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Why stall boarding rates need to at least double across the Midwest

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    Why stall boarding rates need to at least double across the Midwest

    After offering stall boarding for up to 16 boarders, I have come to one conclusion : The stall boarding industry is broken - at least in my city. My rates per month are competitive with the rest of the city barns at about $500/month. After buying hay, water, shavings, labor, mortgage, utilities, etc. I make $0 profit. This seems to be the same story for MANY boarding barns. How is this an acceptable standard in the industry? How is a barn to make improvements, pay the owners, provide good care? The stall boarders are staying at these barns essentially for free. For the amount of work, complaints, and overtime hours for the horses care, the requested additions (like bigger indoor arena, bigger turnouts, etc) how is this sustainable?

    I used to look at old barns and think " why don't they improve XY and Z?" the truth is, it's unaffordable!

    I have been told the way a barn makes its money is through training and selling horses. But let me get this straight : I have to take the money I make from training and selling horses in order to buy a new indoor arena for the clients that pay essentially nothing?

    Horse boarding should be at minimum, $1000/month across the Midwest. I don't see how stall boarding can sustain itself.

    I'm Probably the only one that feels this way, but I'd like to know your thoughts!

    #2
    I'm in the Midwest, north of Chicago. Even dumpy places are at least $900 if they have an indoor. There are fewer and fewer just boarding barns though. Most are show barns and get upward of $2500 per month.
    Lilykoi


    Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare

    Comment


      #3
      Perhaps it would make more sense for more boarding facilities to offer 24/7 outdoor board with a reserved stall? It's better for the horses, cheaper on labor and supplies?

      I have paid between 350-450/mo for pasture board in NoVA and MI areas recently. I am fine with that. I have access to the facilities and have good care for my horse.

      If board were 1k/mo for that? I'd be out of horses for sure. I have leased private property and done self care in MI and I don't see how it can cost 1k/mo to keep a horse unless the property is really expensive. I know what hay costs. I know what shavings cost. If you can't make a profit on 500/mo then you might be in a really costly land sitch or aren't doing it right.

      One of the biggest wastes I see is in shavings. When a farm decides not to clean stalls one day per week, they really screw the pooch on shavings because keeping a clean stall makes things last longer. I see many barns that strip weekly due to this Sunday crap. Well, it's silly. I had 14 x 14 stalls that I only stripped once per month or longer and added a bag every week. Because I managed my stalls.

      I also think that putting out round bales rather than feeding flakes is a mistake and money waster.

      But 1k in the Midwest? Unless you're talking major cities and very close in? No way.
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

      Comment


        #4
        Last edited by mvp; Aug. 20, 2015, 01:34 AM.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

        Comment


          #5
          but mvp, you hit the nail on the head..
          nobody in their right mind would try to start up or purchase a boarding facility in this day and age.
          "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
          carolprudm

          Comment


            #6
            OP, you're preaching to the choir!

            And the situation is not limited to the midwest. The cost of caring for horses has shot through the roof over the past few decades, specifically in residential areas. Yet the market has prevented boarding prices from increasing at the same rate.

            The bubble is going to have to burst at some point.
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

            Comment


              #7
              This is not a new problem. Twenty years ago, I built a barn and indoor and boarded horses in Michigan. I did not break even. I actually did not even come close to breaking even until I changed the rules such that all boarders had to have weekly lessons, and the cost of those was added into a higher board $$.

              Unless you have owned a barn, it is difficult to understand the expense. I am now on a family farm for which I pay for repairs, mowing, driveway, etc but I do not have to pay taxes and larger expenses such as building a new driveway (that cost the farm close to 20k last year). I put in a sand arena that cost around 25k, I have bought jumps, repaired barn and updated electricity, purchased a tractor, paid for bushhogging, weedwacking etc. And I buy hay and feed etc., along with things like water troughs, 4-wheeler, manure spreader, new footing for arena, etc etc etc. Up until this year, I paid barn help for stall cleaning. I now do it all myself.

