Charging Boarders for Extras

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Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

While a boarding operation is obligated to provide safe shelter, quality food and water, many horse owners also like and expect other services. These range from feeding additional daily supplements and/or meals, putting on and taking off blankets, or leading horses to and from turnout. In some cases, the barn manager or help is asked to catch the horse for the farrier and vet, and even to wait while these procedures take place. In other instances, requests are made of farm personnel to deworm, apply leg wraps or boots, perform bandage changes or administer medications.

What horse owners might not realize is that these services take a lot of time--barn workers are paid on the clock, so time spent doing these chores is an added expense to the overhead of running the facility. So it stands to reason that there should be additional charges to the board bill whenever these kinds of extras are requested by individual owners.

How are charges determined for each item?

It helps to figure out how much time a competent person needs to perform these tasks, then figure out how much this costs in wages, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and FICA, plus any time you have to spend supervising or scheduling for these additional tasks. The charge to the boarder can be the calculated just to break even, or a profit margin of 10-30% can be tacked on.

There is no reason the barn owner should have to cover the costs of these expenses. In some cases, it may only amount to a few dollars per event, but in other instances it could be a lot more time and expense.

There also is the consideration of the skill set needed to perform the task. While most people can be trained to muck out a stall, not everyone can handle a fractious horse for a farrier, or hold an uncooperative horse for a veterinarian. Those activities can mean potential liability to the horse and farm owner, as well as a safety issue to the farrier, veterinarian or horse handler.

If the requested service is that important to a horse owner, then they’ll be agreeable to paying the extra charges suitable to the task. If it’s not that important, then they’ll forego the request or come to the barn and do it themselves.

The boarding contract usually spells out what services are included in the board rate and which specific services may incur additional charges. Another option is for the pricing structure of board fee to be fixed at a certain rate that covers extraneous expenses like extra services rather each being charged a la carte. While not all boarders will take advantage of extra services, one up-front board bill payment each month may be more palatable to both barn owner and horse owners.