New To Horse Farming

About 5 years ago my dad bought a horse farm in northern Ohio, but hasn’t really done much to it in years, it just sits there. It has i think 2 barns with stalls (not sure how many stalls) about 3 or 4 different pastures, and a big oval track to ride on, the farm is about 32 acres total. To put it directly, i know NOTHING about horses at all. I’ve never owned a horse or really been around them much other than friends that have them. The question(s) i want to know are:

-We want to have people keep their horses here and use the facility, but we don’t live there and don’t plan on taking care of people’s horses. Can you charge people just to let them keep their horses there and use anything they want thats there, but they have to provide all their own food, hay, equipment etc and take complete care of their own horses? If so, what are reasonable costs for that? Or will people only keep their horses there if you provide food and hay and supplies?

-What kind of things do people look for when keeping their horses somewhere? Such as a barn, track, pastures etc. What are the more important things and less important things?

Any additional information for somebody wanting to get into running a horse farm would be greatly appreciated, I don’t mean to offend anybody with my lack of knowledge, just curious how profitable this could be. Thanks!

How profitable it could be depends on many things. Any horse farm just sitting around is likely to have maintenance issues, and those could be small or huge. And then there is daily labor needed; how much that costs and whether you can find someone to do it will depend on who you know and how much you can pay them.

In your situation, the only way I would consider this venture is to hire a barn manager who will be responsible for the care of boarded horses. You would need to carefully consider who that person is, and have good contracts in place for the barn manager, and between them and all boarders.

Without being on site, I would not want self-care boarders. You won’t know if they are all showing up to care for their horses and you could have big problems - ethically, as well as legally, if horses are neglected.


Profitable? More a question of how much do you enjoy standing in your yard setting fire to money?

Joking aside, it’s very difficult to turn a profit as a boarding facility taking on individual boarders. Some people in my area will rent all or part of the facility out to a trainer instead. I’m not sure that they make money doing it after taking depreciation and maintenance costs into consideration. More that the rent helps over their mortgage and keep the property in land use for the purposes of tax write off.


I agree with Wanderosa. When I’ve seen this work it for a full or partial lease to a trainer. The trainer handles clients, board, and horse care. If there is a habitable home on premise for the trainer to stay even better.

You will need to make sure you clearly define who is responsible for upkeep. Are you going to go out to complete repairs or can the trainer submit receipts and pictures of completed work to reduce their rent.

Also talk to your home owners insurance to see if they will require anything additional for you running a business off the property.

This same scenario has been posted before, with a few variations, twice in the On Course forum.

If you know nothing about horses then it’s probably best you don’t get into the business. Taking care of horses, whether your own or someone else’s isn’t very profitable and there is a lot that you need to know regarding care.


The short answer is, “NO! Don’t Do This!!! It’s a short road to abusing a lot of animals while you lose buckets of money!!!”

Another short answer here is buy a horse, learn to ride it and keep it for a couple of years, and then decide if you want to do this.

A slightly longer answer is treat this like starting a business (which IS what you’re doing) and hire a manager who DOES know that they are doing.

Could you do this on your own? Absolutely!!! It’s not Nuclear Physics or High Level Mathematics. It’s a very practical, doing business, though, and you have to know what you are doing. But be prepared to spend a LOT of money in a very short period of time. And part of your learning HAS to be the economics of this. Boarding horses is generally a money losing business; the profit in a public stable is from lessons and training. You may never recoup your initial investment.

Begin by getting a book called Horsekeeping on Small Acreage. It’s as good a beginning “how to” manual as anything out there. After you’re read this reconsider your thoughts.

Good luck as you go forward.


P.S. An old joke in the equine world:

Q: How do you double your money in horses?

A: Fold it in half and put it back into your pocket.


^^^^^What Wanderosa said. Look for a horseperson tenant who will lease the whole thing. Have an agreement in place about what maintenance the tenant is responsible for; and what you are responsible for.

Straight boarding is usually a break even or money loser; most large barns take a loss on boarding but then make their money on lessons, training or billing for other services.

Trying to make money or even break even as the owner of a self care boarding facility is a recipe for disaster, especially with a non-horse person owner. The boarders absolutely can and will cost you more money than they are paying in; and you still have to deal with all the interpersonal drama.

Rent the place out to a good trainer with a strong contract that spells out who fixes things.

Realize you will probably need to sink some money into basic repairs and grounds maintenance before that

In our greater urban area empty barns tend to rent at the equivalent of about $200 a stall so the trainer can then take in boarders at about $600 or $700 a month and break even / very small profit on feed and labor. Of course that property would be over $3 million in our area!

If the barn is in a rural area board will be less so maybe $100 a stall.

Does it have riding arenas or just a track? If just a track it sounds like it was a thoroughbred racehorse breeding farm in previous day’s. That industry is very much on the decline. A trainer of riding horses would want an arena of some kind.

You need to price rents on and perhaps get a horse savvy person to walk the property with you and say how usable it is.

Some long unused horse properties would be ready to go with a power wash and a weed whacker. Others are rotting down and even the barns aren’t safe. You need to do an inspection with a knowledgeable person.

1 Like

What you are proposing is called, “self care” board and it is almost always a disaster, unfortunately. You have people who run out of feed or bedding or other supplies and “borrow” from their neighbors, causing disputes. You have people who have different standards of care, to put it politely, and that causes disputes - no one wants to walk past a horse in a filthy stall because the owner hasn’t "gotten around " to coming out to clean it - or worse, past a hungry horse that hasn’t been fed properly.

Even full care board is often a break even business at best, if not a loss leader for training and sales businesses.

I would agree with those that suggest it may be better, if the facility is suitable, to lease it out to a professional who manages the customers and takes on the responsibility for operations.

1 Like

Last winter I was having dinner in town with a friend who lives in WV. He started telling me how he was thinking about buying an undeveloped piece near his house and building a barn and taking on self-care boarders because it seemed like it would fill an untapped market. And how much did I think it would cost? Surely he’d be raking it in? (He’s not a horse person. At. All.) No, I told him, and tried my best to explain why buying a totally undeveloped piece of land and building a horse facility was not a money-making proposition and that he would probably lose his sanity in the process. Because this is Middleburg, people at adjacent tables were leaning in and nodding their heads in agreement. :lol:

1 Like

I boarded at a self care facility once. For a month.

Beautiful facility in a nice neighborhood. Several amenities, nice stable . . . it gained several boarders/horses within the first 10 days. There were only a couple of us who came out twice a day to turn out/bring in our horses, clean stalls, feed, etc. The other horses were left stalled most of the time, often running out of water/hay and not having stalls cleaned. By the end of the first month you couldn’t walk in without the ammonia smell knocking you over. That’s not the only issue, but it was what made me give my keys to the owner and take my horses elsewhere. Before 6 more months was out the facility had been shut down due to sanitation issues, lack of upkeep, and complaints from neighboring property owners. Never again :frowning:

Pretty much what everyone else has said; it won’t make money, YOU can’t do it, a trainer might, and being Ohio, it was probably a standardbred farm and track.

agree with the others that boarding is not profitable. I would think the best way to make money is to sell it. There is a LOT of upkeep to a farm and those who are more successful do some of the work themselves. As an absentee owner you’re more likely to see it’s value depreciate rapidly if you are not there to keep it up.

If the amenities are for racing horses then it will likely need some upgrades for riding horses. For example, a tack room with enough places for all the bridles and saddles, and every rider/boarder will have their own tack trunk and need someplace for out of season blankets.