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As always, thank you for taking the time out to read my blog, I greatly appreciate it and I hope you enjoy reading it!
OK, so today I want to discuss why I think it is so important to choose a good livery yard that meets all of you and your horse’s needs. I believe it is something that is particularly hard to make a decision about and requires a lot of thought before you commit. When choosing a livery yard I am very careful. My horse is essentially my ‘fluffy daughter’ and I suppose the same thought process I would use to choose a day care centre for my child is the same one I would use to choose a livery yard that suits my horse. Also, because my livery yard is essentially my second home I want to make sure it suits me as well. So, if you are struggling to find the right livery yard then I have listed some factors you might want to consider and why.
First of all you need to make sure that you are choosing a livery yard that can accommodate you and your horse. Does the yard have good stabling? If you have a big horse will you require a bigger stable? Does the field you will turn your horse out in have secure fencing and a secure gate? Is it well maintained? Do they have a turnout policy? Do they have alternatives at times when turnout may be restricted ?
It is important that you have safe and maintained turnout so that your horse is safe and less prone to sustaining an injury. It is also important your horse gets enough time outside of their stable as the stress of confinement may lead to physical or mental problems.
One thing to consider with stabling is the horse that will be stabled next to you. Quite a few years ago I kept my horse on a yard where my stable was in the corner, it was big, it was great. However, the 17.2hh aggressive Warmblood next door was not. Every time I would lead my horse out of the stable ‘Egor’ would lunge to bite my 15.2hh who of course then quickly became to develop the problem of rushing out of the stable. So consider the horse that will be stabled next to your horse and turned out with your horse.
Also the right facilities can really be beneficial. For example my mare has been off with an injury and she is now slowly coming back in to work. At the moment I am only able to walk her so the horse walker installed at our livery yard has
been an absolute savior! Perhaps, you may not need a yard with the latest facilities, maybe you are a happy hacker and just need good turnout and safe hacking. But, perhaps you compete a lot? Would access to a solarium after bathing for winter show prepping be your savior? You may not need facilities at a certain time but they can sure be useful when you do.
Can your individual needs be accommodated ?
Also, please bare in mind that the yard may be fantastic and tick all of your boxes but can it accommodate you as an individual? Do you have a horse with special requirements? My mare is a serial cribber (she does wear a collar to
minimise this and I do my best to prevent her from cribbing as much as I can) I have to check that a yard is fine with her cribbing problem and I need to check if they have any policies on cribbing. It is better to think of any problems that you may have and address them before committing to moving to a new livery yard.
Location, Location, Location.
A big consideration when choosing a livery yard should be the location and it is very hard to find a yard that has the ‘perfect’ location. First of all is the yard safe and secure? Do they have good security in place? CCTV? Does anybody live on site? Is everything securely locked? You want to ensure your horse is safe and also your equipment but also you are safe if you are going to be up there on your own outside of peak times. Also consider if the yard is well lighted? At 6pm on your way home from work to see to your horse in winter or returning late back from a show, you want to ensure you can see! Plus, does the yard have access to good hacking? Is there some off road hacking they have access to? There is no point trying to hack down the side of the M1 just because the yard has two indoor schools and a hydrotherapy pool.
Reliable Management and Staff
A crucial factor should be the staffing and management at the yard especially if you plan to keep your horse on part or full livery. Personally, I want others to care for my horse as if they were their own. I want to be at peace of mind that my horse is taken care of when I am particularly busy and I have nothing to worry about. The Staff on the yard including management, should be friendly and helpful and knowledgeable Management should also be professional when dealing with conflict, issues that have occurred or carrying out practices. The manager of my livery yard is very approachable and knowledgeable, just as the staff are. Whenever there is a problem or I need extra care for my mare, they are very attentive to her needs and happy to help at any hour.
A main importance for me is the other liveries at the yard, is everybody friendly? Not everybody needs to be particularly ‘chatty’ but as long as they are pleasant and do not cause any problems. I am very lucky that on that past few yards I have been on everybody has been so friendly that you could say we are a yard family. When my mare was colicing a few months back, everybody on the yard was happy to help me keep her moving and stay with me for support, they even did mucked out and did my yard jobs for me whilst I was stressing. However, I am very blessed to now have found a good yard with good people but I have been on many yard with some very unfriendly people. Being on good yard with good people can make you enjoy being around your horse or riding experiences even more enjoyable!
Here are just a few more things that you may not have particularly thought about at first:
Does the yard have the appropriate policies and procedures in place? Such as a health and safety policy, fire equipment and procedures, public liability insurance? Contract? You need to ensure that you and your horse are protected.
Does the yard have a structured worming routine? Do they have a ragworting routine?
Does the yard provide good quality hay and straw?
If you have children does the yard have any rules regarding children?
Finally, can you afford to move to the livery yard? How much do they charge and what does that include?
I am blessed to now be on a fantastic livery yard with amazing staff and liveries, good facilities and good hacking. My horse is content and cared for and that makes me content.
Thanks for reading, hope it helps you!