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Reality Check Please!! Friend Asking Me to Board Her Horse & I Could Use the Money

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    Reality Check Please!! Friend Asking Me to Board Her Horse & I Could Use the Money

    I know these kinds of things are dicey and can end up wrecking friendships. I have a working relationship with this friend already, she puts schooling rides on my horse and I trailer her to shows when I go. Its been super nice having a competent, super nice person to work with. Now her boarding situation has changed and her horse is getting injured. I just have one quiet non-aggressive horse so thats why she's interested to move him to my place.

    You always have to have Care Custody and Control to board a horse (if you're not crazy) right? I told her from my previous research that CCC was around $500 (per year i guess?) Maybe its gone up. And right now she pays under that for field board. Around $300 +/-. But she said she'd pay my CCC fees. She's probably a bit tense about getting her horse out of the bad situation right away.

    Can you even make a profit fieldboarding and $300 +/-, given this horse needs hay and grain (not like my air sprite who lives on air). I'm terrible at estimating costs for hay and grain, since my guy eats very little and is still fat.

    Am I crazy to consider this? Please let me know any "heads-up" and train-wreck experiences. This friend is also a friend of my teacher and everyone holds her in high regard, as a horsewoman and person.
    Thanks COTHers!!

    #2
    You are taking on some liability and also you have taxable income... which means you'd then need to track and deduct your expenses to be in the clear legally. If you get on the horse you lose your amateur status.

    I had a friend's horse here for years and it worked out okay. She strictly paid his expenses rather than paying me board, because I decided setting it up as income didn't work for me. She paid for some additional fencing for him. She came out occasionally and also did some weeding and other help from time to time. In addition, my daughter had riding privileges for the horse so it was structured more like a lease. He was a retiree for her.

    I'd consider it, as a favor to a friend, and I'd structure it as a short term favor situation to get her horse a safe place while she figures out what to do. If it works out mutually you could then decide to extend it.

    But carefully consider those liabilities. Boarding is generally not profitable anyway so setting it up as an expenses/coop arrangement between friends is probably not a financial disadvantage. You probably still want the CCC insurance especially if the horse is valuable, and consider if you're covered for risk if she's hurt. Her health insurance company can sue without her cooperation.

    The last thing to worry about is what if you're sick of her and want her gone, and she won't go politely, how you'll extract her. It sounds like you know her well enough that this is not terribly likely.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

    Comment


      #3
      Often friends come with waaaay more landmines than total strangers! It's harder to be assertive with them, and to have come-to-jesus meetings when necessary, and there's a lot more hurt feelings waiting to happen.

      I can't speak to the profitability of boarding, but I would encourage you to perform a few thought experiments, where you envision everything that could go wrong in this scenario, and how it would ultimately affect you. What if she stops paying? She's a friend of your trainer, so what if she is unhappy and badmouths you to your trainer? What if her horse is injured again and she decides to sue? What if her horse tears down the fence and she won't pay up? What if her horse colics and she blames your grain? What if she trashes you on social media? Etc., etc., etc.

      I'm not saying don't do it (or maybe I am), just make sure you've thought about all the bad things that might happen. At least you're less blindsided if you anticipate what could go wrong in advance.
      "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." —Bradley Trevor Greive

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        #4
        It could work out or it could turn badly...It's really hard to say because people can change on a dime when money is involved. I've boarded at a private barn for several years (actually left for 2 years and came back a few years ago!) and it has worked out very well (I also ride my BO's horses). I make sure board is paid, pay any additional funds not included in board (such as shavings, feed etc) and try and do my dues ... BO is also very upfront about anything she feels we are not on the same page about, which I very much appreciate.

        However, sometimes friends can blur the lines between business and lending a hand. I've seen that happen as well where the 'friend' starts delaying board payments or becoming a difficult boarder over time with further demands than was initially agreed upon. That is very much a possibility in your situation and when things lean in this direction, it often strains the friendship.

        If you do decide to let her board with you, I'd recommend drawing up a contract between you to agree what will be expected of each other.

        Comment

          Original Poster

          #5
          So how do you make a profit on field boarding? I need the money, not more work for no return. To help a friend is different, of course.

          Comment


            #6
            AFAIK the people who make any profit on field boarding have lots of land and no mortgage, with retiree horses or others who are quiet and low maintenance. And in a low tax area.
            Forward...go forward

            Comment


              #7
              What alpha said.

