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Winter is always an expensive time of year for horse care, but this year, with feed, shavings and petrol prices rising — and some yards charging £900 a month for full livery — many horse owners are having to economise.

And that can mean changing to DIY.

“Without question, people are moving away from full livery,” said Lee Hackett of the British Horse Society (BHS).

“We have had calls from people asking how they can reduce their bills and many are contemplating changing their livery arrangements.”

Nikki Kavanagh, yard manager at Lower Morden Livery Stables in Surrey, said a lot of her clients have moved from full to part or DIY livery in the past few months.

“It’s meant we have had to downgrade our activities. We used to buy a number of horses to sell on, but we can’t afford that now, and we have cut staff. We used to have three people on in the mornings, now we have one.”

Yards have also noticed clients leaving livery altogether and turning their horses out full-time.

Verity Perry of Rosevidney Livery Stables in Penzance, said: “We keep the more competitive riders, who need an indoor school, but I think others are happy just to turn their horses out over the winter months.”

However, Julian Marczak of the Association of British Riding Schools, who runs a livery yard in West Sussex, said good yards should not despair — they could see their clients return.

“We solely offer full livery and, over the past 12 months, we have lost clients due to the economy, but one lady who left us to go DIY has come back.

“Her main reason was the enormous commitment needed. People don’t realise how expensive having a horse on DIY is in real terms.”

To read the full article see the current issue of H&H (13 December 2012)