Can You Make An Honest Living Boarding Horses?


I was on Facebook the other day and read a post where this person was saying that it is impossible to make an honest living boarding horses if you have a business mortgage. I am here to say I strongly disagree! You just need to be very smart about the whole process in the beginning and your business loan needs to be realistic for the size boarding stable you will have. One other very important question to ask yourself is...What do you consider an honest living? Every person has their own idea of what success is and earning an honest income for a job well done will mean something different to everyone. Let me very honest here...if you think you will become a millionaire boarding horses then you need to stop right now and find a new career. If you have a more realistic view of the industry and business then hopefully you will find a peace and contentment in a well-run boarding stable where you are able to pay your bills and make and honest living. You will definitely have to do some soul searching when it comes to this type of horse business and what you want out of it.


One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is - How did we know if we could make a living at boarding horses?  I wish I could say there is an easy answer but it took us some time to really get a grasp on what our income and monthly expenses were going to be throughout all four seasons. There is so much that goes in to the whole equation of starting a business and boarding horses no different from any other start-up business. The most common and familiar expenses are your mortgage, hay, grain and bedding BUT there are so many often overlooked expenses that are extremely important and if you don't include them, you may find yourself in a financial mess. One of the main reasons I wrote my book, "A Step By Step Guide to Starting and Running a Successful Horse Boarding Business,"  is because I realized early on that there wasn't any other books on how to get started and I mean starting from empty farmland.  Starting from the very beginnings of new construction and all that goes with it was a much bigger undertaking then I ever dreamed.

Getting a business up and going and especially a business dealing with animals takes time and an extreme amount of preparation.  We went through the process of figuring out a business plan (which I recommend to anyone that is going into business) and putting numbers together and the entire process took two years before we ever started construction.  Even after we started building our barn, new cost and surprises were popping up each day.

Yes you can make a living at it!


There are many people who will tell you that you can't make a living at boarding horses but I am here to say that you can. You just need to be very smart about it and very conservative in the early years.  Many people fall in love with the idea of boarding horses for many different reasons but many of them do not do their homework to find out how much everything will cost to run their farm through all four seasons.  Even the change of seasons will bring different expenses and it can be expensive especially when all your water tanks and heater buckets are running 24 hours a day.  I am going to be very honest and tell you that I had rose colored glasses on during the first year.  I thought it was going to be so much easier than it was and after I had added up all the numbers for income each month I thought we were going to have plenty of money after all the bills were paid. That was not the case at all.

David and I made so many mistakes in our building process and even during the first three years of our business and it hurt us financially in a huge way.  Now after many years things are finally starting to become easier.  That is why I felt is was so very important to write a book about the subject.  I don't want anyone to go through what we went through and I believe if you do it right the first time, you can make an honest living at boarding horses. You will never become rich but you will be rich in life doing what you love to do.

A huge misconception One of the biggest misconceptions people have about our farm is that they think we are making all kinds of money.  They see our barn, the number of horses we have on the property and what we charge for board and they add it all up.  What they don't realize at all is the huge expense that is attached to run the farm and pay the business mortgage. They don't know what our hay cost for the year, insurance, fuel or even electricity.  The people who do ask are always a little in shock when I tell them what our monthly bills are to keep the place going.  I do believe that if I can be honest and help someone who wants to get into the business, it can only help them start out much better then we did.

Give it two years Estimating your monthly expenses can take a couple of years (through all four seasons) to have a realistic view of income coming in and expenses going out.  Those early years are a critical time and that is when you need to be the most conservative.  I always tell people slow and steady always wins.  It might not be fun at the time but it is very important for good business decisions. Now many years later I also encourage people to write up a business plan for yourself whether you need to borrow money or not. You will see new things in your business that you have never thought of before.  Most people think that you only need to prepare a business plan if you are borrowing money but that is not true.  Do it for yourself!  Preparing a business plan will be the smartest thing you do in the early stages of your horse business. Starting your horse business off on the right foot with a solid foundation is so much easier then finding out two years later that you are losing money and everything is costing so much more than you estimated.


 Do it for yourself!  Preparing a business plan will be the smartest thing you do in the early stages of your horse business.

Learning to run a business is one thing but it is very hard to run a business if you have to work a second job on top of it.  We did that for many years because of the mistakes we made in the beginning and it will wear you down and burn you out.  I encourage you to take some time and see what it really takes to start and run a horse boarding business.  Do your homework and ask questions.  It will pay off in the long run.  It truly is the greatest job when you can go out to the barn each morning and be around horses all day but it is even sweeter when you don't have to worry about every penny and how you are going to pay the monthly bills.

If you are new to my blog, then welcome!  I wrote my newest book to give you an in-depth look into the business of boarding horses and all that it entails. This post today is one small example of what my new book addresses. If you are boarding horses or are planning on it, please check out, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business."  It is a very comprehensive book on boarding horses and covers every part of it from building your barn or stable to solid barn management.  I wrote this book because I realized there is an information gap when it comes to this subject and my goal is to help others so they don't make all the mistakes we made when we first opened our boarding facility.  I want you to be prepared for the crazy and wonderful new career you are going into. ​ 

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

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