              More likely you're not asking how to actually make a profit, you're asking how to make sure the income you receive is worth your time.

              To that I say - a really good contract is necessary, first and foremost.
              A frank conversation to ensure you are both on the same page.

              Then figure out how much extra work per day the second horse will add, figure out what hourly rate is worth it to you, and multiply by 30 for your monthly rate (in addition to the CCC).
              She can provide her own hay and grain if you're concerned about calculating it correctly.

              Comment


                #8
                Obviously there's some price point where it is profitable to you. Of course, at that point, that's when your bookkeeping needs to be excellent and that income in excess of your expenses is taxable at your top marginal rate whatever that is. It may still be financially advantageous because you may be able to deduct expenses against it that you're just paying now. And cash flow is sometimes its own good thing especially in times like these. A lot of this depends on your own situation in terms of what your assets and income already look like. If you have a financial advisor/tax person of some sort, I'd consult them.

                But just for an example, if my boarder had brought me $100/month free and clear, that probably wouldn't have been worth my time for the extra rigor I'd need to add to tracking my horse expenses, given that I am a consultant and can bill pretty highly for my time. But maybe you already do that and so it's not a problem for you.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                  #9
                  Problem with doing this and trying to make a profit is it's one horse - boarding barns that are profitable generally A) know their numbers super well, calculated based on the monthly cost of each horse to keep, and B) keep more than one horse so it's all the more likely that the number of "air ferns" balances out the number of higher maintenance horses. This horse sounds like just a higher maintenance horse, which means what you would need to charge your friend to cover your time, feed, etc as well as the liability piece AND leave a little room for some profit for you might very well be more than it's worth to you or her.
                  Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by ytr45 View Post
                    You always have to have Care Custody and Control to board a horse (if you're not crazy) right? I told her from my previous research that CCC was around $500 (per year i guess?) Maybe its gone up. And right now she pays under that for field board. Around $300 +/-. But she said she'd pay my CCC fees. She's probably a bit tense about getting her horse out of the bad situation right away.

                    Can you even make a profit fieldboarding and $300 +/-, given this horse needs hay and grain (not like my air sprite who lives on air). I'm terrible at estimating costs for hay and grain, since my guy eats very little and is still fat.
                    I am confused.
                    Are you always talking about per year numbers here or is the price of insurance per year as you say (I have never priced it) and what this person is paying for board is per month? Because if they are paying $300/year for board that only works out to $25/month and I just can not see how anyone can do that if they have to feed hay and grain.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by ytr45 View Post
                      So how do you make a profit on field boarding? I need the money, not more work for no return. To help a friend is different, of course.
                      You figure out how much it will cost for the feed and charge more ? If any extra charges come up she can pay her share. Do you buy hay or do you put up your own?

                      It should be fairly simple to work out an estimate on what the horse should cost to feed and you can adjust the board amount when you know exactly what the horse is costing you, in both feed and labor.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        It sounds like she is a good candidate since you already have a working relationship with her, and she is part of your horsey network. You already trust her with your horse and value her skills as a horsewoman. What isn't clear is will this horse require a different method of management than your own? Will your horse and this new horse be out in a pasture together? Her horse needing more feed is not a big deal since you can require that she supply her own hay and grain. You can even require that if you handle feeding the hay, she can be responsible for feeding her horse the grain. The point is that you make the rules, you just have to be crystal clear on them from the outset.

                        Many barns in my area require that the owner take out liability insurance for property damage caused by their horses. If this helps you sleep easier at night, you might want to look into requiring this. It is very easy to obtain and not horridly expensive. That way, if her horse destroys your fence and gallops around your neighbor's prized petunia patch, her insurance will cover it, not you.

                        As long as you don't have to make physical changes to your set up, this could be profitable to you. Make sure the insurance is in-line, get a great contract, and don't be afraid to be nit-picky on the rules. Don't forget to factor in potential extra water and manure disposal (if applicable) costs. Adding one more horse generally isn't a huge addition work-load wise, as long as it fits into your current horse-keeping model. Work out if you are OK holding her horse for vet/farrier visits, or if you would prefer for her to do it. Lastly, honestly ask yourself if you are comfortable with another person being on your property and doing their own thing (even if you are not there). Are you easy-going enough to be ok if she doesn't put the wheelbarrow back in just the right place? Or if during the intro period your horse gets some minor nicks and scrapes from her horse?

