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Barn Owners-Manager: cost per horse per month

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  • Barn Owners-Manager: cost per horse per month

    Hi all,
    Researching for a business plan outline for starting a barn. I am looking to gather a rough estimate (I know it can vary per horse) as to what a barn owner can expect to pay per month. I am researching for the New England Area, specifically MA.
    1. About how much per horse- hay, shaving, grain.
    -Feel free to break it out for each
    -If you want to get really specific about how bags of grain, bags of shavings, bales of hay one average horse goes through 1week or month.
    2. About how much for other fees, things I might be forgetting!
    (Also know that there is rent/mortgage, and vet/shoeing bills)
    3. Anything else anyone wants to throw out there for me.

    the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique
  • Original Poster

    and Im thinking of gearing the plan more towards lesson horses, not performance/sport horses
    the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


    • #3
      We have a boarding barn. We are lucky if we make $25/month per stall! We charge $650/month. Of course we are in the west, a long way from you, but I think this is pretty much how it goes for any boarding barn anywhere.

      For us -
      1st biggest cost: Employees, worker's comp (law in our state), taxes

      2nd: Insurance

      3rd: Shavings

      We do have it all costed out, mortgage isn't even figured in! We have 25 stalls/sheds. Boarding is not a good business, it basically just offsets the costs of our own horses. Training, lessons, buying/selling, and taking horses to shows makes (a little) money.
      "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."


      • #4
        My college team rides at a barn that is purely a lesson barn. They also show on the local circuit and it seems like they clean up. I think the key to their success is that they have but 1 or 2 stalls on the property. Every horse lives out in a herd 24/7 unless they are injured and need to be isolated. They are fed with feedbags and most of them live off of forage alone. These horses are sometimes used in multiple lessons a day. Most of them can jump a 3' equitation course AND pack beginners around as well. I believe she gets them from a dealer and if they don't work out in her program she sells them.
        I think the key to her success is not having a barn and stalls. I feel like that can really drain your money quick. If I ever decided to run a lesson barn I'd pick her brain and follow in her footsteps.
        My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!


        • #5
          I think the BO of the farm where I live quoted that expenses were $450 per month per horse here. She came up with that number by looking at total farm expenses over the past few years and dividing by number of horses. That included hay, shaving, feed, electric, upkeep costs, etc. The barn is very nice with big stalls, big tack room, high quality food, high quality dust free shavings, a huge ring with a full course and high quality screenings for footing. I am not sure if she has a mortgage or if the farm is payed off. She does save on employee pay/with-holdings/insurance, etc. as her and I do all of the work.
          "to live is the rarest thing in the world, most people merely exist."


          • #6
            During the winter months (probably at minimum October through April in your area) your expenses for hay, bedding, and electricity will be about double what they are during the warmer months.

            If you have good turnout, you won't have to put hay in the fields in the summer, but if you don't have fields, or you have extremely dry weather, you need to figure that in, too.

            There are SO many additional expenses, but labor, insurance, bedding, and hay are usually at the top.

            Don't forget to figure in equipment and equipment maintenance, too.
            Whoever said money can't buy happiness never owned a horse.


            • #7
              Got to say that this sounds like a very VERY VERY naive. For sure, it doesn't sound anything like a business plan! More a plan to be a busy fool, stay in business for one year, go bust.

              If this is for you and with serious intent, then I'd suggest first off go on a business course or see your business banking manager for some basic financial planning advice and acumen.

              If you're doing a business plan then you don't do it "per horse".

              Indeed I don't know anyone who would want to do it that way.

              End of the day the more horses you get in, the less you pay per horse.

              Likewise, no one here can tell you what it would cost to feed. We don't know your management strategy and how much acreage you have and what sort of grazing and the bulk of forage feed could well come from that.

