24 Ways To Increase Your Horse Property Income
By Tania Millen
As property values increase and everyday equine management expenses go up, keeping horses on your own property is becoming more costly. All across Canada, horse and property owners are undertaking myriad activities to make money from their farms and acreages without operating commercial boarding stables or becoming professional coaches. While every potentially money-making activity has benefits and drawbacks depending on the property’s size, layout, and infrastructure, as well as the owner’s interests and talents, there are many options for creating additional income. By implementing a few of the 24 innovative ideas summarized below, owners can start earning additional income from their property to help pay the bills.
Of course, before embarking on any new activities, be sure to investigate zoning bylaws, insurance and liability concerns, tax implications, and business requirements of the proposed activity, plus beware of neighbours who may be concerned about new activities in the neighbourhood.
#1 - Part-Lease Your Horse
Sharing the costs of keeping a horse by part-leasing it to a suitable rider can be a win-win for both the horse owner and the other rider. A lease agreement detailing how long the lease will last, how many days per week the lessee (person leasing the horse) will ride, plus the owner’s and lessee’s responsibilities regarding care and costs will help keep both parties happy.
#2 - Board Other Horses
Photo: Shutterstock/Peter Titmuss
Boarding someone else’s horse on your property can provide a myriad of benefits including shared costs, herd-mates for single horses, and help with feeding and maintenance. Boarding agreements detailing everyone’s tasks will help maintain clear communication.
#3 - Host Instructional Clinics
Clinicians, instructors, and event organizers need facilities to conduct both riding and non-riding educational activities and are willing to pay a rental fee for suitable space. If you have facilities such as an indoor arena, riding ring, or a large meeting room available, there may be opportunities to rent out those facilities and possibly gain some free instruction at the same time.
#4 - Hold Events
Riders and horse owners are often looking for unique activities to share with their horses, such as navigating obstacle courses, playing at liberty, or attending a fun games day. Depending on your property set-up, holding fee-based fun, educational, or competitive events, can provide some income. Ask riding friends and potential attendees for event ideas.
#5 - Host Equine Professionals
Hosting equine professionals at your property, where other clients can trailer in for treatment, makes good sense. Event organizers who need facilities to hold clinics and all sorts of riding activities may find your arena the ideal location. Many equine service providers such as saddle fitters, farriers, veterinarians, body workers, chiropractors, and other alternative practitioners prefer to treat multiple horses at one facility rather than drive long distances between service calls. The property owner may charge a rental fee or receive lower-cost services in exchange for providing the facilities.
#6 - Rent Your Riding Arena
If there’s an indoor or outdoor riding arena on your property that is under-utilized, consider offering riding rights to others via a monthly membership or punch card. This can be a simple, passive income source that requires very little input from the property owner. Just be clear about property rules and utilize appropriate liability forms for those taking part.
#7 - Offer Grazing Rights
Why mow your pastures when you can augment your income and offer grazing to appreciative property owners for their horses, sheep, goats, or cattle who don't have access to enough grazing areas? Different animals come with different fencing, grazing, and housing needs however, but depending on the property, suitable infrastructure may already be in place. Utilizing a clear rental agreement is beneficial.
#8 - Re-Sell Hay
Not every horse owner has the space, facilities, or machinery to handle a full year’s supply of hay; however, those who are able to purchase hay in larger quantities can often negotiate better pricing, buy in excess, and resell in smaller lots at higher prices during the winter when hay is in short supply. Regular annual commitments between hay farmers, purchasers, and the ultimate buyers can make this an ongoing turnkey proposition.
#9 - Sell Manure
Photo: Shutterstock/Peter Titmuss
As owners know, horses produce a lot of manure - more than eight metric tonnes of manure per year. But rather than viewing manure as a useless waste product, composted manure may be a saleable product that local gardeners are keen to purchase. It’s worth connecting with local gardening groups or community gardens to discuss their needs and the potential market for this product. Building and maintaining a composting system can turn manure into black gold to sell or use yourself. You’ll also be doing something great for the environment!
#10 - Provide Bed & Bale or Horse Camping Options
Riders traveling with their horses need safe places to stop overnight, and riders looking for weekend adventures tend to seek out new experiences. Offering accommodations or a place to camp for riders plus simple horse pens for horses can be another source of income. Trail riding social media groups are good sources of information about infrastructure needs, plus a potential market for your offerings.
#11 - Operate a Used Tack or Consignment Store
Even though online shopping is popular, buyers still like to see and touch products before purchasing them. All shoppers like to save money and every rider has unused tack and gear that could be turned into extra cash. Establishing a used or consignment-based tack store on your property is another way to increase income. Consider setting up your store in a towable trailer to save space and so that the store can be easily transported to horse events.