                        This could be a very nice arrangement. Your horse gets buddy, you get an on-site pair of eyes and riding friend. You might even be gifted more flexibility in that you have a perfect-ready made barn sitter if you ever need one. Just be very clear in what you expect from her and how you run things at your farm. Most boarders really do try to stay within the lines and keep barn owners happy.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Hay: 25 lbs/day when they're eating it. I assume full hay November-March. In my area (for good quality grass square bales) that would come out to about $40-50/month spread out over the year.

                          Grain will depend entirely on what the horse eats and how much. Ask your friend then do some math. $50-100/month?

                          What will the horse cost you in: gravel, farm maintenance, fence/equipment repairs, etc? -- $40/month?
                          Are you OK with providing fly spray and incidental ointments/meds as needed? $10/month?

                          In my area, on my farm that has plenty of pasture I could make a "profit" at $300/month for pasture board on basic expenses. But that doesn't take into account the extra time it will take to care for the extra horse. That adds up pretty quick if you think about how much you'd want to get paid/hour.

                          I know farms around here charge $150-$300 for pasture board. Those on the low end are using cheap round bales and not providing blanketing/incidentals or grain, while those on the higher end are. Those on the low end also probably have worse facilities and it shows they're not charging enough to put money back into their farm. (Just generalizing of course.)

                          I think the idea above of having her pay all of her expenses and chipping in sometimes is a great compromise, but doesn't help you if you need the money. Her helping pay for farm maintenance, etc. would help financially in the long run though.

                          Have no advice on the friend thing--sometimes it works out amazingly or ruins a friendship or somewhere in between.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I board horses and while I don't do field board, I leave the horses out as much as possible so this time of year many are out 24/7.

                            If you have a horse that eats a lot, you will NOT make a reasonable profit charging $300/month. I figured up the cost for my harder keepers just last week. I feed Tribute Senior Sport and K Finish to them, and one eats half a bale of hay a day as his field has little grass. His hard costs, with no overhead and just feed, are right at $250/month.

                            what I would suggest with a harder keeper is charging $200/month or whatever profit you need for your labor and overhead, and having the owner supply all feed/hay for her horse. She should also pay the insurance you wouldn't otherwise need. My CCC is around $1k a year, but I board 10. You also have to consider overall liability, like if one gets out and gets hit by a car and kills someone. My farm liability is more like $7k total a year (but that includes my house, equipment, boarders' tack and horses, my indoor and 2 barns....it's a lot the "extra" for the horse operation is around $2k a year when I upgraded from a homeowner's to a farm policy. I used my local Farm Bureau. In good news, my truck was changed to a farm vehicle and its insurance went down $600/yr.

                            Also, the amateur thing is a real consideration. I NEVER EVER have been on any of my boarded horses, not even the one I used to take lessons on before my trainer moved her here. I am a rule follower and simply wouldn't feel good about competing as an amateur fudging the rules. I won't even longe them except to do a circle or two soundness check on one with an issue to see where they are. If someone wants a horse worked they can pay the trainer to do it. My integrity means a lot to me.

                            Another consideration is that you can set up an LLC for a very minimal fee if you do the work yourself. I would suggest it just for liability reasons. It isn't hard, I think it took me like an hour one winter evening, and the cost was under $100.

                            I love having good boarders. Honestly probably the biggest benefit for me is that mine are experienced horse people and will horse sit when I want to travel (for a fee of course). so many people feel tied to their farms in a way that wouldn't work for my husband whose hobby is travel. Of course there are ups and downs, but overall boarding has been a really good thing for me.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by BatCoach View Post
                              What isn't clear is will this horse require a different method of management than your own? Will your horse and this new horse be out in a pasture together? Her horse needing more feed is not a big deal since you can require that she supply her own hay and grain. You can even require that if you handle feeding the hay, she can be responsible for feeding her horse the grain.
                              I’d suggest thinking about the logistics of feeding two horses with very different requirements. You will need to separate them for grain and from the sounds of it, probably also for hay. So her providing the feed is nice but won’t solve all your problems. Will that work for you or just create headaches? It really depends on your current routine and setup.
                              Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by Libby2563 View Post

