Horse farms don't see spike in boarders

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By Josh Moore

With the Shelbyville Horse Show going on and the Kentucky State Fair approaching, there's a lot of horses in Shelby County, which boasts more than 200 horse farms.

But representatives from some of those farms say they don't see much of an increase in boarding around the shows. Instead, most of the business they see is from training or breeding and the boarding that goes with it.

People from all over the nation want their horses to be trained here, said Katie Fussenegger, co-director of the Shelbyville-Shelby County Tourism Commission.

“The best of the best trainers are here,” she said.

Gail Kline, the secretary at Willowbank Farms for 15 years, said Willowbank has American Saddlebred horses from clients from California to Texas to New Jersey.

She's hesitant to say how many of the farm's 250 horses are purely for boarding, but most are there for training or breeding as well.

Fussenegger said most horse farms in Shelby County offer boarding and training together.

“When you board a horse, the training pretty much goes with it,” she said.

Farms don't make much money when they just board horses because of the costs such as feeding and paying people to take care of them, Kline said.

Cat Fortener with Big Springs Farm agreed.

“Based on what you charge to stay competitive, you really don't make a lot of money,” she said.

Big Springs doesn't have Saddlebred horses, but Fortener said she has about 15 pleasure horses boarded.

“Most of them that are here, either they were sold or their owners moved somewhere,” she said.

Fortener said boarding is offered on a monthly basis, but most are there for a year or two.

Others take advantage of Big Springs' indoor facilities, which the horse's owners might not have.

“I have several people who board with me during the winter and take them back home during the summer,” Fortener said.

Kline said the horse industry is a vital part of Shelby County's economy.

With all those farms comes a lot of economic impact, from buying supplies to employing people at the farms, Kline said.

Fussenegger said training and boarding also provide the county with a lot of tourism dollars when the owners come to visit their horses.

“It's a win-win,” she said.