The Horse

MAR 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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34 March 2019 The Horse | FARM & BARN ALAYNE BLICKLE W hether running a private opera- tion with a few horses or a large boarding facility, the thought of budgeting can send some farm owners into a mental tailspin. The task can seem tedious and time-consuming, so they avoid it, figuring out how to manage things financially one step at a time. But for a commercial horse facility owner, having and sticking to a budget can be crucial to staying afloat. And for any horse owner it can be freeing, in that it allows you to make financially sound decisions on matters such as setting board rates or choosing a time frame for making big purchases. Barn owners are subject to the same economic challenges and hardships as owners of any other business; when fuel prices go up, for instance, so do expenses such as costs for transporting supplies (in the barn owner's case, feed and bedding). Daily wear and tear on facilities takes its toll, and equipment must be repaired and replaced so it remains in safe working order. Plus, horses are known for their de- structive habits and can easily upset the barn budget apple cart when they kick, chew on, or break things. A practical barn owner and/or man- ager that's both creative and diligent in overseeing facility expenses can provide a safe, functional, enjoyable facility, while also being profitable. Building a Budget The first step is to identify your costs. Begin by listing all expenses, whether regular monthly costs, such as mortgage and labor, or those that occur seasonally, such as extra hay. Create your own simple spreadsheet or use commercial budgeting software. Items you'll want to capture include hay, grain/supplements (if you feed them), utilities (water, propane, electric- ity, trash), equipment maintenance and repairs (including fuel costs to operate), facility maintenance and repairs (includ- ing expenses such as gravel for driveways and new sand for arenas or paddock footing), facility upgrades or purchases (building a new arena or creating a trail course), labor, landscaping and lawn mowing, insurance, mortgage or rent, pasture management costs (fencing repairs, irrigation, temporary fencing) … and the list goes on. Farm owners often overlook catego- ries such as costs for hiring a farm-sitter during vacations, work trips, or family/ medical emergencies. Building this into your budget makes it possible for you to achieve balance in your life and handle the unexpected. Also apply a number to your labor costs for things you do regularly, such as feeding, dragging arenas, and/or repairs. You might set this money aside in some type of savings account so you have those funds available. If a health or other issue requires hiring someone to fill in for you, you need to be able to pay for it. Another often-neglected category is manure management. One horse produc- es 50 pounds of manure a day, which is 8 tons per year. Multiply that by the num- ber of horses on your property, and you have a sizable situation on your hands. Building a compost bin is an investment, as is the cost of hauling off stall waste to a local compost facility. Capture and iden- tify those upfront costs in your budget, so you know what you are dealing with. MisFit Farm, in Redmond, Washing- ton, is a 16-acre facility that neatly boards 18 high-end dressage horses. Owner and barn manager Teri Herrera has carefully organized and put together a budget and a business plan for her place that makes it appealing to her target clients. "Know what your expenses are," she says emphatically. "Once you have your line item expenses identified, you can ALAYNE BLICKLE PHOTOS Budgeting for Barn Owners Tips for building a budget for your farm and remaining financially viable Careful budgeting helps MisFit Farm's owner track income and expenses and guides her decisions on boarding rates.

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