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Boarders - would you pay 10-15% more for a facility that was somewhat "high tech"?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post

    What sort of internet service did you set up, though?

    There's a big difference between a cable connection that might typically get 35 Mbps upload in a premium tier, and a symmetrical fiber install with hundreds of Mbps up. And between individual boarders creating a tragedy-of-the-bandwidth-commons situation by optimizing their own individual tech setups vs. a barn instituting some standard tech installs that take into account all uses and balance bandwidth accordingly.

    You're looking at a few Mbps each for cameras (Nest lists theirs at 1.2Mbps max, for reference), maybe maxing out around 10Mbps in the most generous, bandwidth hogging scenario perhaps? A dozen of those, plus email checking by the corresponding owners, won't come close to using up all the bandwidth that you can get with fiber. At least if you've got an appropriate router setup. And lowering resolution and FPS could keep the bandwidth even more in check for something like stall cams, where fine details probably aren't necessary.

    So if OP has fiber available it has a massive impact on the feasibility of offering all of this ... and of making sure the remote lesson offering is reliable enough that clients continue to use it. But it's not unrealistic to think a small facility could make a go of this kind of tech even without the benefit of fiber, as long as they had decent cable service and some control over bandwidth allocation.
    I don't know the specifics of our setup plus I think the security company wanted to frighten us off any other use of the link because they thought that made it less secure or easier to hack into. Person dealing with company wasn't tech savvy so getting this 2nd hand.

    I was happy enough not to have to deal with feuding boarders spying on each other with individual cams. Which would happen.

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    • #22
      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
      I was happy enough not to have to deal with feuding boarders spying on each other with individual cams. Which would happen.
      Yikes. That sounds toxic.

      Comment


      • #23
        OP, not sure about your market but I am in a market where many barns are in your competitior’s average price range. I honestly charge more than you propose and that has nothing to do with technology. Having good turnout and feeding lots of good hay, bedding stalls well and keeping access to clean water year round is apparently such a rarity I stay full with a waiting list simply by providing those.

        I have been boarding horses for 7 years now and no one has left yet. Set a price that works for your business, provide high quality service and they will come. I am adding 5 stalls and have a waiting list for those too.

        I don’t do training or lessons now, so I make clear to boarders my high prices are there because I have to make at least a little profit to do this. My boarders are all experienced horse people and they know that hay and bedding are expensive, not to mention facility maintenance. I haven’t had pushback about it at all.

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        • #24
          So, I too am in upstate NY (Finger Lakes) and I question whether or not there is market for this kind of thing in the Southern Tier. Cazenovia? Yep. Rochester? Yep. Buffalo? Yep. Saratoga/Albany? Yep. And certainly down by The City.

          When I was shooting horse shows down in the Southern Tier the groove was pretty homespun and this feels more upscale to me. I think it's an interesting idea and would pay more for cameras and logins and the like--though personally virtual lessons hold no appeal. I'm just not sure whether or not there is enough support for it in that area.

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          • #25
            Back when I boarded, I would not pay extra for this & further would not be comfortable riding somewhere with cameras always running that non-security personnel could access - hacks are common & I place high value on my privacy & security. I am not against videoed rides, but I can do that myself, I do consider it a valuable training tool, & I then choose what, if anything, is posted online via upload.

            I could see more "high end" people being willing to pay for this though & maybe people who are 25 are more comfortable with internet-connected visuals of their private lives, but this 40 yr old (geez, when did that happen?) is not. Same reason I am not OK with digital locks on my house or internet - connected speakers in my home. You might think it's off, but..
            Life doesn't have perfect footing.

            Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
            We Are Flying Solo

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            • #26
              Originally posted by js View Post
              Why not just charge that to boarders who want to bring in a trainer for a lesson as you may not get boarders who want lessons or at least video lessons? Personally I wouldn't not be interested in video lessons though other high tech amenities like cameras in the barn etc. to check on horses would be nice. Maybe offer a nice lounge area with wifi available.
              I think the OP has a pro on the West Coast and would like to put in all this infrastructure so that she can take those virtual lessons. Extending this offered service to boarders was a way to help subsidize that.

              OP, this could become A Thing for you and your area. I am thinking of a virtual clinic with a BNT.

              Which part of the SouthernTier are we talking about? I used to live there. Do you feel there is pent-up demand for "imported" expertise?
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                Wow, guys, thank you! Great information and ideas!

