If You Build It They Will Come
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Many horse owners would love to keep their own horses at home and ride whatever the weather. Horse riding instructors/trainers dream of having their own indoor arena where they can work their own equestrian magic. Is it a dream or could it be a reality? What is on the horizon for your business growth? Are you making smart decisions today to impact the bottom line tomorrow?
I know many riding instructors that work solely with an outside ring. Even if the weather is temperate in your region the sun can be fierce and rain will fall. For those of us that live in the North East U.S.A. we must deal with all the vagaries and varieties of weather. Snow, ice, sleet, rain, wind, hail and sun. When you don’t have access to an indoor arena your lesson schedule for students can stop for months at a time due to poor weather conditions. The lesson horses become unfit and perhaps difficult to bring back into work. Competition plans are delayed and the ability to attend the early Spring shows is hampered as the show season simply has to begin later as horses and riders are not at their peak to compete, leaving the trainer with less progress than they might like for their own careers as well as those of their ardent students. Students and boarders may be lost to neighboring barns whose facilities include the option to ride all year around.
If you are serious about developing your horse business to the next level then an indoor riding space is imperative. Indoor arenas can be affordable by taking advantage of financing options and feeding the payment through the additional revenue created by being able to offer daily lessons for both horses and riders.
If you build it will they come? In my experience the answer is a resounding yes. Trainers that have participated in my dressage clinics over the years see their profits substantially increase when they make the decision to jump in and build an indoor. Their property value increases, the building is depreciable so there are annual tax savings through amortization of the expense. It is not as much a leap of faith as you might think.
An indoor arena means you can book and host clinics, tack swap meets or shows or any community event with knowledge that no rain or snow date will be needed. You can additionally rent out the arena for use to other trainers if you wish or to other community members for all types of events from dog agility to summer camps and parties for children.
Many manufacturers of horse barns and builders of arenas offer financing options to make the investment affordable. There are a myriad of options, which allow you to pick and choose features you need and select carefully those you might additionally want. There is something to fit every need and every budget.
There are also discount packages available and today thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can shop features online and receive an accurate quotation quickly. Horizon Structures L.L.C., based in Atglen, P.A. who serve the entire North East and are rapidly expanding, offer a list of features from which you can pick and choose. Their team of Amish carpenters craft all their buildings and the standard of workmanship is first class as you would expect from their well-earned sterling reputation. As we all know horses can be very tough on their environment so solid well-built buildings are important for both their safety and for longevity. Horizon Structures offer buildings of all sorts: A gazebo for your outdoor arena to shelter you, the judge, your students and family from the sun and poor weather; kennels to keep your dogs out of harm’s way when you are holding a community event for both their safety from traffic and harm from visiting horses; a variety of modular horse barns delivered to your site and installed in as little as one day; or think of it, your own indoor arena.
Whatever you build you know it is true that if you build it they will come. For example if you currently own four horses and build an eight stall barn I can pretty much guarantee you’ll soon have eight horses. It is smart to build bigger than your current needs because we know needs change. If you have extra stall space you can offer stalls for lease and take in boarders for increased income or simply exchange stall space to a friend for their horse in barter for their help around the barn. You will have an option to take horses in training and/or add more lesson horses to your herd as your business develops.
If you run a dog rescue and order a kennel for twenty dogs and currently have ten in house you know that before long you’ll be housing twenty. Yes truly, if you build it they will come.
Indoor arenas are also very useful for purposes other than riding. For example, your hay delivery guy brings your hay in straight off the field in wagons for you to unload at your leisure. You don’t want to leave the wagon outside where the hay will become damp from the evening or morning dew and don’t want to rush and unload it right now when you are busy. You can simply store it in the indoor.
In the event of hazardous weather warnings you can use the building to secure all vehicles, outdoor furniture and other valuables until the storm has passed.
When you think about building an indoor arena it is wise to look at all the factors that affect its use now and later. For example, do you want to have future living quarters over the building? Do you want to have a line of stabling down the side of the arena to alleviate the need to traverse icy driveways in the winter and not have to deal with moving snow to ride your horses? Do you want a dividing wall between the stabling and the indoor to minimize interference between stalled horses and horses being ridden? How high do you need the entrance doors to be? How are you going to light it? A visit to Horizon Structures website will provide you with a great look at the topics you need to determine to make the absolute best decision for your needs either as a business owner or as a backyard owner that is an avid horseman or competitor.
Whenever you undertake an expansion project for your property or business it is prudent to be careful that you select a knowledgeable partner in the endeavor. Do take the time to review the company’s references and visit their buildings in your neighborhood to learn firsthand from both their existing customers how the build went and how satisfied they were with the process and the result. These visits are so worthwhile as they not only showcase the quality of the product, but will activate your sensibilities as to what features you truly need and which ones you truly want.
Also be sure when you are comparison shopping that you apply the apples to apples policy. All products and workmanship are not created equal.
You don’t have to be Kevin Costner to enjoy your own ‘ Field of Dreams’ experience. Take a look at what is available. I think you’ll be surprised at how doable it is.
(And talking of surprises ~ on a complete sidebar: Mr. Costner is as nice a guy as he seems in that movie by the way. I once met him while driving a mountain road in Ithaca, Greece. I came around a blind corner on a narrow road into the village of Frikes, to find Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins standing in the center of the road taking photos. I slammed on the brakes and managed to miss them. On one side of the road was a vertical rock face and on the other side a fifty-foot drop into the sparkling Aegean Sea. I don’t know who was more shocked, my twelve year old son and I or the two celebrities. They were extremely apologetic and I was extremely relieved!).