Full livery or at home?

Muddywellies

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I'm still at a crossroads and not yet worked out which way to go. 15 yrs ago had horses at home but that was a previous life. Been on DIY ever since, and now just have 1 horse. We were looking for a property with a bit of land, but for a variety of reasons, did the complete opposite and moved to full livery where the horse is thriving with routine and structure. Well would you believe it, a property has just come on the market that is just about affordable. Snag is, it's only 1 acre, although the horse is an extremely good doer and actually needs restricted turnout.
Ive got such a dilemma now. I've always dreamed of having the horse at home again. I have struggled getting used to full livery and not having full control, tho I am now slowly starting to enjoy my new found freedom with no early mornings. So my dilemma spans the full spectrum - at home, or full livery (there are no decent DIY yards, so that's not an option, and current livery doesn't offer anything other than full livery)
Current yard, whilst expensive, offers amazing facilities and training, tho I do sometimes feel like a spare part. At home would mean a small mortgage (same ££ as full livery cost) but complete control and freedom, tho limited facilities. Interested to hear other people's opinions and experiences please.
 

JennBags

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Full livery. 1 acre isn't really enough, plus I wouldn't have my horse being kept on his own. No facilities, no holiday/sickess cover. If your horse is settled and you are too, I don't think I'd rock the boat.
I've got my own land and when I knew I was going to have to have my retired horse PTS earlier this year, I'd planned to move my other horse to full livery over the winter and maybe just have him on my land when the weather is better. I ended up getting a livery who shares the burden with me, we cover each other and it works well. Wouldn't really want to do it in my own again.
 
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Polos Mum

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Full livery presumably included hay, bedding, poo picking, maintenance, turn out / in, holiday cover etc. so if the mortgage is the same as full livery it will in reality be much more expensive to have him at home.
Also one horse on their own is a big ask - so you'll need a companion.
2 horses on an acre is really tight - you'd need to feed hay all year round. (is it an acre field or an acre plot?) we have 10 acres but the yard / house / garden / school take up 1.5 acres.

With that little space you'd be paying lots more for no facilities and the risk that your horse doesn't settle.
 

milliepops

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I wouldn't consider just 1 acre unless the land was exceptionally well draining.
this, I have a mare and foal on 2 acres at the moment and it's adequate with a bit of care and attention and supplementary hay but one really wouldn't be enough for them both. I'm assuming you'd be having a second horse for company. one acre would be really tight. is there an arena that could be used in bad weather/winter?
 

Muddywellies

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A few people have asked if I would get a companion. Indeed, I would get a little friend. Going to take a look at the house and see how we feel tho I'm sure for an easy life, livery would be better. But, on the flip side, seeing your horse from the kitchen window is priceless. I may see if additional grazing could be rented perhaps.
 

Ranyhyn

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Great idea to see if you could tack out some additional - keeping them close to the house in summer and on tack in winter.

Another option which i used to do was livery 6 months and home 6 months. So i'd get the use of facilities during the good months and then home to lay off during winter.
 

paddi22

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having faced the same dilemma a few years ago here's some things to consider
- if you need arenas to ride in and train in regularly, then you will end up spending money/time/diesel to box to them and hire them, this adds up and for some of mine it works out cheaper to keep them full livery
- if you don't have good hacking around you you will struggle
- that amount of land end ups being a turnout area more than a grazing area buy the time they use sections as toilets, you will probably end up feeding hay nearly all year anyway
- do you have an area for muck heap and easy access for muck heap removal
-does the one acre include stables on it already? if it doesn't then you will lose a large chunk of it when they are built
- can you put in a hard standing area somewhere to protect the ground?
 

chaps89

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I'm always bemused when people say an acre per horse isn't enough.
Ultimately I don't think there's many livery yards where horses have more than an acre each!
I completely agree in theory, it's better to have more land absolutely. And if it's heavy clay or you had a poor doer I wouldn't even entertain it.
But if you have a poor doer and the land is well draining then it can work.
It is hard work and money and time needs investing to keep the land good, and you probably have to hay all year round, but it can be done (especially if they can be stabled part of the time)
 

milliepops

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I'm always bemused when people say an acre per horse isn't enough.
Ultimately I don't think there's many livery yards where horses have more than an acre each!
no, but we all moan about rubbish TO at livery so I'm just not sure why you'd deliberately sign up for having less. I loved having mine at home so I can totally see the appeal. we are planning to do the same in the future but I am aware that if we get planning for a school and stables it's going to bring the TO available down to something that will be a challenge to use well.
 

