Should I Board Horses?

Hey! I am a very experienced horse person (15+ years of owning, riding, competing, teaching, etc) and am considering buying a property that has the potential for horses. I board my main eventer at another barn that I have been at forever and would love to stay there because of friends and the facilities. However, I’m interested in seeing people’s opinions on potentially boarding a couple horses if I were to buy this property. It is about 6.5 acres (I know the horse to acre ratio, yes haha), electric fencing, 5 stalls. At the moment no riding facility but has a large area that could be made into a flat grass ring and have jumps in it. I’m not sure about access to trails. What do you guys think about bringing in a few boarders for something simple? The property is around PA/MD line. Thanks so much in advance!

Horse people are crazy. Personally, I don’t have the tolerance for that. You tolerance for crazy might be better :lol:

But go peruse the many threads about nutty and non paying boarders before signing up for that, and have a rock solid contract–engage a lawyer if necessary. Understand your local lien laws.

You’ll have a hard time covering your expenses with that little acreage, no indoor, and no outdoor, unless you have access to trails. You’ll basically be providing labor for free.

Who would be doing all the work taking care of these horses?

I have my three at home and it is a lot of work. And that doesn’t include any of the “farm” work.

Haha that is for sure! I would definitely do the contract route.

I would be. It would only be able to be about 5 or so because of the acreage. I’m used to doing about 30 or so stalls when I work at the place I board so I wouldn’t mind 5! haha. Just wondering if you think people would board at a place with little acreage and limited riding facilites…?


Before you do remember this line from the classic musical “Oklahoma!”

We know we belong to the land
But the land we belong to is grand.

When you decide to keep livestock you belong to the land upon which stock lives. “Impulsive” behavior is no longer optional. While you can do what you wish with your own stock when you take money for the care of other people’s stock then you have a contract you must live up to. And you’ll find Professor Kingsfield was right. :wink:

Your background in ownership and competition is good preparation for the technicalities of being a boarding barn owner but only about 25% of what you really need to know.

This doesn’t mean don’t do it; it does mean understand what you’re about to do.


To other ?s


Can you explain a bit more please? I’m just looking for everyone’s opinions

The running consensus seems to be that to provide quality care, feed, ample bedding, adequate insurance coverage, etc. the amount that you have to pay to break even is usually significantly above the going rate. Other barns either operate at a deficit or try to make up the difference through training, lessons, etc.

If you enjoy the company and work it might be worth it to you as an individual even if you never make a true profit.

Do you want to do this for riding company or as a money-making endeavor?

Mostly for company, have horses at my place with me since mine is boarded elsewhere, and possibly make a little on it (nothing for a business since I have a full time teaching job haha).

No I wouldn’t keep horses boarded with no riding facilities and possibly no trail access. You’re dealing with owners and their horse…who might be less the stellar to deal with. Not worth the hassle.

If you don’t have an arena and are uncertain about trail access, don’t do it.

Active riders will want an arena with decent footing, adequate bedding, and likely unlimited hay. That is going to be expensive.

People with retired horses will likely want as low a price as they can find. Too risky if you are operating on thin to no margin. You also risk having horses dumped on you or dealing with serious health issues in older horses.

Pleasure riders probably want some type of trail to go out on

Not worth it.

Buy the property if you want to have your own place and not deal with drama coming from other people. Do it only if you are prepared to have a lot of your time spent in basic work at the farm even before you throw a leg over a horse.

I board a few horses at my place. Granted, I have an indoor, outdoor, a very small trail, gobs of pasture, etc.
my advice, crunch the numbers to every penny, charge enough to cover every cost, plus your base time. You might decide it’s not worth it, then again…you might find a way to make it work. I don’t cut corners, but I do not do extras without charging. I feed good hay, and I overfeed it at time, but we make it, so I can afford to. I do almost zero grain, if a horse needs grain, owner buys it. My horses live out, so I have very minimal yearly bedding costs. I charge for grooming, if the owner does not make it out at least twice per month. Have good contract in place. I have four great boarders, I did have to go through some bad apples to get those…but I appreciate them and their horses. Take your time finding people, do reference checks, at least with vets and farriers. Also, keep it professional.