              You need to appreciate that the largest and most significant costs seem to have been forgotten!:

              Maintenance (including cost of reseeding)
              Recovery of capital investment costs (could be rent or mortgage or costs of building stabling, buying tractors and other capital equipment etc)


              • #8
                Thomas 1 is correct, I do this for a living, I have some very large show bans as clients. We have seen some of the best go under due to poor planing with the non horse stuff. Most great horsemen/women are not good business people. get a good business manager, talk to one at a sucessful farm good Luck


                • #9
                  Plus, if you DO want to know the costs per horse, you are presumably talking just feed, hay, bedding -

                  Rather than asking random strangers who live elsewhere, you might want to figure out how much hay & grain you would feed each horse each day & how much bedding you plan to use & then call local suppliers of hay, grain & bedding & ask the price.

                  You will find that hay is a very local product - no one goes far to buy it - and the price can range dramatically, even locally. Likewise, you need to know what your feed program is, before asking for pricing. Grain prices likewise vary. And the bedding presumes you've decide on what you want to use - straw, shavings/one of the cat-box beddings . . .

                  So you need to make a number of decisions before asking - and then you probably want to ask local suppliers to get a more accurate answer.

                  (And THEN you want to factor in the general insurance, worker's comp, mortgage, utilities, etc., etc.)
                  Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                    Got to say that this sounds like a very VERY VERY naive. For sure, it doesn't sound anything like a business plan! More a plan to be a busy fool, stay in business for one year, go bust.

                    If this is for you and with serious intent, then I'd suggest first off go on a business course or see your business banking manager for some basic financial planning advice and acumen.

                    If you're doing a business plan then you don't do it "per horse".

                    Indeed I don't know anyone who would want to do it that way.

                    End of the day the more horses you get in, the less you pay per horse.

                    Likewise, no one here can tell you what it would cost to feed. We don't know your management strategy and how much acreage you have and what sort of grazing and the bulk of forage feed could well come from that.

                    You need to appreciate that the largest and most significant costs seem to have been forgotten!:

                    Maintenance (including cost of reseeding)
                    Recovery of capital investment costs (could be rent or mortgage or costs of building stabling, buying tractors and other capital equipment etc)
                    I have to agree with Thomas_1. Starting an equine business is as complicated as starting any business and requires the same amount of research and planning.

                    My first concern is that you do not know what it costs to feed and bed a horse for a month. If this is truly the case, you may first need to learn about horses in general before attempting to start an equine business.

                    Here is a very general outline for any business plan:

                    Executive Summary
                    Business Description
                    Ownership and Management
                    Key Initiatives and Objectives
                    Marketing Opportunities
                    Competitive Advantages
                    Marketing Strategy
                    Summary of Financial Projections
                    Confidentiality and Recognition of Risks
                    Confidentiality Clause
                    Recognition of Risk
                    Business Overview
                    Business History
                    Vision and Mission Statement
                    Location and Facilities
                    Products and Services
                    Description of Products and Services
                    Key Features of the Products and Services
                    Production of Products and Services
                    Future Products and Services
                    Comparative Advantages in Production
                    Industry Overview
                    Overview of the Equine Industry
                    Market Research
                    Size of the Industry
                    Key Product Segments
                    Key Market Segments
                    Purchase Process and Buying Criteria
                    Description of Industry Participants
                    Key Industry Trends
                    Industry Outlook
                    Marketing Strategy
                    Target Markets
                    Target Market Buying Habits
                    Description of Key Competitors
                    Analysis of Competitive Position
                    Pricing Strategy
                    Promotion Strategy
                    Distribution Strategy
                    Management and Staffing
                    Organizational Structure
                    Management Team
                    Labor Market Issues
                    Regulatory Issues
                    Intellectual Property Protection
                    Regulatory Issues
                    Market Risks
                    Other Risks
                    Implementation Plan
                    Implementation Activities and Dates
                    Financial Plan
                    Beginning Balance Sheet
                    Discussion of Projected Net Income
                    Discussion of Monthly Cash Flow Statement
                    Discussion of Projected Annual Cash Flow
                    Discussion of Pro-Forma Balance Sheet
                    Discussion of Business Ratios
                    Pro Forma Income Statement
                    Cash Flow Statement, Year 1
                    Three Year Projected Annual Cash Flow
                    Balance Sheet
                    Business Ratios
                    Note 1: Revenue Assumptions
                    Note 2: Assumptions Regarding the Collection of Sales Revenue
                    Note 3: Cost of Sales Assumptions
                    Note 4: Sales and Marketing Assumptions
                    Note 5: Property and Utilities Assumptions
                    Note 6: Operations Assumptions
                    Note 7: Banking and Other Assumptions
                    Note 8: Wages and Other Assumptions
                    Note 9: Other Sources of Funding
                    Note 10: Other Uses of Funding

