Improving the Sustainability of the Horse Industry through Equine-Related Business Planning

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2012: $14,816.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Dr. Carey Williams
Rutgers University Department of Animal Sciences

Annual Reports


  • Animals: equine


  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, market study, risk management
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    New Jersey’s equine industry is currently in a precarious position. In these economic conditions, equine operators need to be more business-savvy than ever in order to stay afloat. The proposed
    Equine Business Planning course will teach 40 of these entrepreneurs how to plan and run their businesses more effectively, plus 40 more through a workbook that will be made available to those who missed the course. The equine industry tends to be treated separately from the rest of agriculture, but it is important to remember that horse owners support many other segments by purchasing hay and grain, seeking veterinary care, and patronizing local businesses for other
    supplies. The horse industry also plays a valuable role in preserving New Jersey farmland that would otherwise be developed. New Jersey’s equine industry is made up local communities of equestrians who seek information and advice from one another. This dynamic means that if a few horse business owners take this course and complete business plans, then they have to potential to benefit the entire community by sharing their successes and encouraging others to complete business plans. Making sure that equine operations stay in business is one way to help ensure a sustainable agricultural community in New Jersey.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    April 2012: Organize meetings with key players (including Rutgers equine team, Rutgers farm management team, and equine farmer collaborators) to discuss plan for course development and curriculum; reserve a Rutgers campus room for course sessions; design online survey to determine the equine industry’s opinions on business

    May through August 2012: Develop curriculum and syllabus based on existing materials written by Dr. Brumfield (“Business Management”, Chapter 17 of Greenhouse Operations and Management and “To Market, To Market”, a marketing workbook designed for beginning production farmers); continue meetings with collaborators; conduct survey and collect and summarize results

    September and October 2012: Solidify course syllabus and develop workbook using input of farmer collaborators; finalize course specifics, including identifying outside speakers for certain topics; place catering order for course lunches; design ads and press releases for course

    November 2012 through January 2013: Finalize workbook and send for printing; publicize course; register participants

    February and March 2013: Conduct course, training 40 equine business owners using the designed syllabus and workbook plus presentations from equine farmer collaborators; conduct first evaluation to determine usefulness of course and workbook to participants

    April 2013: Update workbook to reflect evaluations; begin results publicity and workbook distribution to 40 additional equine business owners for self completion of business plan with availability of a project key player to answer questions when necessary

    September 2013: First follow-up phone calls with course attendees to determine impact of course, compile and report results

    September 2013 through March 2014: Follow-up phone calls with 40 workbook recipients as we receive their contact information

    March 2014: Second follow-up phone call with course attendees to determine long-term impact of plan and if participants are updating them as necessary, compile and report results; write and submit Rutgers Fact Sheet; write and submit Journal of Extension article

    The success of the initial business planning course will be highly publicized. The Rutgers University Equine Science Center has extensive equine-related mail, e-mail, and fax contact lists. We will send out press releases detailing the contents of the program, how many business owners attended, and quotes from participants. These results will also be included in Equine Science Center publications and newsletters such as Equine Essentials, ESC News Update, Stakeholder Reports, and others. Equine Science Center faculty regularly host and/or participate in statewide and national conferences (i.e. Equine Science Society) and seminars where results can be presented. The Internet will also be utilized, as the Center maintains a world-class website ( and an active Facebook page that, together, reach more than 3.4 million people per year (2012 ESC Stakeholder Report). We also expect word of mouth to be an effective dissemination technique because of the nature of the horse community to share opinions and experiences with one another. These publicity waves will be repeated after each follow-up evaluation. The objective is to highlight the success and satisfaction of participants due to their new business plans.

    The subsequent workbook distribution will depend on the success of our initial course results dissemination. If the results are positive and impressive and if the publicity reaches the right audience, then we expect demand for workbooks to be great. As more people take workbooks and write business plans, their statistics and experiences will be added to the initial results until the end of the grant period. In a previous SARE project, the current project leader developed a Pasture Module workbook for pasture professionals in the northeast region who were part of the project. The workbook was so valuable that copies were requested all over the country. We aim to develop a similarly valuable workbook for equine business planning.

    One year after the course, a Rutgers University fact sheet will be written for inclusion with our 45+ other equine-related fact sheets for the public. This fact sheet will document the initial course, the workbook, and the results we have seen to date. It will advise readers how the workbook can be obtained so that this project can continue to benefit equine business owners and the New Jersey horse industry even after the grant period is over. Lastly, we will summarize our methods and results in an article for the Journal of Extension, a national peer-reviewed journal.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.