Considering opening up a boarding/lesson barn. 😱. I got questions

So, let me start off by saying that I’ve managed barns in the past. I currently teach lessons, and I’ve been involved in the horse industry for about 28 years. I certainly don’t know everything, but knowledge wise I know I can handle it.

But, I still feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, looking in to Land Of Crazy. :scream::rofl:

Do I jump?

Before I do, I got questions.

  1. I’ve written down all of my known expenses, as well as my “profit” (If you want to call it that. :rofl:. I know you don’t really make money boarding, but I would be able to teach more lessons then I currently do, and the facility is nicer.
  • Is there an app for Barn Owners to manage expenses?
  1. How exactly do taxes work? Right now, I don’t make enough in lessons to even claim them, but I’m assuming if I own act actual business, I would, correct?

  2. I only want around ten boarders. The barn is big, with plenty of stalls, but I just want to keep it small and manageable. I would pay $150 to the barn owner, and charge $500 for board. This is feasible, right?

  3. Can anyone share with me their boarding agreement? I want to make sure that I include everything.

  4. I’m sure I’ll think up more questions…TIA!!

What a fun idea. Yes you’ll have to file taxes. And pay in if you owe income tax.

Pricing feasibility will depend on your location but off tops that seems a bit low.

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have you lined up your room at the local bughouse? And 10 boarders - you know that 6 of them might be reasonable but the other 4 will be batcrap crazy - after initially appearing to be completely sane and reasonable.

You ARE a brave soul. I hope all goes well and you get good boarders.


Ain’t that the truth!!! :rofl::rofl::rofl:

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Are you saying you will pay $150 per horse to the barn owner, meaning you get $350 per horse?

I guess whether this is feasible depends on what you provide for that money. Is it full board? Do you supply all hay, grain, and shavings? Will you need to hire an employee to clean stalls, feed, and help with turn-out?

The least I’ve ever paid for board (in central-Northern CA) is $650 per month, but I know hay is more expensive here than elsewhere.

Whatever you decide to charge, it’s very exciting! I hope it works out for you!

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You’ll need to work out an estimate of cost per horse, to figure out if you can even break even on that $350. Labor, hay, grain, shavings, maintenance, supplies (toilet paper), utilities, etc.


-Don’t forget to add proper insurance costs.

-Keep a stash of money on hand for contingencies, like when boarders are late paying.
Some that eventually go missing and leave you with a bill for several month’s board and some horses abandoned, that you now have to care for and keep paying for those stalls, until the legal issues are settled, so you may be permitted to sell them to recoup some of that money.


And fly control, very spendy

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Do a search on this forum on boarding business. Several threads I can think of that discuss this in detail.

I have two words for you: business plan! If you don’t know how to put one together, contact your local small business administration office or get a SCORE volunteer to help you. As far as I can tell from your posts, you are just getting started. Do a thorough business plan and there will be fewer nasty surprises down the road.

You also need a good attorney, accountant, insurance agent, and maybe a banker.

Good luck!


No is the short answer the long answer would be hell no


make a business plan and crunch the numbers. Make sure you aren’t subsidizing your clients horses.


While it’s hard to make much profit on boarding, you should still write up a business plan that gives you a profit on paper. That way you will hopefully break even. I don’t think you can find a profit in $350 a month. Remember to pay yourself or someone else for the labor.

Ten horses is an in between number. Not quite enough for full time help but possibly more than you can do every day plus your own horses plus teach.


Keep in mind I’m in the south. That’s truly the going rate for this area. I’m sure up north it would be a huge heck no.

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I’ll have a partner who has run her own boarding barn, and while I’ve never run my own barn, I’m not not new to teaching lessons, or being a barn manager. This is not something I would ever want to do, if I was just starting out! :rofl:. I currently have five Equines, and will be using two to teach on.

I have a great Insurance agent whom I’ve worked with for years.

I absolutely will be putting a business plan together. I want everything in writing!

I currently have what each horse would cost per day, and per month, and what profit I would be making, plus some give both ways for unforseen circumstances.

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Also in the south. I find many BOs operate at a loss. If your boarders are required to be in some sort of training package that would be more likely to make some sort of livable wage.

Do you need to make a living wage from this endeavor?


I think you’ll need to raise your rates. DO NOT START AT A LOSS. It’s better to have an empty stall than a border who doesn’t bring in enough money. What ever you think you’ll spend per horse on paper, add 20%…at least.


I’m in the south, too. I pay nearly that much for stalls (shavings included) and do all the work and supply feed myself.

I can think of one barn in the area that charges a similar rate to you. The horses have stalls, but are actually turned out all the time. So, no labor associated with stall cleaning, buying shavings, or manure removal.

Also, consider if you will include blanketing, holding for vet or farrier, etc or if those things will be extra.


Yes you may have been a barn manager but were you paying the bills? You need to do a crash course in marketing, accounting, finance and banking starting with a business plan. You need to drill down to your expenses per horse - both fixed costs ( payment to barn owner, insurance, other facility costs) and variable costs ( dependent on how many horses you have like feed, hay, utilities, manure disposal, labor costs, etc.). You need to know EXACTLY how much it costs to take care of one horse. Then you need to figure out how much cushion you need to keep on hand to cover things you didn’t count on like repairs and if you need to cover your hay purchases at one time. Are you going to work 7 days a week? If not - how much is additional labor going to cost you? How much are payroll taxes and self employment taxes going to cost?

If you do not have much accounting knowledge you will need to find somebody with basic book keeping skills to keep track of the business. Just so you know where your money is going, are you making a profit, can you save money by buying large quantities of hay and shavings at a time? Stuff like that. LLC or sole proprietorship? Yes you will have to pay taxes if you make money and still pay taxes if you lose money and the IRS labels the losses hobby losses.

Most horse businesses go belly up not because they do not know horses but because they do not understand running a business.


Impossible to know based on just two numbers.

With regard to board - if $500 is the going rate in your area, there may not be much you can do to move that number up much and still fill the stalls.

Thinking of it this way - you’re leasing 10 stalls for $1500/month? That may be high. Is there any opportunity to negotiate that? It’s kind of a lot to pay for the opportunity to sub-lease them out and take on all the potential for risk. Is there another BM renting out the other stalls or will they be empty? Will you pay by the stall, or for the whole property, regardless of #s of stalls used/boarders?

I think it’s possible to get up to speed on finances/taxes eventually but you’ll do yourself a favor by starting out with an accountant to help. You really don’t want to find out after the fact that you didn’t pre-pay taxes, or account for an expense that will gut your profits (or what you thought were profits) at the end of the year.

With regard to insurance - I assume the farm owner also has some insurance? I would make sure there is appropriate coverage by all parties.


Will you be responsible for mowing, dragging the arena, etc? If so, does the BO have a tractor you’re permitted to use?