                    A lot of these sections are easy to "talk" about in realistic terms, Idea's can be easily expressed, but the Financial Plan must be complete and accurate or you are really setting yourself up for failure. Either you will fail to acquire the required startup funds, or you will blow through your own money with nothing to show for it in the end.

                    In my experience the stables that do well financially, and by that I mean survive, either have many, many revenue streams or they keep it extremely simple; pasture board, owner care board etc., or keep the number of clients limited.

                    As well telling you what it costs me to feed a horse for a day/month/year is of no use to your business plan, as my access to resources may differ greatly, the services I offer may differ, and on and on and on. You need to do the ground work specifically for your business plan to come up with accurate numbers.


                    • #11
                      I agree with the above.

                      for a generic really rough estimate. look at the board for 3 nice barns in your area.. average them (add up then divide by number of add) whatever the number is say $550 ----> that's what it costs per horse per month (yes even IF the board IS $550 ) because really nobody makes money boarding and after the expenses there just isn't a profit. Don't ever think the cost is just a bale of hay or so to simply feed another horse per month.. Good idea to think of what sidebusiness income you can rely on to support yourself
                      "The Desire to Win is worthless without the Desire to Prepare"

                      It's a "KILT". If I wore something underneath, it would be a "SKIRT".


                      • #12
                        The boarders just don't get this fact...they think when they pay the BO that the BO is making a killing. I no longer have boarders and will not have any again....I have more money and more peace in my life without boarders. It is basically a fast way to lose money. The money is in lessons, training and coaching. Breeding is a bust too by the way.


                        • Original Poster

                          I suppose I should have known better than to ask for some friendly advice...
                          I happen to have a business degree specializing in equine business management...I have also managed 3 different facilities...and run a busy lesson program...I do not think I would consider that being "just a boarder who doesn't understand"...or naive...
                          I am asking this purely based on research and also figured it couldnt hurt to know for down the road when I do start a place. I figured... why not get some advice from the people who have full out done it?
                          I'm totally fine with hearing the harsh truth...I am FULLY aware that the horse world is tough...Thanks for those who included judgement free advice, its greatly appreciated.
                          the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                          • #14
                            Its interesting that people say that nobody makes money boarding horses... To feed (and bedding)we spend about $225 per month per horse (this does not include staff, equipment, utilities, insurance, etc). We have been working with our hay provider for a long time so we get a really good deal (we also buy large quantities). Cost of feed can greatly depend on the volume that you buy and where you buy from. I can buy top quality bermuda for about $5 a bale from our hay supplier(who normally charges $6.50). If I bought from a feed store I would easily pay $8 or more per bale. Hope that helps.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JumpinBean17 View Post
                              I suppose I should have known better than to ask for some friendly advice...
                              JumpingBean you have my sympathy. I have noticed an interesting trend in these threads, someone asks a question, a few people give useful input, then people start jumping in either assuming you are clueless or berating you for asking the question!
                              Anyhow I live in MA, and it is pretty expensive keeping horses around here (I moved from NJ, which was cheaper, particularly for hay). I buy very good quality 2nd cut hay, and have it delivered and stacked (I work full-time and commute a long way and have a driveway not amenable to an 18-wheeler), so it costs around $9 a bale, which is definitely more than average, but I pay for the quality/convenience. I could probably get a much better deal if I could get an 18-wheeler load in here, e.g. from Canada. I use wood pellet bedding, it is not as aesthetically pleasing as shavings, but you use much less bedding, it is way easier to pick stalls, and there is less waste, and it composts better (after composting I spread it because our soil quality needs improving). The pellets are around $6 per bag, probably go through 2-3 bags per week per horse (they are out 12 hrs/day). Hay probably a bale and a half per day for 4 horses, but mine eat hydroponic barley grass as well which is obviously unusual and reduces hay quantity substantially (also use 15lb of barley seed per day, which costs $13 for 50lb, organic seed delivered from NY). Because of the grass they also eat much less grain, so I probably go through 2 bags per week of Strategy (for 4 horses, 3 large TBs and one Dutch WB).
                              When we built our barn the excavation cost way more than expected, just to warn you. The property is a long sloping hill and we encountered lots of rock shelf, so if you don't already have nice flat spots for barn etc, be on the lookout for that. The fencing was also more than I had planned. Barn came out more in budget, ring probably more than expected (again, the bleeping excavation!!).
                              Wish you the best of luck.


