Let’s Talk Money

So I was the one who started the popular New England Post about the judging, and despite the controversy, I have survived. I am now going to stretch my neck again and bring up another very taboo topic…Money. I am feeding off from a very frustrated horse owner (see her comment on the Going To OKC post), about how her trainers up the costs constantly and how her show bills are roughly triple what a monthly bill is.  I know what everyone pays and what everyone charges is supposed to be kept some big secret, but I am not forcing anyone to give out any info, so participate at your own will. What is the gong rate for training and boarding at a show barn? How about Lessons? Show Fees? Maybe some compare and contrast will put some of our minds at ease, and maybe you’ll find that you are really being taken for a ride! I would guess the former judging by the way a majority of trainers live, but there is only one way to know for certain, and this is a customer based business.

43 Responses to Let’s Talk Money

  1. jdenzel says:

    I would have to agree that the horse shows are expensive. However, our barn itemizes our entire bill. Each horse (me) pays it’s fair share of stalls, shavings, hospitality, feed and etc. Our barn hires out the hauling of the horses and that bill is also divided by the number of horses. Our bills have increase this year but so have the show fees. Nonetheless, they have not quadrupled! I think you need to have a conversation with your trainer/barn to find out how the expenses are broken down. You’ll probably find out that they aren’t really making too much, if any, profit from the shows. Just my thoughts………

  2. smccullo says:

    A lot of the big trainers post their prices on their websites. I haven’t seen too much variation. I think an equally interesting question would be the price comparison between breed/disciplines – i.e. hunter jumper, quarter horse, arabian…I bet there is a greater disparity there.

  3. amie9191 says:

    The costs of trainers is the reason I’m an AOTS….I’d love to be with a trainer but there is no way I could swing that cost every month. Maybe with the rising costs of everything the AOTS classes will start to grow :-)

  4. Merlcann08 says:

    My trainer gives us a price sheet at the beginning of each year outlining the itemized costs for training and showing. A surcharge has been recently added to offset the fuel and hay costs. I think many trainers wait as long as they can before they pass an increase in costs on to the client, therefore, you end up with a large surge rather than a couple of incremental increases. Also, the price of hay has almost tripled in a year, this is and will effect the cost of everything. Everything we do with horses requires fuel so while the prices have declined somewhat they still have a substantial impact on day to day operations.

  5. Jackie says:

    No one has yet dared to say what they pay haha, so I’ll jump in
    I used to pay $45/half hour lesson at the barn I used to keep my horse at. They also charged you for “free rides” that you had on your own (not a lesson). Board was $900/month. I can’t even remember the show fees but they were out of this world.
    I keep my horse at a new barn now where lessons are $30/half hour, free rides are actually free, & board is $650/month. And I love the training and service from the new barn so much better.

  6. jjoker says:

    That’s a good question, i find it hard to believe some of these bigger barn are goin to show out of the goodness of their hearts. If that was the case you could find more okc judges. look at the shows i think some barns have priced people right out of showing. If you believe you can’t do well unless you’re in a larger barn, then if you can’t afford that you won’t show at all. I think!?!?

  7. Jan says:

    Go to Crystalfarmsonline.com All the prices for board, training, shows, etc, are indicated. Yes, prices have been going up due to gas prices. I sell hay and it costs me more to get it cut, raked and baled this year. Therefore it costs the buyer more to purchase the hay, but I keep in line with my costs as best as I can.

  8. anonymous says:

    Training ~ 750ish? a month
    boarding ~ 350ish? a month…But im at a boarding barn, but a training barn exactly, though my trainer is also there
    Lessons ~ $20 for a semi private half hour, 30 for a half hour private
    Show Fees ~ Hmm, well for a local, A rated show, about 1000 all together

    We are not a big show barn, but we do alright for ourselves!

  9. Dawn Fire says:

    I own a training barn and I can tell you that the price of feed and fuel are painful this year. The cost of grain more than doubled this year over last.