TPO

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I've got 3 horses, all good doers, on 6 acres and it takes a lot of management. Of course the extremely high rainfall over the past couple of years hasnt helped but still.

The guidance is an acre a horse and half an acre per horse after that. So for 2 ideally you want at least 3 acres so that you can rest and rotate.

Blows my (admittedly) tiny mind that people can keep horses on such small acreages.

If you also need a shed/barn that'll eat into your acre too.

I honestly wouldn't even consider 1 acre for horses.

As you've had them at home before you know its constant with poo picking, muck heap removal, fencing, trough cleaning and that's before the added "fun" of winter and bad weather.

Then if you're ill or want to holiday theres the additional stress and expensive of arranging cover.

I vote full livery all the way in your circumstance and even I'd you do decide to keep them at home 1 acre isnt suitable
 

L&M

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I'm always bemused when people say an acre per horse isn't enough.
Ultimately I don't think there's many livery yards where horses have more than an acre each!
I completely agree in theory, it's better to have more land absolutely. And if it's heavy clay or you had a poor doer I wouldn't even entertain it.
But if you have a poor doer and the land is well draining then it can work.
It is hard work and money and time needs investing to keep the land good, and you probably have to hay all year round, but it can be done (especially if they can be stabled part of the time)
I agree with this - when I ran a diy livery from home, each horse had 1 acre approx and they all had 24/7 grazing in the summer, and turnout for a few hours EVERY day in the winter. Admittedly the ground was well relatively draining and grew good grass, but would still get cut up when really wet. But it sufficed and rarely did we have to put out additional forage.

The best investment I made was my own harrow and roller that attached to the quad, so could do any field maintenance as necessary, strimmed weeds as they came through, and all paddocks were poo picked daily. Also dividing up the paddocks with electricfence and resting and rotating, especially over the growing months.....

Assuming you look at a companion, obviously the smaller the better - just don't expect 1 acre to do them 24/7, so will need stabling and maybe a small all weather/hard standing area for the depths of winter if you want to save the ground.

You can't put a price on having your horse at home and yes you may need to travel more to use an arena, or get to hacking, but think of the mileage you will save by not having to travel to a yard.....
 

HashRouge

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I'm always bemused when people say an acre per horse isn't enough.
Ultimately I don't think there's many livery yards where horses have more than an acre each!
I completely agree in theory, it's better to have more land absolutely. And if it's heavy clay or you had a poor doer I wouldn't even entertain it.
But if you have a poor doer and the land is well draining then it can work.
It is hard work and money and time needs investing to keep the land good, and you probably have to hay all year round, but it can be done (especially if they can be stabled part of the time)
Yes but as MP says many livery yards have atrocious winter turnout. There have to be some advantages to having your horse at home and usually having control over your own turnout is one of them. But with just an acre between two horses it would be an absolute nightmare in the winter. I have a lot more land to play with between three horses and it can still be blooming hard at times, as TPO says. And if we have a winter like last winter, the field will be a bog all winter, unless it is on sand.
 

milliepops

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yeah soil type makes such a difference. I had mine on sandy ground for a while and it was bulletproof, even in teeny paddocks! I had 3 on 7 acres of clay over the winter last year and it looked like the somme, it was appaling. it's come back really well but only possible because there's enough ground to keep them off most of it during the summer months, for recovery, and OH has all the kit so we could harrow and roll at the perfect time (plus it usually gets some fert)
 

Pinkvboots

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I wouldn't keep one horse alone and 1 acre is not enough for 2, I have just over 2 acres for 2 small horses and it's ok although I hay them all year round, they are both barefoot and do live out unless it's vile but the ground does get a bit wrecked, but I am happy to supplement hay and they have hard standing to get out of the mud.
 

