Saturday, June 04, 2011

The horse industry adapts


An oft-repeated theme on this blog is the hard hits the horse industry has taken due to the litigious nature of our society, the lack of people taking personal responsibility for their own actions, and the insurance industry protecting itself from liability.

Many horse businesses struggle to balance offering the horse experience to new riders (and therefore expanding the pool of horse fanatics) with rising costs. There is no easy solution, but it seems that the horse industry is adapting.

This business model by Coastal Horseback Adventures is an interesting solution, and quite possibly a trend in the industry. It offers training and new experiences with your own horse, but with the support of experts. It is also the way our friends at Slide Mountain have chosen to go, and it makes sense for a whole lot of reasons.

The very fact that the guest is riding their own horse limits the company's liability. When I broke my arm, Kaiser called me and wanted to know if I owned the horse I'd been riding. As soon as I said, "Yes," the call ended. When Steve and I go up to Slide in July, we will still learn a lot, but we decrease Ike and Cheri's risk by bringing our own horses. We don't necessarily decrease our own risk, but it allows adventures without Slide holding the bag if something goes wrong.

The only thing that bothers me--and will continue to do so--is that the pool of places potential riders can go to try this whole horse thing is shrinking. Unless you already own a horse. it is getting more and more challenging to even come close to having any of these kinds of adventures.

And adventures are good. If it hadn't been for Slide and their wonderful horses, I'd have never gotten hooked in the first place. Some might say that would have been better for my health--it certainly would have resulted in fewer things broken--but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Not one thing.

1 comment:

Buckskins Rule said...

Good to see these businesses adapting and finding a niche. While I understand they have been forced to change out of necessity, I see a few drawbacks for potential riders, which you touched on:

1. Folks who are daunted by the cost of horse ownership may never have the opportunity to find out what they are missing out on. You and I both started riding later in life, and thus smitten, wouldn't give it up for love or money.

2. I've seen too many newbies purchase horses who are not suited for beginners. Enthusiasm soon gives way to frustration and disillusionment, and within a year, the horse and tack are for sale, because the rider is "getting out of horses". One less horse owner in the world, and one more horse handed off to another place.

Sad that a great deal of this is brought on by a society that eschews personal responsibility.