5 Reasons Your Equestrian Business Needs A Business Plan

equestrian business

It absolutely floors me that many equestrian business owners, especially stable owners, do not have a business plan.  Even if you’re not planning on raising money or going to the bank for any sort of financing, it is still a smart idea to have a document that can help give you a clear statement of your business’s mission or vision, benchmarks to help you keep track of performance, an honest assessment of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and an opportunity to test out your idea to see if it holds a real promise of success.

equestrian business

Why your equestrian business needs a business plan.

Whether you are planning on starting up a new business or are already operating an existing one, here is a list of a few reasons why your equestrian business should have a business plan.

1.To map the future – when things are written down, you are more likely to follow them. You can plan out different future scenarios and how to deal with them, and set goals along with what resources you are going to need to achieve these goals and how you are going to acquire such resources. Use this opportunity to assess the feasibility of your idea. Is this actually going to make you money? Do people need this product or service?

2. To secure funding – no one is just going to throw money at you to help you get your business started.  You need to give the bank, investors, etc. a reason to support you.  Your business plan will let them know what you plan on doing with their investment, how that money will grow, and how new revenue will be generated.

3. To develop a game plan – Who are your customers? What do they want? Will they buy your product or service? What is your marketing plan going to be? How are you going to measure performance?

4. To better understand your competition – Are you the only one of your kind in the marketplace or is it saturated? Are your competitors in your immediate area or are they far enough out of your zone to not really be a threat.  Is their business thriving or failing? Not only will this help you plan out how to stand out from the rest, it can also be an indicator as to whether there is a need for your product or service.

5. To uncover new opportunities – by putting everything down in writing, it forces you to really think and be creative. You may end up seeing your idea in a different light. Your business plan does not have to be a static document. By revisiting it regularly, you can see what is working or not working and come up with new ideas for marketing your service or product and running your business.


What could happen if you don’t have a business plan?

Going bankrupt because you don’t have a plan for how to make money.

Running out of money before you even open you doors for business because you haven’t accurately planned your start-up costs.

Losing customers because your quality or service falls short.

Falling short on your sales/income projection because you don’t really know who your customers are or what they want.


There are many great resources out there to help you craft a business plan. Equine Guelph also hosts a number of courses and their Equine Business Management certificate is ideal for anyone looking to start up a business or already running one.  If you can only take one course, I highly recommend their Equine Business Management course which walks you through writing a business plan.

March 21, 2017 |

Moody Mare Scents (and a CONTEST!)

moody mare

Moody Mare is a brand new company based out of Mono Mills, Ontario that offers amazing homemade pampering products that are perfect for yourself or for a gift.

Head on over to our Facebook page for a chance to win a gift basket from Moody Mare!

Moody Mare Products

Sugar scrubs:

“Dressage Diva” a rich, soothing blend of French Vanilla Extract and Sweet Orange essential oil.
“Pony Lines” a soothing, healing blend of Green Tea Leaves, Honey and Lavender essential oils.
The bath salts that would like out of their stalls are:
“2 Refusal” a gotta find my happy place blend of Green Tea Leaves, Lavender, Clary Sage & Bergamont essential oils.
“Frozen Buckets” a definite sinus clearing blend of Rosehip Tea Leaves, Rosemary, Eucalyptus & Lavender essential oils.
“Arena Circles” a calming, take a deep breath blend of Orange Tea Leaves, Lavender, Sweet Orange & Frankincense essential oils.
“Morning Feed” a soft alarm bell ring of Green Tea Leaves, Sweet Orange & Lemongrass essential oils.

New products to Moody Mare include “Arena Dirt” which is a facial scrub/mask made with activated charcoal. “Accident Prone” which is an all around ouchy healing salve. “Wrong Bush” is a classic drawing salve that has activated charcoal and pine tar, don’t let the smell put you off, this stuff works! My personal favorite is “Parting Company”, which is a muscle soothing salve for when you and your mount “part ways”

You can find Moody Mare at the florist in Tottenham mall or email to place an order.


moody mare

March 17, 2017 |

*CONTEST ALERT* Eat Sleep Ride Repeat

eat sleep ride repeat

One of our sponsors, Eat Sleep Ride Repeat, wants your input on what they should offer in their online store.  Complete a quick survey and be entered for a chance to win an Eat Sleep Ride Repeat quarter sheet and ride card holder (a $75 value!). Draw to take place April 29th at the first OCTRA endurance ride of the season.  The Eat Sleep Ride Repeat team will be doing a Facebook live session so make sure to follow them to see if you’re the big winner!

Enter here:

About Eat Sleep Ride Repeat (more…)

March 6, 2017 |

10 Tips for Being a Better Boarder


We all want to be that boarder that barns just love to have and beg to keep. We’ve also heard the stories about so-called ‘barn drama’ but does such a thing really exist? If boarders followed the tips below, many barns owners would be in a much mood, caring for you and your horse. Feel free to comment and add suggestions of your own.