    Having said that, I not only post my prices online, but I have always made it clear that I have receipts for every single item that is invoiced out. I am always happy to share them with our clients. I do all I can to make showing affordable as possible (including some times paying for things myself rather than invoicing them out). Even I cringed when I did the invoices for New England this year. It was just expensive to travel.

    I do know that there are barns that bump up prices unfairly. Just like everything else in the world, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your bill.

  10. We charge $580/month for full training (board included), we do not take boarders as we generally have a wait list for training stalls. I will likely be raising that rate the next time feed goes up, whenever that is, because the cushion I built in the last time I raised rates is no longer a cushion. :-) I give lessons at $30/private, $20/group. Our most inexpensive show, including shipping is the the Western New York show because the grounds are 1.25 hours away, and that bill, total, is between $550 – $700, depending on how many classes you enter. Aside from Oklahoma, the most expensive one we attend is New England, and that show, with golf cart, shipping, decorations, everything runs about $1,550/horse for 2-3 classes, assuming you get the reduced championship entry fee. Our goal is to earn a 10-15% profit at each show. We do that at every show but New England and Oklahoma, where we are more in the 5- 8% range. I don’t make much money on board and training, a little at the shows, but the commissions are 100% money in the bank. I don’t intend to stay way low on prices forever, but think that for a barn as new as mine is, you have to offer something in exchange for the lack of longevity. You can see prices on-line at crystal farms, peeper ranch, wentz stables, and many more. One thing that has been great for me is offering an on-time payment discount. If I got your check, paid in full the invoice before, paid on time, you get $30 off this months bill. The bad payers don’t seem too concerned about your discount, but at least you get a little more money for having to wait, and it sounds nicer than a late fee, which I still apply if I have received no money for 30 days. The good payers lover it, and I can count on 30% of my money coming in early every month.

  11. learning says:

    Alicia, it is interesting that you offer an on-time payment discount of $30.00. I would get it every month. I always have my cheques in hand at the first of the month. Want to play you got to pay!

    I wonder if those people that pay late would create a fuss if their employer decided to wait two weeks before they got their paycheck. Why don’t they realize this is your job?

  12. morganrider says:

    Our barn is a $775 per month for board / training and lessons are $30. Just a question for everyone – lessons are the same whether or not you ride your own horse or a lesson horse. Is that the same everywhere? I know that some barns include one lesson per week as part of the training.

  13. jdenzel says:

    Our barn includes one lesson per week on our horse as part of the training. Additional lessons on other horses results in additional lesson fees.

  14. My Full Training program currently includes 4 private lessons per month. If you do not use all of those lessons in a single month they do not roll over. this encourages my riders to ride year round, not just save up for show season. :-)

    As for the people who don’t pay– some of them are really good about communicating with me about why they are sending a check right away and when I can expect it. Thats great because it allows me to budget accordingly. What really drives me nuts is when I don’t hear from someone for months on end while they owe money, and then once the check comes, they want to talk for 3 hours and make grand plans for the next 3 years. LOL! For those customers that don’t take lessons, I try to talk to them once a week or so to keep them updated.

  15. colwilrin says:

    Our lessons are included in the price of training. I am lucky to live close by and have lessons twice a week…others close by go 3 times a week.

  16. Nightlife says:

    Wait, I still have to go back to the “free rides” that cost? They charge you to come ride your own horse? Do you saddle/groom yourself? I can’t believe that one?!

  17. I don’t know exactly what Jackie meant with ehr “free rides,” but for our program, the rider has to be very advanced and at a good place with their show horse for them to ride it without my being there to instruct. This usually only happens when I am away at a show and the horse in question is staying at home. I will also let customers jog their own horses if the horse is well behaved while I am away. There really isn’t any reason for them to ride without instruction if I am home. I would NEVER charge for them to ride their own horses– I view it as an asset to me– the horse gets ridden, where it would otherwise only be longlined or bitted, and it is ridden by the person who knows it the best aside from myself. Now I will charge for an uninstructed ride if a person wants to come and ride for practice and does not have a horse in training with me. I do this a lot for college students who need to ride while they are home on summer break. Of course they would like to ride the show horses, but that is no dice. I charge them $10-15 to come and ride. $10 if they use their own equipment.They also have to take at least 2 private lessons with me first before I will offer them the option of coming and practice riding. For my in house customers, that is a no charge service.

