Running an Equestrian Business Office: Taming the Paperwork

running an equestrian business office

There’s nothing worse than diving into a stack of receipts, bills, and notes that have been piling up for months. Did you misplace any important receipts? Will you miss out on deductibles? Paper can be a monster that throws a shadow onto otherwise joyful work. When running an equestrian business office, paperwork means receipts shoved into your pockets in the field, invoices signed outside a trailer, and handshakes for bartering deals. Getting the paperwork under control will help keep your business in its stride.

running an equestrian business office


Paperwork can be separated into two categories: income and expenses. An equestrian’s income can come from many sources and it is up to you to document it all. You may be getting revenue from boarding, leases, braiding and grooming services, arena rental, riding lessons and more. Some people will pay you in cash or by check and you will need to provide receipts. It is up to you to document all your income and it is best to use a single system for all. Rather than using carbon-copy paper or receipt books, use an electronic billing system. You can use a tablet for signatures, accept credit card payments with a Square reader, and if your customers provide emails you can send them a copy of the receipt.

running an equestrian business office

Bartering: The IRS warns that trading goods and services is taxable income, so if you trade a riding lesson for cleaning stalls, you should keep a record of the exchange. You must record the fair market value of the services you trade and you may be able to deduct bartering expenses. You can record these transactions in QuickBooks and other accounting software to eliminate extra paperwork.


Expense paperwork can be more difficult to stay on top of. Here are some types of expenses and how you can organize the papers:

  • Regular bills: These can include rent, mortgage, utilities, credit cards, and loans. Wherever possible select e-billing. Store your statements on a hard drive and back them up to cloud storage.
  • Employees: Consider no longer writing checks to your employees. Give them direct deposit and save yourself the paperwork headache.
  • Goods and Services: Goods can include feed, hay, equipment, gas, medicine, and grooming supplies. Examples of services would be landscaping, manure removal, veterinarian fees, grooming costs, shoeing charges, transportation, and more.

You will accumulate multiple receipts every day which can be an accounting nightmare. Receipts can be lost, the ink can fade if left in the sun or the dashboard of your car, or they can get torn and become unreadable. The simplest way to keep track of receipts is to immediately take photos of them with your phone.

running an equestrian business office

As you take your receipt photos, jot a note on them for reference and save each image to an album designated for receipts. You should create multiple albums using categories of purchases or simply sort by date. Back up your phone to the cloud so if your phone is lost or broken you will not lose your documents.

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