If you own a few acres or more, running a horse boarding business is a profitable side hustle for your homestead. Today I’ll share with you my experience running a small self boarding horse ranch and some tips and considerations to help you decide if this is the right homestead side hustle for you!
Before we bought our homestead horses boarded here for years. Horses were bred and colts were born. It was once a magical “fairytales ranch.” This wasn’t part of the dream that we envisioned when purchasing the place, but we were happy to have a few owners continue to board thier horses with us.
It made for a strange transition when moving as neither of us had really rode a horse let alone cared for a horse or had one live with us. We’ve since learned there are plenty of benefits to horse boarding as a homesteading side gig, even if you aren’t a “horse person” like myself.
People often ask us about our horse boarding side hustle. Today I share with you the low down on boarding horses and how it can be just one of the many ways to make money from the homestead.
If you’re tight on time, scroll to the bottom of the post, pin it for later and print off the a quick checklist and contract printable I’ve made to help you get started right away.
How many acres do you need?
If you have a large property with pasture currently not being used, renting it out to horse boarders is a great idea.
1 acre per horse is recommended. It’s best to check with your regional district for guidelines as to how many horses you can have on your property. Also consider the type of land that you have and what percentage you’ll allocate for the horses.
We have 10 acres, and our ranch has held up to 5 horses comfortably along with our other farm animals (cows, chickens and lambs.)
How much does a small horse farm make?
This is an important question to ask, and of course varies greatly depending on what you have to offer your clients. There are many different types of horse ranches and there are also many different types of horse owners that you will be offering your services to.
Monthly board fees range as low at $150 a month for self boarding on a small hobby farm to at least $500 a month+ per horse for full board.
In this article, I will share with you how we are able to offer self boarding for recreational horse owners on a small 10 acre ranch and other popular options for making money boarding horses.
Ways to board a horse
There are many different options to consider when offering horse boarding from your ranch. Start by asking yourself, how much time, experience and care you have to offer clients and their horses. There are options to be highly involved and quite the opposite.
Full board is a one fee covers everything, full service board for clients. The stable owner holds the largest amount of responsibilities for the horse including feeding, stall cleaning and routine chores such as hoof care. This is a great option as full board has a higher profit per horse, the stable owner knows the profile and health of the horse well and doesn’t need to provide separate storage areas for each clients feed and bedding.
If you do have a passion for horses and the knowledge and experience of caring for them, why not offer full board for much more of an income. With full board, the house and horse owners agree upon a feeding and excessive program and schedule.
Partial board can mean many different things for stable owners and horse owners. This is where you decide as stable owner the maximum responsibilities that you’d like to offer and share the rest of the responsibilities with the horse owner such as feed schedules, turn outs to pasture and cleaning stalls.
Self board refers to the horse owner taking all the responsibility for the care of their horse including feeding, stall cleaning, scheduling routine chores and an exercise plan. The stable owners provide the setting for the horse and in the contract establish what is available to the owner. The board costs are less per horse for self board.
Cooperative Boarding or Exchange Labor
The cost of having a horse is very high, it also costs a lot to purchase land these days. Why not work with potential horse boarders to come up with an agreement that suits everyones needs? We offer self board, but occasionally offer a free week or months board in exchange for taking care of our farm chores when we vacation, or helping out during hay season.
Horse B & B
This is a fun idea that I’ve recently heard of. Charge daily or weekend rates for empty stalls during spring and summer seasons. If there are horse events happening in your area or beautiful riding trails around your ranch this might be a great opportunity.
How to plan a successful horse boarding business
Scope out legalities with your regional district
There are many questions to consider for possible areas of concerns and legalities in place for boarding horses on your property. First of all, are you aloud horses on your property? If you live in the city, this obviously isn’t the post for you. Find out how many horses are you aloud to have legally.
Evaluate your facilities
Make sure that your barn, paddocks, fencing and gates are all in great presentable condition. Maintaining your facility reduces liabilities in case there is an accident. The more presentable and charming your barn, the more your clients you’ll draw in. Take the opportunity to clean up your barn and make it the way you’d dream it would be.
