The Neigh Club: Staybler – Back to the future or Airbnb for horses

No other animal had such a tremendous impact on the history of humankind as the horse. Horses fed us, plowed our lands, accompanied us to battlefields, and most importantly served as a means of transportation.

Less than a hundred years ago, no hotel or inn was imaginable without stables. But with new technologies, horses disappeared from the streets and trading routes. Guest houses and stables naturally transformed into parking lots. Yes, some hotels do mention “pets are welcome” in their ads and on their sites, but they don’t mean horses, or even ponies, right?

So, what if you need to travel for a competition, or wish to attend a clinic abroad, or just don’t want to part with your horse when going on well-deserved vacation? There were not many options until Staybler – an online platform offering stables, yards, and paddocks in Europe – appeared on the market.

Some say that all new ideas are well-forgotten old ones. I spoke to Jean-Baptiste Luce, co-founder and sales manager of Staybler.com, to learn more about their project.

YF: Could you please tell us more about yourself and the other two co-founders of Staybler? Where are you from, what is your profession, how did you get involved with horses?

JB: The three of us are from the South of France, with different backgrounds. Clemence is originally from Montpellier – she studied marketing and communication. She has ridden since the age of three in the jumping discipline! Guillaume and I are originally from Antibes. Guillaume studied law, and I studied aquaculture. We do not ride horses, but we really enjoy all disciplines and the equestrian industry. We have gone to a lot of show jumping competitions over the years, such as St. Tropez, Monaco, Geneva, and Cannes, to watch the best riders.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

YF: How did you come up with the idea of an Airbnb service for horses?

JB: Clémence has always wanted to work in the equestrian industry. She did a previous internship with Devoucoux, and afterward, she was always talking to me about finding a job with horses.

Guillaume and I have always wanted to create a startup in the web industry, so we started to think about a new online service!

One day, three of us were talking about a new startup in the equine industry. We started to think about what is actually missing in the horse world. Clémence mentioned that her cousins always had difficulties when looking for overnight or short-term stabling when they were traveling with their horses. That was it! We decided to create a marketplace like Booking.com and Airbnb adapted to the equestrian world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

YF: How do you share the work? Who is responsible for which parts of the project?

JB: Clémence is responsible for all the marketing and communication (social networks, ambassadors, booth displays, communication tools, etc.). Guillaume is in charge of all the finance and legal support.

And I look after sales and partnerships.

YF: Who are your customers? What would they miss if there were no Staybler?

JB: We have two distinct kinds of customers. We have riders (professional and not), grooms, and horse owners looking for short-term stables, and we have owners of stables, equestrian centers, and yards, who register their stables online to host horses and riders. The second group of customers has to hold horse insurance to be registered on the site.

Without Staybler, horse riders would still lose a lot of time searching for the perfect stable for their horses! Before, they had to spend hours on Google to look for a stable in a specific city! The difficulty is that some stables don’t have a functional website, but only ads with poor descriptions and no pictures. Staybler offers stable owners an opportunity to have their own well-structured pages with photos, detailed descriptions, and comments. Our website increases their visibility and helps them to build a positive reputation, and offers an international openness. It’s a great management tool for booking, and it allows them to profit/benefit from their available space. And it facilitates the search that every rider undergoes when traveling for horse shows, holidays, or any other reason.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

YF: What is the most common question or request you get from your customers?

JB: Requests and questions vary a lot. Stable owners are never sure what price to set for their stables, yards, or paddocks. And riders want to ensure that newly-listed stables without comments are comfortable and safe enough for their horses.

YF:  From your Instagram account, I’ve learned that you have quite a number of brand ambassadors. How do you select them? What does it take to be a Staybler ambassador?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

JB: We select our ambassadors based on their motivation to be part of the team. If they are ready to support a young start-up and fun enough to participate in some challenges, then they are in! We also select them according to their equestrian disciplines. We want to represent every equestrian discipline. Being a Staybler ambassador means being part of a young and dynamic community.

YF: You are in your first operational quarter. How does it feel so far? What drives and motivates you?

JB: It feels great because we have more and more challenges and new goals every day. We launched the platform in January, and since then we have hundreds of stables and horse riders registered. In the second week after opening, we celebrated our first booking, and it keeps going on with the horse show season starting as well as holidays coming soon. It is growing fast, but we want to make sure we are offering quality services. Our team is also growing little by little, and we are already working on new services (but we prefer to keep them secret for now).

YF: Booking.com and Airbnb have quite complicated rating systems. Do you have anything similar? Can customers share their thoughts about locations? Or can property owners rate their guests?

JB: Our grading system is similar to the Booking.com and Airbnb ones. Customers have to leave comments and rate each other.

