Livery yard trouble.

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6 January 2021
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Just looking for friendly advice please!
I moved my horses end of September, due to new job and longer working hours and always having struggled with time and work. I had them on DIY previously, and have always enjoyed doing them myself it just got a lo with new working hours and limited turnout in winter. My youngster has gone to another DIY yard and been turned out most of the winter so far, with a few evenings in when weather has been awful with my mum sorting him in the week, which has worked really well as she enjoys him and it's given her a focus in the current times.
My other horse is in full work and requires a lot more management (hes soft !) and likes a routine or he can go a bit loopy. So I found a lovely full livery yard with good recommendations. When I looked around we discussed in detail his needs, turnout daily except in extreme weather, and discussed his amount of feed/haylage required. Feed is included in my bill, which I wasn't overly keen on as I like to know what my horse is eating but I was reassured his needs would be met.
I have been really happy with the yard mainly, the arenas fantastic, the staff lovely, and the yard owner has been really happy. Horse seems fairly happy there and has settled well into the yard routine, hes been turning out nicely, where he can sometimes be a bit silly to turn out, and generally has behaved perfect for the staff.
When he first arrived he was only slightly but a little bit porky, this soon went and he muscled up nicely with work. I then asked that his feed could increase with work load, as he doesn't carry weight easily. I discovered he had only been having one daily feed opposed to the two I have always given him, so I made sure I asked if he could have two daily feeds as he is not a greedy horse and won't eat 1 huge feed he needs it split into two. She assured me that would be okay, but this doesn't appear to have happened?
My other concern is that sometimes I can come on a weekend in the day and he is stood with no haynet at all. He is not a greedy horse by any means so I know he doesn't wolf down his haynets, and really he shouldn't be left for some time without any haylage. I also asked that he could be given another haynet at night, as he only has a tiny small holed one of haylage which isn't enough for a horse his size. She agreed that was fine, and did start giving him more. However probably about two weeks later it was happening again. I pulled her aside and reminded her he needed more than this, and voiced my concern that he was starting to drop a bit of weight and I don't want him to drop any more. She apologised and said it was a member of staff that hadn't given him enough and assured me it would be sorted. The last few evenings I have come down to work him, again he has one of these tiny nets:mad:. These few times I will admit I have just gone and got him another one, which I have felt awful doing as the haylage is all tidied away and covered up, but i really hate horses being stood long periods of time with no food and I don't want this horse getting ulcers or losing anymore condition. He can also be awful to ride if he is hungry as it makes him pretty cranky.
Quite a few of the other horses are more cobby types which carry their weight and perhaps need dieting a bit more, which I can fully appreciate as my youngster is a Welshy who's weight we have to manage - but said horse is a warmblood in a decent amount of work who doesn't carry a lot of weight.
What would you do? I feel this is going around in circles here, I am paying a significant amount of money to keep my horse here and I think I'm not being unreasonable to expect him to be properly fed? I have been considering moving him but it's a shame because otherwise I am happy there, the arena is great, other liveries are lovely, no bitchiness, yard owner and staff are really good with the horses otherwise, his bed is always tidy, correct rugs always on.
What would you do?
 

Polos Mum

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What are the alternatives in your area? Is there a yard with equivalent facilities you could move to?

Years ago I was on full livery and I would go every day to change dirty water and top up hay in the evening - I asked 567 times for this to be done but the yard employed the riding school kids to look after the full liveries so it was always someone different and they never remembered. So i did it for him to make sure he had what he needed.

I did this for quite a long time until space came up on a yard with staff that I thought would listen to me.

Perhaps have a stronger word with whoever runs it and tell them you don't want to go but you'll have to look elsewhere if he's not fed to your instructions. And then also maybe try and speak directly to whoever does haynets (if it's the same person most days) and tell them that you've told the manager you've agreed for him to have certain things - then you make sure it's not just breakdown in communication between manager and doer.
 

ihatework

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In my experience it’s very rare to find perfect in a full livery yard. If most boxes are ticked and the horse is happy and settled then I’d just provide a much larger haynet with your horses name tag on. I’d have no qualms about topping up hay (but would let the yard know I’m doing it & why).

Also, if they generally cater to cobby types, just check they having priced the livery under assumptions on a certain amount of food/forage. It might be that you need to top up £ for extra.

I do find this to be most common on larger yards who employ cheap and not very experienced staff. I avoid those now, because it gets annoying after a while!
 