                Mvp, I'm about 15 miles east of Binghamton. I'm too new to the area to really know what demand there might be. That's kinda why I'm bouncing the idea around with y'all. I've lived my whole life in the Syracuse area and I think something like this could possibly work in that market. The barn down here that I recently moved from was almost exclusively western and interested in working cattle and gaming-type disciplines. Also, because I was there so late in the day, I only ever met 2 of the boarders.

                In complete honesty, subsidizing the project wasn't at all my motive. I'll have fiber and will be doing the virtual lessons no matter what and my SO would readily drive the camera. Some of these ideas could likely be more headache than not (but I'm kind of a geek and creating a website like I envision sounds like so much fun!)

                I was trying to come up with something that I could offer that could generate more revenue since I wouldn't have the income of lessons or training. And I'm trying to think of things that could set me apart. My initial business plan was to offer a "natural boarding" type of setup with track systems for turnout (a la "paddock paradise"), but I'm not sure that would be a big enough draw to be able to charge more than the going rate.

                Lots to think about and fun to brainstorm...

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  For reasons along the lines wildlifer points out, I'm thinking there could be streaming and non-streaming intervals throughout the day and cameras would be well-marked.

                  Does anyone know if allowing a remote user to direct a camera located in the barn is a thing? I mean, like in the realm of affordable? I was thinking instead of pixio, cameras mounted in a couple different locations like Xan suggested could be used for virtual lessons where the instructor was logged in and able to zoom/pan/etc one of the cameras to watch their student.

                  I need to learn about sound systems, too - for a scenario of hosting a clinic and users auditing remotely.
                  I'm a software engineer by trade but hardware, networking, communications, etc are things I'm not very knowledgeable about. Ok, not at all knowledgeable about, lol.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Things I would pay more for:

                    - option to feed whatever grain I want, not just the one type and brand you like and everything else at my cost
                    - guaranteed high quality hay, like you get it from a reliable source and not whoever locally has hay when you run out
                    - access to therapies like ActivoMed
                    - high speed internet

                    i already have a pixio so I probably wouldn’t care about that enough to pay for it. But reliable internet so that I could take work calls from the barn would be very useful to me.
                    Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                    you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post

                      The scenario I am looking at is upstate NY - southern tier. Board runs around $350/month for stall/bedding/hay/feed/turnout. I'm considering asking $400 for the same amenities that includes a barn with "Pixio" or some such tool. Pixio services wouldn't be automatically included in the board-I'm thinking that an hour session that provides video interaction with a trainer would be ~$40/hour on top of board/trainer fee.
                      The idea itself sounds like it may have potential. I've never taken nor seen someone else take a remote lesson so I don't really know how it works, but the idea that it opens you up to instructors outside a reasonable geographic area is great.

                      But your payment scheme would not fly with me. I would personally be fine either paying extra every month for access to the equipment/service, or paying per use. But paying more in board specifically for this, and then paying per use... really just feels like I'm the one getting ripped off and paying for the same thing twice. And I'll still have to pay the coach too. It'd be too easy to get nickel and dimed to death with a scheme like that and I'd stay away.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I'm in with Fordtraktor - (don't board with them) but echo their points. I care more about horse care, facilities etc. I'm not sure I'd want to deal with or pay for a virtual trainer. If you don't feel comfortable teaching/training - allow clients to bring in their own trainer as it's not uncommon for the trainer to be charged a ring fee or pay a % to the barn owner. As a boarder, I would also like the option of having a trainer get on my horse to school it should the need arise. That can't happen virtually. Not sure what sort of discipline you're talking about but it would be difficult to have a virtual jumping lesson as you need a body to set fences for the rider. Many of us have green horses which mean, we want a trainer to come ride/school/train horse - can't be done virtually.

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post
                          For reasons along the lines wildlifer points out, I'm thinking there could be streaming and non-streaming intervals throughout the day and cameras would be well-marked..
                          I think that'd work - or have an online schedule showing when the arena will be live streaming that riders can access.

                          Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post
                          Does anyone know if allowing a remote user to direct a camera located in the barn is a thing? I mean, like in the realm of affordable? I was thinking instead of pixio, cameras mounted in a couple different locations like Xan suggested could be used for virtual lessons where the instructor was logged in and able to zoom/pan/etc one of the cameras to watch their student..
                          Yes you can get PTZ (pan tilt zoom) live streaming cameras. Prices vary widely, but it may be cheaper to just have multiple static cameras (that don't PTZ) set up and allow the trainer to choose the camera they want to see (or a split screen?) As long as the resolution is high enough and the streaming fast enough, it should work. I'm not a video engineer tho - sounds like you'll need one!