              If I add it up, the cost of this place has been around $600 per horse and that does not include my own labor. This year, I have done all of the barn and upkeep myself with the exception of fence repairs (ah yes, those cost me around $2k this year). And I have no mortgage or rent or taxes to pay.

              In the future, we will probably sell the farm. I plan to take my two horses (winding down from 5-8 horses a year ago), and board them at a very fancy place with an indoor and 24/7 attention. Board for 2 horses will be around $1500 or so per month. I consider that a deal.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                If board were 1k/mo for that? I'd be out of horses for sure. I have leased private property and done self care in MI and I don't see how it can cost 1k/mo to keep a horse unless the property is really expensive. I know what hay costs. I know what shavings cost. If you can't make a profit on 500/mo then you might be in a really costly land sitch or aren't doing it right.

                One of the biggest wastes I see is in shavings. When a farm decides not to clean stalls one day per week, they really screw the pooch on shavings because keeping a clean stall makes things last longer. I see many barns that strip weekly due to this Sunday crap. Well, it's silly. I had 14 x 14 stalls that I only stripped once per month or longer and added a bag every week. Because I managed my stalls.

                I also think that putting out round bales rather than feeding flakes is a mistake and money waster.

                But 1k in the Midwest? Unless you're talking major cities and very close in? No way.
                All of your money saving ideas are time costing ideas. I suppose this is fine if the barn owner does all the work and has no interest in having any extra time even though they are not getting paid anything for their work hours.

                I do not see how anyone makes any money when you factor in insurance, electric, water, property taxes, equipment (tractor), etc.
                But then, there is that unrealistic part of the horse owning community that feels those expenses should not count.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Boarders look at the AVC (average variable costs) -- feed, hay, bedding -- when they go to the feed store and think, OMG, what are BOs complaining about?

                  Barn owners see the ATC (average total cost) -- which is the actual cost -- that includes things like the mortgage, the bills, the water, the tractor, the fuel costs, the taxes, the insurance, the weed spray, the fertilizer to keep the pasture nice, the waterers, the buckets that horses sit on and have to be replaced, labor, fences and repairs, constant upgrades, constant work....

                  I don't make money boarding, but my boarder is such an asset to my farm I am pretty sure I'd pay her to stay!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    My horses live at home. Not factoring in mortgage, as our land added very little to the purchase price-my monthly expenses per horse range $140-$200 per horse. The range is dependent on hay & season.
                    If I add $3 per day for stall cleaning.


                    While boarding is not profitable in and of itself. You really need to be honest in that it should not "cover" your mortgage if you live on the property. In my area, expect to pay around $6k per acre-and frequently, horse facilities do not add much to the cost of a property. At least not in my neck of the woods.
                    "The Friesian syndrome... a mix between Black Beauty disease and DQ Butterfly farting ailment." Alibi_18

                    Comment


                      #11
                      You shouldn't be allocating your house mortgage, but you should be allocating your barn and horse fields portion to the business. Otherwise your "profit" is a AVC pipe dream, it's not a real profit. That's if you want to run it like a business. Most backyard boarding places aren't run that way but they aren't making real profits either and should stop claiming they are. I don't pretend I do even though my feed and hay expenses are around $200/month and I charge more for board. I don't allocate out all my numbers because I don't want to take a heavy loss and be a target for the tax man, but the reality is different. I could unless I sell a horse, like any "real" barn.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by HorseCzar View Post
                        Horse boarding should be at minimum, $1000/month across the Midwest. I don't see how stall boarding can sustain itself.

