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