1: Is there enough room for your horses?
Some places are smaller and some are very large, both have negatives and positives. But the bigger question to ask yourself is there enough room for all of the horses? If you have a smaller amount of riders/horses then you could work in a facility that has 20 stalls and one arena. If you have more than 15 horses then you might want to work on a bigger piece of property so there’s room for your business to grow.
2: Can your clients afford the boarding prices or any hidden upgrade prices like premium hay?
At first glance, the price on a board can be shocking. Depending on which area of the country you are looking, prices can range from $300-$1500 a month. This is just board; hay, bedding, water, feeding hay, mucking of stalls and maybe the use of the entire facility. The higher the cost, usually the more you get but beware of add-on’s such as a walker or VitaFloor. These amenities to some facilities are not always included into the board.
On the flip side, the less expensive boarding facilities can cost a boarder a bunch of their personal time. Maybe the barn only cleans once a day and your clients expect to see a clean and ‘full of bedding’ stall. They might be upset to realize they have to do it themselves or it won’t happen. You might also find that the board doesn’t include premium hay, such as Orchard. The owner or you as the trainer will need to figure how to get that hay into the barn.
3: Will your current clients/riders travel to the new facility?
Logistics are everything in business. When you are looking to move your training barn, consider how many miles and how long it will take your riders to get there. If everyone is used to traveling 45 minutes to their barns, keep it that or under. You should have no problem getting them to the new place.
Some people don’t want to travel outside of their bubble. If they are use to traveling 15 minutes to their barn and you want to go another 10 minutes out side the area. Know that you might lose one or two riders who just don’t want to drive the extra 10 minutes. Also make sure which direction of traffic you are routing clients. Away from rush hour traffic is probably the best choice but can’t always work out that way.
4: Is the footing decent for your horses and clients?
Even the most expensive facility to take your business might not have the best footing or arena management. Make sure that the facility takes daily care and uses the correct amount of water, evenly around the arena. Depending on your horses and discipline training determines personally preferred type of sand, depth of your arena preferences.
Make sure that you ask the right questions to management regarding the arena use. If you are coming into a facility with other trainers, make sure that you both can work together in the same area if need be. And also note, some facilities have made arrangements with their current trainers regarding claims to arenas. It may be that the trainers have invested actual money into additives to these areas so it might have some restrictions on when you can use it.
6: Is there a covered arena and can you use it?
Weather happens. Rings get flooded effectually putting you on hold until the weather clears and the arenas dry. Unless the facility has a system for covering the outdoor footing, a covered arena is your only method of continuing the training and lessons. Find out what the terms and hours are for the using the covered arena.
6: Are there hot walkers available to use?
Not all facilities have amenities that allow a horse to be exercised. Is there an extra fee for usage? What are the rules?
7: Are you the only trainer doing the same discipline or are you the only one?
This is a big one when deciding where to move your horse training business. If there’s another Jumper trainer and that’s your training discipline, then make sure to ask management if you’re going to get new clients or is the other trainer going to get the referral? Having to compete with other trainers can limit your potential growth. Be sure to look at each specific situation before jumping into a place to take your training business.
About the Author
Bridget Braden-Olsen is a professional personal fitness & dressage trainer in the San Diego area, holding the USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. After training with Steffen Peters and managing his riding facility, she started Biorider Dressage. She can be reached here at: firstname.lastname@example.org