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Free Board for Trainers Horses???

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  • Free Board for Trainers Horses???

    What is a reasonable number of horses/ponies that a barn owner should allow a trainer to have for free (no board)? I have a large boarding facility with 2 independent trainers. I receive the benefit of board from their clients but nothing from lessons for their customers that do not board a horse with the farm. I know they need to have horse/pony for lessons but should I be expected to pay their expenses when I receive no benefit from them. I know several barns in the area allow a trainer their own personal horse but what is fair for animals above this. Some barns charge a ring fee but I really don't want to get involved in keeping track of their lesson.

  • #2
    To me one horse seems fair. You should not have to give free board for a whole string of lesson horses if you are not getting any monies from the lessons.


    • #3
      I have seen any number of arrangements. It all comes down to negotiating what works for all involved. That's quite a lot easier to do before they've actually moved in and set up their program. It might be a little late to renegotiate now.

      To me, one personal horse is fair. Perhaps offer discounts on the others if you feel that their program really is bringing in more boarders and business for you. I've also seen incentive type programs whereby discounts are given to the trainer for bringing in new boarders.

      Sounds like they're getting the deal of the century right now. Free board for multiple horses just for being a trainer and bringing in a few boarders? If I were a pro I'd ask where to sign.
      dream it. achieve it. eff the odds.

      JustWorld International Ambassador!


      • #4
        I've seen a ton of different situations. At one barn I was at, the owner let her family have about... 18 horses there. For free. I really started to question how these horses were being supported. When my board was raised by a VERY large amount, it was one of the contributing factors to my move. This was after the owner's family brought in several more horses when I was on the waiting list to bring my other horse there... Very fishy.

        Another barn I was at - the trainer only had one personal horse. It wasn't entirely personal. He would let one of his juniors ride his mare to help her move up. The junior ended up buying the mare and keeping her old horse, and the trainer brought in another one. He was getting free board when he owned the mare. I think this is fair - the trainer ended up selling a really nice horse, shaping a really nice rider, and getting the BO board on another horse. The mare was very fancy and really helped shape a lot of his riders. He used the mare in lessons with his jumper riders to help them with gymnastics because she was a saint.


        • #5
          Going to need to do the math here to help you figure this one out.

          1) How much is board for each stall?
          2) Determine your actual per month cost for 1 stall. Add up feed, bedding, utilities, property costs (mortgage and property taxes or rent), repair/upkeep, vehicles (tractor etc.) insurance, labor (include any amount of board reduction for work offs) and divide by the number of stalls you have.

          Subtract 2 from 1 to get your actual, monthly cost per stall. Anything over that is your profit per stall.

          3) How many stalls are held by trainer clients?
          4) Add per stall profits for those to determine how much money is actually being produced for your business by that trainer.

          Only with those figures established can you determine how many stalls, if any, trainer is "earning".

          Most barns will offer one just to get a resident trainer. Sometimes trainer pays cost only based on the per stall per month actual costs.
          But this is an area that can fool you bad if you are assuming trainer is generating profit for you unless you do the math to get the hard proof one way or another.

          Remember your barn is your business, you are entitled to a profit and need a considerable amount of that profit to keep the place updated and deal with surprises.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            Could you clarify just a bit? Are you saying the two trainers pay you a set fee for the use of your facility; and you just don't get a cut of the individual lessons? Or are you really saying that they use your place to teach lessons, park their rigs, run their business -and you get nothing? Except that some of their students board with you?

            I'm going to assume there is more to this than you want to share. The short answer to the question is another question: Can you afford to provide them with free board for a horse from which you receive no benefit?


            • #7
              From your description, I'd say zero.
              "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

              ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


              • #8
                You are telling us, than other than the fact that they supply you with boarders, you get NO compensation from them?

                Do you have room for another trainer?
                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.


                • #9
                  I think you need to negotiate for your situation.

                  I know that in my area, there are barns with waiting lists...and in my opinion, a trainer isn't entitled to ANY free stalls if the place would be as full without them.

                  Other barns are basically empty, and trainers bring paying boarders. I can see the owner compensating the trainer with some stalls if that's the situation. They'd be otherwise empty. I had a trainer who decided about six months into an arrangement with a barn owner that she was "entitled" to some free stalls. Yeah, barn owner didn't agree. It was a big fight. BO really didn't need her business, was happy to lose ALL the boarders. Their arrangement didn't last much longer. She should have negotiated that up front.

                  I know another barn that kind of rents a "block" of stalls to trainers for a fixed price. The trainer sets the price for their clients, and allocates the stalls accordingly. If trainer's clients want to pay extra and subsidize trainer's personal stalls, that might be ok. This barn also allots arena time in blocks, and is pretty inflexible. Trainer can do whatever they want in THEIR areas and in THEIR time slots. That doesn't seem to work in the long run. The BO seems to get shorted a lot when the trainer fails to collect board or has an issue with a client and doesn't have the cash to pay the rent.
                  Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                  • #10
                    Empty stalls are cheaper then full ones carried at a loss though. That is what happens at many facilities-BO has no idea what actual costs are and has to cut services to make ends meet and/or go under.

