Starting a livery yard is pretty much every horse lovers dream. You already love looking after your own horse, why not make it full time and look after others’ horses too? You’d be able to build your own little community of horse lovers, and it would be on your very doorstep. How perfect does that sound?!
However, as much as we all fantasise of building our own mini equine kingdom and starting a livery yard, there are a lot of things you really need to consider before you invest in this dream. It wouldn’t be ideal if you were to invest all of your time and money into building your dream, only for it not work out due to some minor details you may have missed.
To lend you a helping hand, we’ve put together a small list of some of the thing you should consider before diving into the deep pool that is starting a livery yard.
Perhaps the most obvious but often overlooked part of running a livery yard would be yard contracts. There needs to be a written agreement between the yard owner, the manager (if they’re different people), and your livery tenants. It’s so important that you set out rules and boundaries so clients can’t overstep or endanger themselves, the horses, or other clients. It’s also vital to layout what you are and are not legally responsible for.
You’re going to need a few different types of insurance, the most essential being public liability insurance. This is uber important that you have public liability as whilst it is optional for most businesses, it is required by law that equestrian establishments. You may also want to look into personal accident cover, you never know when you may need to pay someone to fill in for you if you get into an accident – which I might add, is probably very likely since you’ll be working with horses.
Types of livery available
Before you can launch your business, you really need to figure out the packages that you’ll be able to offer.
Let’s run through the different “types” of livery that you can offer.
Green or Grass – Exactly what it says on the tin, you provide space in a field only.
DIY – This means that you provide the facilities, but the livery is in charge of caring for their own horse.
Part – Often this is a five-day full care deal, your horse will be fed, mucked out, and turned out for you – the exact offerings vary by yard.
Full – This includes all food, bedding, and care seven days per week – may also include riding.
Training – As full livery, but includes schooling sessions for your horse!
Location, location, location. People aren’t exaggerating when they talk about the importance of location for businesses. Think about how you would stand against other livery yards if there any local – what facilities do they offer? What can you offer?
Whilst you and these other livery yards may just want the best for everyone’s horses, at the end of the day, you’re running a business, and you need to think of how you can compete with your rivals. Think outside the box if you must, you just have to make yourself appealing and live up to those expectations that you set.
Also, look at local hacking routes. Very few riders aren’t actually bothered by local hacking, most want to be able to ride out and about safely with their beloved steed… which you can’t really do if the yard is surrounded by main roads.
Another important aspect of location is the local equestrian network – convenience is valuable to clients. What are the local vets and farriers like? Is there a local dentist or physio? These are the people you need to keep in mind whilst setting up your yard.
Taking care of your horse’s health should be a priority. Starting from their physical health and dental care to what food is best for them or what saddle pad they should wear. Choosing the right location to have access to all these things is a big plus. You may have many questions about proper care or cleaning techniques, veterinarians are well-equipped to provide helpful advice. With the help of knowledgeable professionals, you can easily solve whatever issue may be affecting the condition of your horses’ physical health, or what kind of saddle pad is suitable for them. For example, many vets use LeMieux saddle pads, as they offer a wide range of saddle pads based on your horses’ size and what occasion you want to present them.
Another consideration is the price you can charge for your livery spaces as you don’t want to price yourself out of the running for local horse owners business.
The price varies greatly throughout the country; we’ll run through a few examples to give you an idea of what is charged elsewhere.
North of England £10-30 per week
Midlands £5-25 per week
South £40-60 per week
North of England £25-40 per week
Midlands £15-35 per week
South £60-150 per week
North of England £55-70 per week
Midlands £45-70 per week
South £75-150 per week
North of England £80-150 per week
Midlands £65-120 per week
South £150-300 per week
North of England £95-250 per week
Midlands £75-200 per week
South £60-150 per week
*Averages based on research of yards with varying facilities, from turnout only to those with indoor arenas.
What do you have to offer potential clients? A functional outdoor arena? How about an indoor? Safe riding facilities are a must. A horse walker is another handy exercise facility to offer.
It is also worth investing in a horse shower and solarium for those who wish to compete – or maybe just pamper their horse – all through the year, summer and winter.
Horse showers, electric fencing supplies and other equipment you’ll need can be purchased from online retailers in the UK.
Try to aim for all year round grass turnout as turnout time is vital to all equine mental and physical health, and having this option of turnout can turn a potential client into a definite one. Not many livery yards can offer to turn out like this, especially winter grass turnout.