Owning and running a horse boarding facility is a great way to make a living but it comes with risks. There are many financial risks involved when you have a business mortgage and you need to keep your stalls filled to pay your bills. Of course the main income comes from the horses that are boarded at your barn. That is how you make your money and as we all know things can change very quickly when dealing with animals and the people that own them.
Higher the number, greater the financial risk
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 greater the financial 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 risks starts to increase. Are you prepared financially if they pull up and leave? It happens.
Losing a horse or two when a client gives a thirty-day notice is something every barn owner will go through and if you are prepared financially when this happens then it becomes much easier to handle if you can't fill the stalls right away. If someone leaves that owns quite a few horses the financial fall-out could be devastating to you and your business. I understand this first hand because I have had a horse owner with five horses leave our barn and that was stressful. If you want to own and run a boarding business then this is something that I want you to think about.
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 added work to fill those stalls and even more work once the new horses and clients come to your barn. Remember time is money when it comes to business. The transition to fill the empty stalls, the paperwork, the time put in to acclimate the new horses with a herd 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 or trainer 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 open 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 stuck trying to collect your money if they didn't give 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. If the board hasn't been paid up then you could be losing a lot of money and taking them to small claims court will be a huge hassle to say the least.
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 then 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 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 often they have changed their mind for many reasons. They have either moved to another barn and are very happy or have sold the horse and the list goes on. 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.
It's a business first
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 and traffic 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 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 I 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.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business, Sheri Grunska