                          Angles I'd think would work would be as I said before two of the diagonal corners capturing a whole 20m circle at each end of the arena and one directly above a 20m circle, plus one high up in the rafters at one end of the arena showing the whole thing, and one at the end of a long side to capture lateral work.


                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post
                            Wow, guys, thank you! Great information and ideas!

                            Mvp, I'm about 15 miles east of Binghamton. I'm too new to the area to really know what demand there might be. That's kinda why I'm bouncing the idea around with y'all. I've lived my whole life in the Syracuse area and I think something like this could possibly work in that market. The barn down here that I recently moved from was almost exclusively western and interested in working cattle and gaming-type disciplines. Also, because I was there so late in the day, I only ever met 2 of the boarders.

                            In complete honesty, subsidizing the project wasn't at all my motive. I'll have fiber and will be doing the virtual lessons no matter what and my SO would readily drive the camera. Some of these ideas could likely be more headache than not (but I'm kind of a geek and creating a website like I envision sounds like so much fun!)

                            I was trying to come up with something that I could offer that could generate more revenue since I wouldn't have the income of lessons or training. And I'm trying to think of things that could set me apart. My initial business plan was to offer a "natural boarding" type of setup with track systems for turnout (a la "paddock paradise"), but I'm not sure that would be a big enough draw to be able to charge more than the going rate.

                            Lots to think about and fun to brainstorm...
                            Hmm... I was up in Ithaca, so I don't know lots about east of Binghamton, sorry!

                            I didn't mean that you were subsidizing your need for virtual lessons in a bad way! Rather, most boarding operations are doing a bit of subsidizing of something. For you, the question was about how you could produce something new yet satisfying of "pent up demand"-- which is notoriously hard to figure out.

                            I think great turnout is a major selling-point for a barn, so I invite you to give your "paddock paradise" (or similar) another look. Also, it probably wouldn't be too hard to figure out if other boarding barns local to you did have good turnout and safe fencing.

                            I hope you can figure out a way to make this work!
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              That's a hard one. Most average riders would be better suited with a local trainer on the ground, who could hop on the horse, adjust a stirrup, etc. It takes a much more skilled and dedicated rider to benefit from this kind of virtual instruction - or an average but dedicated rider in an extremely knowledge-poor area.

                              I'm in a trainer's barn, where you have to be in full training - so the training is obviously the draw. Other things I expect in that level of barn - including ability to accommodate nearly any feed/medication/supplement, hand walking, icing, wrapping, stretching etc. - might be things you could ask extra for in a different environment. The only extra charge is equipment use - massage blanket, treadmill, therapeutic ultrasound, etc.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by wsmoak View Post
                                When I think of a high tech barn I imagine things like...

                                a stall camera where I can check in at feeding time and see what's going on. (I prefer them to be out, so cameras on the barn pointed out towards the turnouts would also be nice.) Basically the ability to flip through the cameras and see what's going on at the barn, hopefully catch a glimpse of my horse. (The flip side is that everyone who boards there would need to be okay with being on camera!)

                                Text updates any time my horse is interacted with.
                                "Dobbin had his breakfast and supplements. All good!"
                                "It's been 5 weeks since Dobbin's last farrier visit. Schedule another?"

                                (I am not asking someone to type these out every time -- it should be automated! I once saw an app to help roommates coordinate whether someone fed or walked the dog, and you'd just tap the icon. Something like that, the barn workers would have an ipad available and just tap what they did and who was in or out.)

                                A good website with boarder logins where I can see my account and pay online, and see the schedule (if it's a busy place and you need to know if the arena will be available.)

                                The virtual lesson setup would be a bonus but something I might use quarterly as a clinic. Having someone coordinate times and get it all figured out and working is worth some money -- btdt with the Soloshot so I don't think "buy your own and use cellular data" is _quite_ as simple as it sounds.

                                There's another angle with the Pixio -- not real-time lessons but just recording your rides. If you had a service where it was all set up and all I had to do was put on the tracker and ride, then the video was available to watch shortly thereafter... that would be awesome.

                                (That's going to require a human to be there to swap out the memory cards, make sure it is turned on and working, etc. Despite the marketing, those things are fiddly and complex and do not just magically work every time.)

