Building Your Equine Business

Whether you focus on one breed or discipline, or like a mix at your facility, keeping horses healthy and clients happy is paramount to your business.
Happy clients and healthy horses will keep your boarding facility full of grateful clients. | Thinkstock

An exceptional level of horse care is part of what makes Cammy Rainwater’s Shadowbrook Stables different. She also runs an all-breed barn. Most of her clients currently ride English (mostly hunter/jumper and dressage), but one thing that makes her facility different is that she caters to all breeds and disciplines. “Over the years I’ve had all kinds. I went this route on purpose because I think that if everyone is doing the same thing, it can become a little too competitive. I don’t tolerate any drama in my barn.” 

Having multiple breeds and disciplines helps keep clients more open-minded and tolerant, with a bigger and more well-rounded picture of what horsemanship really is.

“I don’t care what they do with it, as long as everyone is kind and takes care of things,” she said. “I don’t want to pretend that I am any one specific anything; I am just here for the horse. Most stables/barns are focused on just one thing. One stable nearby just has western riders, nothing English. There are other places that just have Quarter Horses, or Arabians, or some other specific breed.” 

Marketa Matthews, owner/trainer at Quarter Line Dressage, said one of the things that makes her facility different is that she lives on the property. “We have three barns, and my house is connected to the barn with the indoor arena,” Matthews said. “I am able to do late night checks on the horses (between 11 p.m. and midnight), which is something most people don’t do. I don’t like to leave horses without any observation/supervision for long periods because a lot can happen (such as colic) between evening feeding and morning. Being able to check them during the night can make a difference between saving or losing a horse.

“My husband takes the morning shift and is at the barn before 7 a.m., so the horses are only 6 to 7 hours without observation,” continued Matthews. “Another important thing is that I feed a lot of forage. Horses need hay; they don’t do well with an empty stomach for long periods. The horses in our barn get hay when they come in from turnout at 5 p.m. and get hay again when I do night checks just before midnight (1 to 3 more flakes, depending on the horse).”

She feels that having several feedings of hay throughout a 24-hour period, which keeps forage in the horses’ stomachs, makes horses much happier and more content. Therefore less likely to get in trouble.

“The footing in our indoor arena is also superb,” Matthews said. “With dressage, the footing is very important and can make a difference in maintaining soundness and keeping horses in training; the horses are much happier and can perform so much better.” 

Matthews said the turnout at her facility is also excellent. “We are fortunate in our location to be able to have a lot of grass turnout areas,” she said. “This is better for the horses’ minds and bodies; they are not designed to spend all their time in stalls. One hour a day turnout is not enough to keep horses happy. We give horses 8 to 10 hours of turnout daily, depending on time of year and weather. When it is extremely hot, we bring them in by early afternoon so they can stand in front of a fan. On a nice day, however, they stay out until 5 p.m.”

The clients also enjoy the friendly atmosphere at Matthews’ barn. “Because of what we specialize in, our clientele are mostly adults and young riders. The horses are happy, and therefore the clients are happy; it makes a huge difference,” said Matthews. 

Some of her clients voluntarily take care of the gardens as a hobby because they enjoy being there. They feel at home and want to be there with their horses.

“They want to watch their horse being outside and happy, grazing and running around. If I had to pay someone to take care of the gardens and grounds, it would be a huge amount of money, but these ladies want to do it themselves. They have so much fun here. Everything works smoothly because there is so much energy in this place and everyone tries to do what is best for the horses. If you have a happy horse, most likely you will have a happy client,” she concluded.






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