                        I'm Probably the only one that feels this way, but I'd like to know your thoughts!
                        I feel the same as you, but we would be in the minority. I am routinely shocked at the low boarding fees some people pay. No way can they be getting enough good quality forage and bedding at those low prices.
                        Note: I will not respond to baits and snarks on my posts.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by ToN Farm View Post
                          I feel the same as you, but we would be in the minority. I am routinely shocked at the low boarding fees some people pay. No way can they be getting enough good quality forage and bedding at those low prices.
                          Well, another advantage of having a small farm is that I can buy my year's supply of very nice hay in June when it's $4 a bale and store it. I feed free choice which is way better than most boarding facilities. And I feed top quality grain, as much Triple Crown Senior or 30% as the horse needs. That part is not that hard. I actually find I feed less of a good concentrate, so the extra cost is worth it and evens out.

                          I try really hard to keep the horses outside because bedding is my big money loser. I bed appropriately and when I have to keep horses in, that's when I barely start to break even on my basic expenses. And it isn't because we suck at cleaning stalls, I don't see how anyone only adds one bag of bedding per week. My horses must pee like elephants or something, that would just not be possible here removing pee spots, and I HATE the barn to smell like horse pee so that gets totally removed daily and lime put down when they are in. Each horse that is in, even half a day, goes through at least 3-4 bags of bedding per week. My horses are total pigs. The pony, when she is in, is very clean so I believe there are horses out there who are neat and never use bedding like her, but you are just lucky! if you have pigponies like mine that pee 20 gallons a day all over their stalls and want to bed nicely you'd be using 4 bags a week too.

                          I have big fields with large run-ins for the horses, if they can stay out it is much less expensive.

                          Horses get fed better here than they would at any of our local boarding barns, I just don't have the facilities.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Vindicated View Post
                            My horses live at home. Not factoring in mortgage, as our land added very little to the purchase price-my monthly expenses per horse range $140-$200 per horse. The range is dependent on hay & season.
                            If I add $3 per day for stall cleaning.


                            While boarding is not profitable in and of itself. You really need to be honest in that it should not "cover" your mortgage if you live on the property. In my area, expect to pay around $6k per acre-and frequently, horse facilities do not add much to the cost of a property. At least not in my neck of the woods.
                            I disagree.

                            If you're boarding as a business then comparing the average costs of a "back yard owner" is comparing apples and oranges. Or maybe apples and watermellon.

                            East TN is a relatively cheap place to keep horses as land is not expensive and labor is relatively inexpensive. There are some other issues with both of these but that's a basic look.

                            Your number is close to mine for direct care but when I add in the indirect items it gets a lot bigger. But rather than speculate why don't you tell us how you calculated your figure? Then we can look and see if we are doing apple to apples or something else.

                            G.
                            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I understand that the cost of running a boarding business continues to increase, I really do. Gradually, all decent barns around me are becoming boarding/mandatory-training establishments. Which is fine if you need those things. But when you start looking at $750/month and up (here in the Midwest), you can also wave good-bye to the clientele who simply want to trail-ride or take a lesson here or there. When only the incredibly wealthy can afford horses, it will be a sad day.

                              As my friends lose their horses to old age, they are - one by one - getting out of horses altogether. They held on as long as their last horse was living, but the retirees and those who are not executive-level employees just can't do it anymore.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by HorseCzar View Post
                                After offering stall boarding for up to 16 boarders, I have come to one conclusion : The stall boarding industry is broken - at least in my city. My rates per month are competitive with the rest of the city barns at about $500/month. After buying hay, water, shavings, labor, mortgage, utilities, etc. I make $0 profit. This seems to be the same story for MANY boarding barns. How is this an acceptable standard in the industry? How is a barn to make improvements, pay the owners, provide good care? The stall boarders are staying at these barns essentially for free. For the amount of work, complaints, and overtime hours for the horses care, the requested additions (like bigger indoor arena, bigger turnouts, etc) how is this sustainable?

                                I used to look at old barns and think " why don't they improve XY and Z?" the truth is, it's unaffordable!

                                I have been told the way a barn makes its money is through training and selling horses. But let me get this straight : I have to take the money I make from training and selling horses in order to buy a new indoor arena for the clients that pay essentially nothing?

