As more and more people look for outdoor activities, farmers and ranchers are opening their land and their barns for trail riding. Trail riding appeals to people of all ages, and you can engage in it on a short trip as an alternative to more conventional tourist activities. Farmers and ranchers can supplement trail riding by selling gifts and souvenirs, hay rides, lessons and other horse-related pursuits and products.
Things You'll Need
- Business insurance
- Land/access to trails
Start Your Own Trail Riding Business
Buy or lease property that can support horses and has appropriate outbuildings. If you don't know much about horses, you must spend a significant amount of time apprenticing on a horse farm, perhaps one that already offers trail rides. If you have property available but not the knowledge base and cannot provide trail riding personally, hire a highly experienced manager, possibly with formal education in equine science.
Consult an insurance agent about coverage you'll need before offering your horses and trails for rent. This is the most challenging step and possibly the most expensive. You must have significant liability insurance. Once the legalities and insurance are sorted out, you can to open your business to the public.
Determine your prices. Will you offer an afternoon ride led by an experienced rider? Will you offer rides by the hour and let riders can take your horses out on their own? Explore other trail riding businesses in your area and in other states and see what practices you want to follow.
Advertise your trail riding business. Trail riding will appeal to families staying in your area and to local residents looking to have fun without traveling far. Start by placing your brochure and business card in local hotels and motels. Work out a special deal with one or two hotels or resorts. A hotel could offer a weekend special with a trail ride, for example. Publicize your business in a local newspaper or website that showcases weekend activities. A presence in these information outlets will keep you in the minds of readers. And if give lessons or demonstrations at schools, you'll have an audience of potential customers.
Contact local riding clubs, feed stores and tack shops and inform them of your new services. If you also offer boarding, lessons and trail rental, you'll likely get customers from through these places.
Consider expanding into therapeutic riding. This does not involve tourists. Rather, it brings horseback riding to people with a variety of challenges from physical disabilities like cerebral palsy to emotional difficulties. Consult with experts and your state department of health and human services to understand the nuances of therapeutic horseback riding and special precautions to take (such as requiring riders to wear helmets).
Tips & Warnings
- Become a first responder. This will give you the ability to assess any injuries that occur quickly. Taking a wilderness emergency medical technician class will elevate your capabilities should anyone get injured while riding.
- Horseback riding can be dangerous. You must be well prepared for all types of riders and all types of situations.
- The University of Georgia, Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, "Considerations for Getting Started in the Horse Trail Riding Business," Kent Wolfe and Christopher Ferland
- "Equestrian Trail Riding as an Alternative Agricultural Enterprise," Ranchers and Riders of Texas, Texas Farm Bureau
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