So, you’ve just moved onto your new livery yard. You’re seriously impressed with the facilities — an Olympic-sized outdoor school, large well drained all-year round turnout paddocks and some of the best hacking in the county.
While your horse is certainly due to be living a happy, relaxed life for the foreseeable future, everyone knows that negotiating the livery yard politics and navigating around your fellow horse owners might take a little more work.
You’re bound to stumble upon a few easily-identifiable figures during your time at the stables.
Which of these five relationships will you establish at your livery yard?
1. The best friend
You hit it off instantly. You bond over your love of second-hand tack shop sales and arena eventing while enjoying a cup of lukewarm coffee, which she kindly gives you as you haven’t had time to invest in your own stash yet. You might think your attempt to juggle a full-time job, a family, a pack of dogs with general life duties and a horse makes you a bit of a hot mess, but hey, she’s in exactly the same position and can relate to rocking up at parents’ evening in jodhpurs and a Mountain Horse jumper that needs a wash. Your weekends are spent hacking together, catching up on gossip and planning your next horsey outings, where you’ll take it in turns to drive. Your horses — quite similar in height and disposition — get on like a house on fire and have even become field buddies. You share each others stuff and don’t mind lending her your expensive bit because you know you’ll get it back. In sum, you don’t know what you’d do without your yard bestie.
2. The frenemy
You’re not quite sure what it is, but there is just something about this irritatingly immaculate equestrian queen that makes you a tiny bit jealous and ever so slightly bitter. And it appears the feeling is mutual. While you always exchange pleasantries, conversation is kept light and you seem to have developed a rivalry when in the saddle. You don’t go into detail about your horse’s feeding regime or training schedule in fear that it could enable her to beat you next time you face off in the dressage arena. Last week you overheard her twittering to the farrier about your horse’s lack of hind-leg movement and extended trot. Little does she know you’ve booked an intensive course of lessons with the area’s top dressage trainer. So next time you meet in the ring, the gloves will be off (expect, of course, they’ll really be on).
3. The man (or woman) of the hour
Perhaps they are the yard owner’s non-horsey significant other or a farmer who, unfortunately for him, resides across the road directly opposite the yard. It’s pretty much guaranteed that when disaster strikes, this heroic figure will be drafted in to save the day. Lorry won’t start? No problem. Herd of horses have crashed through a fence? No worries. Rat in the feed bin? Let me get that for you. Their disassociation with all things equestrian has made them particularly good in a horsey crisis where common sense is needed.
4. The clinger-oner
You don’t remember mentioning to her that you were going to a show, but she always ends up there anyway. Her horse is a bit past it to be ridden, but she still loves to be in on the action. This person will always be there spectating when the yard hosts a clinic and is at the stables so much you wonder if she ever leaves. You feel a bit sorry for her, so you sometimes let her ride your horse, which she is eternally grateful for and overjoyed. Over time you develop an unspoken agreement; I’ll let you ride occasionally if you groom for me at shows… seems to leave both parties happy.
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5. The person with ‘stuff’
Her space in the tack room is larger than everyone else’s. She ended her career as an Avon representative last year when she realised that repping for horse feed and grooming companies would be far more lucrative. Anything you need, this is your gal. She’ll get you the ‘best prices in town’ on all the latest products and if you get on her side, she might even let you borrow something from her mountainous collection of kit. Her horse has a sizeable social media following and she’s got about six sponsorship rugs, though you’re pretty sure you’ve never seen her got out competing. Some people are just blessed with the gift of the gab, I guess.
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