YF: It’s mentioned on your site that property owners verify horse owners’ profiles before accepting requests. How is this done and how long does it take?

JB: Once a request is received by the stable, the owner can check the profile of the requestor. They can see all the information provided by the rider: photos, disciplines, horse information, ID, phone number, and previous comments, if any. It does not take more than a minute to check – it’s really quick! If the stable owner is satisfied with a rider’s profile, then they can accept the request!

YF: You have 24-hour support on your site. I wonder, what was the most interesting, memorable, weird, or funny request you ever received?

JB: Luckily, for now, we have not yet had any weird requests. People are more curious about the service itself, such as how it works, what the benefits are, whether it is free, etc.

YF: You participated in the Salon du Cheval and Equita Lyon last year. Where can we meet the Staybler team next?

JB: For sure, we will go back to the next Equita Lyon. We don’t know yet for the future booth, but we are always at big horse shows! We can meet all people curious about the service there. We were at the CHI of Geneva, the Saut Hermès in Paris. We will be at the GPA Jump Festival in Cagnes-sur-Mer and many others.

YF: Give us some statistics. What are the cheapest and the most expensive properties one can find on  Staybler?

JB: The cheapest is €10, the most expensive – €65 (€70 including rider’s accommodation), and the mean is about €25–30.

YF: What is your most popular destination so far?

JB: The South of France for the beautiful weather and great shows, I guess!

YF: Right now, Staybler services are provided in Europe only. Do you have plans for expansion?

JB: Sure, we want to expand and grow internationally, but it takes time.

YF: I wish you the very best in your journey.

And to our readers – ride on to your dreams!

Useful links:

Staybler site: https://www.staybler.com/

Staybler Instagram account: @stayblerbnb

 

 

 

 

 

The Neigh Club: The Beginning

My Equigeo project started six years ago. It has been a thrilling and eventful journey so far, and I have no intention to stop. In fact, right now I’m planning my international rides in Luxembourg and Denmark.

Traveling to different countries and riding dozens of horses taught me a lot. And probably most exciting part of my adventures was meeting extraordinary equestrians along the way. Be it an old Iraqi man, who despite all odds operates a riding school near Mosul, or Real Escuela riders devoting their lives to keeping the Doma Vaquera tradition alive, or an Icelandic family that for three generations has provided riding tours to thousands of tourists every year, or the real-life horse whisperer from a Czech forest. The list can go on and on.

Talking to these people, I couldn’t stop thinking that their stories couldn’t wait to be shared. That’s how the idea of “The Neigh Club” came to life.

Each month, I will interview a remarkable equestrian. And I invite you to join me on that journey. Learn what makes these people special, get inspired by them, and discover what it takes to pursue your passion.   

Stay tuned and ride on to your dreams!

 

Interview to 2kGrey

Some time ago I was interviewed by the team of 2kGrey equestrian apparel company. See the link below :-)

A 2KGrey Ambassador Shows Us How to Ride a Horse in Every Country

Country #12 – Oman: The Sultan’s Land or How I Found a Diamond

It’s been a while since I posted the previous story, and I was thaaaat close to quitting blogging completely :-), but then I realised that there are a few more stories I want to tell and some really nice places I want to share with other horse riders.

So here is a post about another beautiful country and one more amazing ride on my map:

Country #12 – Oman: The Sultan’s Land or How I Found a Diamond

As one of my friends told me after I’d shared yet another Middle-Eastern travel experience with her: You are lucky to learn and see the differences between Middle Eastern countries and cultures. From afar, they all look like one big hot spot, busy with oil drilling and internal conflicts.

And she is right, I feel truly blessed with my experiences. One of my favourite countries to visit is Sultanate of Oman. I’ve been there few times and I like the peaceful beaches of Salalah; the narrow streets of Nizwa, which look like time has been frozen here since the beginning of the last century; the foggy mountain roads next to Tumrait; and the bazaar famous for silver jewellery, which is sold from bottomless baskets, so you will have your hands dirty with the oxide by the elbows until you find something truly unique, which you will proudly wear for years; and even the exhausting 10-hour-long night drive from Muscat to Salalah through the desert, looking like Planet Tatooine from Star Wars, But best thing is that all of these completely different experiences beautifully come together in the intricate mosaic of this country.

The place and experience I want to share with you today is one of the most shining pieces in my collection of Oman impressions, so let’s get started.

One of the perks of my job is that I have to travel a lot. One might think that this always-on-the-go lifestyle can limit my ability to ride, but contrary to this I always find new riding places, try different riding styles and learn from different horseman.