PapaverFollis

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If you had 1 horse, a small companion, stables or large barn and an all weather turnout area and a lot of hay it would be manageable. You would have to just see the 1acre as "space" rather than "food" and you'd need to have funds and planning to develop it.

I've got two bigs and a little on 2.8 acres of grazing at the moment. Going into the second winter with almost the same amount of grass as I started with and a lot more hay on standby! I can manage it but also have 4 acres growing to hopefully be ready for next winter! I also have a big area of hardstanding, a shelter barn and a trash pen. Which helps. And I will have stables eventually too and a back up half acre area ready to become a new trash pen!
 
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I've had two 14hh out 24/7 on 1 acre before, split into two half acre paddocks, and it was fine. Not particularly well draining, and around the troughs/gates did get poached in winter, but I was lucky they weren't prone to mud fever or thrush. I did have to supplement with hay most of the year though.

For good doers, you could do a great summer track round the edge, winter grazing in the middle set-up.

Lack of facilities would also not be such an issue for me, so long as I had good hacking from the doorstep (which we don't have here 😩)
 

HashRouge

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yeah soil type makes such a difference. I had mine on sandy ground for a while and it was bulletproof, even in teeny paddocks! I had 3 on 7 acres of clay over the winter last year and it looked like the somme, it was appaling. it's come back really well but only possible because there's enough ground to keep them off most of it during the summer months, for recovery, and OH has all the kit so we could harrow and roll at the perfect time (plus it usually gets some fert)
I hate clay, I really do! Ou
I've had two 14hh out 24/7 on 1 acre before, split into two half acre paddocks, and it was fine. Not particularly well draining, and around the troughs/gates did get poached in winter, but I was lucky they weren't prone to mud fever or thrush. I did have to supplement with hay most of the year though.

For good doers, you could do a great summer track round the edge, winter grazing in the middle set-up.

Lack of facilities would also not be such an issue for me, so long as I had good hacking from the doorstep (which we don't have here 😩)
It can't have been that badly draining as if you were on clay there is no way it would just be poached round troughs and gateways!
 

Muddywellies

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I've found out the paddock is 1 acre. The house, outbuildings and huge garden are separate. Many people have mentioned 24hr turnout but I can't do that with my horse. She is in part of the day (either night or day) and has always had very restricted grazing supplemented with plenty of soaked hay. Which ever yard I've been on, I've almost always had too much grazing and had to very strictly strip graze. So the plot size doesn't worry me. What does concern me is losing my new found freedom. Its strange, since leaving my ex many years ago and establishing a new life, I always promised myself I would have my horse at home again. Now I'm staring it straight in the face, and I'm not sure it's what I want. It's still a dream, but might not make me as happy as I always thought it would. They do say to be careful what you wish for.
 

tessah

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The one acre may work for you if they are not on it 24/7, I am sure I could manage with one acre on my best draining field if there were stables and hard standing and I just had a couple of ponies
i use hay all year round anyhow with 4 acres as I have a cushings and small welsh companion who can’t eat grass 24/7 so I hard stand them for part of the day to give graz8ng muzzle rest and stop cushings horse eating too much grass
i suppose will you have enough spare money to go offsite to use school etc, occasional livery if you want a break, 5hats always an option
you never what the future may hold with regards to livery yards they can close for any number of reasons and you always have the security to know they have a home whatever happens
and one day bonus the mortgage is paid off... 😊
 

