An equine therapy camp will have campers work with horses as a way of overcoming their physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. They're primarily made for children, but there are ways to open the camp up to adults as well.
Learn how to start your own Equine Therapy Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start an equine therapy business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Equine Therapy Business
- Form your Equine Therapy Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Equine Therapy Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Equine Therapy Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Equine Therapy Business
- Get Equine Therapy Business Insurance
- Define your Equine Therapy Business Brand
- Create your Equine Therapy Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your equine therapy business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Equine Therapy Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening an equine therapy business?
Costs to open can be substantial, especially if opening anywhere near a major city. Owners will need to purchase or lease the land, pay for staff, and board the horses. They’ll also need to factor in administrative and marketing costs.
What are the ongoing expenses for an equine therapy business?
Equine therapy camps will need to maintain their grounds, care for the horses (including medical), and keep up website and marketing materials. You’ll need to pay staff salaries and potentially attend ongoing educational opportunities to learn more about advancements in your industry.
Who is the target market?
The target market depends on the type(s) of therapy you want to provide. Some camps choose to work with certain types of disabled children, such as those with Down syndrome or those with cerebral palsy. Or they may work with campers with a variety of disabilities as a means of promoting tolerance and inclusion.
But another major market is children with emotional troubles. Some camps will work with troubled teenage girls only, or boys who have recently been released from a detention center. Camps may set up different sections of the grounds in order to work with a variety of kids. Advertising should be geared to both children and parents of course, but it’s primarily the parents or adult caretakers in a child's life who need to be convinced that the camp is worth it.
How does an equine therapy business make money?
Equine therapy camps charge a set rate for each camper to cover the costs of the program. If the camp is for-profit, then they'll usually set a profit margin onto their fees in order to have additional funds invested in the enterprise.
How much can you charge customers?
Because the upkeep expenses are substantial, even non-profit centers can charge up to $100 for a 50-minute session or several thousand dollars for a two-week experience. Most camps will offer varying programs for different budget levels. For example, they may offer group sessions at a reduced rate or a weekend experience rather than a full week at the camp.
How much profit can an equine therapy business make?
Non-profit camps obviously need to set their rates so they can cover the cost of operations, but a for-profit center can do very well if it can attract the right clientele. A week-long session with 30 campers for $2,000 will net $60,000 alone. If the cost of operations is 75% that of the admission fee, the camp would make about $800,000 in profit a year if they run programs all-year round.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Owners can consider branching out their services to include adults. They can even set up activities where employees come together for team-building days. Owners can modify the children’s activities to fit adult needs so that people can problem-solve and learn more about each other outside of the office.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your equine therapy business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an equine therapy business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Certificate of Occupancy
An equine therapy business is generally run out of a large piece of land. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to an equine therapy business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your equine therapy business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Equine Therapy Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Equine Therapy Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market an equine therapy business
Promoting a therapy camp is usually wrapped up in telling touching stories about the type of work you do. When you’re just getting started, focus on how the activities challenge a child to problem-solve and how this works to increase their confidence and cooperative skills.
Television is usually the best way to market because people can perceive strong messages from full ads. The additional exposure gives them a good impression of how the camp works. However, paid or organic internet advertising can also be a good way to attract new clients. Owners can also consider showcasing testimonials on the radio as well.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers want to see a solid change in the child who attends the camp, such as a new-found enthusiasm or compassion for animals, a calmer demeanor, or improved confidence. They want kids to have fun of course, but these camps are viewed as having a higher purpose than just making kids happy.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
Business owners should ideally be compassionate people who want to help kids become their best selves. They should have a thorough understanding of how different types of kids interact with horses and which activities will best promote that connection.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an equine therapy business?
Equine therapy camps may include any of the following daily tasks:
- Coordinating activities for riders
- Coaching staff on best practices
- Evaluating and assessing children’s strengths/needs
- Caring for horses
- Maintaining the property grounds
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful equine therapy business?
You should have some experience working or volunteering in a camp like this. Jumping in without any type of formal training can make it that much harder to get the camp off the ground. You should also have some type of certification for working with horses either from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International or from a similar organization.
What is the growth potential for an equine therapy business?
There may be a need for something like this in your area, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. These programs can be life-saving in a number of ways, which means that insurance companies and authorities alike are onboard with the work equine therapy business do. City officials or community organizations may even fund these types of alternative therapies as a means of curbing juvenile delinquency.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an equine therapy business?
The first thing an owner needs to address is the liability they’re taking on. Working with kids and horses creates an infinite amount of unknowns that can be difficult for staff to handle day-in and day-out. Even the most well-trained and gentle of horses is not immune to getting spooked, which can cause damage to the property or even to the people in the camp. Having a good staff (not to mention good insurance) can go a long way to safeguarding against dangerous events.
If you’re willing to make your organization a non-profit, you may be able to get a government grant in order to start your business. This will not only cut down on your start-up costs, but it can also give you instant legitimacy in the eyes of your clientele. Ensure you have a passionate and experienced writer who can draw up a proposal that will catch the eye of the decision-maker. You should also look into how to take different types of medical insurance. Some companies will cover camps as a necessary cost of treatment.
How and when to build a team
Owners should build a professional and experienced team immediately. You need to hire people who are comfortable working under intense pressure and who want to see the kids learn and grow throughout their time there. If you skimp on the quality of your employees, you increase the odds of liability lawsuits.