Good luck, I personally do not know how some of the smaller guys do it. It’s not a giveaway service. Around here, it’s more costly to board a dog per day, than I get for boarding a horse per day.

nope. you really couldn’t charge enough to cover expenses.

i boarded a horse up there at a similar type place because i wasnt using him and it was cheaper to full board him there than to keep him and feed him where i had dry stalls.

As someone who went from very busy barns to having their own private barn, don’t board.

  1. all the ‘other stuff’ you will have to do (arena dragging, fence mending, manure pile turning, seeding, etc) takes up time. Better to have that time than use it mucking other peoples’ horses stalls.
  2. Horses are destructive. They destroy your stalls, pastures, pasture footing, etc. They break your jumps and crash through fences.
  3. People are destructive. People ‘borrow’ martingales, brushes, lunge lines. They break your pitchforks and ride in your grass ring after a heavy rain, destroying your footing for years to come. Be prepared to always be cleaning up after them, and to live like a boarder in your own barn.
  4. You will have to live like a boarder in your own barn. You can’t have your brushes out, because they get stolen/used. Can’t have shampoos in the wash stall. Can’t have your own personal tack room. Anything not locked up is fair game for the other boarders.
  5. You won’t make your money back. If you are lucky, you will break even, all the while putting undue damage on your facility.

You won’t miss the other people. I thought I would and I definitely don’t. I can have a huge tack room for all of my stuff. I can have my brushes in the wash stall without worrying someone will take them. If something gets broken, I only have myself or my horses to blame.

Well, I’m a boarder, with a retiree. I happily cover hay, grain, bedding, and I do her stall. (Wonderful BO feeds, does water, and turns out.) Frankly, I wouldn’t be attracted to a place with no trails, no ring, and only six acres for 5 horses. It might be exactly what someone else is looking for, but I think with no ring and no trails, and limited pasture, you wouldn’t be able to charge enough to make it worth it. But, if you want to do it, don’t let others dissuade you – it’s your decision, and the worst that can happen is that you lose some money and maybe have to kiss a few toads before you find good boarders, or before you kick everyone out and just have your own horse and maybe a rescue or two for companionship and good karma. :slight_smile: Just plan for the “worst” financially, in terms of bad boarders, and then if it doesn’t work out, you will be okay anyway.

5 horses on 6.5 acres is 1 acre per horse (I’m assuming that with a total of 6.5 acres on the property that is about 5 acres in pasture and the rest for the barn, parking (including trailers), and the area you say you could convert to an arena.

1 acre of grazing per horse is about the minimum AFAIK, and that leaves nothing over for pasture rotation, or if you need to separate horses (illness, injury, they don’t all get along).

You asked for opinions – that is mine! :smiley:

Land aside – do you live on the property? Do you want to be on call 24/7? Do you have truck big enough to tow any boarder’s trailer, or a trailer big enough to hold any boarder’s horse in case of an emergency where you have to trailer to the vet’s at three o’clock on the morning?

Does your barn have a rest room? A wash rack with hot and cold water? Some sort of lounge with a fridge?

If you live on-site, are you willing to alllow boarders 24-hour access to your property? Are you willing to have their dogs running loose on the property (they will – even if you have a “no dogs” clause in your lease, you will have at least one boarder who considers their dog/s the exception to the rule).

IOW, IMO, unless you have years of positive experience boarding horses, you should not board horses. :slight_smile:

Everything RPM said X1000

Ask yourself:
What would you do, if at your fulltime job you get a call from a boarder needing you to:
A)Hold horse for vet or shoer - because they cannot be there because, well, work.
B)Get to the barn ASAP - because of some emergency.
Could be a loose horse, fence down, serious injury to boarder’s horse or one of yours… Use your imagination

How understanding will your employer be with unrequested/non-family-related emergent absences?
I was lucky I had a boss who understood I may use my lunch hour to run home (a 10min drive) & check on horses. Is the Bd of Ed that nice?

It’s one thing to have your own at home.
Quite another to be responsible for someone else’s.