                                Good luck!
                                I personally wouldn't be interested in the virtual lesson concept as I like to have that one on one interaction in person. I don't even ride much anymore, but back when I did I could see myself using it once every few months if I wanted to splurge on a lesson with a BNT. Because of that, I don't think I would be interested in a service like this being billed with the board. I'd be more interested in it as an option ($$ fee on top of lesson fee for use).

                                I WOULD definitely be interested in things like wsmoak outlined in their post. I would absolutely pay 15% more in board if the stalls had webcams so that I could check in on my horses (lets face it, it's super peaceful and soothing to just watch them too). I also like the idea of text updates - definitely not "anytime my horse is interacted with" - I don't need to know when his water was filled or when he was fed. But text updates for scheduling reminders, if the horse doesn't eat or was extra picky, if anything out of the ordinary was done that day (ie: horses are being left in because of weather). Automated notifications of "hey, the barn vet is coming Saturday, please press 1 if you would like your horses to receive fall vaccinations" or "Farrier A is coming tomorrow, click here to be added to the trim list".

                                Not sure if it is a 'thing', but I'd be interested in a system where I could input a username or email address and have a camera film the arena as I ride, and then send the video to my account / email. I like to be able to see myself riding so I can look at what needs to be fixed or what worked from a different perspective, but it's hard to find someone to film me regularly and placing my phone on a tripod only sees so much of the arena. If it's not a thing, someone should totally invent it lol.
                                "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post

                                  I was trying to come up with something that I could offer that could generate more revenue since I wouldn't have the income of lessons or training. And I'm trying to think of things that could set me apart. My initial business plan was to offer a "natural boarding" type of setup with track systems for turnout (a la "paddock paradise"), but I'm not sure that would be a big enough draw to be able to charge more than the going rate.

                                  Lots to think about and fun to brainstorm...
                                  I think if you offered webcams in the stalls (w/ password so only owner could view, if you want added security), that would set you apart. I don't know of any barn here in Northern Virginia that offers that. It would be a big draw to me personally; I like to know that I can see what my horses are doing... and quite honestly, It think it would be soothing to be able to watch the ponies while they are in. Not sure if this is feasible or what the cost would be to implement this, but I absolutely think this would attract people.
                                  "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Technology can great for some things, but in equine enterprises will have it's limits.

                                    "Stall cams" might be great for monitoring, but does that mean the BO will now just sit in their air conditioned office and not periodically "walk the barn?" Having a real time view of things is Good; not going out until you have to is Bad. Sometimes you hear or smell problems before you see them. To me the jury is "out" on this issue until I see just how this technology will be used to supplement real human beings do things only human beings can do.

                                    Barns are dusty places and that means period lens cleaning or you won't see jack. And it means period maintenance of connections, too, unless the proper ones are used.

                                    One thing that might be a Good Thing for most folks would be an "aisle cam" that would allow monitoring of common areas. This would help with issues such as "disappearing tack" and "who hit John" when it comes to various disputes.

                                    Regarding lessons, sending a high quality video to a BNT for evaluation could be a Good Thing, but it won't be free. If the BNT is actually watching the video you're going to pay them for their time. Maybe they will discount time in front of a screen and maybe they won't. Or maybe they'll join lawyers in how they account for their time. That latter item won't be a good deal for the rider.

                                    Real time lessons will require a substantial capital expenditure for some real time technology and bandwidth. By definition the amount of visual information will be limited by the camera setup. More cameras, more data, more bandwidth. Audio information, often critical in seeing the cause of something "off" is also critical and must be of high quality. Acoustics in most indoor or covered venues is not all that good. In an outdoor they can be terrible. How will the trainer communicate with the student? Headset, PA system, or something else? To get a setup sufficient to justify charging the BNT fee plus the equipment fee will require some money and intelligent setup.

                                    No matter what you'll still be paying the BNT their hourly rate. They saved the cost of travel and can do more lessons per day but that won't, necessarily, mean a savings for the rider. Then there's the issue of the quality of instruction. Being physically present means you can catch not only the obvious but also the lees obvious and "nuances" that are part and parcel of instruction. I'm trying not to be a Luddite on this but I have my doubts as to it's value.

                                    G.
                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I'm having trouble getting past the part where you are working full time and also planning to have a boarding business. The tech question is interesting, but I think that it would not work out well IRL. In the end, setting up and maintaining the infrastructure for people to be able to monitor their horses 24/7 will cost you more than what you can charge people.

