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Training, Liability, Prices and Expenses

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  • Training, Liability, Prices and Expenses

    Hello all!

    It's been a long while since I have shown my digital face around these parts. Glad to be back!

    Recently we have relocated to a property with 20+ available stalls, around 20 acres of turn-out, a large covered round pen with 6' solid walls (open above that to roof) and lights, and a smallish outdoor sand ring. Not to mention a gazillion miles of excellent trails with a variation of experiences (water crossing, cliffs, logs, boulders, etc etc).

    We are renting, and the owners of the property keep their personal horses here, and this still leaves plenty of open space. I have proposed the idea of taking on a few clients to train very basic needs (groundwork, basic under saddle work, and a few fun things here and there such as sliding stops, flying changes, etc). I would also like to take on training some pack horses/mules in the future when I can get my hands on some gear. The property owners' main concern is liability for clients riding on the property. I have discussed with others the possibility of not allowing clients to handle their horses on this property, and it seems that it would push me into the "no-go" range. So, I have been considering a few insurance companies and plan to call for quotes tomorrow.

    My question/s to you are thus:
    HOW do you determine what to charge for training based on this criteria, and having a lack of comparable businesses in the area?
    AND
    What kind of premiums are you paying for your training/liability insurance, if you don't mind? Also, who do you use?

    Any other advice is appreciated!
    Thank you!

    (PS - I apologize if this is in the wrong area. This was my best guess for a place to put this post!)

  • #2
    The first question: Where you at?!?!?!?!

    State law will determine the extent of your liability. If you've got an equine limited liability law then you're in a better position than if you don't. If your state is conservative on individual liability then you're better better off than if it's liberal (unless, of course, you're the one who gets hurt). Land use and regulation varies wildly from state to state for private lands. Who owns the "gazilions" of acres for trail riding? What are their regs?

    What are the bailment laws in your state? What are the statutes covering livery facilities? What are the rules on agister liens?

    Does your state have a Horse Council? If so then contact them. Talk to your County Extension Agent. You might find information there (although most County Agents have little to no interest in equine operations). Or spend some money and sit down with a lawyer for an hour and let them tell you what your exposure us. Then sit down with an insurance agent and cover that exposure.

    Good luck in your project.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Guilherme! Thank you for all of these insightful questions! I have a lot more to figure out than I had initially thought (which is great!).

      We are in North Carolina, USA. I will check around to see what kind of regulations I need to comply with and what kind of laws the state/county have as far as liability.

      Thank you!

      Still curious as to how I should go about determining my pricing? I see a lot of HJ, Dressage, and otherwise Huntseat barns in the area with a few WP type places, but I have yet to find folks in a reasonable radius (we'll say 250 miles?) that I can really compare to. Once again, I want to do starting and maybe some intermediate finishing work like working on flying changes, developing balanced circles and straight lines, overall conditioning, and in the next 6 months or so I am really hoping to get my hands on some packing gear to begin teaching this (good timing, as spring/early summer should be better weather, but we will see).

      What would YOU pay for these services? Would you pay extra for weekly/twice-weekly lessons? I am more focused on the horses at this point, as I would like to get some sort of instructor certification before I offer lessons, but to make sure the rider is handling the horse the same way I did when it was under my training, I would offer some "rider tune-up" type deals. Again, this all depends on the liability laws, insurance costs, etc.

      If you could NOT ride your horse on this property while it is under my training, what would you be willing to pay? Simply put, how much would you be willing to pay to drop your horse off for 30 days for conditioning, increased responsiveness and suppleness, and perhaps some more specific things that could be worked on with the rider later on OFF the property... ?

      Of course, I would be only offering basic pasture board and hay. Reserving a stall and requesting blanketing/grain/supplements would involve an increase in price. At this point I would be charging minimally for basic board.

      I apologize for my sort of scatter-brained way of posting about this. I am thinking "out loud" so to speak, and would appreciate any and all input I can get!

      Thank you all! Let me know if I missed any information that is vital.

      Cheers!

      Comment


      • #4
        While of course you want to know what others charge, or what potential clients would pay, first I'd be working out what you NEED to charge. *Know* what the insurance costs would be (I use Broadstone). Know what your time will be. Materials. Add a bit for contingencies. Then you'll have an idea of what you need to be charging.

