Building Equine Business: Trail Rides

Offering trail rides of varying kinds might be a new profit center for your equine facility.

Riding trails or guided trail rides could be a new way to serve current clients or attract new ones. iStock/Romaoslo

Looking for ways to expand the services your stable offers? Offering trail rides might be an option for some barns. Before advertising any new service, it’s important to check with your insurance agent and ask if trail riding is covered under your current policy. It’s also important to consider whether you will allow riders to use barn-owned horses or only ride those they own or lease. Not only might that affect liability, but it can also impact the resources you’ll need to offer the service based on the horses and equipment in your string.

Offer guided trail rides to the public. Stables in tourist areas or within close proximity to large suburban or metropolitan areas might find a niche offering guided trail rides to those looking for a day ride. That means providing the horses, the saddles, the safety equipment and the guides to ensure safety along the trail. Find out what your insurance requires for waivers and/or helmets as those might differ from other business activities.

Organize a one-or two-day ride. Stables with miles of trails, or access to nearby trails or public lands, can opt for coordinating trail rides with specific start and end points. Depending on your facility, insurance, and who owns the trails, the event can be open only to boarders or include haul-in options.

Create a trail challenge. Increasingly riders are looking for ways to test their own and their horses’ skills in a low-pressure, competitive atmosphere. Incorporating obstacles can be as simple as a mailbox, a bridge and a gate, but can be as advanced as water crossings, elevated bridges, poles and more. Before investing in building trail obstacles, find out what riders in your area are looking for.

The best way to determine if trail riding is lucrative for your stable is to ask customers and conduct some market research. Consider what types of trails riders are looking for—a leisurely loop through the woods or fields might suffice. Other riders might want miles of trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty and terrain. 

Connect with local or regional trail riding groups to find out what riders want. Trail Design for Small Properties is a one online resource that’s available for getting started with trails on your land. 

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