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Ten Questions to Ask Before Evaluating an Equestrian Amenity

Wanted: Quality Equestrian Amenities

Horses have a unique emotional pull for people as so many of them are enjoyed during recreational activities. Kids are frequently the first to walk wide-eyed through the barn, but mom and dad soon follow, and it isn’t long before the horses become a part of the family. The barn becomes a family hang-out, much like at a country club or a resort, where every member of the family finds something fun to do.

How do you get that resort or country club feeling at the community stables? After all, if you are planning to spend a considerable amount of money to purchase land and build a home in an equestrian community, and then pay additional funds for equestrian services – like boarding your horse or taking lessons – shouldn’t you expect the same service that you receive from other service providers, such as your favorite restaurant or hotel? At communities that offer an equestrian center as an amenity, you should expect the same quality and level of service that you would receive at the spa, golf club, or swim center.

When evaluating an equestrian community, buyers should beware. Since you may be entrusting one of your beloved family members -- your horse -- to be cared for at the community equestrian facility, there are 10 essential points to consider. By addressing these points you will be able to distinguish the well planned, managed and dedicated equestrian communities built to serve the equestrian client.

-Does the equestrian community have an understanding of customer service and professional treatment of clients?

-Is there evidence of quality care and standards for horses, and clear policies and procedures for barn operations?

-Is there management and staff accountability, and the option to provide feedback or complaints?

-What assurance do you have for staff continuity?

-Does the operation run efficiently and is it clean?

-Is the staff professional in nature and trained as certified instructors and barn managers?

-Is there an emergency plan in place for both humans and horses?

-Is the operator/manager willing and able to cater to the needs of the community?

-Is the facility discipline-appropriate and safe in design?

-Is there an ample trail network and safe trail design with access to outside trail networks if available?

Horses are the new golf and many equestrian communities are being built nationwide. Living in an equestrian community, if executed correctly and managed correctly, is a dream come true for many of us that want this lifestyle without all the hard work. Make sure to ask a lot of questions, think about scenarios that could happen, find out who is accountable and what happens if that person (i.e. trainer or instructor) leaves the community. If you do your homework and are an educated buyer, the equestrian lifestyle is within your grasp. Happy trails!

About Equestrian Services, LLC:

Founded in 2000, Equestrian Services, LLC, plans, designs and manages equestrian amenities for communities and resorts, worldwide. Setting the standard for equestrian facilities, the company offers the only branding opportunities, under the Karen and David O’Connor and John Lyons names, for builders and developers offering equestrian amenities. Equestrian Services provides comprehensive services from feasibility studies to equestrian facility management. Equestrian Services is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia. For more information, visit http://www.equestrianservicesllc.com.

This article is reprinted with permission from Equestrian Services LLC, February 2008.

PHOTO: Jennifer Donovan leading a horse. Photo courtesy Equestrian Services, LLC


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