Making a horse property or business financially sustainable can be challenging. If you could use cost-cutting help, here are a few tips from two barn owners.
Do you want to know how to make a small fortune in horses? Start out with a large one! While this might be an often-told joke, it’s no joke that making a horse property or business financially sustainable can be challenging. If you could use cost-cutting help, here are a few tips from two barn owners.
Teri Herrera owns a 16-acre dressage boarding and training facility called MisFit Farm, in Redmond, Washington. She has worked carefully to provide a neat, safe, and aesthetically pleasing horse property by paying careful attention to bottom-line costs.
Here are some of her tips for keeping expenses down:
- “I source my hay directly from the grower, cutting out the expense of middlemen,” she says. “Early in the year I walk the exact fields that my hay will be cut from, which allows me to maintain a high quality at a much lower cost.
- “I have now installed all-LED lighting throughout MisFit Farm at no cost by using a grant for small businesses from our local power company. LED lighting uses less electricity than fluorescent, plus the bulbs last longer, thereby saving costs.
- “I’ve installed energy-efficient heaters in the indoor wash rack and aisleways, which are also nice for winter comfort.
- “Using acreage on our horse property that’s not in pasture, we have started an organic produce growing operation selling to farm-to-table restaurants—another income source. Chickens at MisFit Farm are free-range and multifunctional, providing both horse enrichment and egg and poultry sales.”
Karina Heiting Sogge, of Maple Valley, Washington, has been fortunate to have horses in her life as far back as she can remember, from riding as a youth at relatives’ ranches, to winning the college rodeo queen title, and now as an adult sharing the passion with her three children. Along the way she operated a horse boarding facility for as many as 15 horses. Currently she owns her own place with three of her horses and three boarders. Sogge, the self-proclaimed queen of cost-cutting, shares techniques for making ends meet:
- “I’m a member of several Facebook Marketplace groups, where I can find useful items secondhand—I picked up a stall mat for $10 last month,” she says. “I also got a 100-gallon water tub for $20. I’m also on my Facebook community group and occasionally post for temporary labor help or fence repair that I can’t or don’t want to do.
- “I network with my neighbors, as one has a backhoe that turns compost for me inexpensively, since I don’t own a tractor. Another neighbor has a tractor and manure spreader, so when it’s compost-spreading time, I know who to ask.
- “Sometimes places like quarries will give away used conveyor belting you can repurpose as a ‘poor man’s stall mat.’ It’s tough to cut, but it’s doable.
- “I love networking with friends and often receive extra horse blankets people don’t want because they are in need of repair. It’s become a kind of a hobby of mine to fix them up for use or to resell for extra money.
- “I keep my boarding fee reasonably low and ask boarders to provide stall pellets as bedding when needed. This also saves me the time of going to the supply store. I also have boarders purchase their own hay. They tend to not waste hay when they are realizing the costs themselves, and we work together to calculate correct feeding quantities for individual horses so we don’t waste hay that way, either.”
About the Author:
Alayne Renée Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and reining competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, nationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approaches, Alayne is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise controls and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Alayne and her husband raise and train their reining horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho. She also authors the Smart Horse Keeping blog.