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A question for boarding barn owners/managers

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  • A question for boarding barn owners/managers

    What do you wish you had done differently in opening or setting up your boarding barn?

  • #2
    I wish I would have known we'd be a boarding/training barn, not a training/boarding barn. That means building more pens and less box stalls, which would always have been easier to rent. (Pens) Better for the horses too, if they are not showing all the time.

    I was a little barn blind in thinking that I was my likeliest customer... that is true but I thought of myself as who I was: showgirl, serious rider, in a training situation, instead of who I am now at this point in life: loff the horse thing, barn buddies are important, riding and lessons and messing with a horse more important that going down the road every weekend to show.

    Unless you are super-sure of exactly who your target clientele are (and that their participation is going to happen to make your business model work) it's good to 'walk in the front door' as they say about a small business and look at your plan as a potential customer, not as the owner.

    We have done OK, but I have made some mistakes by not being more open-minded about how other people want to interact with their horses. Aging baby-boomers, constraints on time and money, easy of using a facility... all are things that should get a really long look before you leap.


    • #3
      Let's see, I've never owned, but I have managed.

      Some of the biggest mistakes I've seen, as a manager walking in to an existing facility:

      1. Budgeting that was set up with the assumption that all stalls would be full. Some amount of turnover is healthy and natural. People move, people have changing budgets, switch disciplines, build their own place, horses retire, and so on, and so on. Unless you're so well known and spectacular that you have a waiting list a mile long, there will be openings from time to time, and that's okay.

      2. Too many horses. This isn't a specific number, but is dependant on the facility and staff. And it can really be a balancing act. To a point, more horses = more money, but eventually you get to a point where the number of horses is increasing wear and tear on the facility in a way that is cost-prohibitive. Too many horses overgraze pastures, and your feed costs go up. They start to fight with each other, and you have vet bills and fence repairs. And, of course, the labor goes up.

      3. Unclear service goals. You can not be all things to all people without driving yourself nuts.

      4. Drainage. This is the bane of many a stable, and I know there's been a lot of discussions about it here on CotH. For good reason.

      I'm sure there are more, but those are some of the biggies that drove me nuts at what I'd consider my least pleasant stable job
      "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
      -Edward Hoagland


      • #4
        check references. of staff and boarders.
        don't be in a rush to fill those stalls if the boarders cannot give you a good reference from someone somewhere.
        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


        • #5
          Probably most BO would tell you that things would be easier if they just had the horses to deal with and not the people


          • #6
            Originally posted by Trees4U View Post
            Probably most BO would tell you that things would be easier if they just had the horses to deal with and not the people

            Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
            Bernard M. Baruch


            • #7
              Storage - where are all the boarders going to put all their stuff???? Messy barns drive me nuts.

              How will the barn be used - ie where will they cross tie, get ready, put away, clean tack, etc. where will you hang wet blankets,

              Is it built in such a way that it is most efficient to turn out, muck, feed, etc.
              http://www.facebook.com/olddominionsaddlery Like us on Facebook!!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Trees4U View Post
                Probably most BO would tell you that things would be easier if they just had the horses to deal with and not the people
                If only the horses could write the check we could...

                If I had it to do over again as far as the barn it would be a MUCH bigger tack room.