  18. Kelly says:

    Some in California are paying 10000.00 to their trainer per horse for Nationals prepaid when the entries close. I think it pays to shop around on show costs as it can vary alot. I think it’s great that some barns are posting costs on the websites. I believe it leads to more integrity in the morgan show horse business.

  19. Jackie says:

    What I meant by “free rides” is when you come (most likely when the trainer is away) and ride on your own for practice. This has been an option for me at every barn I have ridden at & at only one were you charged for it. The cost for that was $35. I find no reason why a client should be charged by the trainer when the trainer has provided no service except for letting you ride the horse on their property. The barn that I ride at now does not charge you for that.

  20. denu220 says:

    Training for one horse at my show barn is $950./month with one “free” lesson per week on my horse included. Supplements, etc., are extra. Separate lessons on a different horse cost $45. for a private half-hour or $160. for a block of four lessons paid in advance.

    BOARD for my other horse is $750./month PLUS sales tax at 8%. Yes, this is expensive. But, the board is actually a combination board/light training package. I have to pay extra for daily wormer (Strongid C 2X), Quitt (to prevent chewing), and a natural tick repellant. No lessons are included here, but if I want to saddle up my horse for a trail ride I’m good to go…

  21. denu220 says:

    Oh, horse shows can be expensive. Some are pricier than others (like New England). I can pick and choose from a pre-published schedule with show fees calculated in advance. You don’t even want to know what my hunt club membership is!

    >>>>>And they wonder why I shop at Good Will, PayLess, Save-A-Lot, etc.!

  22. anonymous says:

    oh wow i always ride my own horse alone when my trainer just isn’t at the barn….he’s still my HORSE, so i can basically do whatever i want with him, and if i screw myself up…oh well -shrug-

  23. denu220 says:

    One of my horses is a park horse, so I need to be careful with her feet, mouth, etc. I guess it isn’t worth it to me to mess her up, although I’m certainly capable of riding her on my own without constant supervision. I believe each horse/rider/trainer situation is unique and different. What works for one team may or may not work for another.

  24. annonymous says:

    Denu220 said “I guess it isn’t worth it to me to mess her up, although I’m certainly capable of riding her on my own without constant supervision.”

    I feel the same way, we are dishing out tons of money to have a trainer so why would I want to make his job harder then it has to be? I ride as often as he wants me to, 1x a week sometimes 2x before a big show. The rides on my horse in training are included in the training bill, which is $650 a month. A lesson on another horse is $25, they are normally 30 mins, sometimes longer if needed. Not sure about board off the top of my head.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I can understand if you think you might throw off your horse by riding it without instruction, but for a lot of people it can be very beneficial. I ride my horse by myself all the time when my trainer is not there. She incourages it too. When you hit the show ring, it’s just you and your horse. Of course your trainer is on the rail and says “good job” or “more horse” or whatever when you come by but you’re pretty much riding on your own and you need to be able to do that. I have confidence that I know my horse and so does my trainer. When you are alone, sometimes you have time to work on things that normally your trainer wouldn’t even think about doing. Somtimes trainers just get into a routine in all your lessons and when you have “free rides” as someone else called them, you have the opportunity to work on different areas that your trainer may forget are important too.

  26. Leslie says:

    “What I meant by “free rides” is when you come (most likely when the trainer is away) and ride on your own for practice. This has been an option for me at every barn I have ridden at & at only one were you charged for it. The cost for that was $35.”

    Wow, that seems totally absurd to me. I would never put myself in a situation where I had to pay to ride my own horse outside of a lesson.

