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Boarding to cover mortgage

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  • Boarding to cover mortgage

    I have been reading for awhile the posts on profitable boarding barns but, as with most OP’s, I am looking for advice on my particular situation.

    My wife and I are considering purchasing a house which is on a property set up to have horses. 40 acres, 1 large barn with 21 stalls, 7 separate pastures of rolling grass (if we bought, we would build an indoor riding arena). My wife grew up with horses and is familiar, I grew up on a farm and don’t have much experiences with horses at all. I have a family member who has a farm and his main crop is horse hay so I would have a great supply (less than 5 miles from this property). I would also most likely use straw for bedding (opinions on this are welcome also). My wife and I both have full time jobs and we would not be looking at quitting our jobs, my goal would be to board horses to pay for the mortgage (as well as other expenses incurred by boarding horses). I work from home and travel 1-2 times per month (for ~3 days at a time) so I would be around, for what that’s worth. I understand the options of having a trainer come, having a ‘ring fee’ etc. I would look to have my wife and I do the majority of the day-to-day work but if/when we have 15-20 horses, looking to hire help. I would also look to have someone come to the property at least a few times a week who would be more of an expert in the field and could offer advice (mostly to me). The facility itself is beautiful and would be (by looks) one of, if not, the nicest in the area. Talking to a few people in the area who do board horses, they say they are consistently turning people away, as their barn is full and has a waiting list.

    To summarize, my wife and I are in our 20’s, have college degrees and full time jobs, and willing to do the labor. Will it pay the mortgage? I know there are a lot of factors that will play in but looking for advice from you all who have experience.

    I appreciate your time!

  • #2
    How are you going to do the labor with full time jobs? Running a 20 stall boarding barn with no experience (wife grew up with horses or is currently active and has farm management and horse care experience) - this just isn't realistic. I wouldn't want someone with zero horse experience watching my horse... especially not at a place that sounds like you want top dollar because it is "pretty". Horse care is very important to horse people. What are you going to do if a horse gets sick or injured? If it is just you at the farm do you know what to do if a horse colics (straw is a colic concern and is susceptible to mold and not a good bedding choice, shavings are ideal)? What about a pasture injury? Can you wrap legs? Are you comfortable leading horses to and from pasture? Are you ready for 8hr days of manual labor? You are going to end up paying more for help than you'll get back in boarding costs. Trust me, running a small farm is hard... running one that large without experience is asking for trouble.


    • #3
      How big a mortgage?

      What is the going rate for board in your area (full, self care, pasture)?

      How many head are you comfortable in caring for? What will you do for day time care when you are at work?

      What are your taxes (real estate, personal property)?

      What kind of insurance premium are you looking at for fire, casualty, and liability coverage?

      What are your projected costs for fencing, pasture management, flood control, mud control, etc.?

      Put all this data into a spreadsheet and see what the number is. Then multiply it by 1.25 to cover stuff you haven't thought of.

      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo


      • #4
        you might want to discuss this with a mortgage broker/banker as I am pretty sure this proposed income will not work as qualifier for a mortgage as it lacks a track record

        time to get the yellow pad out and start adding up some costs.

        the cost of an adequate size indooor could easily hit a pretty large number in itself

        pastures of rolling grass
        I came from Kentucky I envision flash flooding

        21 stalls = about four employees or more as these things that go in those stalls require attention even on weekends and holidays

        just taking 21 head in/out to the seven rolling hill pastures will require about 7 Hours of labor a day .


        • #5
          Build a full business plan for this idea. You will realize there is no money in boarding after feed, maintenance, and paying yourself. It’s easily a 40+ hour job a week minimal with 20 horses. If you don’t live it, you will burn out quick. Plus the lack of experience is not a positive.
          "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten


          • #6
            Do yourselves a favor & use the Search on this BB.
            Many threads on this very subject.

            ​​​​​​​As luvmyhackney said, consensus is the old Horsemen's Rule:
            Q: How do you make a small fortune in horses?
            A: Start with a large fortune.
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


            • #7
              Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
              Do yourselves a favor & use the Search on this BB.
              Many threads on this very subject.

              As luvmyhackney said, consensus is the old Horsemen's Rule:
              Q: How do you make a small fortune in horses?
              A: Start with a large fortune.
              Or, the other version...

              How do I make a million dollars in horses?