  1. Pay your bills on time! Nothing creates more stress or damages a relationship more quickly then being tardy on rent or board. Consider paying early to give a good impression that you value your partnership. It doesn’t matter what excuse you may have to being late, it’s the first thing that gives a property owner legal rights to have you removed.


February 27, 2017 |

EHV-1 Confirmed In Two Horses in Ontario


The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has been notified of two confirmed cases of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), caused by equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1).

The horses from Durham Region were referred to the Ontario Veterinary College with neurological signs and are receiving treatment. Three other horses on the farm have tested positive for the mutated (neuropathogenic) strain of EHV-1 on nasal swabs but are not demonstrating neurological signs at this time. The farm owner has voluntarily placed the premises under a self-imposed quarantine to reduce the risk of viral spread.

Current vaccines may reduce viral shedding but are not protective against the neurological form of the disease. Implementing routine biosecurity practices is the best way to minimize viral spread. The best method of disease control is disease prevention.

See the press release here:


OMAFRA Fact sheet on Equine Herpes Virus:


February 17, 2017 |

9 Tips to Nail a Job in the Equine Industry

equine job

Recently, it has been great to see schools offering equine programs. These produce knowledgeable professionals and creates standardization across the industry. But are grads from these programs finding the jobs they want in the industry?

Many of them will probably end up working as in a barn or maybe they’ll take an office position until something opens up in their field. For many, the hardest part may be just getting their foot in the door. So, what’s the best way to do that?

  1. Keep in touch with former employers and colleagues. They may know of positions coming available and could be used as references.
  1. Follow instructions – read the entire job posting to find out exactly what the employer is asking for. It would be a shame to miss out on a great opportunity because your application was missing one line of information.
  1. Don’t just print off your standard resume and cover letter. Tailor it to the position you are applying for. Is your dream job not posted. Try sending your resume off to the company. They may have something come up that is not publicly available yet.
  1. Come to the interview prepared. This is not the time or place to wing it. Bring questions to show that you did some research about the company and to find out if the company and/or role is right for you.
  1. Be honest. Don’t pad your resume with skills that you don’t have. The truth will eventually come out.  It also goes the other way too. If the job is not for you, say so.
  1. Work out details of accommodations or how you are going to get to this job ahead of time. You don’t want to waste their time or yours if you get a job only to find out you won’t be able to show up to work on time (or at all!)
  1. Show that you are interested. Show up on time and dress appropriately. You don’t need to show up in a suit or skirt if it’s a position in a barn, but look professional.
  1. Show initiative and don’t be shy. Be confident about yourself and what skills you can bring to the company.
  1. Be realistic about wages. Unfortunately most positions in the equine industry are not well paid.
February 15, 2017 |

She helped me to figure out who I am

van paassen

By: Brianna Bell

Originally posted in GuelphToday

van paassen

Guelph resident Alana Van Paassen started riding horses competitively at the age of 6.

“My mom grew up on a farm and rode Western, she loved horses and wanted to learn English riding,” said 27-year-old Van Paassen.

Mother and daughter took lessons together each week in Georgetown, a short drive from their home in Caledon.

Van Paassen’s love for horses grew, and her thrill and skill in competing became obvious. By the age of 8, she was the proud owner of her very own horse, TJ, and by 12 she had three horses.

Alana’s mom, Louise Van Paassen, continued to support her daughter even when their weekly riding lessons discontinued. Alana’s competing schedule grew more intense, with three day events all over Canada and the United States. She continued training and growing in her skills, with her mother by her side.

By 2001 the 12-year-old rider had won a Provincial Title — her first major win.

In April 2006 the Van Paassen family experienced a devastating loss.

Alana was in a tragic motor vehicle accident that claimed her mother’s life and left Alana with serious injuries. The mother and daughter duo were on the 401, just outside of Cambridge, and were heading to Kentucky to watch a riding competition. Shortly after leaving their house in Caledon Louise had a heart attack at the wheel of the car.

The Van Paassen vehicle rear-ended a transport truck at 80 km/hour, and Louise died of a heart attack. Alana’s injuries were substantial. The dashboard of the car fell onto Alana’s left leg, breaking her femur in 12 different places.

The jaws of life removed the debris and rescued Alana from the wreckage, where she was transported to Cambridge Memorial; she stayed there for five days and had emergency surgery on her shattered leg.

Following the accident Alana had a long road to recovery, along with processing her grief over her mother’s death.

Van Paassen was on crutches for nine months, and went to many physiotherapy appointments to recover the use of her left leg. For 18 long months Van Paassen did not ride a horse. She was also in her final year of high school at the time, and was able to graduate with her class in 2007.