PapaverFollis

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Yes. I was going to suggest providing a net. I did that successfully the other way around. Fat horse getting huge nets so bought a "special net" (actually a hay bag) for her that was much smaller. It meant even if it was topped up at last checks that she was getting less.
 
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone, I have found it quite upsetting as I get on with the yard owner otherwise and as I say everything else is fine, they have been in a bit more than I would like recently but I appreciate the fields are very wet and the yard owner has made an effort to make sure my horse gets out as much as possible. I have tried full livery another time somewhere else and had numerous problems, whereas here it is literally just the feeding, but this is still a problem as my horse is losing weight.
The staff there are generally all quite experienced, but all really close with her and worked for her a while so it's difficult to approach. Funnily enough her own horses get a lot more haylage!
I will try providing the net! I think part of the problem might be that he isn't a greedy horse so he will pick for a while, that being said he should have haylage there pretty much most of the time, which isn't hard because as I say he isn't greedy!
 

wiglet

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I would also just supply my own large haynet, tagged with horses name and make sure all the staff know to fill this to maximum capacity.
The problem with full livery (I'm on full livery myself) is that the staff are usually on minimum wage and are often young girls who have other things on their minds. The job for them is just a means to an end and therefore attention to detail goes out the window. From what you've said, the YO sounds nice, I'm sure she tears her hair out in frustration at the staff on many occasions! I would not leave the yard, I would definitely try to sort it out especially if the yard ticks every other box.
 
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In my experience it’s very rare to find perfect in a full livery yard. If most boxes are ticked and the horse is happy and settled then I’d just provide a much larger haynet with your horses name tag on. I’d have no qualms about topping up hay (but would let the yard know I’m doing it & why).

Also, if they generally cater to cobby types, just check they having priced the livery under assumptions on a certain amount of food/forage. It might be that you need to top up £ for extra.

I do find this to be most common on larger yards who employ cheap and not very experienced staff. I avoid those now, because it gets annoying after a while!
Going to try the net suggestion thanks!

I would be prepared to pay for extra if needed , I have done this with shavings I pay for extra bales where needed as I appreciate I like him to have a larger bed and he is very messy so I said just to charge me for extra. Whilst I would be happy to pay extra, when I agreed to move on and when I was showed round I was assured he would have two feeds daily and that his haylage requirements would be met. I'm not expecting him to have an unreasonable amount just enough for his type. and workload.
 

Bernster

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Always difficult getting the right balance and agree there’s usually a compromise. I moved yards due to lack of hay as horse was in his stable overnight without any hay. Tried a few things but it wasn’t properly addressed and the yard wouldn’t supply more hay. It got to the point where 2 owners ended up at the vets, to be told their horses just needed more food!

obv if you can sort it that’s ideal as it sounds like all else is good, and that’s pretty rare. And there is always a risk that the new yard will have other negatives. Which I found out as I ended up moving pronto but new new yard is much better. I’ve compromised on smaller school and less hacking but horses care is very good.
 

Gingerwitch

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It's tough when you cannot always get to the yard and you rely on staff doing horse how you like. 3 things from me are why is horse in on a weekend when you visit unless its early morn, if it was midday I would have thought he would be out until at least 2pm so should have hay/haylidge ready for the afternoon and then top up at 5 ish and it late night top ups ?
Secondly it can be a very real issue when feed is included in livery price as this very much can lead to issues. I personally would buy 2 nets and write on his board-assume he has a care sheet exactly what you want him to have. I would also make sure you put a weight on.
Start looking for full livery where you buy your own hay and feed, you may need a back up plan as you have been very polite and professional in your requests but I think your being ignored. Unfortunately you now will have an uneasy feeling when you dont make it to the yard x
 
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It's tough when you cannot always get to the yard and you rely on staff doing horse how you like. 3 things from me are why is horse in on a weekend when you visit unless its early morn, if it was midday I would have thought he would be out until at least 2pm so should have hay/haylidge ready for the afternoon and then top up at 5 ish and it late night top ups ?
Secondly it can be a very real issue when feed is included in livery price as this very much can lead to issues. I personally would buy 2 nets and write on his board-assume he has a care sheet exactly what you want him to have. I would also make sure you put a weight on.
Start looking for full livery where you buy your own hay and feed, you may need a back up plan as you have been very polite and professional in your requests but I think your being ignored. Unfortunately you now will have an uneasy feeling when you dont make it to the yard x
This is when he has either been out already for the morning and in early due to very wet conditions, he will only last so long out in the field in the winter when there isn't much grass so I don't mind him coming in early, or he is in because he has been left in for me to ride and then to put out after I've ridden. But yes, he should be in with haylage in his net, not stood with no food, especially before working him.
I know , when I moved on I did ask if there was a way that I could provide my own but she said it was one price with everything included, and assured me it wasn't a problem and he would get what he needs, I just supply his supplement.
He is given a small net probably before 5pm and this seems to be all he gets all night til morn which is why I'm concerned and have resorted to sneaking about topping it up myself.
 