Evie91

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I've found out the paddock is 1 acre. The house, outbuildings and huge garden are separate. Many people have mentioned 24hr turnout but I can't do that with my horse. She is in part of the day (either night or day) and has always had very restricted grazing supplemented with plenty of soaked hay. Which ever yard I've been on, I've almost always had too much grazing and had to very strictly strip graze. So the plot size doesn't worry me. What does concern me is losing my new found freedom. Its strange, since leaving my ex many years ago and establishing a new life, I always promised myself I would have my horse at home again. Now I'm staring it straight in the face, and I'm not sure it's what I want. It's still a dream, but might not make me as happy as I always thought it would. They do say to be careful what you wish for.
Tricky isn’t it. I have three stables and 1.5-2 acres on clay, with hard standing area, auto water trough and post and rail fencing. I managed my retired horse and pony companion well at home (until old mare pts). I have many happy memories BUT it was also hard work and difficult working full time, if you want to go away, evening off, day out etc. I didn’t actually save much money either - by the time I’d paid for hay, shavings, dentist, farrier for two plus old girl didn’t want to be out in bad weather and loved routine so used to pay to bring in at lunch through the autumn, winter. Plus I have sycamore and oak so constant worry and sweeping! going away was worrying- I’d have twice daily visits and excellent care but was used to a yard that was staffed so horses seen a lot more.

i’d come from full livery where horse was held for vet, farrier, Chiro - so had to factor this into days off- plus paying for two not just one.

My paddocks currently house two Cade lambs! I did consider another at home, especially during lockdown as had the time and working at home BUT I’d only be able to hack (some road work to bridle paths), no ménage and no company- so figured working at home and horse at home could be quite lonely. I currently have the best of both worlds as share my friends horse- basically on full livery which is working out wonderfully!
 

GoldenWillow

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I have had a 14.2 and shetland on one acre of wet land for a few years. As they both needed relatively restricted grazing and there was a large concreted and hardcore yard and track area that was attached to stables which they were on a lot over winter it worked well for them. It wouldn't have worked without the yard and hardcore track area but it was wet land and we live in a wet area. Another consideration I wouldn't have liked to lose any grazing for a school so that was also limiting (we were renting so not an option anyway) but at the time it allowed my mare a fantastic tailor-made to her retirement.
 

paddy555

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I've found out the paddock is 1 acre. The house, outbuildings and huge garden are separate. Many people have mentioned 24hr turnout but I can't do that with my horse. She is in part of the day (either night or day) and has always had very restricted grazing supplemented with plenty of soaked hay. Which ever yard I've been on, I've almost always had too much grazing and had to very strictly strip graze. So the plot size doesn't worry me. What does concern me is losing my new found freedom. Its strange, since leaving my ex many years ago and establishing a new life, I always promised myself I would have my horse at home again. Now I'm staring it straight in the face, and I'm not sure it's what I want. It's still a dream, but might not make me as happy as I always thought it would. They do say to be careful what you wish for.
I think 1 acre would be fine. In fact only 1 acre would be a positive advantage with a grass restriction horse. If you are fond of your morning lie in's why not set it up differently. stables/barn doors open and they go onto an area of hard standing which is fenced. When the weather is so bad they get the barn/hard yard. Hard yard gate opens onto the field and the field gate can be left open. So if you want the horses can be loose together, wander between stables/barn and the hard yard and then on into the field. You can shut any bits of this off as and when you want. Put a track round the paddock to restrict the grass if you want.

The horses are not shut in their stables overnight so you can get up later or you can be really decadent as I sometimes am, put the coffee on, throw a wad of hay out and then enjoy the coffee at your leisure back in bad.

If you use all the yard facilities ie school, jumps etc there could be a case for staying with those facilities, otherwise I can think of nothing nicer that managing your own horses how you want. It's easy to set up a system to make the work a lot easier and to give you more freedom if you have your own premises.
 

Nudibranch

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I'd have them at home. Mine are. I would really not want to have them on a yard. Being able to see them from the windows is better than any livery facilities money could buy imo. But that's just me.
With 1 acre I would have a track, decent concrete fenced area with stables/large barn. Middle of the grazing in winter, track in summer.
 
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