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What to look for in a livery


What to look for in a UK livery yard

All livery yards are different and can be provided at private yards, riding schools, competition yards, farms, training centers and at some professional riders’ yards. All have varied facilities and offer different packages, so you will need to understand what services you need and what are optional extras are available and discuss these with the yard manager.

To help identify the level of service you need, a number of general types of livery service are often used. It is important to note that each yard will have its own variation, so you must check what they include under each of these headings, as additional services may either not be offered or offered at an additional cost.

Competition, training or exercise livery
This is exactly the same as Full Livery but in additional your horse undergoes a schooling and training programme to produce him for sale or competition.

Depending on the services on offer the horse will generally be ridden by an experienced rider and may also be competed on your behalf.

Full livery
Generally the day to day care of your horse is taken care of for you, leaving you free to come down to ride your horse. However, what is considered to be included in the day to day care varies enormously between establishments therefore careful check of what is included is essential.

Most full livery services include: feeding, mucking out, skipping out, changing rugs, turnout and bringing in, bedding down at night and any hay tops needed during the day. All feed, bedding and use of facilities are included in the price but any special supplements, worming, shoeing and veterinary care will usually be charged extra.

In some establishments full livery services also includes: tacking up, tack cleaning and grooming.

Other services generally available to full livery owners are an additional cost include: Horse exercise, plaiting, pulling and bathing.

Part livery
Be careful, Part livery means different things to different people. Typically, the staff at the livery yard will help you care for the horse part time, while you do the rest, with the split of the work roughly 50/50. It is important to clarify exact responsibilities with the yard manager in a part livery arrangement.

Grass livery
This is where the horse lives out in a field all the time, and may include hay in winter. This suits hardy types and is the cheapest option, although it is wise to have a stable available in case of emergencies.

Do-it-yourself - (DIY) livery
If you have the time to look after your horse this is a cost effective way of keeping a horse and allows you to quickly create a bond. The price generally includes the rent of a stable, turnout for your horse and the use of basic yard facilities. You will need to look after the horse in all respects and this will mean at least visiting the yard twice a day. If you are unable to get to the yard you will need to make alternative arrangements, though at most yards DIY owners do get together to share chores. You will normally have to buy your own feed, bedding and hay and in some yards you will need to buy this from the yard owner. Other services may be available but these will all be for an extra cost and will need to be agreed with the Yard owner.

Working livery
If you are not able to ride your horse every day but he needs work, or would benefit from extra exercise, you may want to consider this option. Your horse is ridden by clients of the stables (mainly riding schools) so the horse must be one who can cope with a variety of riders, some of whom may be quite inexperienced. Although there are advantages to this type of livery, you may want to consider whether you are happy to let other riders ride your horse, and you will need to speak to the owners of the yard about exactly what your horse will be doing. This is a low maintenance and low cost way of keeping your horse and can be beneficial all round if the arrangement is managed well.

All the options can be daunting therefore it’s useful to create a checklist of what your minimum requirements are then add on the nice to have options. Being clear about what you need enables you to get the right livery yard for you.

Once you have clarified what you facilities you need and would like from a livery yard then you must consider the social side of the yard. Let’s face it, you’ll be spending a lot of time there and if you feel unwelcome or uncomfortable your PERFECT yard will turn into anything but perfect.

As with the facilities create a checklist of the social amenities and requirements that you need to have and would like in order to make your visits to the yard socially pleasant.

Although there are other areas that you need to check, these will only be possible during a visit and therefore are discussed in the next section.

With your checklist of minimum requirements prepared you are now ready to search for your perfect yard. Use the checklist and the LIVERYFINDER search facility to identify possible yards that meet your criteria and then arrange a convenient time to visit the yard.

Always ring first to arrange a viewing. Although it may be nice to simply wander on a yard to see it running in a natural way. The yard owners are responsible for the safety and security of a lot of horses and would not appreciate a stranger wandering around the yard uninvited. During future visits it may be acceptable to simple visit the yard unannounced but if you do so always make yourself known to a member of staff as soon as you arrive on site.