People have been riding horses for hundreds of years, and horse riding businesses have been around nearly as long. Today it’s an enormous industry, with people spending millions of pounds on horses and the costs associated with keeping them. 

Maybe you have some experience riding or breeding horses as a hobby, and are now looking to turn that hobby into a career. This article will serve as a comprehensive guide on starting your own horse riding business, addressing many of the core decisions you’ll need to make before starting your company.

We’ll look at a number of different topics, including:

  • Decide on what kind of business you want to start
  • Setting up your business
  • Clients and marketing
  • Horses
  • Property
  • Managing your business finances

Decide the kind of business you want to start

Although you may want to make preparations for your horse riding company immediately, it would be smart to come up with a more specific business idea first. 

There are many different business ideas related to horse riding, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do all of them all of the time. We’ve provided a few of the more common types of horse riding business for you to consider.

Riding instructor 

If you’re an experienced rider looking to make some money from your expertise, becoming a riding instructor is a good idea. You would need to understand how to be a tutor as well as how to ride if you were to start this kind of business, so take that into account when you’re deciding.

Starting an equestrian school is a similar business idea, but on a much larger scale. An equestrian school would own a number of horses and employ several instructors to provide riding lessons. 

If you want to be a freelance instructor, you might use the horses provided by an equestrian school and pay them part of your profits, but still operate as your own business instead of an employee. 

Trekking 

Horse trekking is a very profitable enterprise but is heavily dependent on where you are based. If you live somewhere scenic or rural, horse trekking might be a good business idea. Essentially, a trekking business would have people (usually tourists visiting the area) tour various sites while riding horses, led by yourself or a qualified employee. 

Much like being a riding instructor, this requires more than riding expertise. You’ll need to have a good knowledge of the surrounding area and its points of interest, as having a trekking business means being a kind of tour guide.

Hiring out horses

If you own several horses and can’t ride them often, consider hiring them out to interested parties. This business idea may be a good way of both making money as well as keeping your horses fit and mobile.

Running this sort of business would mean frequently interacting with other horse riding businesses — for instance, you might hire horses out to riding instructors so they can teach lessons, or to trekking businesses if they need a number of horses for a particular tour. 

If you’re capable enough, you might consider hiring horses out as part of your business, as well as offering one of the other services we’ve looked at.

Setting up your business

There are highly specialised things you need to consider when setting up a horse riding business, but much of your business will be very similar to any other company. For example, you’ll need to register your company and get a business license when you’re setting up.

As well as a business license, check with your local authority to find out if you need other licenses for the particular business you’re looking to start. Specifically, any horse riding business will require a horse riding establishment license

If you’re looking for more general information on starting a business, read our guide on how to start a small business. While this article is specific to horse riding, the one we’ve linked provides more general information for anyone interested in creating a startup.

Clients and marketing

Marketing is something that you’d need to research before starting any business, and horse riding is no different. Your customers and clients are the foundation of your business, and without them, you’ll run into some serious income problems. 

To start, try using social media for your business marketing. It’s free, and an excellent way to advertise your business to many people very quickly. Posting consistently and maintaining the quality of your social media content is a little harder, but social media is one of the best ways to inform people of the benefits of using your business.

If you’re already involved in horse riding to some degree, you may have some contacts that know of potential customers. Horse riding is a very close-knit community, so remember to let your friends know about your new business. If your business is in a specialised industry like horse riding, marketing through word of mouth can be hugely influential, as your clients will likely know other potential clients. 

Horses 

It might seem strange, but you don’t need to own a horse to start a horse riding business. As mentioned above, if you’re a riding instructor, you might use the horses provided by an equestrian school.

But while some horse riding-related businesses don’t require you to own a horse, many others do. If you’re looking to start a horse riding business and need to buy a horse, you’ll need to put a lot of thought into the purchase and the costs it’ll create afterwards. It’s wise to consult a horse breeder and do thorough research if you don’t already have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a horse, and what you’ll need to do to keep them healthy. 

We’ll provide a few topics for you to research and list expenses related to keeping horses, but owning a horse is a complex situation that requires a lot of specialised knowledge. Make absolutely sure you know what you’re doing before you buy a horse.

Things to consider

The first thing to think about is what you plan to do with your horse. You’ll need different kinds of horses for different tasks — for instance, a large horse with an active temperament might not be ideal for teaching beginners, as it would be difficult to control.

There are many different factors to consider when buying horses, but try to look into these aspects as a priority:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Temperament
  • Breed
  • History

All of these will affect how the horse will behave, and the success of your business might rely on picking horses with the right kind of behaviour.

Expenses 

If you’re looking to start a business based on horse riding, your horses should be at the core of your financial planning. It costs a significant amount of money to keep a horse healthy, and ensuring that your horses are healthy might be the difference between the success and failure of your business. 

The first cost you need to consider is the initial price of the horse. Compared to the monthly expenses the horse will create, this may not be an enormous cost. It’s still smart to make sure you’re getting the best price for the horse or horses you’re buying, though, so consult an expert or do thorough research beforehand. If you think it’s possible and necessary, you may even be able to haggle the price down.

Food is one of the biggest consistent expenses that a horse will add to your business. Horses will graze in a grass field, but also require consistent meals to stay healthy. Buying food is similar to keeping a product inventory — work out how much you’ll need in a given period, but try to always have slightly more than that in case your calculations are wrong. 

Try to strike a balance between quality and price when buying food, so that you’re not spending too much, but your horses are still eating well.

Vet bills will also form a big part of your business expenses when you own horses. There are consistent costs, like monthly or yearly checkups, but you may also need to call a vet out in case of emergencies. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to always keep a significant emergency budget in case your horses need urgent medical care. If you don’t, and your animals become ill unexpectedly, it could cause enormous financial issues for your business.

Property

As with horses, you may not need to invest much into property, especially if you don’t own a horse yourself. You may be able to rely solely on using others’ property to run your business. 

Having (or renting) your own property to operate your horse riding business out of can be more convenient, though. On top of this, having a space specifically for your business allows you to expand it more easily.

What to look for

There are a few different types of facilities you may need for a horse riding business. If you own one or more horses, the absolute minimum is an appropriate stable for the horses to live in. Make sure you know the space requirements for your horse and consider additional space for food and bedding storage.

An open field is the next addition if you can expand beyond a stable. This will allow the horses to graze, and you can use a field for riding practice. If you are hoping to focus your business on trekking or hiring horses out, these are the only two spaces you’ll need for your business.

If you are looking to teach riding and are considering opening an equestrian school, you might want to look into getting a riding arena. This is a large open area for people to practice riding, and may have a roof to allow training in all weather. Importantly, the arena must have level, consistent ground to ensure safe riding.

In addition to these, consider storage areas for riding equipment, separate fields for different horses, and an office for company admin. 

Expenses

Purchasing all this property can be immensely expensive. Starting an equestrian school can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in property alone. Renting the space you need can be much cheaper, but ensure that it meets your needs before agreeing to anything.

As well as the cost of the property itself, stables will have a consistent cost in the form of straw bedding for the horses. This is essential to keep them comfortable and in good health.

While looking into the property needs for the horses and horse riding, don’t neglect the needs of your business. You will still need an office to do the various administrative and accounting tasks involved in running your company. Luckily, this might be something you can do from home instead of spending large amounts on a specific business office.

Managing your business finances with Countingup

A lot of the topics we’ve covered in this article are closely related to your financial management

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.