Most livery yard owners would support licensing

  • More than half of livery yard owners would support licensing, a survey has found, which it is hoped would benefit standards, business value and horse welfare.

    SEIB Insurance Brokers and LiveryList carried out the research on yards, which are not subject to regulations at present. The Scottish government has just concluded a consultation on similar proposals.

    “More than 60% of the 420 survey respondents – all current livery yard owners – feel that the introduction of licensing would encourage more responsible yard ownership,” an SEIB spokesman said, adding that any scheme would “undoubtedly” have a strong emphasis on equine welfare.

    “A majority of yard owners understand the need for licensing, and the advantages this could have. Concerns among yard owners focus on additional costs and increased paperwork for a licence application. There is a fear that with many yards already struggling to make a profit, additional costs and time spent meeting administrative demands may make their businesses unviable.

    Survey respondents said they would like considerations for minimum welfare standards and insurance requirements, and health and safety “high on the agenda”, as well as potential minimum qualifications of experience.

    World Horse Welfare CEO Roly Owers said: “We welcome the SEIB findings that many English livery yards support licensing, which we certainly support, too. For a licensing system to be proportionate and effective we first need better understanding of this important element of the equestrian sector and a clear definition of what constitutes a ‘livery yard’. The views of yards and other equestrian establishments will be vital in taking this forward.”

    LiveryList founder Cheryl Johns said yard owners felt licensing would help level the playing field, as it would help horse owners find suitable establishments.

    “This turn could add value to the industry by horse owners knowing they are keeping their horses at a compliant livery yard,” she said. “The consultation on licensing in Scotland is a welcome and positive development that is long overdue. Too many yard owners simply don’t meet what the industry would deem as basic ‘best practice’. Although I understand that this consultation may be a worrying development for some yard owners, I strongly believe that these proposed changes will raise standards, and hopefully the value, of the industry.”

    British Horse Society chief operating officer Sarah Phillips told H&H horses’ care and wellbeing is the charity’s top priority.

    “We believe these findings will be a really supportive step towards developing and nurturing the best processes required to support livery yards and, critically, better animal welfare,” she said

    “It is important, however, that any proposed new licensing model is implemented consistently, and the needs of all livery yards and horse owners are taken into consideration. Only by doing this can we guarantee stability for such equestrian businesses as well as peace of mind for horse owners.”

    SEIB equestrian services manager Steph Ellis said: “Livery yards offer such a key service and anything we can do to help ensure high standards and promote equine welfare is crucial.”

    A Scottish government spokesman told H&H: “Our consultation on the licensing of activities involving animals – including livery yards – closed on 26 September. Analysis of all the responses received will be undertaken and a consultation summary report produced in due course.”

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