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If you don’t know where you are with your money or budget this is a great place to start. No one more so in a business arena where the margins are small to begin with, such as horse boarding. Do you carry a negative balance in your business bank account? Do you know exactly what you pay for hay every year? How about your taxes? Some of these questions might cause a moment of pause or your stomach to ache.  Don’t worry, we will try to help you through it. To run a solid business, you need to start with your MONEY. On a personal note, I have struggled with money in my business. I’ve had red numbers on the bottom page of my accounting software; I’ve wondered how I would pay my hay bill; I’ve done Go Fund Me for a sick lesson horse. If you are in the same boat as I was,  follow along.

With this conversation about money started, as a business industry we have to address something. Why should owner/operators of lesson/boarding barns have to do it for “the love of the horse"? This is code for broke, tired, overworked and underpaid, while others in our industry are doing great! We are the feeders, the places where new riders are born and move up through the ranks. They come to us wearing yoga pants and sneakers to class, but after a while they have matching breeches and saddle pads, tall boots, new Stetson, lease a horse and then buy a horse. So the spending starts with us and what we offer. Yet, we are the ones struggling the most.

As a Business Association we want to address this issue and understand how we’ve gotten here. Boarding barns are closing everywhere; Owner/Operators are exhausted, broke and quitting; lesson barns can’t find appropriate mounts that they can afford; the cost of having and loving a horse is slowly becoming impossible for many. If this trend continues, what happens to the rest of the industry? Who will buy the matching saddle pad and breeches, and the cool new Stetson, the beautiful tack, the trucks and the trailers? It's a lot to think about and a lot of education is needed to see our way forward. We look forward to being at the forefront of those conversations!

In the meantime, there is you and your money. Here are the directions to completing the “Your Money” form. I suggest having a copy of your 2023 Profit and Loss statement so you can be very accurate about the numbers. If you don’t have a P/L do the best you can with what you have.

Good Luck!

Here is information about this form.

  • 1.        It’s a simple Excel document
  • 2.        It has three possible uses: for just boarding; for just lessons; or for those barns offering both services. It is clear to  see boarding expenses are on the left side, revenue for both business types are in the middle and lesson expenses are on the right.
  • 3.        There are several formulas imbedded in the document. Altering them will change your results and give you inaccurate information.
  • 4.        You can adjust your revenue by simply increasing your charge for boarding. Once you enter all of your information on the form you can see how your revenue changes by changing what you charge for boarding or lessons.
  • 5.        All of the figures use your MONTHLY costs.
  • 6.        Directions for a Boarding Business:
  • a.        On the far left upper corner enter the number of boarded horses in your care.
  • b.       Then look at your ANNUAL expenses for all your expenses. Then divide that by 12. Then begin filling in ALL of your expenses with that monthly figure. Don’t cut corners and be honest with yourself. So often we just let expenses slide and don’t capture them as we should. 
  • c.        You can add/edit the form a bit to be sure to capture all of your expenses, by adding categories which I missed.
  • d.       Then in the middle of the page in the gray box enter what you charge for boarding and any other income you derive from your boarding operation. The formula will do the rest and you will see your revenue at the bottom gray box.
  • e.        Then form will then calculate your income minus expenses and this will be displayed in the gray box at the bottom of the page.
  • 7.        Directions for Lesson Business:
  • a.        On the far upper right enter the number of horses you use for lessons.
  • b.       Then follow the steps b-c as written above.
  • c.        In the middle of the page in the peach box enter:
  •                                                                                              i. The rate you charge for lessons
  •                                                                                            ii. Number of lessons for each day
  •                                                                                          iii. Number of total lessons per week
  •                                                                                          iv. This gives you the total number of monthly lessons.
  • d.       The formula will then calculate your monthly revenue and will be displayed in the peach box at the bottom of the box.
  • 8.        Directions for doing a Lesson and Boarding Business:
  • a.        Determine the number of boarding horses you have and enter that in the upper left corner of the form. Enter the number of lesson horses into the upper right corner of the form.
  • b.       Now you have to determine the ratio of the lesson horses to boarding horses. For my barn for instance 1/3 of the horses housed are  used for lesson while 2/3 thirds is for boarded horse.
  • c.        Now take the ratio number and divide your expenses between the two categories and enter accordingly. For example, I split my expenses by 1/3 for lesson and 2/3 for boarding. It’s an extra step but you have to separate out the two income/expenses so you can see how each arm of your company is performing.
  • d.       Enter the income for for both lessons and boarding in the correctly colored box.
  • e.        If you do events like birthday parties, Girl Scouts, etc enter the AVERAGE monthly income and enter that under events in the peach INCOME LESSON box under events. The embedded formula will do the rest and you will see your revenue in both the gray and peach boxes at the bottom of the page.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF and take a deep breath when filling this form out. You need to know where you stand  with your money before you can make any changes!

The Excel form can be downloaded at this link:  NALBB - BoardingLessonFinancials.xlsx

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