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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2010
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    151

    Default Need your advice- Leasing a Barn

    My friend and I have a great opportunity to lease a facility for a year with the option to renew for additional years. We plan to set up a small corporation and bring in 6-8 boarders. We both are tired of barn drama at our current (very large) facility and want to keep it small. What advice would give in setting this up? How would you recommend finding enough (sane) boarders to make this make sense?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2001
    Location
    Greenville, SC
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    Unfortunately my advice would be to not do it as a partnership. You're almost guranteed to lose her as a friend. I've seen it happen over and over. Make sure you do the math first before you agree to anything, figure out how much each horse will cost you in terms of bedding, hay (make sure you have a reliable hay source and figure in the cost of having to feed hay in a drought or if horses are in for long periods of time b/c of bad weather), feed, barn help, insurance, etc. Figure out how much "profit" you need to make per horse to make it worth your while before you set up your prices.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2003
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    Hollywood, but not the one where they have the Oscars!
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    7,633

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duramax View Post
    Unfortunately my advice would be to not do it as a partnership. You're almost guranteed to lose her as a friend. I've seen it happen over and over. Make sure you do the math first before you agree to anything, figure out how much each horse will cost you in terms of bedding, hay (make sure you have a reliable hay source and figure in the cost of having to feed hay in a drought or if horses are in for long periods of time b/c of bad weather), feed, barn help, insurance, etc. Figure out how much "profit" you need to make per horse to make it worth your while before you set up your prices.
    ditto this
    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
    carolprudm



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2007
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    AreaII
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    1,348

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duramax View Post
    Unfortunately my advice would be to not do it as a partnership. You're almost guranteed to lose her as a friend. I've seen it happen over and over. Make sure you do the math first before you agree to anything, figure out how much each horse will cost you in terms of bedding, hay (make sure you have a reliable hay source and figure in the cost of having to feed hay in a drought or if horses are in for long periods of time b/c of bad weather), feed, barn help, insurance, etc. Figure out how much "profit" you need to make per horse to make it worth your while before you set up your prices.
    Ditto the ditto...



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
    Location
    Lexington, KY
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    Default

    Ditto the ditto the ditto. And, I've not found a barn yet that does only boarding (no lessons, training, camps, etc.) that hasn't lost money.

    Make sure you figure in ALL your costs. It's not just the hay, feed and bedding, it's repairs (unless the landlord will do all the maintenance and in a timely manner), equipment, manure disposal, electric, water, insurance, barn help, etc. Put that on top of rent and I would be surprised if you break even.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003
    Location
    KY, USA
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    1,941

    Default

    Ditto ^ 4. Boarding alone does not make money. Hell, you can ALMOST generalize that ANYTHING to do with horses doesn't make money.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
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    3,589

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    Don't do it as a partnership. You might think that you and your friend are such good friends that it will all work out perfectly - take it from all of us who have done it and who also had those great, great, lifelong friends - don't. If you want to keep your friend then agree which one of you is going to lease the barn and then do a deal with the other one about keeping their horse there for free in return for doing x amount of work. You are unlikely to make money on boarding.

    On the surface it sounds great - wow, I can change $400 a month and feed only costs me $100/month. Some thoughts:
    - Think about utilities - water, electricity etc, your monthly lease fee, your maintenance fees - constantly broken fences, stalls etc.
    - Factor in the cost of buying your feeders, troughs.
    - Take into consideration insurance, legal costs, and what happens if someone, or more than one person doesn't pay for a month, two months, 6 months, abandons their horses altogether.
    - Do you currently have other jobs - are you planning on being there full time? If not, who is going to deal with the farrier, vets etc. When are you going to get hay ( a lot for 6 -8 horses). Who is going to blanket, unblanket etc?

    I can assure you that you are unlikely to make any money and are likely to lose a lot. It will be a great, if not very pleasant, learning exercise.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
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    Lexington, KY
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    Although, up to now we have only had horses in on training board, I took in one (1), yes that's one, full care boarder last year. It started out OK, he seemed to be a fairly easy keeper and kept a fairly neat stall. Then fall and winter happened. Easy keeper to hard keeper. Then I did my taxes. Water bill went up $50/month for the later summer/fall period he was here (owner gave lots of long baths. By the time I figured in the extra insurance costs, equipment cost (buckets, fan, etc) and having to build a temporary stall since we were one over (we'd been making do with a gate across the wash stall bay and moved the wash stall to outside, but it just wouldn't work for the winter) we lost $75/month. And that's just for one! Now he was a hard keeper in the winter and he was very hard on the property, stall and gate. And I haven't even factored that into the loss.

