BY CATIE STASZAK
Whoever said life with horses was glamorous never took their horse with them on a road trip.
Laura Baker learned the realities of traveling with equines firsthand while shipping her horses across Canada and into the American northwest to compete on the Arabian horse show circuit.
It wasn’t unusual to have vehicle troubles when hauling a trailer. And when the roads started to get dark, the nearby hotel that “conveniently” accepted pets didn’t usually have availability for the 1000-lb animals she had in tow.
“Traveling with horses is stressful enough. When you’re on the road all day, it’s tiring, and you want to know you’re going to get to your destination safely,” Baker said.
Baker found that the most reliable way to find a safe layover destination for her horses while traveling was by word of mouth. Often, she would make plans based purely on a secondhand recommendation, driving into unfamiliar farms in the middle of the night, not entirely sure that she had right place. It would be easy for plans to fall through should she be delayed due to traffic, detours, or mechanical issues with her truck or trailer. And in the age of technology, she was left looking at a map the old-fashioned way to plot out Plan B—then making calls and crossing her fingers that someone would answer and have room for her. She repeatedly found herself surmising that it would be really nice to have that kind of information up front.
When she couldn’t find the answer, she created her own. Baker, along with her husband Tyler, launched Horse BnB in November of 2020. Horse BnB, located online at HorseBnB.com and on the HorseBnB app, is the rapidly growing online destination for short-term and overnight stalls, guest accommodations, and even long-term boarding and stabling across the United States.
“I kind of just woke up one day about a year ago, after years on the road, and said, ‘What if we just created an app or website where you could go on, pull up a map, see where you’re going to be, and see what a prospective barn offered ahead of time?’” Baker said.
What sets Horse BnB apart is its ability to offer the valuable option of instant booking. While it is not mandatory, barn owners have the option to allow an instant booking for their listing, giving them flexibility and eliminating the extra stress that comes with late-night vehicle breakdowns for travelers.
“When I searched myself, there were a of couple websites where people could list a barn, but there was no actual booking system where you could book directly on the Internet or on your phone,” Baker added. “That was a huge concept for us—to make instant bookings. We also wanted to create a space where you could see where your horses would be staying, to have photos of barns and reviews from people.”
That epiphany moment came in January of 2020, and by year’s end, the concept was officially a reality, with a lot of expansion and technical development in between. The original concept for Horse BnB surrounded short-term stalls and layovers. But when the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a halt, Baker began expanding the types of listings allowed on the platform to help provide a boost to boarding facilities looking for new ways to advertise online.
Horse BnB’s users took the concept and ran with it. Offering boarding facilities on HorseBnB also streamlined monthly board payments for facilities and eliminated their need for face-to-face contact and dropped checks in the age of social distancing; payments could simply be made through the app.
“We’re trying to create an online community for horse people to make their lives easier.” —laura baker
“Barns can be very old school with their methods,” Baker said. “You would have to write out a check and post it on a board or drop it in box. For a person boarding a horse, you could go on and make payment right away.”
In addition to booking overnight stalls for horses, Horse BnB also began offering listings for guest accommodations, and the term “Barndominium” frequently appears, offering owners a place to lay their head for the night without being more than a few stairs from their horses. The app then further expanded to offer listings for “horse experiences.”
“People have listed riding lessons, trail rides, horse yoga—all these interesting experiences have kind of taken off! I didn’t even know that some of these were out there,” Baker said.
Listings are popping up all over the United States; users may create accounts to offer their own listings or to book one. The platform was designed with ease of usability a focal point: Users simply need to select a destination and a desired listing type and plug in their travel dates to access and book the available barns and experiences in the area.
“I came up with the idea because I wanted to make my life easier with my horses,” Baker said. “Our biggest goal now is to get it out there to the horse community. We’re trying to create an online community for horse people to make their lives easier—whether you’re a barn owner or a horse owner or however you’re involved. There wasn’t a platform before where you could find these things in one space.”
For Baker, seeing her idea become a reality—and to see how others have helped to expand it—has been a fulfilling experience. While still in its earliest stages of existence, the Horse BnB community continues to grow, and Baker sees potential for continued expansion.
“It’s been really exciting,” she said. “It just started as an idea. We’ve had quite a bit of feedback from people that have said it’s a great idea and are excited, and that makes you more excited. This was an idea that was needed and will be helpful to horse people.”
“Eventually, we would like to expand this to other countries,” she added. “We feel that our platform has something to offer for everyone in the horse world, and we want everyone to be a part of it. It’s useful and relevant wherever you are!”
To learn more about HorseBnB, visit HorseBnB.com or download the Horse BnB app in the App Store or on Google Play.
*This story was originally published in the February 2021 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it, and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!