                    Just because the stall is full does not mean it's making a profit and an empty stall does not automatically mean a loss (particularly if the board charged is figured correctly based on costs and realistic occupancy projections), fact the full one may lose more each month then the empty one.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • #11
                      What is a reasonable number of horses/ponies that a barn owner should allow a trainer to have for free (no board)? ZERO

                      You are running a business correct?

                      Personally I would still want to charge them for use of the facility for lessons so you can be compensated for maintenance costs on your rings etc.
                      I don't always feel up to arguing with your ignorance


                      • #12
                        One trainer stall IF there being there makes you money... full board on anything else, since your not making any money on the lesson program factor in a $100.00 per month profit margin on your board. It's your facility your labor ( or employee costs) your insurance, your feed bills. your utilities, your taxes, your maintanance, ect... Remember this trainer is making a 100 % profit on his lessons without having to pay a dime then they want free stalls on top of that ???????? REALLY


                        • #13
                          Empty stalls are cheaper then full ones carried at a loss though. That is what happens at many facilities-BO has no idea what actual costs are and has to cut services to make ends meet and/or go under.
                          Agree...and in the case of the second BO I mentioned, he really did not give a hoot about the boarders brought in by the trainer. He was independently wealthy, having a trainer in and some boarders was a nice bonus, but if it got aggravating or started to cost more money...screw that noise. Back to running a personal barn.
                          Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                          • #14
                            Yeah, you know, anybody who trailers in and uses your facility without paying a usage fee? Is using it for free so YOU are actually giving that money to the trainer...

                            I say that means NO free stall, trainer is already being compensated enough by keeping 100% of the lesson fees and offering full facility use at no charge to haul ins. That should more then equal the additional business s/he brings in.

                            Is BO/OP SURE here that the trainers clients who do board there would leave if s/he did??? Are they so devoted to them they'd haul away with them? Or stay and just use the other available trainer or the next one that comes in? Clients can be fickle even with the best of trainers, don't count on them leaving of they are otherwise happy with your services and facility.

                            Too many assumptions on barn owners part and no math to back anything up right now.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                            • #15
                              There really is no hard and fast rule. You need to set the limit according to what you view as reasonable. There are so many variables at play, but in the end, you must be comfortable and certainly not losing money! I mean, a barn charging $350 a month for full board, and trainer has 10 paying clients is a lot different than a barn charging $600 for full board and trainer brings in 20 clients.

                              It really seems this should have been negotiated and settled before trainer(s) moved in. Only time I've seen past trainers get free board is when it was in exchange for training BO's children and horses. In that case, one BO horse in training meant one trainer horse got free board. Other barns, trainer didn't have free board, but paid full or sometimes discounted rate for board. Sometimes paid percentage of take (training and lesson fees). Each barn varied according to what worked best for that situation.


                              • #16
                                I don't understand this free stall entitlement that trainers think they deserve. I know it's pretty standard in the industry, but I think it's more "we've always operated this way" instead of the concept being about sound business practices.

                                Logically, what other industry expects no rent overhead as a business expense? If you need office space or a store front, for example, you'd expect to have to pay rent. Many trainers expect to get to use your facility for FREE, then they want a FREE stall on top of that?

                                Customers come and go. A full barn of trainer's horses can go poof overnight. I certainly wouldn't be giving freebies, particularly if the only contribution a trainer is making to your bottom line is butts in stalls.

                                Offer the trainer a free stall if he'll agree to a raise in board to cover the added expense.


                                • #17
                                  I think the most common version of I have seen (and is probably the most equitable) is 1 free stall for every 10 boarders bought in, however I could see additional charges on top of that for grain/hay or at least a cap on how much grain/hay is included before add'l charges are incurred. But I could also see prorating a second stall if the trainer had 15 stalls filled.

                                  Ring fees for outside horses should both be set and collected by the facility IMO
                                  Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Monica67 View Post
                                    What is a reasonable number of horses/ponies that a barn owner should allow a trainer to have for free (no board)? ZERO

                                    You are running a business correct?

                                    Personally I would still want to charge them for use of the facility for lessons so you can be compensated for maintenance costs on your rings etc.
                                    That was my first reaction, too. I have never heard of trainers getting a free ride like that.



                                    • #19
                                      I don't know what their agreement was, but I always assumed the trainers at the place I used to board were at least getting one stall for their use.

                                      It is a facility with a 120+ capacity with above typical board rates for the area, though also more "fancy" than most places around. Three trainers (in different disciplines) combined to fill more than half the stalls on their own, and it was not full. The only increases in cost for the owner with more horses were in electricity for water and hay fed, as any grain was paid for separately and he didn't hire more help for more horses. I don't believe the trainers paid to give lessons to boarders, given the boarders were paying to have use of the arenas, but there was a trailer-in fee which I think was only collected if it was offered to him as he didn't keep track.

                                      Assuming the boarding facility is already enough of a business that it's making money for having boarders in the first place, I absolutely think it's reasonable to allow a trainer a stall if she brings in boarders. That loss essentially becomes an advertising budget - unnecessary if you are full regardless, but helping bring in more boarders if you're not.

                                      I pretty much expect any facility to have a trailer in fee, though that may or may not happen if the facility owner arranges a clinic or something.
                                      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                                      • #20
                                        Yeah, I feel like I'm missing something. Why on earth would you give the trainer a free stall? The trainer should be compensating you for the use of your facility in some way above and beyond the boarding fees that their clients are paying.