        Then go and see what comparable places are charging and see if you are in the ballpark.
        https://www.facebook.com/SugarMapleFarm
        Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/
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        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Update: It looks like by the North Carolina Equine Activity Liability Law, both I and the property owners are exempt from liability except for gross negligence. -> http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusnc99e_1.htm

          Here is the Equine Lien: (c) Any person engaged in the business of boarding animals has a lien on the animals boarded for reasonable charges for such boarding which are contracted for with an owner or legal possessor of the animal. This lien shall have priority over perfected and unperfected security interests. -> So, should a person fail to pay the contracted fees, I gain possession of the animal indefinitely? Can someone explain this to me further?

          Still researching about other specifics. Does the Liability Law in my state then exempt the property owners and myself from liability but for negligence? If this is the case, is liability insurance really necessary? I am still considering different insurance in the case that I become unable to work, but is liability insurance necessary?

          Thanks again!

          Comment


          • #6
            You determine what to charge by first determining your costs (including the value of your own labor). They you decide your profit margin. Then you set a number. Then you do a market survey to see if the market will bear your price. Then you adjust up or down to match the market. Or lead the market. Your choice.

            G.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MarionHorse View Post
              ?

              "... is liability insurance necessary?..."

              Absolutely ... Our legal system allows anyone to sue for anything. (It's not justice, it's the lottery) This doesn't mean they'll win... But the legal costs to defend yourself will be enormous. That's what the liability insurance is really for.
              Equus makus brokus but happy

              Comment


              • #8
                Don't ever forget that liability insurance will cover the cost of defending you, no matter how frivolous the suit is.

                Negligence is in the eye of the beholder, which can make going uninsured perilous.

                As far as any other costs only you can sit down and calculate the costs of rent, electricity water, hay, grain, bedding, labor, ( and the additional costs involved with that), and don't ever forget maintenance.
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MarionHorse View Post

                  If you could NOT ride your horse on this property while it is under my training, what would you be willing to pay? Simply put, how much would you be willing to pay to drop your horse off for 30 days for conditioning, increased responsiveness and suppleness, and perhaps some more specific things that could be worked on with the rider later on OFF the property... ?
                  I would not be willing to pay anything.

                  Even if the horse is there to have a problem fixed it does me no good if you can not teach me how to deal with the horse in the end.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thank you, COTHers!

                    Here is what I have determined so far:

                    - I need to work a way to have owners ride on the property, otherwise this will be a no-go.
                    - I need to have liability insurance to cover the fees for the possibility of being sued, despite the fact that unless I am at fault for negligence, I will not be held responsible. (What a messed up world we live in! Can't seem to trust even the closest acquaintances not to sue!)
                    - State law determines that I and the property owners are not liable for any damages, injuries, or death, unless found to be negligent.
                    - As per NC Equine Liens, if a client fails to pay within the designated time period, the designated amount, then the animal is legally mine? -- I need help with this, as I am not sure I am reading it correctly. How does this work?

                    To determine my prices, I need to find out what liability insurance will cost, what feed and shavings will cost, and what my time is worth. How would I go about conducting a market survey? It's been a long time since I have taken a business class!

                    Is there anything else I am missing, need to know, or am ill-informed about?

                    Thank you so much, everyone!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      dp
                      Last edited by MarionHorse; Dec. 10, 2012, 12:54 PM. Reason: deleted

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                        I would not be willing to pay anything.

                        Even if the horse is there to have a problem fixed it does me no good if you can not teach me how to deal with the horse in the end.
                        Would you be willing if I could teach you OFF the property? ie a public arena, your barn (per acceptance from BO), etc? Or would it be a complete no-deal if you could not ride at this particular barn?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MarionHorse View Post
                          Would you be willing if I could teach you OFF the property? ie a public arena, your barn (per acceptance from BO), etc? Or would it be a complete no-deal if you could not ride at this particular barn?
                          I guess it depends on what you are fixing and the rider and all that stuff.

                          I can just picture it going all wrong.

                          Dobbin is at your place for a month and you fix the issue. We truck Dobbin back home and the only time we both have free is the next weekend so Dobbin sits for a week. You show up and we attempt a lesson but Dobbin has been doing nothing for a week so it does not go well. That means stress for both you, Dobbin, and Dobbin's owner.

                          If week three of training owner could get on and ride you could see how your trainer is progressing with the owner on board.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Please, please, please talk to a licensed insurance agent about your insurance questions. You are asking for some very important advice that is specific to your business. Soliciting it from an online BB is not a good idea. Talk to an agent. It is FREE and you don't have to buy insurance to get it.

