Horizon Structures Presents Series: How To Keep Your Horse Business Sound and Successful

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

 Horse business management falls into two simple categories; good and bad. Think of operating an equine business as one of yin and yang. The contrary forces of what you spend versus what you save, complement each other in giving rise to a harmonious outcome, in this case, a sound and successful business.

 Save On The Big Stuff – But Wisely

One of the best ways to ensure you start your horse business off on the right foot is to minimize the initial capital outlay for any structures, supplies including equipment and general property development. Fencing, outdoor arenas, footing, service access and pasture seeding can all add to the set-up costs and quickly bring your financial monthly spend past a good comfort level.

When building anything, always get three quotes and compare ‘apples to apples’. It almost never pays to opt for the cheapest option. Considerations of low labor use and maintenance costs, durable and sturdy builds of good craftsmanship utilizing appropriately sized lumber and on-brand product/material use with warranties, can all combine to improve the real-time spend on the property over time. This diligence automatically translates into good decisions. And that means less expected and unexpected expenses for the business down the road.

Capital outlay in all these areas are not places you should opt for a shortcut. Remember that adding ‘wants’ versus ‘needs’ by including fancy extras such as adding chandeliers or expensive aisle pavers requiring vacuuming, does not translate into more than a ‘bling’ effect. So are not really helping your business model stay sound.

Bear in mind that the loss of income/financial security caused by pulling funds from 401K plans or investments/savings, or taking on a loan/mortgage, all end up in the same place, costing you money. And while a good accountant can advise you on how to amortize/depreciate and deduct expenses to ease a tax burden, you are not ‘writing them off’ from your own pocket (many people tend to think a ‘write-off is someone else paying for it entirely), you are simply minimizing your tax exposure to save a bit of money on the tax bill. Which of course, only matters if you are making a net profit in the first place. I will add that having a knowledgeable accountant with expertise in the horse business realm is a huge boon to running a horse facility.

 Minimize Big Ticket Running Costs

Other big spend costs to consider aside from loan or mortgage payments, are likely insurance premiums, labor costs and supplies to provide horse care such as feed and bedding.

There are several ways you can mitigate the expensive costs for insurance and your best resource is a licensed insurance agent experienced in the equestrian marketplace who is interested in working with you to help maximize coverage you obtain while minimizing spend. But here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Build quality structures with good fire-rated components/materials. Viz consider a renovated barn build versus a new build may incur a higher liability cost while a newer barn may incur a higher cost for replacement value.
  • Install good quality fencing.
  • Provide a security system.
  • Provide or undertake professional qualifications as an instructor or horse trainer and showcase valid experience in your field of expertise.
  • Limit your operation to a lower number of stables/horses on the property, particularly avoiding stallions unless you are in the horse breeding business.
  • Require any outside trainer/instructors that come to the property to carry their own insurance coverage and validate it is operative and current and meets appropriate limits.
  • Insure trucks and equipment for onsite use only where relevant. Farm use registration of trucks is less than commercial use.
  • Don’t offer horse transport services to clients.
  • Provide evidence of prominent signage relevant for safety/barn rules placed around the property.
  • Maintain a professional facility.
  • Store flammable products such as hay and motorized equipment separately from horses.
  • Have a professional horse person on site 24/7.
  • Resource professional equestrian organizations for specialist coverage options.

The operation of any business requires that you understand the limits of your insurance coverage, not just in the dollar amount caps for claim categories but also in what is and is not covered. For example, sponsoring events usually requires additional coverage, as does off-site lesson giving, horse mortality insurance.

Strategies to minimize the spend on other required supplies such as hay and bedding, include buying in bulk; resourcing local suppliers to avoid expensive shipping costs; prepaying for supplies from reliable vendors; securing all supplies from errant ‘borrowing’ or uninvited ‘self-help’ by boarders/visitors.

Labor costs can be saved by establishing a good training personnel program and offer efficiency by providing good equipment to complete any given task. Additionally volunteer resources or grant help with payroll through employment of personnel through ARC {Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States}, can help defray high labor costs.

Remember the lower your staff turnover the lower your cost percentage for unemployment insurance, and the smaller number of accidents requiring disability insurance payouts (or indeed any other forms of insurance claims), the less overall spend will be needed to provide continued insurance.

 Get Out Of Your Bubble

 Aside from minimizing the monthly spend on the above-mentioned items it is also essential that you maximize potential for income.

It is a great idea to get out of your ‘equestrian bubble’ and extend your horsey knowledge to a wider audience. This can yield better attendance at shows or events, help with fundraising efforts for specialist programs you may offer such as PATH certified therapy, and increase local awareness of your services on offer.

Think about participating in local parades, bringing a pony or donkey to give rides at a regional charity fundraiser, taking a vendor stall or sponsoring a local event. As a business owner liaison with other business owners in the area through associations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International or other clubs can all be helpful to developing a sound business. Advice on best places to resource needs for services all companies need such as insurance, equipment buying, repair service providers etc. can all yield money saving opportunities.

Other sources of income may come from renting or leasing out space/structures on your farm. For example, leasing a field for a weekly farmer’s market or an extra line of stalls to another trainer can bring in extra income. Agri-tourism is a very hot income stream in Europe and slowly that is catching on in the U.S. It is always a good idea to think outside the bubble when looking for fresh income streams.

In all farming, diversification is a key to success and horse farming/horse properties are no different. Never be shy to give something new a try. A great example is to add dog boarding to a horse boarding operation. A purchase of a commercial kennel (perhaps one beautifully matched to the horse barn you are building), offers a great way to combine two businesses, that offer a good cross-over with clients as well as increasing the marketing circle and as a result, income.

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Feel free to contact Nikki Alvin-Smith for further information and high-res photos.

 About Horizon Structures:  One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners.  At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.

All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –

Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.

Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook.  Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business.  He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.

For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com

Please visit https://www.horseinakiltmedia.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.

Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA
Media Contact: NAS@NikkiAlvinSmithStudio.com
Tel: 607 434 4470

Photos are available on request.

About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
Content Creator | PR Partner | Seasoned Writer | Brand Builder |
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British American|
Grand Prix Dressage
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