honetpot

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Gingerwitch

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This is when he has either been out already for the morning and in early due to very wet conditions, he will only last so long out in the field in the winter when there isn't much grass so I don't mind him coming in early, or he is in because he has been left in for me to ride and then to put out after I've ridden. But yes, he should be in with haylage in his net, not stood with no food, especially before working him.
I know , when I moved on I did ask if there was a way that I could provide my own but she said it was one price with everything included, and assured me it wasn't a problem and he would get what he needs, I just supply his supplement.
He is given a small net probably before 5pm and this seems to be all he gets all night til morn which is why I'm concerned and have resorted to sneaking about topping it up myself.
I am so sorry to say but I think you will need to move, they are too tight with there feeds before he loses to much condition, gets colic or ulcers
 

sport horse

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I would speak with the Yo again. I tould tell her, nicely, that you are really happy with everything except the feeding and ask why it has not been done? If it is cost that will give her the opportunity to say so. If she blames the staff I would gently remind her that your contract is with her andshe must ensure that she personally checks that the horse is fed as you have requested. If it still fails you have little choice but to move. It does not matter how good everything is if the horse is losing weight unnecessarily.
 

P.forpony

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I had this issue but wasn’t ever malicious just not understanding the management needed to maintain a horse in hard work with a history of ulcers.
I bought a hanging scale for whoever was filling Nets to use and gave the number of kgs that morning and evening nets should contain.
Felt like a complete control freak but it worked and YO was actually happy in the end because we could work out exactly how much was enough to be adlib but with no excess waste.
 
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I would speak with the Yo again. I tould tell her, nicely, that you are really happy with everything except the feeding and ask why it has not been done? If it is cost that will give her the opportunity to say so. If she blames the staff I would gently remind her that your contract is with her andshe must ensure that she personally checks that the horse is fed as you have requested. If it still fails you have little choice but to move. It does not matter how good everything is if the horse is losing weight unnecessarily.
I agree with this, she can blame it on her staff all she likes, but somehow her own horses are managing to get enough food, and as you say at the end of the day my contract is with her, the money goes in her hand. I feel quite exasperated with it now because I have reminded her very politely twice, and I don't want to end up in an argument about it at all but I'm going to have to ask her again more with more force.
 

Polos Mum

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How much of a pain it is for you is probably dependent on how hard it is for you to plan your riding to evening ish time and just do him a huge net (or 2 nets) before you leave. If the yard is perfect in all other ways - this might be the easiest thing to do vs. finding somewhere else which may have other draw backs.

If you travel for work or for other reasons don't go for days at a time clearly that solution won't work.
 
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How much of a pain it is for you is probably dependent on how hard it is for you to plan your riding to evening ish time and just do him a huge net (or 2 nets) before you leave. If the yard is perfect in all other ways - this might be the easiest thing to do vs. finding somewhere else which may have other draw backs.

If you travel for work or for other reasons don't go for days at a time clearly that solution won't work.
I don't mind doing this, and mostly it is just me there by the time I leave, but sometimes there is people around and the haylage is quite clearly tidied away so the liveries can't mess with it, so i feel like I have to hide doing it.
I do in normal times have days where I have to travel to go and work at a different site so I won't be able to come down, or days when I work very late. It is quite annoying to feel I have to come down to give him more hay, when the point of paying so much for livery is to make my life easier around a busy work schedule without my horses needs compensating. :confused:
 

9tails

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Start looking around for another full livery yard, it's not meant to be something you pay for to then worry about your horse's welfare. I wouldn't be surprised if the YO is just paying you lipservice and has no intention of rectifying the situation. It seems to be a common problem with full livery, as you've always looked after your horse yourself you aren't as naïve to think that an empty net is normal procedure.
 

9tails

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I don't mind doing this, and mostly it is just me there by the time I leave, but sometimes there is people around and the haylage is quite clearly tidied away so the liveries can't mess with it, so i feel like I have to hide doing it.
I do in normal times have days where I have to travel to go and work at a different site so I won't be able to come down, or days when I work very late. It is quite annoying to feel I have to come down to give him more hay, when the point of paying so much for livery is to make my life easier around a busy work schedule without my horses needs compensating. :confused:
When you're there in the evening, can you call her to come and witness the size of the net?
 

