The Glorious Indoor Arena ~ I Want One But How Can I Afford It?
You probably run your horse business year around and work in all sorts of weather to ‘get the job done.’ Horse folks are hardy folks in general and working outside is a pleasurable part of the job for most of us.
As a trainer you also realize that there are times that you miss out because your horses aren’t ready for competition due to missed schooling times because of poor weather. There are days when students don’t come to visit because it’s simply too hot, too cold or too wet. Your horse business would most certainly benefit from being able to enjoy the rewards of ‘The Glorious Indoor Arena,’ but indoor arenas are extremely expensive. How can you afford one? I would say you can not afford to be without one.
Start out by creating an accurate business plan that revolves around being able to offer lessons and training 24/7/365. Well. O.K. Let’s take a few days out for time off. Like that ever happens in reality. Look realistically at the additional income the provision of an indoor riding hall would bring to your business.
Next research indoor arena builds in your area. Look at companies in a large circumference of your location because companies will travel to build the structure.
Check with your local zoning enforcement to see what permits are required. Ask colleagues for references and advice based on their own experiences with their own indoor arena build if they have completed one. Ask lots of questions. What do they wish their indoor had facility wise? What would they change? What could they manage without? Remember when viewing the size that the larger it is the more it will cost to light, to keep in good footing materials and of course to construct. Don’t forget to include site preparation in your number.
Look at the costs to run the indoor once it is built. How much will it cost to light? Are you going to heat it? Are you going to install a sprinkler system? Will your property taxes increase? What will it cost to insure? An indoor arena will add value to your property, improve resale as an equestrian venue and attract boarders and students. No more clinics will need to be rescheduled due to weather and you can ride all evening long offering school children after school hours instruction.
Now you have an idea of the real cost. If you have established your horse business as a corporation you will be able to amortize this cost over 25 years on your tax return so figure that into the balance.
The World of High Finance
How can you finance this dream creation? There are several areas to explore.
If you have equity in your property you can approach a mortgage company for either a refinance option or take out a second mortgage.
You can also apply for a business loan. Take a strong business plan in your hand and ask in person at your local bank. Local banks are always interested in investment in their local community. Interest on business loans is tax deductible.
Many construction companies also offer financing for part of the cost of the building so be sure to ask up front about rates, options and requirements.
Do you include any therapeutic riding or other charitable enterprise at your farm?
If so you could look at sites like Go Fund Me and start a campaign for the build. You can hold fundraising events and invite community business to help out in return for a permanent banner in the arena touting their business. You could also check out what grants might be available in your area and apply for them.
Ask Mom and Dad
Actually this works out more often than you might think. Family will often see the rewards that the project can bring to your business and if they can help they probably will.
Tuck Money Away
If you can begin a savings account with even a small sacrifice out of your income each week you’d be surprised how this will add up to make a healthy deposit on the building.
If you have a horse-training colleague that would also benefit from the presence of an indoor and with whom you would be willing to share the space you could quickly recoup the monthly payment for the building by charging a ring fee per lesson for their use of the facility.
Don’t Give Up
Just because the first few banks say no doesn’t mean one won’t say yes. As in most things in life persistence is key. Find out what the lender’s objections are and overcome them. For example, if the build is simply too expensive for the monthly payment to make sense for your budget then take a second look at the structure you have chosen and talk to the construction company about how to bring the cost in lower. Yes, you’d like a row of attached stalls but with careful provision you could always add them later. Yes, you’d like windows all the way around and skylights everywhere but perhaps you could manage with a few less? Of course a knee wall would be nice but your wonderful husband could do that with the help of a few friends couldn’t he? And can’t you handle a nail gun too? Go all Patrick Swayze on it and just invite friends over for the weekends. Have them tent up and throw a building party. Patrick built much of his first horse farm this way!
I hope that this will give you the ‘kick’ you need to get started exploring and making plans. Dreams can and do become reality with a little effort. O.K. A lot of effort.
About the author: Nikki Alvin-Smith is an international Grand Prix dressage trainer/clinician who has competed in Europe at the Grand Prix level earning scores of over 72%. Together with her husband Paul, who is also a Grand Prix rider, they operate a private horse breeding/training farm in Stamford, NY.