                            You are lucky to have an equine liability law. Be sure to get the release forms and collect them religiously from anyone coming to the barn. As hosspuller said, "our legal system allows anyone to sue for anything." You buy equine liability insurance primarily for the legal fee coverage. If you ever had a legal issue that took more than an hour of a lawyer's time, you'll appreciate how expensive even the most minor thing can get.

                            I will add that the property owner should be sure that his/her insurance covers them from claims related to a non-owned commercial operation on their farm. Doubtlessly they will want to be named insureds on your commercial policy.

                            The question about the lien had me shaking my head. You need to collect your fees IN ADVANCE and not allow people to accrue big balances. Getting to keep the horse is not what you want to do and there are basic good business practices on how to avoid it.

                            For example, do you have a contract for your services? That contract should detail what you are doing, the frequency, the cost (including due dates), and termination language among other things.

                            I certainly would not entertain setting up a business without a business plan, a contract, and commercial insurance.
                            Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
                            http://www.ironwood-farm.com

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                              I guess it depends on what you are fixing and the rider and all that stuff.

                              I can just picture it going all wrong.

                              Dobbin is at your place for a month and you fix the issue. We truck Dobbin back home and the only time we both have free is the next weekend so Dobbin sits for a week. You show up and we attempt a lesson but Dobbin has been doing nothing for a week so it does not go well. That means stress for both you, Dobbin, and Dobbin's owner.

                              If week three of training owner could get on and ride you could see how your trainer is progressing with the owner on board.
                              I agree. Thank you for this insight.

                              Let's suppose for giggles another situation: Buckshot is fat and needs conditioning. You have no time to get him in shape but have plans in 4 months to show Buckshot in a schooling show. Would you be willing to drop Buckshot off at my place for 30/60/90 days to get him in shape physically and mentally? I wouldn't be teaching him anything new, just getting him back into shape. Yea or nay?

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thank you for your opinions and insight!

                                I have not included in this thread that I do have a business plan in the works, and that I do plan to collect fees up front. I have my liability forms to sign off on (as useless as they are), and I do plan to consult with a few insurance companies to find out more about how it works and what kind of premium I would be looking at.

                                I appreciate your thoughts on the owners being included as insured folks on my policy. It will be a kind of overlapping, as I am covered under their insurance policy for the property as I am legally an employee here. I will lay out the whole thing to the insurance folks when I call them.

                                This is a big brainstorm of a thread, really. So please forgive me if I leave any information out. I hope that I am not as clueless as I may come across! I am trying to cover all my bases here by talking to some folks who may have experience and insight into things that I may not have thought of.

                                Thank you!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by MarionHorse View Post
                                  I agree. Thank you for this insight.

                                  Let's suppose for giggles another situation: Buckshot is fat and needs conditioning. You have no time to get him in shape but have plans in 4 months to show Buckshot in a schooling show. Would you be willing to drop Buckshot off at my place for 30/60/90 days to get him in shape physically and mentally? I wouldn't be teaching him anything new, just getting him back into shape. Yea or nay?
                                  How would I get even slightly in shape if I could not ride Buckshot at all? Not being able to ride him enough to get him back into good shape is different than not having any time to ride at all.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Most of the time if you were to be sued it would be the person's insurance company filing the lawsuit whether that person wanted them to or not so it's not like people you know and trust are stabbing you in the back with a lawsuit.
                                    McDowell Racing Stables

                                    Home Away From Home

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                                      How would I get even slightly in shape if I could not ride Buckshot at all? Not being able to ride him enough to get him back into good shape is different than not having any time to ride at all.
                                      This is a false comparison. If the owner does not have time to accomplish their goals for themselves, that has nothing to do with me, the horse trainer. If Sally Joe doesn't have time to get in shape for the horse show, that is not my responsibility. Additionally, I am not offering lessons, so any amount of "hop on to make sure we are giving him the same cues" is not going to get Sally Joe in shape. Sally Joe needs to spend time on her own fitness, which is not a service I am offering at this time.

                                      Does it make sense that way? I am simply offering to get the horse in shape, which the person hypothetically does not have time for. If they wish to get in shape at the same time (even assuming that they are not in shape in the first place), then they would be looking for a totally different service.

                                      So to ask again, now that I think we are being a little more precise: would you be willing to drop your horse off "at the gym" so to speak for x amount of days, without the possibility of riding it on this particular property?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        No.
                                        McDowell Racing Stables

                                        Home Away From Home

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