Maintenance always seems to be ongoing so it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for upkeep.
Managing pastures is a very important component of having any raising any animal on your hobby farm. If you have other animals such as cattle, goats or sheep, you’ll need to determine their needs as well as the horses. How will you design a rotation-grazing system to keep your fields in good condition for horses to graze? Do some research to create an effective and simple plan to follow.
Make sure that you include an overview of what fields are available to horses and when in your contact. It’s important to keep up with it and make sure it’s being followed. Otherwise you’ll have soil erosion and overgrazing problems.
Organize Manure disposal
A horse produces 50 pounds of manure daily, that’s 350 pounds a week PER HORSE. You’re going to need to have a plan in place to deal with that smelly stuff! Will you be composting the manure on site or will you need to hauled away?
Provide Bathroom facilities
If you don’t have a bathroom in your barn to offer boarders, you’ll need to figure out what facilities you’ll have to offer them. The last thing you’ll want is someone coming through with muddy boots to use your bathroom during inconvenient times. Consider building an outhouse or renting one. If you don’t have a facility to offer, they will find a space or come knocking at your door.
With offering self boarding the horse owners often come to feed and care for the animal at least once a day, and might spend all day on the weekend or in the evenings caring for the animal and going for a horseback rides.
When deciding how many horses you’ll have on your property and what kind of board you’ll offer to your community there are a few things to consider. One thing to think about is how many boarders will be on your property through out the day coming and going and where they will park their cars.
Will they be sharing parking with you, or is there separate parking you can offer by the barn. If you have one owner with a few horses this doesn’t pose as much as a problem or concern with your day to day life. Also, if you offer full board, the owner won’t be on the property as often.
Create a secure tack room
Your boarders will need a safe place to store their tack, gear and supplements. If you don’t already have a tack room in your barn get creative. We use old lockers from a school that boarders can lock their gear away. You could also allocate a stall for storage. Why not go ahead and have fun decorating it.
Investigate the cost of liability insurance
Also talk to your insurance provider about the legalities involved in having horses on your land, someone other than yourself riding and working with horse on your land. Unfortunately, we have to prepare for the worst case scenario.
Research your market
It’s always a good idea to research your market before jumping in and building up expenses to run a business. Is there a need for horse boarding in your area? What do you have to offer that other facilities don’t currently have.
Think backwards, the facilities in your area might have a large indoor riding ring and a beautiful tack room but that doesn’t mean all the boarders there need it. Maybe they are looking for a more peaceful retreat when they come to care for their horse at a reduced fee.
Crunch the numbers
When running the cost of the business here are some questions worth considering.
How much will it cost you to get yourself up and running?
What type of boarding will you offer?
How many horses can you have and handle?
How long will it take you to pay off your up front expenses?
Legal Boarding Contract
A legal boarding contract is my number one recommendation that you have in place before starting a horse boarding business. That’s why I’ve shared an example contract with you at the bottom of this post you can quickly apply to your situation and get started asap!
How we run our small horse boarding business
As property owners we are able to offer self board to our equestrian community. It’s up to us as the owners to decide what is offered to the horse owner and is agreed upon in the contract before the horse arrives on the property. We supply the horse pen, fields and hay storage and the owner is responsible for feeding and care of their horse.
One great benefit to having horse boarders is that there is someone at your homestead daily feeding their animal. We’ve exchanged board for helping feed our cattle when we are away on vacation – yes farmers can take a vacation!! Or just a helping hand when we come home late.
Another perk to running a horse boarding business on your property is the tax right offs for maintenance costs.
We learned the hard way to keep an eye on horses health and the health of the pen you provide to them. You want to include in your contract how often you’d like the paddock cleaned of manure.
This is a great passive income stream which only requires maintaining the facilities and brings much joy to having beautiful animals on your property to enjoy. There’s something special about seeing our horses happy from the living room window. Plus with our agreement with our clients we are still able to vacation every year!
Get started with our checklist and contract
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