                              • #16
                                not sure what all the fuss is about...the girl DID specifically say what area she is researching and she was simply looking for pricing in her area. What is wrong with someone asking for general pricing to figure out an average cost for her area?

                                I am pretty sure that by "anything else" she wasn't asking for you to tell her she wont succeed because she doesn't "get it."

                                I think it's sad that people automatically start assuming that she is naive/stupid about business because she didn't bring up those additional things.she wasn't asking about those...maybe she already knows, maybe she isn't ready to start thinking about that yet because she is working on a different part of her plan...

                                the question was simple...so, if you live in NE, specifically MA, and you would be willing to tell the girl what you pay for hay/feed/shavings, or other costs for that area, answer the post. geesH!
                                I WAS a proud member of the *I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday* clique..but now I am 30!!!!!!!!!!!
                                My new blog about my Finger Lakes Finest:
                                She Ain't No Small Potato!


                                • #17
                                  I know my insurence is $250 more per year because I have someone elses horses here.

                                  It's the little stuff that sneaks up on you. General wear & tear on a property, a maintenance.

                                  I am with Thomas, given a choice I wouldn't have boarders again. At least when my horses tear something up, it is my horse.


                                  • #18
                                    In my geographic area (and it varies!) I regularly hear $350 as the "basic" cost of "basic" board in a place without amenities (more rent/mortgage) for retirement horse (no riding so lower insurance). $350 seems to be the "pay someone to clean stalls/feed/turnout" + feed + hay + bedding + electricity + water type cost. Which does not include anything else you'd need to run a lesson business (renting a place with a ring, maintaining a ring, fixing the run in sheds, insurance, etc.)
                                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                    • #19
                                      I said boarders as in boarders in general don't get it...not the OP. Boarders often have never kept a horse and they want to pay very little andget it all. I was giving my opinion based on 40 years of experience. I did not know Op did not want to hear the harsh truth as well as a business response. Forgive me for giving you a part of my peaceful Saturday.


                                      • #20
                                        When I was running my own place it cost me about $250 a horse for hay/bedding/feed. I bought from local feedstores in small quantities so I paid more than a large shipment. The horses were out atleast 12 hoursa day, and had some grass. In general, I went through 1/2 a bag of pine shavings per day/per horse. I do feed a lot of hay so about 1/2 bale per horse per day. (I was feeding alfalfa.) And I feed very little grain, so around 2 - 3lbs a day, if that. I did all the labor, so no money there. I will say I did have 2 horses who were extremely dirty in there stalls. I am talking totally trashed them everyday. So they cost me more in bedding, but I also had one horse who never went through any bedding at all, so it averaged out.

                                        I pay now $300 dollars a month for my retired horse. He does have a stall that he comes into during bad weather, but otherwise is out 24/7.

                                        Good luck!
                                        Celtic Charisma (R.I.P) ~ http://flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/2387275281
                                        Proud owner of "The Intoxicated Moose!"
                                        "Hope is not an executable plan" ~ My Mom
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