    No more boarders (only training horses)!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
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    2,199

    Default

    I can see why you would consider doing this--it is the kind of thing that on the surface sounds like a great idea. But the fact of the matter is, running a facility is a lot more complicated, time consuming and expensive than people realize. Labor, employment taxes, workman's comp, farm insurance, care/custody& control insurance, seed, taxes, repairs, equipment, utilities, and a lot of other stuff you would never even think of.

    Also, the capital investment is huge...do you already own tools and tractors and weedeaters and spreaders and wheelbarrows and pitchforks, buckets and water tanks and so on? And once you become a business, there's all sorts of paperwork you've got to take care of--business licenses, endless tax forms, hiring paperwork, billing paperwork, etc. Going to do some of the work yourself? You will find yourself "on call" 24/7, because who else is going to take care of that suffering horse while the owner is out of town on a lovely vacation or enjoying a romantic valentine's day dinner with their SO?

    The truth is that for the consumer, horse boarding is a bargain. You will most definitely come out financially ahead to find another facility and pay board as compared to opening your own boarding facility.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2010
    Posts
    151

    Default

    Thank you for all your advice! I have a few more details that may help. In spite of all the pieces that have to fall into place, I can't help but think this is a unique (but good) opportunity. The barn owner keeps her horses in a separate barn and covers all utilities, provides all of farm equipment and maintains the property. We will be responsible for hiring a groom (already have one to turn out, feed, blanket, etc.) and providing shavings, hay and feed. The owner lives onsite and does a night check and we have a trainer who will be out there from 7-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. and for farrier/vet visits.

    I am hoping just to break even, but money is a concern, especially if someone doesn't pay board or leaves. I am hoping to work something out with the owner where we pay on a stall by stall basis vs. total lease up to a certain point but I am not sure if she will be interested.

    Thoughts? Thanks again!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2007
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    271

    Default

    Just a thought... who will be responsible to clean stalls?

    If it is set up for self cleaning, you will probably be expected to give a price break but then have to babysit to make sure boarders actually do it.

    If you and/or partner are cleaning, then expect to never have time to actually ride your own horses. I leased a barn for only myself and somehow managed to acquire horses that were turned over by the county AC (taken for neglect), other people who saw I "needed another horse," or "you have an open stall." Went from 2 to 8 in a matter of a year - completely my fault as I never said no, but it taught me a very valuable lesson in limitations. Cleaning 2 stalls was a breeze. Cleaning 3 stalls was tolerable, 4 started to get inconvenient. 8 stalls + care = my saddles became victims of dust and cobwebs.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
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    2,199

    Default

    Sorry to be so negative. I will also say it takes a long time to build up a clientele of good boarders. When you first open your doors all the crazy people that are always moving because they are never happy/the board is never cheap enough/they keep getting kicked out of barns will be wanting to board with you. The responsible, reasonable people that pay their bills will be reluctant to come board with you until you have been in business for a while and have built a solid reputation. It is better to have fewer boarders than to have bad boarders.

    Getting paid is a big deal--I often feel that as a boarding barn I have less leverage than other bigger business to get paid money that is owed me. Thankfully for me, I don't rely on money from my boarding business. I also have learned to be very direct about money/billing issues with clients. Let's face it, keeping horses is very expensive. I think a lot of people don't charge nearly enough for boarding and end up subsidizing other people's horses. Do the math on absolutely everything you will be spending, and make sure you aren't doing this!

    Sometimes having boarders can be great, I've gotten to know a lot of people. OTOH, there is a LOT of babysitting involved. People, even very nice ones who seem very experienced and responsible, can be very irresponsible where their horses are concerned. They do dumb things--leave gates open, leave their messes, and often aren't available when their horse is sick or injured. In this day and age where a lot of people have never kept their own horse at home, many people are frightfully ignorant about horse care and this means you may end up helping people manage their horses more than you anticipated. Decide ahead of time what services are included and what constitutes "extra care."



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