P.forpony

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Also if you can find a way to not ask but politely insist on a specific instruction it might get the message through a bit better.

My horse must have a minimum of xkgs of haylage per day to meet his needs, this is my expectation of his minimum standard of care.

Is stronger than,
Please can you make sure he has a extra net.

Although their business model shouldn’t be your problem, an offer to renegotiate the feed part of your livery at the same time may help to reinforce that you mean it, his needs come first and reassure that you’re not trying to eat them out of business.
 
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When you're there in the evening, can you call her to come and witness the size of the net?
I think I have been too polite about it in fright of causing an argument, but I need to put my foot down more and if still no luck move which I really didn't want to move him again as don't think it's fair when hes just settled, but he can't be starved :(
Never in my time of owning him has he been left hours with no food. I have also previously worked as a groom on competition yards, before my current job, so I am well aware of how much a horse should be eating in full work - compared to the less experienced other liveries.
 

Gingerwitch

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I know one full livery yard that used to take the nets out when owners had left on a night which is why I only full livery where i pay for my feed and bedding. Its mine to waste then.
I really feel for you x
 

VioletStripe

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I would speak with the other members of staff too, and put up a sign and provide a large labelled net. If not improved in a week or so, move and make it clear that's why you are handing in your notice. I know it's a shame, but a week is a totally fair timeframe, particularly if you have mentioned multiple times to the YM.

Leaving it any longer doesn't make much sense - if it doesn't change then, it won't. But the longer you leave it, the worse the risk of ulcers and reduced of condition will be.

In my gut, I have to say if it's only done begrudgingly and/or after a fuss and multiple conversations then it's not the sort of place you want to keep your horse anyway. I understand livery yards are run to budgets and are at the end of the day a business - but if it's a battle with a lot of asking and back-and-forth, then it's not the right attitude that they have, nor the right pricing/profit margins. That and it would worry me it was happening again while I wasn't there to check....
 
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I would speak with the other members of staff too, and put up a sign and provide a large labelled net. If not improved in a week or so, move and make it clear that's why you are handing in your notice. I know it's a shame, but a week is a totally fair timeframe, particularly if you have mentioned multiple times to the YM.

Leaving it any longer doesn't make much sense - if it doesn't change then, it won't. But the longer you leave it, the worse the risk of ulcers and reduced of condition will be.

In my gut, I have to say if it's only done begrudgingly and/or after a fuss and multiple conversations then it's not the sort of place you want to keep your horse anyway. I understand livery yards are run to budgets and are at the end of the day a business - but if it's a battle with a lot of asking and back-and-forth, then it's not the right attitude that they have, nor the right pricing/profit margins. That and it would worry me it was happening again while I wasn't there to check....
Thanks for advice. It is just so hard to find a decent full livery yard where your horses needs are paramount. This is why I have always done it myself the best I can, but I just won't have enough hours in the day to do it properly.
 

P.forpony

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I’ve mentioned it on a previous thread but I think we have very strange relationships on livery yards.

They are a business that provides a service to clients.
I can’t think of any other situation where a business could significantly fail to meet a clients expectations and still have them paying up every month with barely a murmur.

No children myself but can’t imagine many parents would happy to learn their child hadn’t been fed at nursery!

Getting on with your YO is so crucial but it shouldn’t leave us in fear of demanding minimum standards of care and that contractual obligations are met, eg if your livery agreement states ad-lib hay, there is absolutely no excuse for a hungry horse.
 

Elno

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I really feel for you, I moved my horse recently to a yard where the yard owner handles everything. I'm used to manage almost everything myself, so when you come and for instance the water bucket (which is btw electrical and therefore warmed up, even in - 20 degrees celcius) is frozen solid, and you message the yard owner and get the reply "Oopsie! Our fault, the electrical cord when we were shuffling all the snow after the storm broke, and we" forgot" to tell you" or, "oh, we forgot to tell you that your horse stands without forage for a lot of hours during the night, maybe we should up the hay in the night and remove a couple of kilos during the day instead because she doesn't finish" is INFUIRATING! 😠😠😠

I dont think though its possible to find a perfect yard unless you have your own. So the question is how much shit are you able to tolerate before you move your horse?
 

