Finding the ideal livery yard for your horse

  • Anyone who keeps their horse on livery knows how important it is to find the right yard for themselves and their horse. A great livery yard makes horse ownership a joy, while a bad one can cause considerable stress for both horse and rider. As you are leaving your much-loved horse in the livery yard’s care, we have produced a checklist to help find the right livery yard for your needs.

    What to look for in a good livery yard

    • A business-like livery yard operator who treats you as a valued customer. Gauge reputation. Feel atmosphere
    • Fair charges
    • A signed contract covering all important issues
    • Insurance and other relevant business certificates displayed
    • Well maintained, organised office and premises. Information boards and signage
    • Current Health and Safety policy, risk assessments, first aider, accident procedure details
    • Obvious security measures
    • Fire point; fire fighting equipment and written policy
    • Safe feed storage
    • Dedicated horse area, specific visitor, dog and vehicle policies
    • Safe riding practices. Whereabouts monitored
    • Sympathetic horse management policy. Essential horse-husbandry
    • Secure horse friendly fields; well managed using nitrogen-free fertilizer, neither overstocked nor lonely horses
    • Instructors and contractors: qualifications and insurance displayed

    What to avoid in a livery yard

    • Someone who runs ‘their’ yard as a sideline or hobby; either nobody notices or cares while you wander around looking into stables, around tackrooms and machinery, or treats you as a ‘nuisance’
    • Prices reflecting sub-standard care or greed
    • Vague verbal agreement, or on a scrap of paper. Expecting everything to be rosy. Too little flexibility
    • Conversation limited to warnings of existing customer problems. Unrealised personal aspirations
    • Unkempt office. Premises littered with abandoned objects giving a ‘seasoned look’
    • Unrealistic codes of practice purporting to represent Health and Safety regulations. Loud bickering voices. Nervous horses
    • Broken door bolts and hinges. Unlocked tack-room littered with rugs, broken equipment. Spilt food.
    • Vermin
    • Little sign of fire-fighting equipment. People smoking, children running amok amid bales and gas cylinders
    • Unsafe bale stack
    • Loose dogs and worm-ridden cats. Close proximity of horses to farm animals, cars and scattered machinery
    • Uncaring horsemanship; sweaty horses. Mismanaged arenas; deep tracks, ill-placed jumps, abandoned cups
    • Horses stabled 24/7
    • Fields: overstocked, weed and dropping-infested, poor fencing, muddy, difficult gateways, green slimy water troughs
    • Self-taught ‘horse-experts’.
    • DIY disaster repairs

    Don’t miss H&H’s fantastic feature on what makes a great livery yard, including a focus on livery yards with current vacancies in Horse & Hound on sale now (7 June, ’07)

    View livery yards currently advertised with Horse & Hound

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