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Start a horseback riding lessons business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your horseback riding lessons business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a horseback riding lessons business?
Opening a horseback riding business is a costly venture. You'll have to buy land if you don't have it, and you’ll have to build stables if you don't have them. You could expect to spend $3,000 and up per acre for good flat land, and about $100 square foot for stables and indoor arenas, depending on your location. Additional costs include:
- Any licenses and permits, including a certificate of occupancy and a sales tax certificate. These fees vary from county to county and state to state.
- Liability insurance.
- Horses that are fit for giving lessons. Prices for horses range from under $1,000 to well over $10,000, depending on bloodlines and previous training.
- Horses that are fit for trail riding;
- Fencing required to build rings and paddocks. Depending on the type of fencing you build, this could run anywhere from $20 a linear foot to over $40 a linear foot.
- Tack for each horse. Tack varies on brand and quality. In this case, you do get what you pay for.
- Inventory if you are selling tack and accessories.
- Horse feed.
- Watering troughs.
- A truck and trailer. You'll need a minimum of a 2500 HD full size pickup, but should preferably have a 3500 HD pickup. You could expect to spend upwards of $50,000 or more for a good truck.
- Tractor (optional – this comes in handy while mucking stalls). You might find a good used tractor with low hours for about $15,000 to $20,000.
- Indoor and/or arena(s).
- Utilities for the barns and arenas.
- Payroll for help if you are not running the operation by yourself.
What are the ongoing expenses for a horseback riding lessons business?
The ongoing expenses are high for a horseback riding business and include:
- Mortgage payments on land and barns
- Liability insurance
- Additional horses
- Tack for your horses – you'll need different sized saddles for kids and adults
- Vet care
Who is the target market?
Customers my range from the very young to elderly. Experience may vary from none to years of riding experience. Your customers may be well off and prefer to pay for all of the services you offer for boarding and more, or you may have customers that prefer mucking their own stalls, using their own vets, and feeding their own food, whether for financial reasons or because they are used to caring for their own horses.
How does a horseback riding lessons business make money?
A horseback riding business makes money in several ways; though the largest stream of income comes from giving lessons and boarding horses. Other streams of income include doing special parties, trail riding, selling tack and feed, and training.
How much can you charge customers?
The national average for horseback riding lessons ranges between $45 to $60 an hour, depending on your location, the student's skill, and what you need to charge to cover your overhead.
How much profit can a horseback riding lessons business make?
Profit is dependent on you. You need to figure the costs of running the business for a year and then divide that by 12. Subtract boarding fees that you receive. That will tell you how much you need to make with lessons, training, and retail to make the profit you envision. If your overhead is $36,000 per year, or $3,000 per month, you will need to sell 60 lessons at $50 to break even.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Make your business more profitable by keeping expenses low, adding more stables for boarding, marketing your operation to sell more lessons, and building up your retail store, if you choose to have one.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your horseback riding lessons business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
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!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
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
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
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.
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 a horse stable. 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.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Release of Liability
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, horse back riding businesses should have their clients sign a release of liability. Here is an example of one such form.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Certificate of Occupancy
A horse stable is usually run out of a large outdoor space. 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 office space:
- 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 a horse stable..
- 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 office space:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your horse stable 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.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
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.
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.
How to promote & market a horseback riding lessons business
Find out what type of clientele is in your area. Are there more who want you to care for the horses or more who prefer to care for their own horses? If you find there is a mixture of both, you might have two separate barns: one where you provide services such as vet services, shoeing services, feeding, and cleaning; and one where the customer provides all of that for a greatly reduced boarding fee.
If you just give riding lessons, consider hosting riding birthday parties, holding clinics, and offering trail riding sessions. And, if you have the space, add more barns for boarding or a retail store, or offer nutrition courses for the horse owners.
How to keep customers coming back
Make sure you understand your customers' needs and provide what they want. Even if you have to have two ranges of pricing for the different services you might offer. Be sure that you know how to give lessons. Knowing how to ride and imparting that information to another are two different things. You've got to have the communication skills. Keep the barns warm and dry and the horses well-cared for, and you'll find that you have customers for life.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Horseback Riding Lessons Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
The perfect person to run a horseback riding business is someone who loves horses, doesn't mind working outside regardless of the weather, and is physically active. Other factors include being able to work with customers, having business management experience, and having stable management experience. Depending on the side businesses you may want to add retail management knowledge and some knowledge in horse nutrition.
What happens during a typical day at a horseback riding lessons business?
Most days will be spent doing several activities. Some of these, you may do less frequently and will depend on the type of business you will be running in conjunction with a horseback riding business.
- Mucking stalls
- Feeding and watering horses
- Turning out horses
- Giving riding lessons
- Going on trail rides
- Cleaning the barn
- Caring for the turf in areas
- Ordering inventory
- Customer service
- Planning birthday parties if you offer birthday party rides
- Training horses
- Breaking green horses and/or training problem horses
- Keeping fields and courses mowed and maintained
- Ensuring watering troughs don't freeze
- Cleaning feed buckets and watering troughs
- Slinging hay
- Preparing for horse shows
- Maintaining any special equipment you might use for therapy riding
- Maintaining tack
- Trailering horses to and from your facility, whether for shows or to help customers get their horses to your facility
- Vehicle maintenance, including trucks, tractors, trailers and landscaping equipment.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful horseback riding lessons business?
You may be really good at riding and training horses, but you also need to be able to teach others how to ride or how to get ready for a show. You'll also need horse training skills; basic medical skills to help horses in an emergency; retail, marketing, and customer service skills; and business management skills.
What is the growth potential for a horseback riding lessons business?
The growth potential is unlimited if you have the space to expand and if you are boarding, training, and giving lessons. If your facility gives only lessons, the growth potential is high. Lessons are usually an hour long and many stables offer lessons for a person once or twice a week. Adding other businesses on the side, such as boarding, selling tack, and training horses significantly increases your growth potential.
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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.
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 a horseback riding lessons business?
Insider tips include knowing your horses and planning ahead to make it easier to expand. Instead of starting with a barn with a few stalls, if you plan on expanding, build the barn with 30 stalls right away. You'll end up saving money in the long run.
Knowing your horses is an important part of starting a horseback riding business. Some horses are great for trail riding but not so great for giving lessons to people who have little to no experience.
Also, be sure to have all of the equipment needed to clean stalls and care for the horses. Have a vet that will come to your facility lined up for emergencies. You may not be able to get a sick horse into a trailer. For boarders, be sure to have a contract that has been reviewed by an attorney ready to sign before you allow a horse to stay one night in your stables.
How and when to build a team
If you find yourself running out of space, you may want to add more barns and more services. If you are considering adding more barns, you should have the income to hire paid help. Be sure to thoroughly vet each person you consider hiring. Remember, not only are thousands of dollars at stake with liability and the value of the horses and equipment, but a horse's life could be at stake if you hire someone who doesn't have experience.