              Start with two million....
              When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou


              • #8
                There's no way you'll be able to do all the labor on top of working full time jobs unless you want to do nothing but work and sleep or unless you do a substandard job (in which case you won't have boarders for long.) I've worked in boarding barns at times where I was the sole employee for that day with anywhere from 12-18 horses. It takes 6-8 hours to do two feedings, turn in and out, clean stalls, fill inside and outside water, hay outside (seasonally), blanket (seasonally), and other basic daily tasks. If it's winter or horses have been in more than usual for some reason, it takes even longer. That's with a decently efficient farm layout and a worker with years of continuous horse care experience. That doesn't include any of the farm maintenance like mowing, weed whacking, dragging arenas, dumping and cleaning troughs, fence repairs, etc. That doesn't include paperwork or logistics like ordering feed and bedding, doing monthly billing, being there for the farrier or vet, etc. And it doesn't include the issues that invariably crop up such as dealing with lost shoes, lameness, a colic, broken fence, broken plumbing, broken tractor, and so on. This may work for you while you have only a handful of boarders, but I see things devolving rather quickly as numbers grow.


                • #9
                  Well, by the time I'd caught my breath after laughing so hard I almost passed out, other people had posted everything I was going to say.

                  OP, read the previous posts. Then read them again. There's no gentle way to say it, in the scenario you have stated there is no way in heaven or hell you will cover costs and pay your mortgage.

                  It might just barely be possible IF you AND your wife were experienced horse people AND could do the majority of the labor yourselves.

                  AND you had another source of income (so you can eat and put gas in your car) that didn't require you to spend significant amounts of time not doing farm work. Because just boarding is not going to pay you anything even if it does manage to meet the mortgage payments.

                  I inherited a farm (no mortgage) and have a (small) boarding barn. 30 acres, 8 stalls, 8 fields and paddocks. I keep a maximum of 12 horses which includes 2 that I own. I have one pt woman who mucks for me 4 weekdays so I can ride before work. I do everything else: feed, blanket, turn in/out, hold for vet/farrier, fix fence, fix pipes, mow, drag the arena, trim the bushes, scrub the tanks and buckets, administer meds, etc etc etc.

                  I am a farmer at heart so I'm ok with this, but financially I'm overjoyed if the farm income covers the basic care of my 2 horses. (Feed, hay, bedding, farrier and routine vet work.)

                  I have a job and spend pretty much every minute I'm not at my job doing farm stuff. Again, this is fine with me but is certainly not everyone's idea of a life.
                  Last edited by Hej; Nov. 25, 2019, 08:03 PM. Reason: The usual, spelling!


                  • #10
                    Also consider, the more boarders, the more trouble, those that don't pay for several months, are always behind, those that skip and leave horses of little value behind you then have to care for on your penny before you can move them, the ugly boarders with a bad attitude that drive you nuts.

                    All that doesn't make for the easy boarders, nice and accommodating, that pay on time, their horses don't crib or walk a ditch along the fences, are easy to catch, not dangerous to lead and not sick all the time where you have to give them shots and medications and bandage them while they try to bite or kick you.

                    I would suggest you go do a little work in a boarding barn, part time, they will love you and see how you like it.
                    Some people do and thrive, even if there is not hardly any money in it, they like those challenges.
                    Most people burn out or go broke subsidizing other's horse habit, as you can't charge enough to make it worth your trouble, especially the bigger you get.
                    People seem to be changing for the worse, in all places we interact with them.
                    More than ever carry a chip on their shoulder, a bad attitude and are grumpy in general, have little self control, most anything annoys them intensely and you are their handy paid target to vent on as the barn owner/manager.

                    What you may consider is to rent that to a professional and let them manage it for you, at least the first years.
                    You won't make much, but you will learn so much, including if you want to do more or not go there.


                    • #11
                      It will be fine for the first few years, you are young. You maybe have white collar jobs but they better run second shift because you will have to work all day on the farm, seven days a week or hire a few employees just to to the day to day stuff but even then you will need at least one full time equivalent to do the other stuff - property maintenance - fence repairs, any other kinds of repairs that can not wait, mowing fields, unloading hay, doing feeding, turnout and cleaning stalls when your workers call in or worse don't show up or quit on you because great barn workers are almost as rare as unicorns unless you pay them what they are worth (back to the business plan). Not only that but who is going to walk the colicky horse in the middle of the night until the vet goes there, how are you going to keep an eye on all these borders overnight? Who is going to pay the vet bill for that colicky horse when the boarder is 3 months behind on the board? So, in your twenties, the first few years will seem like a chaotic and exhausting but fun adventure then you realize you have not had a day off in two years and do not see a way in the next two. Or 4. Or 10. Forget vacations. Then you look around and realize the place is harder to keep up than you thought especially if you have to hold down full time jobs. Are you going to ahve children? When? How? So, you decide to get out but the market sucks and your place isn't in the condition it was when you bought it because you need tow full time jobs and you find out how hard it is to find and keep good help or you found good help but realize how unaffordable they are, you are a bit strapped and exhausted and do not have the emotional or financial resources to spiff it up, two years later it sells for less than you owe because our economy has finally gone in the dumpster.... Don;t do it. Not in your situation as you described. You would be better off to buy a multi family property with all the inherent problems than to buy a horse farm. And have you priced indoor arenas? If you need two jobs to pay for the farm how are you going to afford to build an indoor? No way jose. And especially you, without the experience in the horse industry, have no clue what you don;t know. Do not bankrupt or exhaust yourself learning the hard way.


