Agriculture, land ownership and horses have been natural bedfellows for hundreds of years. After all, it’s not so long again that they were still pulling ploughs and acting as our predominant form of transportation.
Today, the relationship is different but no less important to a lot of businesses. Many farmers have chosen to diversify into a horse-related business, with fantastic results.
CLA senior rural business adviser Charles Trotman said: “Making your land and assets work harder for you by diversifying into the equine industry can be a savvy business move, as well as an opportunity to develop an existing passion. Opportunities for equine diversification range from converting redundant farm buildings to be let as stables, to setting up and operating a livery yard, to opening an equestrian store, to provision of facilities such as cross-country courses, sand arena and hacking routes.
“As with any other diversification the requirements for licensing, planning permission, public liability and tax implications should be considered from the earliest stages of the project.”
Charles said that there are some key points everyone must consider before embarking on an equestrian diversification project:
- Passion and enthusiasm: diversification projects often take a lot of time, energy and investment and equine enterprises are no different – overcoming challenges is often easier if you have a passion for horses and the equine industry.
- Business plan: you should research the market to make sure your equine diversification idea is viable, and prepare a business plan. This should include consideration of the requirements for insurance, payment of business rates, utility services, health and safety, tax implications, legal requirements and planning policies.
- Skills and experience: will you need any training to set up and operate your equine business, or will you need to recruit specialist staff?
- Your community: the start of your project is the best time to consider how any changes will impact on other people or the environment, and to consider whether you would like to enter into legal agreements with others.
- Talk with experts: CLA experts provide CLA members with guidance and advice on diversification projects, how to make the most of potential opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls.
In November 2016 the CLA will publish a new handbook Horses and the Law which provides information and guidance on a range of legal issues related to diversification into equine enterprises, such as the licensing of riding establishments, horses and the planning system, and the liability of horse owners for damage by horses and horse welfare. For more information please visit www.cla.org.uk.