Book Review: Starting & Running Your Own Horse Business


When I was given my first horse, I bought this book. I wasn’t going to open my own boarding facility, or start a horse business I was interested in how to start and run a horse business.






Who is Mary Ashby McDonald? She is the former manager of the 460 acre Medway Ranch in Austin, TX. She holds a B.S. in Animal Science and at the time of this book she was pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.


I purchased this book about twelve years ago. It is an easy read and I liked the topics that Mary Ashby McDonald was going to talk about.

  • Cost Saving Ideas
  • Stable Management Techniques
  • Money-Making Tips
  • Boarding & Breeding Information
  • Record keeping Forms

The first thing Mary talks about is naming your business, creating a logo and choosing your business colors.

When this book was written the internet wasn’t like it is today. Businesses were just getting use to the idea of having a website, so they relied on flyers, business cards and signs. These are still necessary, but today businesses need a website, social media and a blog.

“By making a horse business successful, we reap more than just monetary reward. We can better appreciate the many pleasures that attracted us in the first place.”

Promotional Goods and Gifts

Stream of Income: Invest in bumper stickers, t-shirts, key chains, ball caps, grooming aprons, pens and magnets.

Give your pens and magnets to prospective boarders and students.

Organizational Planning

I am a super planner, so I really liked this part in her book. Mary says,

“Planning ahead and organizing your business will help you achieve your goals.”

She discusses the following areas that you should plan for:

  • A Master Calendar
    • Advertising
    • Budget
    • Building and maintenance
    • Event/program
    • Training and sales
    • Vehicle maintenance
    • Vehicle replacement
  • Physical Organization Plan
    • List of contents inside doors of cabinets
    • Painting your equipment with your farm colors
    • Label where your tack goes and where your tools such as muck rakes go
    • Assign someone who is tidy to keep the tack room organized
  • Operational Organization
    • Computers
    • Bulletin boards, and white boards to communicate to your staff and boarders
    • Create files for boarders and students
    • Purchase office supply organizers
    • Keep charts to help track breeding, exercise, feeding and shoeing schedules
    • End of the year inventory
  • Personnel Organization
    • Establish schedule for meeting with each staff member privately and with the staff as a group
    • Employee reviews
    • Hiring, firing and training needs
    • Instructor skill reviews
    • Raises and promotions

Mary goes on to teach the reader about more streams of income:

  • Riding programs
  • Boarding
  • Leasing
  • Riding camps
  • Horse shows
  • Buying and selling horses
  • Breeding
  • Manure recycling

This book is a wealth of information for someone looking to start a horse business. The information isn’t overwhelming. I think the pages are filled with possibilities and that encourages excitement.

If you are looking for ways to increase sales, or bring in more income to your business, this book is a great place to start!





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