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 business decision, and we'll give you tips to help you decide what might be right for your equine business.
Working with outside trainers or instructors can bring in new revenue, introduce a new discipline and offer a new perspective. However, working with professionals who are not a part of your barn’s staff can have its drawbacks.
“There is always the chance that they (outside riding instructors) might take your students,” said Kaitlin Curington, executive assistant to the president at Fasttrack Staffing, Inc. She is also a head trainer and stable manager and has experience working with outside trainers.
Choosing an instructor that you know and trust is important. However, there is always the chance that a student will follow a trainer away from your facility. Before allowing an outside trainer to use the facility, consider any expectations or guidelines you’d like to have in place.
In some industries, non-compete clauses are part of an agreement. That’s not always practical in the horse industry because the reality is that some riders and trainers “click” better than others. Talk with your attorney, discuss the practical options, and be prepared to share the limitations you set with the outside trainer before the first lesson occurs.
Outside trainers can also influence your insurance costs. Rates and conditions the carrier requires could change because of the change in liability. For example, a barn might be offered a discounted rate if all clients are expected to wear helmets. An outside trainer might or might not have the same personal protocol, but on your farm they need to adhere to your rules.
“It really depends on your insurance plan,” Curington said.
If instructors and employees are considered independent contractors, these individuals might not covered under the stable’s liability insurance policy. That means a signed release does not cover non-farm employees.
Allowing outside instructors to use the facilities means a master schedule is needed. That means your time or a staff person’s time is required to keep track of when the facilities are occupied, for what purpose, and list who is in charge. Be prepared for the additional time and organization that might be necessary to juggle schedules for boarders, staff instructors and outside instructors.