                                I’d suggest thinking about the logistics of feeding two horses with very different requirements. You will need to separate them for grain and from the sounds of it, probably also for hay. So her providing the feed is nice but won’t solve all your problems. Will that work for you or just create headaches? It really depends on your current routine and setup.
                                This is a really savvy thought. Though I try to pasture like with like, I have a few fields like this -- the solution for grain is using nosebags. I like the Cashel ones, and they run about $25. For hay, you can muzzle the easy keeper which reduces intake.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  In my experience an extra horse that is very similar to the first horse creates barely any work as you do everything together. Two horses with different needs create at least twice the work as they need everything doing separately. Make sure when you think about pricing that you factor in the price at which it becomes worth it to you, as well as what your costs will be, I've a feeling that there will be a large gap between the two but the "worth it" price is the one you must offer your friend if this is to be anything other than a short term situation to help her out or it definitely will create resentment on your part.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I boarded a friend's horse when I built my barn. It worked out well, until it didn't. I was charging her just what my expenses were to have him here. Hay, shavings, manure removal. I don't have pasture so they're fed hay every day. I have my manure hauled away weekly.

                                    I developed tendonitis in my my left arm and so had to hire someone to do my stalls and paddocks. I told my friend I was going to pass a share of the cost along to her, and she got mad and moved her horse the next day. It took six months for my arm to heal. I currently have three of my horses at home and that's the limit for my elbow. More than that, the tendonitis returns.

                                    Fortunately the friendship survived. She eventually bought her own place and is constantly complaining about the costs. Plus, she's taken in a boarder and it's not going well. She told me the other day she doesn't think it's worth the hassle. I didn't laugh out loud, but on the inside I felt vindicated in my decision to never take in someone's horse again.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Alpha Mare View Post
                                      AFAIK the people who make any profit on field boarding have lots of land and no mortgage, with retiree horses or others who are quiet and low maintenance. And in a low tax area.
                                      I'm gonna add "and a working knowledge of the law in regards to boarding, stablemens'/mechanics' liens, and a rock solid contract."

                                      Honestly it takes investment, either all financial or sweat and financial, to make field board work. A friend has a boarding facility that only offers "field" board, tho no field is involved. Separate paddocks, each arena-size or SMALLER, with a small shared building that hangs over every other fenceline so each side has a 12x12 shelter and a place to put a round bale and feed that two horses can share and never touch noses to squabble over food (see picture, it's an ingenious design, tractor with round bale fits right in to drop it into a lifted bale holder). Boarders are required to muck their paddocks or the barn will do it and charge. The footing is mulch/hog fuel, so at least there is never any mud. They get like $350/mo, and no doubling up; I believe it includes the round bale PLUS a flake of alfalfa once or twice a day if you wish, but I don't know if they feed grain - my ex boarded there and his girls didn't get grain IIRC. They also own a construction company so they already have contractor pricing on materials, the equipment, know-how, and employees who can swing hammers. Not a lot of space required, no handling required, some investment, and they get thousands a month and have a waiting list.

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                                        #20
                                        I board an extra retired horse along with my own retiree(s). I have a slightly similar setup to the one TheJenners posted. Each horse has a separate paddock and a shared overhang off the barn. They do come in to stalls for grain/meds each night, but have "come and go" access to the paddock. So..kind of "field board NW style". They have to be turned out in pasture together and are seasonally. It is hard because both have Cushings and one is IR as well, so feed and graze must be carefully managed. I charge $330/month-- I do not take my mortgage, taxes, etc into account as I'd have my horse(s) here regardless. That money covers hay, beet pulp, bedding, vitamins and wormer, as well as amy extra labor. My current boarder lives out of state and we manage medications, emergencies, farrier bills, etc. via messenger/text/email/phone. I treat her boy just like mine-- hunter barn care with no amenities. I groom, feed a treat at night check, birthday peppermints, the whole loving shebang. Do I "make money"? Well my horse's expenses are covered by having her horse here, my horse has a companion, and I would do the same chores for one as well as for two. I can do all AM care in 20 minutes and PM care in 15 since I've sorted out a slick plan.

                                        Something to consider is the disruption to your life/schedule: how often will friend be out? who will arrange vet and farrier care? who holds for that? what if horse breaks something? will friend ride at your farm? (Because that's a whole other insurance matter!!).
                                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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