                                Horse boarding should be at minimum, $1000/month across the Midwest. I don't see how stall boarding can sustain itself.

                                I'm Probably the only one that feels this way, but I'd like to know your thoughts!
                                how many of your own horses are you boarding? if you are boarding any of your horses, that is your profit.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Vindicated View Post
                                  My horses live at home. Not factoring in mortgage, as our land added very little to the purchase price-my monthly expenses per horse range $140-$200 per horse. The range is dependent on hay & season.
                                  If I add $3 per day for stall cleaning.


                                  While boarding is not profitable in and of itself. You really need to be honest in that it should not "cover" your mortgage if you live on the property. In my area, expect to pay around $6k per acre-and frequently, horse facilities do not add much to the cost of a property. At least not in my neck of the woods.
                                  What?

                                  How did the cost of the land for your farm *not* get factored into your costing for your horses?

                                  Its true that agricultural buildings are a bad investment: They cost way more to build than will come out on an appraisal. But they do cost money to build!

                                  I find that the biggest problem with thinking about doing a small farm where I'd have boarders is getting over the hump of having to build an indoor that I'd want to ride in. When you add up the cost and risk of building a facility that matches in amenities some of the existing barns, it starts to look like a bad idea.

                                  In any case, I think you're wrong to tell a BO that she should not expect the business to pay the farm's mortgage. Or rather, if that's true, she should know that she's subsidizing the enterprise and it's not in the black. And that seems unsustainable for an industry at large.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Amen, OP!

                                    As others have said, this is an issue everywhere. But when I moved to the Midwest, I was SHOCKED at the prices.

                                    BuddyRoo, those prices you quoted for pasture board? That's the high end of stall board prices here. (Chicago excluded.)

                                    Location. Care. Price. Pick two.

                                    Most of the barns around here choose location and price. And the care reflects that. We've made the decision to choose care (and our location is pretty good) which means our prices are increasing, and we will soon be one of the most expensive barns in the area. (At $400/month for stall board.) Many of our boarders left when we made that decision.

                                    It's CRAZY!

                                    Prices are so low because many of the barns are inherited cow barns (no mortgage) with enough land to rough board and grow their own hay. But that's still not enough, so they bed minimally, don't muck on Sundays, feed 1 or 2 times a day, and you (as horse owner) check on your horse daily because they're not going to notice anything less than a leg falling off. I don't blame the BOs for this at all. It's the only way to keep prices down where the customer demands them.

                                    I fear for the "middle class" of our industry. I worry that in the next decade or so there will only be cheap barns (where care and facilities are substandard) or high end training facilities that are not affordable for most.

                                    HOs need to support those mid level barns with decent care, well trained staff, and safe but not fancy facilities. And they need to do it with their wallets. Otherwise those barns aren't going to be around much longer. We can't survive.
                                    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      I am in the Midwest and the area seems to run between 500 and 600 for full care stall board. In all honesty, I can see your point but I would have to cut out lessons if board increased that much.
                                      I also wish there were more options with 24/7 turnout and an indoor.
                                      As far as self care, I don't know. If they're on 24/7 turnout that it is a lot of savings in labor and in shavings. Personally I just wish that more and more turnout would become common.
                                      With labor costs, stall board may become just too expensive for many horse owners.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        I am in the Mid-Atlantic and have my own farm where I own four horses. I do not board but am frequently asked why I am not boarding horses - and I always turn them down. I do all my own work and also work 40-50 hours a week. I could not charge people what it would cost for me to take care of their horses when I factor in insurance costs, labor costs (when I have to hire someone when I am out of town) not to mention maintenance. I think people are crazy to board horses in this day and age for the amount of work it takes vis-a-vis what you can charge. People who complain should own their own place, try to find dependable help (impossible where I live). It is truly a labor of love for me.

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