How To Start A Livery Yard In The UK
If you are in the position of buying or renting a yard, you may be thinking about starting a livery yard. Running a livery yard is a rewarding lifestyle.
Some of the perks are:
- You’ll be surrounded by fellow horse lovers,
- Your horse will have the companionship of his four-legged friends,
- You can take advantage of trade discounts by bulk buying horsey sundries, such as hay, straw and worming medication,
- Get it right and you will benefit from having a regular income.
Some of the disadvantages are:
- You’ll be on call 24 hours a day for any horse related emergencies,
- You’ll be responsible for the welfare of every horse on the yard, whether you own it or not,
- You will probably have to deal with awkward clients, chase payments and deal with people who may have the opposite opinion to you on every aspect of horse care.
Before you embark on your new horsey enterprise, it may be worth brushing up on your knowledge of equine care. Many riding schools across the UK run certificated British Horse Society courses. It’s always nice to be able to pull out a certificate to prove that you know your stuff when your authority is questioned. It is also advisable to attend a bookkeeping course, as you will be required by law to keep financial records and to submit them to the tax man every year.
In the UK the law requires you to:
- Have adequate insurance.
- Keep financial records.
There is no requirement for a license UNLESS you are planning to provide tuition or hire horses to clients.
Types Of Livery
You will have to decide what type of services you will provide. The types of livery commonly seen in the UK are:
- DIY livery, where the owner is entirely responsible for the care of their horse;
- Part livery, where the yard staff will carry out some of the chores, such as feeding or turning out;
- Full livery, where the yard staff take full care of the horse, including exercising it;
- Working livery, this is mostly used by riding schools, where the horse works (e.g. used in riding lessons) in return for a reduced livery bill.
Every client should have their own insurance for their horse. Ensure that you see a copy of their insurance certificate before you allow the client to sign any contracts or bring the horse to the yard.
You should have a contract for each horse. Each contract should have a space for:
- The owner’s name, address and contact details,
- An emergency contact number,
- The names and phone numbers of their vet and farrier,
- Details about the horse, including colour, breed and sex,
- Details about any vices (e.g. cribbing) that the horse may have,
- Details about any medical condition that the horse may have.
The contract must also clearly state exactly what services you will provide, the payment schedule, and what behaviour you expect on the yard (e.g. no smoking in the stables, no dogs allowed on yard etc.). It’s advisable to include what will happen if rules are not followed or the horse is neglected or abandoned.
Give each owner a copy of the contract to keep, and a price list of any extra services you provide, such as exercising horses or holiday care.
Yard Management Tips
- Have a list of the rules displayed prominently so that nobody can use the excuse that they forgotten them,
- Have your clients on the same worming program, bulk buy the appropriate wormers and let your clients buy them at the trade price. This will reduce the cost of worming for everyone and keep the yard a parasite free zone.
- Keep a large notebook for your clients can record any problems they may be having or if they have booked the farrier or vet for a visit. This will enable clients to help each other and arrange group bookings for the vet and farrier.