Should Equine Boarding Barns Add Another Discipline?

A successful expansion of your boarding services begins with planning and preparation.
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Stables have to consider the challenges of a constantly changing industry, including the changing demographics and trends.

Bringing in boarders from outside the discipline you currently serve is one solid way to increase business. There are effective ways to reach a different customer base without sacrificing what your current clients like about your facility. A successful expansion begins with planning and preparation.

“Do your market research on what competitors in the area offer and what the clientele seem to want. Then you need to do a marketing campaign,” said Barbara Lindberg, the equine business management director of Cazenovia College. “But be honest, just because you want to run a top-tier Paint horse barn, it will depend on if there is a market for that in your area and the current competition.”

There are many things to consider before you add more disciplines to your current equine business. First, perhaps you should seek to expand the business you have. If you are successful in reining, perhaps you should add additional reining services to expand that way.

However, if you want to add another discipline, consider the reasons. If you have a cutting barn and working cow horse owners are clamoring for stalls, that might be a good fit for your operation. 

Other considerations might include whether you have the expertise to lead another discipline's services or will you need to hire additional employees? If you need more help to provide those additional services, are you prepared for the financial costs?

“For some, adding another discipline might work well. But for others, remember to always work toward being the best at what you do offer,” said Kimberly LaComba, PhD, an assistant professor of equine business management at the University of Findlay. “Expansion isn’t limited to offering another discipline. There are a variety of ways to utilize your facility and/or offerings.”

When expanding into other disciplines, define your target audience. Are you housing horses for recreational riders or highly competitive ones? Those two types of horse owners don’t share the same goals and probably won't need the same services. However, if your barn is full of competitive adult amateurs or non-pros, bringing in highly competitive youth might be a good fit.

Stables have to consider the challenges of a constantly changing industry, including the changing demographics and trends. Change can be hard and might mean thinking or doing things differently to satisfy a new customer base. However, that doesn’t mean totally abandoning the thing your barn does well.

“Stay true to the vision of the business along with its mission and goals,” LaComba emphasized. 

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