                                      I have been in the boarding business for a long time, and I think that having owners monitoring their own horses via camera is a setup for creating a lot of increased anxiety and unnecessary phone calls and texts from owners. Also, if you have all your clients monitoring you and your workers all day long, you all better be pretty dang perfect, and I wish you luck with that. I run a pretty high quality place (I like to think, at least), but no, the barn is not camera ready at all times. And you better be ready to field calls from anxious boarders when you bring horses in late because you were dealing with a broken fence or busted pipe or whatever, or middle of the night phone calls and texts when a horse lays in a funny position or whatever. Ultimately, I think many normal owners would get bored of watching their horse, but the anxious ones will be calling you a LOT.

                                      Most people who are serious enough about their riding to want to do serious lessons want to do those lessons in person. I don't think that doing lessons over an internet connection is going to be something that most people want to do. I agree with Guilherme that there are a lot of nuances what would be missed.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
                                        I'm having trouble getting past the part where you are working full time and also planning to have a boarding business. The tech question is interesting, but I think that it would not work out well IRL. In the end, setting up and maintaining the infrastructure for people to be able to monitor their horses 24/7 will cost you more than what you can charge people.

                                        I have been in the boarding business for a long time, and I think that having owners monitoring their own horses via camera is a setup for creating a lot of increased anxiety and unnecessary phone calls and texts from owners. Also, if you have all your clients monitoring you and your workers all day long, you all better be pretty dang perfect, and I wish you luck with that. I run a pretty high quality place (I like to think, at least), but no, the barn is not camera ready at all times. And you better be ready to field calls from anxious boarders when you bring horses in late because you were dealing with a broken fence or busted pipe or whatever, or middle of the night phone calls and texts when a horse lays in a funny position or whatever. Ultimately, I think many normal owners would get bored of watching their horse, but the anxious ones will be calling you a LOT.

                                        Most people who are serious enough about their riding to want to do serious lessons want to do those lessons in person. I don't think that doing lessons over an internet connection is going to be something that most people want to do. I agree with Guilherme that there are a lot of nuances what would be missed.

                                        You brought up two good points. I'm one who would love to have stall cams so I can check in on my horses. However, I'm also an experienced owner who has worked at various boarding and/or breeding barns, and don't freak out when horses are brought in late / let out early on a nice day, or are fed late, or have been napping for a few hours (okay, if my horse were down for a few hours I may shoot a text off to the BM, just because i know that is definitely not normal for my horse; in that case I think it would be nice to say 'hey, something looks off, you know he never lays down in his stall and its been two hours, can you check on him?"). But I can totally see where you are coming from with obnoxious people monitoring 24/7 and blowing up your phone because Johnny's stall hasn't been cleaned yet and it's 10 am, or 'why doesn't Johnny have his blue midweight blanket on instead of his purple light weight blanket?!". So yeah, in that regard, probably not the best idea.

                                        However, the other point you brought up which I didn't catch is that the OP will be working full time. Quite honestly, it would be a HUGE turnoff for me to have the BO work full time, unless there was a full time BM / staff on site. Obviously I don't expect someone on farm every minute of every day. People have lives. However, I do prefer to have someone onsite for core hours (say, 6am-6pm and then for a night check a few hours later). Current barn has all personnel on site - owner / trainer lives on site as does his BM and staff. It's a large barn and this eliminates issues with winter weather, or having an emergency and needing help, etc. You could have all the amenities and technology advancements in the world, but if there is not knowledgeable staff there during majority of the day, you'd lose my interest.
                                        "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by BunnyHugger View Post
                                          Does anyone know if allowing a remote user to direct a camera located in the barn is a thing? I mean, like in the realm of affordable? I was thinking instead of pixio, cameras mounted in a couple different locations like Xan suggested could be used for virtual lessons where the instructor was logged in and able to zoom/pan/etc one of the cameras to watch their student.
                                          FWIW, I think many instructors would balk at having to remote pan/tilt/zoom a camera to follow their student (and/or do a horrible job of it and end up giving a poorer quality lesson due either to video feed issues or sheer distraction).

                                          If you went this route, I imagine it would cut down the number of instructors willing to be on the other end of your remote lesson set up. That could be a dealbreaker for some of the clients interested in the tech (would likely be for me if I were shopping for this kind of a barn).

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