The Horse Professional

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Horses are an addiction. For a few of us, that addiction earns us a living. The rest of us just hemorrhage money in order to fund our habit. But that's OK. We're enjoying every minute of it.

Still, at one time or another, We've all fantasized about giving up our ?day job? and opening a horse business . . . we'd have four-board fencing, picturesque landscaping, a barn with cupolas, and blue ribbons as far as the eye can see.

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Maybe we'd become the breeder of the best stock in the world or maybe we'd ride and train and end up on the cover of every glossy magazine, with groupies who hang on our every word. we'd live in luxury, as we bring in wheelbarrow loads of money, just for being good at our addiction.

If you're considering diving into the horse business, this issue holds a lot of information for you. Making your own feed might well be worth the effort for you, especially if it nets you a significant savings. Plus, you can explain the rationale behind ensuring that the horses get exactly what they need.

Your facility should offer more equipment, too, and cavaletti (page 1) are something that every horse will benefit from, whether they're jumpers, dressage, Western or English horses. they're useful for trail classes and for trail horses, especially in areas where there may be small trees in the pathways that need to be crossed.

Surprisingly, the IRS makes concessions for certain horse businesses, as our tax expert explains on page 8. For an ordinary business, like a corner store, you need to show a profit two years out of five in order to be legitimate. But if you're breeding, racing or training horses, it changes to three years out of seven. The reason' It takes longer to produce profitable results (boy, is that an understatement!). However, you need to be for-profit, not for-hobby, to satisfy the IRS.

But I think it takes more than a profit to truly be a professional. If you get a chance, ask a successful trainer how they started. you'll hear tales of hitting the road with a truck, trailer and horse to seek out further education, leaving the kids to stay at home with grandma. you'll find out they took jobs mucking stalls and walking hots just so they could gain experience in all areas of horse care. Many groomed and tacked up someone else?s horses all day long, just for an hour?s ride under the eye of a truly great instructor. They sacrificed health insurance, retirement benefits, a nice apartment and fancy clothes just so they could buy one truly talented horse to help them make a name for themselves.

The amount of work done decades before a person becomes a well-known name is astounding. And even after they've made it, you'll find that they have to spend a lot of time away from home, competing and staying in the public eye, all the while keeping the home farm turning a profit through boarding, lessons and training.

Of course the IRS focuses on money in order to determine if you're running a business. But it takes more than making money to truly be a professional. You need talent. You also need drive, education and the desire to sacrifice anything and everything in order to make it. Simply hanging out a shingle that says ?Riding Lessons Here? doesn't tell me you?ve made it. You need to earn that.

Meanwhile, we're doing our best to continue to bring you information geared for the serious horse person, with a constant look at the financial end of it ? and that matters whether you?ve decided to make it a business or not. We're all in this together, watching budgets, learning as we go, so we can offer our horses the best care and wisest training techniques available.

Cynthia Foley,
Editor-in-Chief