Currently, I live in Bahrain and, because of my duties, about three quarters of all my travels are around the region, which is famous as the motherland of Arabian horses.

Of course, when I’m on a business trip, I don’t have the same freedom as on a vacation, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot enjoy my hobbies.

Luckily I’ve been sent to Muscat in May and according to Muscat Time Out magazine May is the perfect time to enjoy morning beach ride in Al Qurum Park.

Yes, I slept only 5 hours that night. Yes, I had to wake up at 4:30 and miss my breakfast to get on the long taxi trip from the Airport area to Al Qurum park (Muscat is a long strip of inhabited areas squeezed between the shore of the Indian Ocean and the Al Hajar mountains), but it was totally and absolutely worth it.

I arrived at the park at 5:40 AM and spent a hectic 15 minutes trying to locate the stables. Running back and forth under the burning sun was quite a good stretching exercise before riding, but finally, the stables’ owner, Anwar, who got tired of receiving call after call and explaining how to get there, told me to stay still at the Fountain square and came to pick me up, so I didn’t get completely lost and did not delay the other riders.

During the short drive to the stables I learned, that Qurum Equestrian Riding School is not the only Anwar’s stables. He also had a place in the middle of the desert where he raises racing horses.

Believe it or not, we managed to get to the stables at 6 AM exactly, and the horses were already prepared for us by the grooms.

I got a stunning ginger mare called Al Masa (meaning ‘a Diamond’ or ‘Brilliant’ in Arabic), and brilliant she was: muscular, very well-schooled, with perfect immediate reactions to subtle body movements and rein touches. Anwar was riding her father – another beautiful Arabian which he taught to do some almost circus-like tricks. Our small riding party was comprised of Anwar’s friend/ horse riding student.

577036_390446954327229_22758996_n

We went through the park to the bay, and my first beach on the shore of the Gulf of Oman started. All 3 horses seemed to wait until we stepped onto the wet sand of the beach, and with the tiniest tilt forward they started cantering – that was a great feeling and the headwind helped to feel a bit cooler.

392516_390446887660569_1671706518_n

At one point we had to go quite deep to the sea to circumnavigate the large rocks blocking the path. Anwar warned me that Al Masa didn’t like walking in the sea as she couldn’t see where she is stepping. She truly was a bit too deliberate choosing her path, but if I hadn’t known that she didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have noticed.

398249_390446777660580_717584261_n

We reached the other side of the beach and enjoyed some steamy coffee in paper cups from the local coffee shop while still sitting on the horses.

305670_390446814327243_1512581815_n

A few minutes later we were galloping back, and as all riders know, horses are more eager to go back home to their morning food, so we had a bit of a race there. :-)

Our trail time was perfectly managed, so by the time we came back my taxi was already there and we surged to the hotel. 20 minutes for showering and changing clothes that smelled like horses (not all people can recognize the beauty of this smell :-)), short drive to the office and at 9 AM sharp, I started another meeting in our Muscat office.

The perfect start to the perfect day and another reminder that if you truly want something and are ready to sleep a bit less, there is enough time for anything in your life.

Useful links:

Qurum Riding Center website: http://www.qe.hashimani.com/

Qurum Riding Center facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Qurum-Riding-School/778580042203638

Yulia, meet Julia or My Equine Namesake

In Arian riding center in Tehran, where I was riding the beautiful KPNW mare, Nadia, I was invited to see the most valuable horse in the stables. “She costs 200,000 Euro,” he told me. “The highest level showjumping horse. Her name…” Here he paused. “Her name is Julia.”

20130905_175957
My namesake was a beautiful, muscular mammoth-sized, grey mare. Next to her stable there was a picture of her jumping the Rolex course.

That encounter made me think: why do we give our horses human names? I’ve ridden 50+ horses in 25 countries over the last 5 years. I do have some data for statistical analysis :-).

Almost half the horses I’ve ridden had human names or surnames as bynames. To name a few: Nadia, Romeo, Mr. Buttons, Mozart, Aramis, Ricado, Farida… And it doesn’t matter which part of the world I’m in, I can always find some equine Bellas, Jessies, Kevins or – wait for it – once, I even met a Pushkin!

Use This One Editted-1

And to be absolutely honest, I don’t mind having equine or canine namesakes, but other people do… To the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church consider it a sin, for it’s not befitting to give an animal the same name as a saint.

On the other hand, Kazakhs, for example, very often give human names to their horses. And vice versa – affectionately calling their kids “my frisky foal” or “my little colt”.

As animals become members of our families and we do believe that they have minds and souls, and at times are more trustworthy than some people, we name them as kids.

Do you own or ride a horse with a human name? Or have you ever met your equine namesake? And if you have, how did it make you feel?