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Charging Outside Trainers or Riding Instructors to Use Your Facility

Choosing a fee structure for outside riding instructors is key to the success of this venture for your equine business.
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Be fair and consistent with outside riding instructors who either lease your facility or pay you a percentage of riding lesson fees.

Editor's note: This month, Stable Management is tackling the issue of hiring outside instructors who come to your facility to teach riding lessons. There can be pros and cons to this decision, and we'll give you tips to help you decide what might be right for your equine business.

Working with outside instructors and trainers generates income without the added work for you or your paid staff. You have the flexibility to choose a fee structure that fits your stable’s needs and benefits the individual you plan to hire. The two options are a flat fee for the facility or a percentage of the proceeds brought in by lessons. There are pros and cons to both. In either case, it’s important to account for your overhead when deciding exactly what the rate or percentage will be.

Flat fees can be charged per hour or per rider. The rate depends on the local market, the trainer’s expertise, the facility amenities and whether the instructor is using your horses to teach riding lessons. A flat hourly rate charged to the outside instructor provides guaranteed earnings, but that can cap the potential income.

The other option is to charge a percentage of the total lesson fees collected for the sessions that the instructor teaches. When an instructor is motivated it means he or she is bringing in more clients and payments that you as the facility owner share.

“I feel that taking a percentage is fair,” said Kaitlin Curington, executive assistant to the president at Fasttrack Staffing, Inc.

Curington, who is also a head trainer and stable manager, said that she uses the percentage model. She added that in the Wellington, Florida, area, 10-20% is the average rate charged by the stable. This approach also allows for flexibility when working with multiple instructors of varying levels of expertise.

Depending on the situation, the rider taking the lesson might have a horse boarded on the property or the person might be hauling in. When the horse is stabled on the property, Curington doesn’t charge an additional fee for the outside service. However, she charges a $25 trailer fee for anyone who hauls onto the property to take a lesson with the outside instructor.

Regardless of the approach you choose, be fair and consistent. And make sure your liability insurance covers your exposure and that the instructor also has insurance.