#12 - Offer Equine-Related Custom or Repair Services
Horses are notorious for wrecking blankets and breaking tack, so blanket repair, washing and waterproofing, and tack repair services are always in demand. Additionally, riders and horse owners are often seeking equine-related custom clothing, tack, leatherwork, and household items for both practical and decorative purposes. Depending on your skills and enthusiasm, turning sewing or leather-working skills – or any other hobby such as painting, pottery, or metal and woodwork signage – into paid commissioned work, is a realistic possibility.
#13 - Host Hives or Keep Bees
Horse’s fields can be perfect locations for beehives, as bees need flowering plants such as clover to survive and create honey for their owners. Hives don’t take up much space, and the bees pollinate flowers thereby ensuring that plants continue to thrive. Consider either hosting hives for other apiarists or getting into beekeeping yourself. Electric fencing will ensure that horses, dogs, and bears don’t bother the hives.
#14 - Rent Storage Space
Renting out empty storage space is another money-making option. Owners of recreational vehicles, boats, skidoos, horse trailers, and other towable toys often need covered storage space during the off-season and will pay to park their investments in a secure place. Rental contracts help ensure that all parties are clear about the terms.
#15 - Teach Art Classes
Drawing, painting, pottery, photography, writing, and other art forms all rely on creativity. Offering art classes at a horse property or where horses can be used as subjects can be a very calming and creative opportunity for budding and established artists. Offering classes online using live video from the property widens your market to accommodate students near and far.
#16 - Teach or Offer Agricultural Skills
Photo: Shutterstock/Dee Browning
Horse properties require a lot of upkeep and many owners have a multitude of agricultural skills that others covet, such as driving a team of draft horses or horse plowing, repairing machinery, fencing, carpentry, exterior painting, animal care, pasture rotation, tilling, manure management, and other husbandry skills. If you need a helping hand for a bigger project around the farm, rather than hiring and paying wages to a labourer, offer the learning opportunity at no charge to someone who wants to get hands-on experience in learning a new agricultural skill. Or gain some income by offering classes — in person or online — to new or wanna-be property owners and less handy homesteaders who want to be do-it-yourselfers.
#17 - Rent Space in Unused Farm Buildings
One of the easiest ways to increase property income is to simply rent space to another business. Whether it’s an unused outbuilding for small-motor repair or a lockable shed for a tinkerer, many properties have space that another small business may be willing to pay for. A rental agreement will assist both parties.
#18 - Put Your Tractor to Work
If you’ve invested in a tractor and implements that sit idle for a good portion of the year, consider the services you could provide your neighbours for a fee. These may include snow plowing, tilling, moving hay bales, brush clearing, pulling out roots and bushes, and so on.
#19 - Offer Boarding Services for Small Pets
When owners of dogs, cats, and other small pets can’t take their animals with them when they go out of town, they either hire pet-sitters or board their animals with someone else. Since most horse owners are already good with animals, offering small pet boarding — even if it’s only for one or two pets at a time — is another way to increase income from your horse property.
#20 - Raise Farm Animals
Farm-raised eggs, chicken, pork, lamb, and turkey are all in high demand by consumers who want to know that the animal products they eat are ethically produced. Raising farm animals for meat or laying hens for their eggs can increase farm income. Be sure to thoroughly research the legalities of the sale and slaughter of farm-raised animals and their products prior to investing in the animals.
#21 - Grow & Sell Extra Produce
Fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers are all saleable goods that may be grown by enthusiastic gardeners on a horse property and sold at the farm gate. Raised garden beds laced with on-farm composted manure can produce far more edibles than one family can eat, so selling excess produce may simply be a by-product of a successful growing year.
#22 - Build a Corn Maze
Photo: Shutterstock/Dennis Wegewijs
If you have the land and time available and a large enough customer base close by, a corn maze can boost your annual income. A corn maze can be hard work and takes serious advance planning, but for farmers who do their homework and invest the time and energy to do it right, a corn maze can be a significant source of extra income. Nowadays, there are businesses that can help you build and run your maze, and software is available to help with planning. Remember, the more elaborate the better, and people will pay for a memorable experience.
#23 - Provide Scenic Locations for Photo and Video Shoots
Photo: Shutterstock/Volodymyr Durdiak
Photographers and videographers hired to take wedding or graduation photos, custom horse photos, advertising shots, and sale videos all need scenic backdrops for their work. Offering hourly or day-long rentals of unique on-property locations is yet another way to earn additional income from a horse property.
#24 - Host Weddings or Other Ceremonies
Brides and grooms planning outdoor, ranch, or cowboy-themed weddings need suitable locations for their ceremonies and dinner parties. Look at your property and consider whether it might work for an outdoor wedding. Other events such as graduation parties, milestone birthday parties, and celebrations of life often need outdoor spaces too, and rentable tents and stages can turn many a lawn, field, or barn into suitable spaces for these events. Contact event planners to discuss options.
There are many more opportunities to create income from a horse property. With a bit of creativity and market research, most property owners can create additional sources of income that fit their properties, skills, and lifestyle while continuing to keep horses in their backyard. Now that’s a win-win.
Main Photo: iStock/Picture Store