Advice on Choosing a Livery Yard

"When looking for somewhere for your horse to live it is essential to choose wisely to ensure they are safe and happy at all times.

There are various types of livery and this is something to consider first as it is essential that the yards you look at are going to be able to meet your needs. The most popular are full livery, where the horse is cared for on your behalf or DIY livery, where you look after the horse yourself. The choice may be made depending on time, finances and ability. Make sure you know exactly what is included in the price so there are no hidden extras when you arrive, some yards will charge extra for grooming, tacking up, riding and so on.

Once you have decided what you need from a livery yard it is essential to visit the yards that meet the criteria. Upon visiting the yards take notice of the yard owner, any staff, the horses and the other customers as well as the facilities. Check whether the horses look happy and well cared for as this is always a good sign.

Does the bedding used on the yard match your requirements? Some will specify a certain type of bedding - often straw as this is easy to dispose of. Are you restricted as to where you can get bedding and feed from, some yards will sell their own. If this is the case what is the quality like and price?

What is the turnout like? Increasingly yards have to restrict their turnout due to the poor grazing available. It is important to establish how often your horse will go out and whether he will have company/ what are the fences like? Are the fields safe? Are the other horses wormed regularly or are worm counts done?

Do you have free access to all the facilities including the school, and can your own instructor teach you here?

What is the hacking like in the surrounding area? Do you have to spend a lot of time on the roads and if so is your horse comfortable in traffic?

In general the sorts of things you would expect to find in a good livery yard are:

A good friendly atmosphere, reasonable prices, organised with a contract and terms laid out in advance, obvious security measures, clean and tidy with hazards removed, safe storage for feed and tack, fire points, dog and vehicle policies. Rules and regulations for the protection and safety of horses and owners whilst on site should not be overlooked.

Certain warning signs mean that the livery yard may not be what you need. These include:

If no-one notices or cares while you are wandering round having a look, prices that are too cheap may suggest substandard care, opening and closing times of the yard gates, in this instance consider what you would do in an emergency or if going to a show early etc., yard littered with abandoned objects which may cause a hazard. Always be wary of loud bickering voices and nervous horses. Also look out for damaged facilities such as broken door bolts and hinges, messy tack rooms, spilt food which may encourage rats and smoking on the yard.

A livery contract is generally a good thing for both the livery and the yard owner because it safeguards against disputes. Make sure you read the contract before signing. If in doubt the British Horse Society runs a livery yard approval scheme and publishes a list of approved yards on their website."

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