    I understand top level show horses are longlined or jogged more often than they are ridden, so I can understand why it would drive your trainer nuts if you went out to take your park horse for a joy ride six days a week. But it’s still your horse and to not be allowed to ride just because your trainer is off at a show? For me that would be an entirely unfulfilling horse ownership experience. But then, I guess I would never put a horse in training, unless I was really stuck, and then just for a month or two.

    As to the topic at hand, I think the barn I used to ride with was charging $650 for board and training and $50/day for show care and coaching. I believe the training costs also included one lesson a week. I took lessons (not on my own horse) and they charged $30 for a half hour private or an hour group.

    That was in Maine. I just moved to Kentucky and I have no idea what the going rate is around here.

  27. Amanda says:

    The board/training rate at the above mentioned barn in ME actually includes two lessons a week on your horse or a lesson horse. For many of the riders that have horses in training they will ride twice in one day at no additional charge, often times making it 4 or 5 lessons a week included.

    As far as riding or jogging horses when they are away, it depends on the horse and rider combo. Safety is the most important thing, what I can say is that each case was individual. Very few people jogged their own horse, actually I can say in the 4 years I was there I think I may have been the only one, but I do know others rode when they were away.

    The barn I am at now is also $650 a month for training/board, $50.00 day fee. As far as working them when the trainer is away, again each case is separate.

  28. Stacy says:

    Our rates are on our website for all to see. We raised them $30.00 per month this year when hay went thru the roof and it is our first raise in 3-4 yrs. We try our very best to not price anyone out of this business, but, I am not going to loose money for someone to have their horses here. Nothing has tripled in 1 jump on our price list ever.
    We are not insured to have people riding,driving, or doing anything with horses on this property “unsupervised” that does not work for us. And that is just fine with me. I don’t want someone to get hurt here and not have anyone around to help them. Just a safety thing, IMO. As for OKC, we make money on it…and I think we should. But we keep things as affordable as possible…all too often at the expense of any sort of retirement plan, financial cushion, or luxurious living.

  29. Stacy says:

    BTW…I caution all trainers that are covering today’s costs to realize that this industry is hard on the mind and body and does not come with a 401K. While I understand that it is expensive for my clients, I bet most of them have a much more secure retirement plan than I do and the day I can no longer work horses, physically or mentally, I doubt anyone will continue to pay me.So, when you sit down and figure out what it should cost for your trainer to board and train your horse, don’t forget the mortgage, the insurance, the health insurance, the help, the feed/bedding/etc, the vehicles that are on hand to drive your horse to the clinic should it need it, the drapes,truncks, and decorations that go up at the shows, cost of living, and then, hopefully, a little something to put away so we can survive after we can no longer work horses. Not to make it a pity party:) Don’t get me wrong, price guaging can certainly still occur, but if things are close to on par with comparable (in proximity and quality) barns then you can rest assured that your trainer is doing their best to survive and make it affordable. After all, the more people that stay in this industry, the more job security we have!

  30. evamorgan says:

    Very well put Stacy.
    Sometimes people look at the money coming in but don’t realise it goes out just as quick!!
    And then there are all the unexpected expenses that have a nasty way of popping up at the most inoppurtune moments.Like today for example, chain on the manure spreader broke, cost of new one, $350.00.
    And you are right no retirement packages! That’s why it is so important to have an IRA. And most importantly health insurance!!
    You can absolutly not afford to be without it.
    Even if its only major medical with a high deductible to keep the cost of the premium down.

  31. bella92290 says:

    We are at 750/month for board and training plus tax. This includes one lesson a week on your horse. More can be purchased of course. We are in Upstate NY.

  32. Amanda says:

    I just wanted to throw a question out there for everyone.

    The day fee’s/show care & coaching (whatever you call it)

    Does that that fee include hoofblack, shampoo, show sceen ect? Or does your barn charge extra for those items purhcased for a show?

  33. evamorgan says:

    Yes, show care includes the cost of hoofblack,shampoo, show sheen etc.

  34. denu220 says:

    Show care *should* include all the above-mentioned supplies and more. It’s always been all-inclusive, and I’ve shown with probably five different training stables over the last 25 years.

