning the respect of your clients.  In simple words - If something isn't working then fix it for the betterment of the horses in your care. 

The importance of what you do Let me put into perspective what you do as the barn owner or manager.  First of all you have taken a huge chance and purchased an existing boarding stable or built one.  With that comes a huge overhead, mortgage and liability.  If I am to be honest, except for another trainer or veterinarian that has their own business, you have taken more financial risk then most other equine professionals and the liability is also an important factor.  You are the center of it all and the services that need to get done for the care and well-being of each horse happens at your place. This creates a unique situation because everything that happens while a trainer, veterinarian or farrier are at your barn will affect you in one way other another.  You are the follow up person for the horse in need and that is important. 

There is only a very small number of people who actually want to keep their own horse on their property. They don't want to be tied down and we all know how hard it is to get away when you have horses to care for daily.  It really does become a lifestyle that will include your whole family whether they want to be part of it or not. Then there is even a smaller number of people who can afford enough land to have their horse on their property.  So when you put it in perspective boarding stables are important to the industry because without them a lot more people would be horseless. That in-turn affects every other part of the industry. Boarding horses is needed for all parts of the industry whether recreational or professional.  It could be horses boarded at a training facility or show horses boarded for the show circuit. Many people board horses for pleasure and recreation and that truly is a huge part of the industry.  Race horses are boarded at large barns with high turnover as horses come and go, while you might have a couple of horses boarded at a small farm for company for the homeowner. No matter the size they are all important and someone had to take the financial risk and purchase the facility to make it happen.  Without these people brave enough to care for other peoples horses, I believe the industry would be in dire straits.   

Your not a glorified stall cleaner! The only way for your boarding business to get better and even easier is to start thinking of what you bring to the industry and your worth.  You are not a glorified stall cleaner.  You are the CEO, manager, nutritionist, medical assistant, grounds keeper, scheduling of employees and health care manager, bookkeeper and financial wizard, accountant, adviser, educator, constant student in learning, repairman for both the farm and equipment, waste manager, rule enforcer at times, safety manager, herd manager, weather man, supplies manager, social organizer, cleaning company, emergency assistant, referee, emotional supporter when needed and so much more! You need to remember that all the other equine professionals that come throughout the day to work on horses also leave but you are still there. At times you will do the  follow-up and checks on a horse when the barn is closed and you have a horse that is under the weather or hurt.  You will be the first one to see the horse in the morning and the last one to see them at night in most cases. Don't underestimate your worth because without your barn that is one less place for people to board their horses.  

Now that I have been on a soap box about your value and what you add to the equine industry, I want you to start believing it and realizing that you are equally as important as the trainer, veterinarian, farrier and so many others.  If a trainer leaves your barn the horses are still there and the work still needs to get done.  If a farrier stops coming to your barn the horses are still there and the same for every other equine professional.  Your job will still be the same.  We are all linked together and without the people who choose to board other people's horses the industry would not be as successful as it is today.   Today I want to celebrate all the people who board other people's horses.  You are an amazing group of people!

Yes I am also a barn owner and board horses for a living and I can relate to the people I talk with about the challenges they have at their stable.  I have lived it and felt beaten down and my business and life changed when I started looking at what I brought to the industry and the value attached to it. Don't let anyone make you feel less than when it comes to boarding horses.  You truly have a challenging job as you try to balance horses, clients and other equine professionals and the unique situations that can arise between them at your barn. It can become complicated at times and you will be right in the middle of it because it affects the horses you are taking care of as well as your clients.  When I say you are the core of the industry, I am not kidding!  

Also I want to send out a huge thank you to my boarders.  Their kind and supportive words to me and David make us feel valued in what we do at our barn for their horses.  If you board your horse then I encourage you to tell the barn owner or manager that you appreciate all they do.  I guarantee it will make their day! 

If you are new to my blog, then welcome!  If you are looking to make positive changes in your horse business when it comes to your clients or any other equine professional you work with, then I encourage you to get my newest book, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business."  This book is a comprehensive guide into horse boarding and you won't find another book that covers in great detail every aspect of this business. 

I want to wish you many blessings in your horse business,  Sheri Grunska

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