Livery Yard 101 – What to ask and consider when looking at livery yards

Livery Yard 101 - What to ask and consider when looking at livery yards
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Livery Yard 101 – What to ask and consider when looking at livery yards

Have you ever arrived for a viewing at a livery yard and found yourself overwhelmed with everything you need to take in? Do you fail to think of essential questions that need to be asked so you can make a well-informed decision on whether or not it’s suitable for your horse? If so, it’s perfectly natural and our Livery Yard 101 article is here to help. In this feature, we ask the experts at LIVERYLive to help out with some must-ask questions, alongside top pointers on what to look out for and consider, so you are equipped with all you need to know when looking for a new home for your horse.

At LIVERYLive, we believe in putting the safety and welfare of horses and humans first. Horses can be unpredictable and equine environments can be challenging, so the yard team must have the information to react and deal with any situation.  

Should a horse owner have a checklist?

Yes! A checklist is essential. Every horse owner needs to have a list of questions prepared when viewing the yard. They need to know it’s suitable for their horse and has all the required facilities.

What top questions should owners include in a checklist?

1. Security – Is there someone on site 24 hours a day? Is there gated access? Is the tack room secure? Are there security cameras?
2. Maintenance – Is the yard well maintained? Are the arena and field fences secure? And what are they secured by, i.e. electric fencing or post and rail?
3. Turnout – Is the yard’s winter and summer turnout suitable for the horse’s needs. How many hours turnout do horses get during the winter, and how well-drained are the paddocks?
4. Stable – Are the stables a suitable size for the horse? Are they well ventilated? Do they have lights?
5. Hay/haylage and bedding – Are these to be purchased by the client off or on-site only? Ask about the quality, size and where they source them from.
6. Opening times of the yard – especially useful for the winter period!

What questions can a horse owner expect from a livery yard manager when viewing a yard?

It’s equally important for a yard manager to find out if their yard is suitable for the new owner and horse. Questions horse owners can expect include:
1. How long have you owned your horse
2. What is the horse’s temperament and behaviour like? Do they have any special requirements? (Important medical history)
3. Does your horse have any stable vices
4. Does your horse prefer individual or herd turnout

What should horse owners look out for in terms of poor livery offerings?

1. Poor field maintenance (poor grass coverage, poached gateways, over-grazing, ragwort or other poisonous plants/trees)
2. Uneven flooring around the yard
3. Deep or unmaintained arena and surfaces
4. Cluttered and messy yard
5. Poor security
6. Lack of hoses/taps
7. Poorly maintained muck heap (dangerous ramp, flooded)

In terms of best practice, can you outline the difference between livery offerings? i.e what should the typical full livery include, and what should the part-livery cover?

Best practice on any yard should have horse welfare as their greatest concern. The difference between the services and care provided determine if they are full or part livery. Full livery yards are responsible for all the day-to-day care of the horse. Some will include exercising, grooming, and organising vet and farrier schedules; others will expect the horse’s owner to take responsibility for this. On a part livery yard, the day-to-day care is shared between the livery yard and the horse owner. It’s essential all parties know what they are responsible for and work together and communicate effectively.

What type of insurance should livery yard owners have, and what should it cover?

Livery yard owners should always have public liability cover and employers liability if they employ grooms. In addition, there are lots of other insurance options that most livery yards will have, including Care, Custody & Control, Buildings and Business Insurance.

What key information should owners give to livery yard managers on ‘moving day’?

It’s essential that on arrival at the new yard, horse owners provide the yard manager with: a copy of the horse’s passport with full vaccination history, a copy of the horse’s public liability insurance, the horse’s worming history and a list of emergency contacts for the horse and owner.

What formalities should be standard practice in a contract between the horse owner and the livery yard as a business?

1. The yard owner should provide a list of services and the costs
2. Ask the livery to observe the Health and Safety Policy
3. Observe the yard rules
4. The welfare of the animal is paramount for both the yard owner and Livery
5. Both parties should agree to the Notice Period

It’s been known for livery yard contracts to include a sale clause should an owner fall behind on billing and refuse/not be able to pay. What are your feelings on this?

Cases should be considered on an individual basis. However, the welfare of the horse remains paramount. An owner may abandon a horse or suddenly pass away, and alternative care for the horse will need to be found. It’s a very sensitive issue that, as yard managers, we hope never to have to deal with.

How long should the horse owner expect their equine to be isolated before introducing new field mates?

A horse should be isolated for 2-3 weeks and then slowly introduced to a new herd.

How long should livery yard managers be given to resolve a complaint?

The time scale of resolving a complaint depends on the situation. An issue with yard maintenance should be resolved as quickly as possible. However, it can take time to fix things if they are broken.
 If there is an issue with a horse’s welfare, this should be answered as a matter of urgency.
With thanks to LIVERYLive

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse Ba Hons Marketing Management email: contact@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

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