Linda Connors
Gallop On Farm

Having a business free of debt isn’t essential, however creating a healthy monthly cash flow to satisfy debts is. I’m here to share a few thoughts and truths I’ve come across in the last 30 plus years of making a living as a professional in the horse industry.

 

Linda Connors

Linda Connors has been an instructor, trainer, consultant and judge in the Hunter Industry for over 35 years. She has produced State, National, and World Performance Champions in the American Quarter Horse Assoc. (AQHA).

After becoming a U.S. Equestrian Federation judge in the Hunter and Equitation Divisions, Linda, was invited to teach Judges Seminars for AQHA and other breed associations. She also holds a Hunter Card for AQHA and is an Honorary Vice President of AQHA . Linda writes for national publications, publishes a newsletter for professional horsemen, does consulting work, appears at speaking engagements, holds seminars and clinics and runs ten horse shows each year.

Linda has been liaison to represent NY on the State Horse Council Committee, sits on the Farm Bureau's Equine Commodities Committee, Cornell University Animal Science Advisory Board and the Morrisville University Equine Advisory Committee.

Linda is the owner & manager of Gallop On Farm. She is a third generation equestrian.

Basic Cash Flow Producing Services:
Training
Sales
Board
Breeding
Lessons
Coaching

Negative Cash Flow

1. Board
This is a total loss leader. Labor intense and cash poor. In one hand and out the other is not
positive cash flow!


2. Breeding
Start with a small fortune they say …………
You’ll have to be lucky or rich. Those of you who have bred horses for any length of time already know…………..
You know all about sick foals, losing mares, abortions, mares that just won’t catch. You know what it takes to get one to the point of sale, which for everyone except the race horse industry is usually 2-4 years of age, ready to ride or riding. In that span of time they usually manage to “eat, vet and farrier” their way out of a profit.

3. Sales
A very small percentage of professionals actually make money buying and selling if they honestly admit what they put into a horse.
Marketing a horse can include the following “out of pocket” expenses:
Purchase
Daily care
Vet
Shoeing
Training
Showing
Commissions

4. Training
My #4 sits in the middle of the cash flow equation. It can be a money maker or it can be a costly time waster.

Many disciplines in our horse sports offer varied opportunity to train. Dressage horses, Hunters, Jumpers, Race horses, Event horses, Miniature horses, Gaited horses and Driving horses all have special training needs. Not every rider is trainer material but if you are, adding training to your services, may or may not produce cash flow.

Training is in addition to board. Remember board is a poor cash flow option. Your training should be shown as an addition on your menu of services. Give your pricing some thought. Thirty days in a month, realistically you’ll ride every other day, 15 rides X $20 is an addition of $300 to the month. In my opinion that isn’t enough money.

Most pleasure horse trainers are up to a minimum of $400 a month in addition to board. In my experience, Race horse trainers are better business people as a whole and race training is usually way more expensive than that paid by the pleasure industry.

What decides if training is a negative or a positive addition to your offered services is what you charge. Be realistic. What are you worth? How long does it actually take to get the horse out, tack it up, ride and put it away.

Discussion of other possibilities concerning the aforementioned activities as negative cash flow.

Positive Cash Flow
The name of this lecture is “Cash Is King” I offer to you as #1 on my “cash flow” chart:

Lessons
Why?
One good horse (which is one unit overhead of board) can generate multiple levels of cash flow
a. weekly lessons
b. camp
c. leasing
d. show rental

1 week’s potential income:
5 lessons @ $25 = $125
1 camp @ $300 = $300
1 monthly lease @$400 = $100
1 one day horse show @$25 rental
@$50 school = $75
$600
x 4 Weeks
$2400

Compare this to board with a gross income of $400/month.

I love my lesson horses!

My personal thoughts on the lesson business and its impact on the horse business in general.

Coaching
Coaching is a logical extension of the lesson program since most students enjoy competing and measuring their skills. Accompanying your lesson students to the shows or competitions is part of your job and you should expect to be paid for it.

On the road all of your overhead should be paid.
Travel – room – meals. These expenses are added up for the duration of the time away and divided by the number of clients going. This takes your overhead to $0 on the road. Day charges usually range anywhere from $35 to $100 and over per day.

At $50 per person with 10 riders, that’s $500 a day.
Trucking, should also generate income.
Coaching gives you the opportunity to market yourself and any sale horses you might have.
Attending even one show a month can significantly impact your positive cash flow.
You do charge coaching fees at the shows, don’t you?

More to think About
Besides coaching there are other activities that go hand in hand with the lesson business.
The following can be useful in producing cash flow:
Leasing
Camps
Vaulting
Handicapped/Special Olympics
Hold horse shows
Clinics: teach/host
Judge

Another area that needs a look: Free Lance Instructor - No property/No investment!

Thoughts on structuring your client’s payment schedules to produce a consistent cash flow.

Suggestions that might turn a negative cash flow positive.

A run through of monthly bills that impact your thinking when deciding on what to charge:
Barn loan payments or facility rental
Feed costs
Vet & Farrier
Labor
Gas & Electric
Taxes
Repair & supplies
Insurance

A final question:
If it doesn’t produce a profit why are you doing it?
Passion had better be the big player!
What I want to leave you with.