                      • #12
                        I think you'd definitely need at least one employee.

                        As for using straw as bedding - it's a pain in the ass. If you could get it for free or really cheaply from your farmer relative, then it might be worth it, but it will add even more time to your workday as far as mucking out goes.


                        • #13
                          If this can pay your mortgage really depends on location, what board rates your market bears, and what your mortgage actually would be. It's great your market seems to have a need for a new boarding facility, but if you're priced too high, you still won't get boarders easily.

                          As others have said - this is a huge undertaking for two people that will keep their full-time jobs, even with one of you working from home. For comparison - I work from home, bought a 20-acre farm, and have a handful of boarders to have company for myself and my two horses, and make a little side income. I planned this venture for five years and have wanted it for as long as I can remember, and have plenty of horse experience. I max out my farm with eight horses, two of which are mine, and that's really about the limit I feel I have time for as far as farm work, in addition to my full-time 40-hours-per-week day job (from home). This allows me to still ride 5-6 times per week and not feel absurdly overwhelmed. I've had as many as 14 horses on the property at once, and it was A.LOT. It was short term (owner sold one farm and bought another, needed a place in between for a few weeks), thankfully, and it was exhausting, even though they were all pasture boarded. I currently have seven horses here (including mine), four are stall boarded but are out AM and PM, one is pasture boarded, and mine stay out 24/7. I don't make anywhere near my mortgage off their combined board rates, even before you take out the hard costs of hay, grain, and bedding.
                          So, the short of it is, you'll definitely want a hired hand, if not two, for a 21-stall facility, especially if you're going to have the horses in for half the day (or more). Turn-in and out, stall cleaning, feeding, changing blankets, etc, every minute of extra work per horse really adds up.

                          Straw has it's positives, but IMO it's the literal worst to try to muck. Ugh I can't imagine doing 21 stalls per day of straw.

                          If you guys can afford the mortgage with your full time jobs, it'd be better to rent the facility to a trainer.
                          Last edited by mmeqcenter; Nov. 26, 2019, 07:12 AM.


                          • #14
                            No just no


                            • #15
                              All of the above and one more time on the straw is the worst to muck. It is very heavy work mucking straw.
                              No matter where you go, there you are


                              • #16
                                Hmmm, is this poster for real? First time poster and seems like a story made to get reactions...


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Alterwho? View Post
                                  Hmmm, is this poster for real? First time poster and seems like a story made to get reactions...
                                  Not everything is a conspiracy or troll. On the face of it, it seems an ok idea for people who don't really know - especially if one of them has ever boarded a horse in a relatively expensive facility it would be easy to multiply that board amount times 21 stalls and think at the end one actually comes out with a mortgage payment. That is not likely the reality thought.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Alterwho? View Post
                                    Hmmm, is this poster for real? First time poster and seems like a story made to get reactions...
                                    It was my first thought too. There was a similar post not long ago about someone that was older wanting to do the same thing and have the operation pay for their retirement of something like that.

                                    Sorry OP but no, your dream is unrealistic. If it was even a remotely possible there would be many of us running such a place.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Haylter View Post
                                      No just no
                                      This is all that really needs to be said. No, just no. Nothing about this sounds like a good idea in your situation. I don't think you really understand what it entails. The financial as well as labor aspect.


                                      • #20
                                        I guess you would need to sit down and compare cost vs income. For example, would you need to fill all 21 stalls in order to just cover your mortage? If so, it is probably unrealistic to think you will have time for a full time job and running a successful boarding barn. However, just because you have 21 stalls doesn’t mean you need to fill them all. I’m not sure what the going rate is on board in your area or what your mortage is. But if you could get away with having half that number of boarders or less, it is more realistic with only having a smaller number of horses. I assume with a big facility that like your mortage payment would be high, but just food for thought. I have a boarding facility I run with five horses total (2 are mine). I also work two part time jobs as well and I’m in school. One of my boarders is self care (they provide all supplies and they clean their stall everyday) which is something you could consider as well but just a warning I am very lucky to have wonderful self care boarders so far. They are attentive and hard working. Not all will be like this so you have to have strict rules in place for self care. Detailing when they can be there, exactly what they have to provide, etc. Just some ideas. Good luck on your adventure! Horse boarding is not something you’ll make a high profit on by any means. But my small facility helps cover my horses expenses and rent so I break even every month. It works for me, so I don’t have to shell out money each month for board. Feel free to message me if you have any questions on small scale boarding