“As I recovered I started thinking about riding without my mom around,” she shared. “A woman named Shannon Gerryts was my riding coach at the time.”

Shannon became a sister and confidant to 17-year-old Alana, helping her to process her grief over her mother’s loss. Gerryts even rode the teenage Van Paassen’s horses while she couldn’t, continuing to motivate the young equestrian and encouraging her to consider competing again.

“She helped me to figure out who I am,” said Van Paassen, speaking softly. “She stepped in some ways, and helped me to be independent in other ways.”

By 2009 Van Paassen was accepting her first championship title since her 2006 accident, despite the intense pain she continued to experience from her injury.

In 2010 Van Paassen was back in surgery, after she broke her leg a second time while riding, and began the process of relearning how to use her left leg again. She said that despite the many setbacks, the 2010 injury turned into a blessing, with the surgery being more successful and her pain moving forward more manageable.

Around this time Van Paassen began teaching riding lessons, and word of mouth spread about her talent as a teacher and a rider. After studying at the University of Guelph Van Paassen decided to stay in the city, and eventually purchased her first home.

“I never thought I’d be teaching full time,” said Van Paassen, who now boards horses and owns and operates For the Win Equestrian, where she trains equestrians of all skill levels, from novice riders to competitive riders.

Recently Van Paassen has decided to branch out and learn new skills beyond riding.

“I’m trying to get out of the struggling artist lifestyle,” she said with a laugh, adding that she’s working in the real estate industry in investing and property management.

Alana still remains close to her friend and confidant, Shannon. She said Shannon is her “training partner,” and has been a great encouragement as she begins to train to compete once again.

There’s no doubt that Guelphite Alana Van Paassen has overcome many obstacles as a young rider, but her story is proof that perseverance and determination can make anyone a winner.

Today, when she rides she remembers her mother’s love for their horses, and is thankful for that her mother gave her the greatest gift of all — her own passion for horse riding.

Find the original article here:

February 9, 2017 |

Paula Fedeyko of Doc Ridge Dressage – Podcast

paula fedeyko

On this episode of the Horse Show podcast, we sit down  with Paula Fedeyko. Paula owns and operates Doc Ridge Dressage, based out of Puslinch, Ontario.  Paula offers training, lessons, part boarding, in barn leases, coaching and sales out of Doc Ridge Dressage.

Not always a horse lover, Paula tells us in this interview how she came about to dressage after not always being a horse lover and spending some time in the hunter and equitation rings. She also spent 2 years in Holland working in the horse industry there both training and showing and she shares one of her embarrassing stories from her time over there. All of this experience in different aspects of the horse world are helping her to achieve her goal of being a great all-around horseperson, not just a great rider.

She currently has two horses: Bosco, who she plans to compete in Prix St. George again once he has recovered from an injury and an up and coming yearling who she hopes will take her to the international stage in the future.

Fedeyko also shares her opinion on the importance of having that connection or bond with your horse and matching the right horse with the right rider and she leaves us with some advice for the horse industry.

You can find out more about Paula Fedeyko and Doc Ridge Dressage at or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

February 1, 2017 |

10 Things to Do When You Can’t Ride

can't ride

Can’t ride because the footing is too icy? Perhaps it’s too cold to ride but you still want to have fun with your horse? Don’t fret! Here is a list of 10 things to do with your horse if you can’t ride (or just don’t feel like it):

1.Practice showmanship patterns. Perfect your horse’s leading, backup, pivot and more. Patterns are a fun way to do this rather than constant drilling. The American Quarter Horse Association has a number of patterns listed on their website for rookies up to world class competitors.

2. Practice braiding your horse’s mane and tail. Not only can this save you money if you show, if you get good enough, you can offer your services to other riders. There are a number of fantastic books and YouTube videos out there to give you some inspiration and tips.

3. Get to know your horse’s vitals. Practice the equine health check. It’s always good to know what is normal for your horse so in the event you think something is wrong, you can perform a quick check before you call the vet. Equine Guelph has a great resource to help out with this:  (more…)

January 19, 2017 |

7 Tips to Prevent Tack Theft

tack theft

Securing your barn and tack room is half the battle in preventing tack theft. Tack is not cheap. Plus it is a hassle to replace.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to help protect yourself from tack theft:

Invest in strong locks. A deadbolt lock may be enough of a deterrent for a potential intruder to move on and look for a softer target. Also be sure to secure windows. Locking saddle racks are also available, which are great for shows!

Install motion-sensor lights. Use lights around your property and barn entrances to scare off intruders before they even get close to stealing. Position the lights so that they are visible from the house if they get set off.

Get a dog. Even if they are not intimidating, their bark may warn you to potential intruders. (more…)

January 13, 2017 |
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