  35. I don’t bill for items used to prepare your horse for the show ring. That is included in the day fee.

  36. Susan Overstreet says:

    What a well designed and grest website this is and thanks to whomever runs it

    Jumping in late here, but did want to commend GRS on their billing practices, cost control and transparent invoicing. I have had horses in a number of barns over the years and have rarely had such a great and completely straightforward pricing approach. No hidden fees, no unexpected expense and my pet peeve, no nickle and diming for the typical little “dailies” any horse requires. Would highly recommend this barn to anyone searching for a top flight stable.

  37. cap1963 says:

    I agree completely with amie9191. Although I certainly could use one, I cannot afford to be with a trainer/showbarn. I am just getting back into horses after 20+ years and will try the AOTS route, hopefull in 2009.

  38. KayITM says:

    Hi Lisa,

    This is Kayla who owns Hermie. The barns prices have gone up a lot since I was there I think it was either $750 or $800 for training and $650 for board. I love your new horse. I always try to see your classes at the shows. She has a very pretty tail.

  39. amie9191 says:

    Let me be one of the first to say:
    Welcome back Cap1963!”

    The AOTS divisions at the morgan shows are great fun and everyone is very supportive. What shows do you plan on attending in 2009?

  40. Bradley says:

    My trainer charges $795/Training and Board $395 for just Board. Lessons are $40 for a private lesson, no group lessons offered. $45 if you want a driving lesson. Lessons are not included in Training. And you can’t ride without the Trainer.(Which I feel is the best thing, because you are paying for the trainers expertise why would you want to ride, and have the potential for something to go wrong.) Yes, I know it is your horse but I have been in the Morgan business for my entire life and with the same trainer. I feel that he knows what he is doing, and I wouldn’t want to ride while he is not there. He knows the horses almost, if not better then I do, because he is with him day in and day out. In regards to prices going up, everyone has suffered the incline of just about everything this year, and the trainer needs to make a living too. They don’t “jack” the prices up just because, there is a lot thought behind it. My best advice is to talk to your trainer, if you have a problem with prices. There is a reason behind everything.

  41. cap1963 says:

    Thank you, amie9191. I plan to attend Michigan All Morgan, Morgan Showtime, and maybe the Buckeye Morgan Challenge. I’m trying to space them out at about 1/month. Gives me time to assess our weaknesses before the next show (if there is a next show after the 1st one). :)

  42. parksaddle1024 says:

    I love all of the input provided for this topic! I went to a new trainer because for $950/month at another trainer I had to get my own horse ready, lunge and ride on my own. No lessons even though they were included in the monthly training fee (I’d call and we’d set up a time and then the trainer would always be doing something else during the scheduled lesson time – would pop in the arena once in a while to give a couple of pointers), and my horse seemed to be getting worse rather than progressing. Horse shows were very expensive and you had to clean your own tack, etc. Working two jobs to pay for my “habit” did not leave me a lot of time to do all the work myself – I was discouraged to the point that I took my horse home for a year. I am now at a barn where my board price is all-inclusive and includes unlimited lessons for not only myself, but for my kids. I now have a few horses in training, and one of them is at a discounted price. Morgan shows are expensive, but my trainer makes it as affordable as possible – fixed price – no extra fees! My horses are always in great condition and get worked almost daily. I have never seen anything given to any of the horses at shows to make them calmer or perform better (you all know what I mean!!!) I can’t say enough good things about the trainer I have now – my kids were always discouraged before and now love to come to the farm and ride, and just started showing. We are fortunate to have a lot of great trainers in our industry – call around, scope them out at shows, make an appointment to visit their farm – it goes a long way to making sure you find the right place for you and your horse!

  43. bluedesiign says:

    cap1963- I am in almost the same boat as you. I haven’t decided exactly what shows I will attend in 2009 it depends entirely on my horse. I hope to show in Michigan and I will definitely be at the Buckeye Morgan Challenge. Maybe I’ll see you there :)

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