You’ve dreamed of owning your own equestrian property in the beautiful countryside. You imagine the peace and quiet, riding late at night with the sun setting, surrounded by nature and serenity. But are you really ready to ditch the livery yard, asks Becky Murray
1. Finding that dream property can feel like searching for a dropped plaiting band in a hay bale. You may be lucky to find the ultimate property with your ideal facilities however on the other hand you may find the property and land but the rest can be a long, hard work in progress. Will you miss the wash-bay the livery yard currently offers? Or the big, warm American-style barn?
2. You turn up to the livery yard on a Saturday and your horse is in a beautiful green pasture; weed and manure free. Unfortunately the yard-elves that get to work in the middle of the night while your horse sleeps will not follow to your property in the countryside. Do you have the time for the daily field maintenance? Will you need to do this by hand or will you have machinery that can assist you? You hope to spend your hours riding but could find your time eaten up by the daily, essential chores.
3. At the yard your horse is turned out at 8am daily and is back in his stable ready for you arriving after work, already fed and ready to be ridden. Does your horse thrive on routine? Will your current lifestyle and work commitments allow you to offer a fixed routine for your horse with regard to feeding and turnout times?
4. Is your horse the playful sort that loves his field chums at the yard? Will he be comfortable on his own or will you need to look into a companion? Perhaps you have the space and can offer livery for a friend and share the chores.
5. The big indoor school at the livery yard allows you to breeze through winter without disrupting your training schedule however you may have to rely on solely an outdoor school at home. Will your riding surface cope with hard frost over winter or potentially interrupt your training? On the bright side this can be a fantastic time for that long overdue rest after a hard competition season ready to resume in Spring!
6. The livery yard is in a central location with various visiting vets and farriers. How is the location of your property? Rural properties and winter can be a testing time. We never want to think of the negatives however in the middle of a blizzard on a late December evening will your vet be able to gain access promptly to your property should there be an emergency? You may have to enquire if it is a private or public road and whose responsibility it is to clear the road of snow.
7. You have access to a wide variety of trainers and regular clinics at the livery yard. Have you asked if your instructor will be able to continue teaching you at your new home? If not, then perhaps you have transport and can attend clinics elsewhere and this will be an excuse to try out a new selection of venues.
8. At the livery yard you don’t need to think twice whilst filling your haynet or helping yourself to straw for that lovely, thick bed. Have you found out if there is a local farmer nearby that can provide these basic necessities? You may have the land and perhaps making your own hay could be an exciting new venture and long-term cost saving measure.
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9. Keeping your horses at home can be blissful, away from the hustle and bustle. The opportunity to build a stronger one-to-one bond with your horse can be very rewarding; however livery yards are fantastic at offering that peace of mind and support. Only a phone call away, you know that your horse is safe and being looked after while you are not around. There is always someone to ask for a second opinion on that odd lump that has mysteriously appeared overnight. Will you miss the support network around you or even having a gossip on a Sunday afternoon over a cup of tea in the tack room?