VioletStripe

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Thanks for advice. It is just so hard to find a decent full livery yard where your horses needs are paramount. This is why I have always done it myself the best I can, but I just won't have enough hours in the day to do it properly.
I really feel for you. I've had legitimate nightmare yards years ago and have recently had to find another yard to move to after a lot of unhappiness. It's so hard but in my experience, if the attitude isn't there and it doesn't change after a few discussions, it won't.
 

DabDab

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Ergh, that's not ideal, and such a shame when everything else seems good.

I would have another conversation with the YO along the lines of 'what can we put in place to ensure this doesn't happen again', and get a clear agreement from her in terms of specific actions to make sure he gets enough hay. And while I wouldn't start with it, I would certainly be prepared to say to her that you are regretfully considering leaving because you are so worried about this situation.

It's one of those things that is tricky to deal with as an owner, because it could be that they are skimping on the hay for financial reasons, which could potentially be fixed by you paying extra (though personally I would be finding another if this is the case), or it could just be staff underestimating how much he needs, which needs better management from the yo to fix it.

I have one horse who consumes a huge volume of hay/haylage, and even though I leave mine with a trusted friend when I go away, I still fill all the nets in advance because if you're not used to how much she needs it can be easy to under-feed her. So it could be as sole as all the staff are just used to looking at cobby rations of hay and can't wrap their head around how much yours needs.
 

chocolategirl

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Just looking for friendly advice please!
I moved my horses end of September, due to new job and longer working hours and always having struggled with time and work. I had them on DIY previously, and have always enjoyed doing them myself it just got a lo with new working hours and limited turnout in winter. My youngster has gone to another DIY yard and been turned out most of the winter so far, with a few evenings in when weather has been awful with my mum sorting him in the week, which has worked really well as she enjoys him and it's given her a focus in the current times.
My other horse is in full work and requires a lot more management (hes soft !) and likes a routine or he can go a bit loopy. So I found a lovely full livery yard with good recommendations. When I looked around we discussed in detail his needs, turnout daily except in extreme weather, and discussed his amount of feed/haylage required. Feed is included in my bill, which I wasn't overly keen on as I like to know what my horse is eating but I was reassured his needs would be met.
I have been really happy with the yard mainly, the arenas fantastic, the staff lovely, and the yard owner has been really happy. Horse seems fairly happy there and has settled well into the yard routine, hes been turning out nicely, where he can sometimes be a bit silly to turn out, and generally has behaved perfect for the staff.
When he first arrived he was only slightly but a little bit porky, this soon went and he muscled up nicely with work. I then asked that his feed could increase with work load, as he doesn't carry weight easily. I discovered he had only been having one daily feed opposed to the two I have always given him, so I made sure I asked if he could have two daily feeds as he is not a greedy horse and won't eat 1 huge feed he needs it split into two. She assured me that would be okay, but this doesn't appear to have happened?
My other concern is that sometimes I can come on a weekend in the day and he is stood with no haynet at all. He is not a greedy horse by any means so I know he doesn't wolf down his haynets, and really he shouldn't be left for some time without any haylage. I also asked that he could be given another haynet at night, as he only has a tiny small holed one of haylage which isn't enough for a horse his size. She agreed that was fine, and did start giving him more. However probably about two weeks later it was happening again. I pulled her aside and reminded her he needed more than this, and voiced my concern that he was starting to drop a bit of weight and I don't want him to drop any more. She apologised and said it was a member of staff that hadn't given him enough and assured me it would be sorted. The last few evenings I have come down to work him, again he has one of these tiny nets:mad:. These few times I will admit I have just gone and got him another one, which I have felt awful doing as the haylage is all tidied away and covered up, but i really hate horses being stood long periods of time with no food and I don't want this horse getting ulcers or losing anymore condition. He can also be awful to ride if he is hungry as it makes him pretty cranky.
Quite a few of the other horses are more cobby types which carry their weight and perhaps need dieting a bit more, which I can fully appreciate as my youngster is a Welshy who's weight we have to manage - but said horse is a warmblood in a decent amount of work who doesn't carry a lot of weight.
What would you do? I feel this is going around in circles here, I am paying a significant amount of money to keep my horse here and I think I'm not being unreasonable to expect him to be properly fed? I have been considering moving him but it's a shame because otherwise I am happy there, the arena is great, other liveries are lovely, no bitchiness, yard owner and staff are really good with the horses otherwise, his bed is always tidy, correct rugs always on.
What would you do?
Would it be possible to go on part livery? As in they do all the care side and you just provide your own feed and haylage? I’m like you, I can’t stand to see horses go for hours on end without something to eat 🥺 seems a shame to leave if everything else is good 😕
 
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