Chrislar Farm: Owned by Chris Cassenti and located in Massachusetts. www.chrislar.com
Stalls: 40, with rubber-matted floors and wide and clear aisles made from airport runway grade hot top.
Indoor arena: 72 by 130-foot insulated and heated with windows all around (in summer, screens are on the open windows allowing air flow). The windows also allow the staff to see what’s going on outside in turnout paddocks, on the training track and in the riding ring to assure safety.
Barn: The building was a custom build adding to an existing small facility. The building was built with emergency doors (panic/push bars) and appropriate exit lighting, and an occupancy permit for 400 people. All of this was designed and built in such a way that the building would be used for some other use in the future if needed or sold.
Lessons: Instructors are all MA-licensed (as is the facility), and they teach 200 students per week (sometimes more). We teach half-hour private and one-hour group lessons.
Events/Activities: Approximately 30 events/activities per year. Chrislar supports the national level of showing at USEF “A” Rated Morgan Shows, as well as the local and one-day shows with students on lesson horses. Chrislar hosts fun shows, Halloween shows, UPHA Winter Tournaments, “Boot Camp” for riders; summer day camp for kids; adult educational evenings; trail rides on and off property; field trips to events like Equine Affaire.
1. What is your biggest profit center? Lessons! Lessons and other activities account for 50 percent of overall profits. Lessons brings clients along to eventual horse ownership and we usually sell them a horse and take them showing at some point. We do have many students who have been riding with us for 20 years and who will never own a horse or show. We rotate lesson horses around to accommodate the needs of our program and to allow those long-term students an opportunity to ride more than just one horse for those 20 years.
2. What is the break down of your revenues? Lessons account for 50% of our profit; shows/training make up another 30%; horse sales/brokerage average 15% of our income; and non-showing boarders account for 5%.
3. What is your biggest expense? Salaries. We employ six full-time staff members who have been with us for years. We provide them with a paycheck (a payroll company does payroll and deductions); we provide health insurance, workers’ comp, liability insurance, and more. We contract out for landscaping, maintenance, snowplowing, etc. To keep labor hours down, we spend a little more to purchase bagged shavings by the tractor-trailer load that the vendor delivers and stacks in our loft areas. This cuts down on the staff going back and forth with loose shavings/sawdust. For hay, our vendor delivers baled hay right into the loft areas so staff is not spending time handling deliveries. Blue Seal grain is blown into a hopper, three tons at a time, making feeding and storage convenient and easy for the staff.
4. What business tips have you picked up? We operate our facility as a business. We have set hours each day assuring that there are staff here at all times in case someone stops in. Clients understand that the barn is open for them from 9 to 9 on most days, and on weekends from 9 to 6. We are closed on Mondays (except we do allow boarders to come in to ride for a few hours when a staff member is present feeding, cleaning, or grooming the indoor.) Each staff member gets two days off each week and, because we also offer evening lessons, staff members report for work a little later on a day they work during the evening. Chrislar schedules all the vaccinations, shoeing, dental and more and then invoices the clients. The client does not have to be present for a vet appointment or for shoeing or regular services…we take care of it all.