The new year has started, and one of your resolutions was to increase the number of boarders on your farm. You have the stall and pasture space, the facilities and the help. But how do you find those “good” customers who will not only enjoy and care for your facility, but be a joy to have as clients?
First determine what type of new boarders you are looking for. Sit down and actually write out a list of the qualifications of that person as if you were hiring them to work for you. That general list might include:
- Takes good care of his/her horses
- Pays on time
Now you need to think more about who you are looking for. Do you want to have more boarders for full care? Do you want self-care folks? Are you looking to add a few pasture-only boarders? Could you accommodate some equine retirees? Do you want horse owners who take lessons and want you to take them to shows? Are you set up for training young or problem horses? Do you want a specific breed or discipline?
Also think about some negatives that might belong on your list. Does the horse crib or weave (tough on facilities)? Does he stand well for the vet and farrier? Does he tie? Does he buck, rear or run-off (potential liability for that and other boarders)?
Once you have your parameters set, your first stop is your own barn. Don’t forget to ask some of your current dressage boarders for recommendations. They might know of someone who is either looking to leave their current situation, just got a horse, or got another horse and her current stable can’t accommodate another boarder.
You also need to figure out where those type of people congregate. If you want more dressage riders for your facility you should attend dressage shows, go to your local, regional or state dressage association meetings, and seek the advice of dressage trainers and judges in your area.
You also can ask some of the better stables in the area that are full to recommend you, but you take a greater risk of having to turn down someone you don’t want.
And remember, you are taking someone onto your property and into your horse family, so you need to make sure the person and horse are suitable. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. If you have a great facility, then you should have great boarders.
Don’t get caught just filling fields and stalls on your property. You want to take on boarders who will fit well into your program and won’t cause problems for you or other boarders.
We welcome feedback from farm and stable owners and managers who have tips to add to this topic on finding not just more boarders, but the right boarders.