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Starting several equine businesses over the next three years. Help???

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  • Starting several equine businesses over the next three years. Help???

    So I have this big and complicated plan I wish to start implementing next year, and I thought I'd bounce it off you folks for some feedback. I won't be quitting my day job any time soon, so don't worry

    I'm a vet who is as far removed from medicine as a vet can get and still be called Doctor every day by co-workers. What I would like to do is work on horses, doing acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. Adding massage would round things out, and I could also re-learn dentistry down the line to expand my services.

    Even so, I don't know that I'd have enough clients to go full time since I don't want to take on a lot of 'regular' cases or practice a large amount of traditional medicine.

    What I do want to do is be a certified riding instructor, since that is my passion. I can travel to clients, but I'd also like a decent sized lesson barn. A covered arena would be nice but I won't know if I can pull that off yet. Plus, a large stable would be nice, but I don't want to rely on it as my sole income nor be forever tied up managing only the farm.

    Once I can get a business plan going and see what the market is like, I'll know more... But:

    The area I want to move to has a few small traditional practices, one of which recently doubled their vet staff from one to two. There are some affluent areas, but mostly it is backyard horsekeepers and some riding enthusiasts who don't own horses. This will make the alternative medicine a harder sell, but not seeing clients 20 hours a day is a more preferred lifestyle anyways! And like I said, things like dentistry could fill in some gaps.

    I am reading books on riding, and coaching. I'm refreshing my vet med knowledge and taking an acupuncture class starting next spring. I plan to get my hands on lots of business and finance books, and horse business books....

    So what else do I need? What advice can you folks give me on doing all this? Has anyone recently started a mobile practice or lesson barn and can give me details of what you went through?


  • #2
    You and I must be cut from similar cloth! I too am a vet, own my own small animal practice. I actually love my job, but would prefer to do it 30 hrs/ week so I can expand my horsie passion...breeding! i got my certification at the Chi Institute in Fl for acupuncture (did small/ equine track) and loved it. Sadly, I did not have time build that side of my practice and have pretty much forgotten all of it However, I think it could be a viable business, at least in my area, if one was to do both small and large "alternative medicine" of acupuncture, massage, chiro, TCVM and saddle fitting (a la Kerry Ridgeway).

    I think the best way to develop a business is to become associated with a larger existing practice. Doing your own start up from scratch is doable, but very, very slow and you might starve in the mean time! Is there an existing practice that doesn't have an alternative vet that you could fill that need? Do your own billing and give them a %? This way it is no risk for them but you get the benefit of tapping into their existing client base. I bought an exisiting practice that needed a LOT of work and bringing into the 21st Century. It has taken me 6 years but it has grown into a thriving business where I am almost ready to take on a partner.

    I have no advice regarding starting a lesson barn. One of my part time employees runs an English lesson barn (kids and adults, basic hunters and dressage). She is a wonderful rider, but I know it is a struggle for her and her business partner. They have to run camps in the summer that just about kill them! They have a nice facility with two arenas, nice barn, turn out and great location. We are in a fairly stable economic area, but even still it is hard for them.

    PM me if you'd like to chat further! Good luck!!
    Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


    • Original Poster

      PMing you!


      • #4
        My old instructor was mobile - she traveled to her students and she was also new to the area but within a few months she had a pretty full schedule and after a couple years she was hopping busy. She would just get her nose in everything, at every barn, etc. She helped revive a failing annual horse show, made friends with the equine vets, etc. She is a social butterfly though and everyplace she's moved to she's done the same thing over. From what I could see she just got out there and met people! I think not having a payment or lease on a barn of your own is a plus. I can't imagine trying to do all that you are planning - seems like a pretty hectic schedule. Will you set certain days for lessons, others for acupuncture, etc?

        Curious - how are you going to become a certified instructor. I've heard of the AAHS and the CHA. Is it something like that that you're looking in to? I've read both books published for AAHS and though they were very good.

        Sorry, I'm not much help but wish you the best!


        • Original Poster


          I am mostly introverted so I need to work on my social butterfly skills I do better around horse people, and I am sick of being so isolated from my current community (need to change that).

          I do plan to have certain days for mobile vet and lessons and days for lessons at the farm. It might get crazy, but I have time to sort out scheduling as I build clients. I can also hire another like minded instructor. The area I'm thinking of could use a good riding barn. One downgraded in size several years ago, selling land for housing. Another farm is very old and a little specialized. There are some smaller, $$$$$pricier places too.

          I know different organizations offer 'general' certifications- my trainer is working on hers and I keep meaning to ask what organization... I am interested primarily in Centered Riding.

          I will look into AAHS.

          You have been a big help, so cheers!


          • #6
            Originally posted by Fenika View Post
            I do plan to have certain days for mobile vet and lessons and days for lessons at the farm. It might get crazy, but I have time to sort out scheduling as I build clients.
            I don't want to throw cold water on any of your plans but from a client perspective, if you only want to do routine vet practice on certain days, I doubt I would consider using you as a regular vet. If my horse colics and it's not a day you work, I'd have to be using another practice and more than likely that practice would my practice of choice all the time.

            I used to use a vet that only worked a 4 day wk. She took Wed off to do personal things, like shopping, Dr. appointments etc. and rarely did anything on wkends unless it was dire emergency. Much as I geniunely liked her, I needed a practice that could serve me 24/7 because I had a horse that used to colic any time of the day or night. Fortunately we have a larger vet practice in town (5 vets) so I switched.

            But what we do have is a vet practice that doesn't do ANY routine work but does offer canine and equine rehabilitative care by providing Veterinary rehab, Sports Medicine, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Services. It sounds to me that this is more up your alley than any kind of routine vet practice.

            Whatever you decide I do wish you luck.

            I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


            • Original Poster

              No, no cold water. I didn't make it clear- I don't want to do a lot of traditional practice and will encourage clients (and boarders if I ever have boarders) to build a relationship with their regular vets. I would do some alternative emergency medicine, but only as an adjunct to a traditional vet. I will need to have a good relationship with the other vets in the area.

              Could you give me the name of that rehabilitative services vet? Cheers!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fenika View Post
                No, no cold water. I didn't make it clear- I don't want to do a lot of traditional practice and will encourage clients (and boarders if I ever have boarders) to build a relationship with their regular vets. I would do some alternative emergency medicine, but only as an adjunct to a traditional vet. I will need to have a good relationship with the other vets in the area.

                Could you give me the name of that rehabilitative services vet? Cheers!
                Check your PM's.

                If your not sure how to get your PM's, check the upper right hand corner of your page. There's a box there that says Welcome and your user name in black. Under that in blue is Private Messages. Click on the Private messages.

                I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.