Finding funding to begin an equine business is difficult, and the likelihood of receiving a grant depends on the type of equine business you are running or starting up and whether your business is nonprofit, such as an equine rescue or rehabilitative riding center, or for profit, such as a training center or boarding stable. For the latter businesses, equine-specific grants are rare, but other small business grants may be available.
ASPCA Equine Fund
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers a variety of grants annually through its Equine Fund. These grants are targeted toward existing businesses that support animal welfare, such as equine rescue organizations; rehabilitative training for displaced horses, including retired race and sport horses; gelding efforts; and anti-cruelty programs. The ASPCA will not fund any organization that discriminates against any group covered by federal or state laws and only funds businesses in the United States. Grants cannot be used to cover overhead expenses.
Thoroughbred Charities of America
The Thoroughbred Charities of America supports businesses related to Thoroughbred horse rescue and retraining as well as several other types of Thoroughbred-related businesses. If you have a therapeutic riding center or other training program that uses off-the-track (retired racing) Thoroughbreds, you may qualify for a grant from this organization. The program only funds nonprofits, but has issued over $16 million in grants as of April 2010.
If your equine business is a farm or ranch with sustainable agriculture practices, such as a small farm that uses horse and other animal power rather than machinery to work the fields, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education foundation offers several types of grants, including education/outreach grants and professional development grants. The granting organizations are divided into four regions, comprised of north central, northeast, southern and western divisions. Contact the division in your region through Sare.org for details. Grants range from $1,000 to over $150,000, depending on the category and business type. Businesses do not have to be nonprofit for certain grant categories.
Rural Business Enterprise Grants
If your equine business is nonprofit or if it is part of a town or community effort in a rural area, you may qualify for a rural business enterprise grant (RBEG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These grants can be used to acquire or develop land for a community or nonprofit facility, such as an equine event center. Projects funded by this grant are meant to encourage emerging small businesses in a given rural area, so you may be able to join with other equine or related business owners to apply for funding to create a facility that is beneficial to all of you. Grants are between $10,000 and $500,000, and the organization defines rural areas as "Any area other than a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 and the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to such a city or town according to the latest decennial census."
- horse image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com