What do YOU want in a livery yard?

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Research / to see what people really want!!!

What would you want in a livery yard?
I have things in the pipeline and very fortunate to be on a clean slate at the minute where I can redesign ( all subject to planning of course ).

Facilities as a base:
Yard capacity of 12.
Floodlit menage with jumps
Floodlit yard
Stables all with their own separate storage for rugs and feed
Secure tack room
Wash down area with warm (ish!!) water
Amazing local off road hacking
Secure locked gates and fence around the perimeter
CCTV and always someone on site.
Located in the north midlands in close proximity to the M1, also located near major roads to towns and on a bus route.
Hay included
Assistance there if needed.

But what would really sell a livery yard to you in addition to that? What makes it unique?

Option 1 :

The above facilities + all year round track system with different terrains, such as grass, wood chip, hard standing, sand with enrichment, with natural shelter and artificial shelter. All year round 24/7 access to track, may need bits fenced off if the weather is bad due to slipping. Ad lib Hay included and put in the field.

Option 2: The traditional herd turnout as who needs to be extra? With overnight stabling in winter. with option for assistance. Ad lib hay included and put in the field.

Option 3: Individual all weather artificial paddocks, with a field shelter each. 2-3 horses in each paddock, with a gate to their own grass field which can be shut in bad weather to keep them contained in the all weather paddock. Poo picking & ad lib hay included and put in the field.

Or is there anything else that would appeal to you if you could design your own place? Obviously there are budgets in place so unfortunately no olympic standards 🤣

Thank you, replies and ideas are massively appreciated. x
 

milliepops

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List of facilities sounds good to me.
Turnout wise I have one that can't be turned out with others (starts fights) so I don't think any of those options would suit. Otherwise i think it depends on how your land holds up year round. the option to use a surfaced TO area if the land goes to bottomless bog sounds useful, for instance.

what makes a yard unique has a lot to do with the management for me tbh, easy going day to day with sensible rules, sensibly applied is what appeals to me :)
 
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List of facilities sounds good to me.
Turnout wise I have one that can't be turned out with others (starts fights) so I don't think any of those options would suit. Otherwise i think it depends on how your land holds up year round. the option to use a surfaced TO area if the land goes to bottomless bog sounds useful, for instance.

what makes a yard unique has a lot to do with the management for me tbh, easy going day to day with sensible rules, sensibly applied is what appeals to me :)
Fantastic thank you, I didn’t think of that! what is your normal turnout situation? Is it individual paddocks fenced off? I suppose you can’t appeal to everybody but it’s a good place to start being able to offer things for all eventualities.

When it comes to management does a contract put you off or does it make you feel in safer hands?
 

milliepops

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I'm happy with a contract provided it reads like a sensible document (went to one yard and was handed a 7 page doc just to hire the arena!!)
I have 2 horses on the yard where I am so I split "my" paddock into 2 currently.
 
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I'm happy with a contract provided it reads like a sensible document (went to one yard and was handed a 7 page doc just to hire the arena!!)
I have 2 horses on the yard where I am so I split "my" paddock into 2 currently.
Thank you. 10000 million question, apologies! How much space are you allocated and how does it hold up in the winter or do you bring in over night etc?

I really want to try and offer all year round 24/7 turnout when possible for health reasons and I love them living naturally where possible but it’s really hard with the british weather and keeping your paddocks in a reasonable state.
 

Lindylouanne

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I would love a track system so option one would appeal but it would have to be geldings only as I have one who can be very aggressive towards others when mares are about and the other one becomes a love sick teenager and loses his ability to function.

I think tracks are the way forward, so many horses are either injured and can’t be ridden or have EMS and need micro managing. I realise it’s an expensive option but people need them.
 

SEL

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I like your all weather turnout plan in 3 - lack of winter turnout is one of the biggest issues I've had on livery. Tracks are a bit 'marmite' & more expensive to run than many liveries expect.

Otherwise I'd just like to know yard rules up front and know they are applied fairly and not changed every 5 mins!!
 

Caol Ila

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First of all, safe fencing. There's so much saggy barbed wire around.

The track system sounds cool, but I've never seen a good one in real life. I also had a horse who could not be turned out with others, so I would spend years searching for yards which offered individual turn-out. In this country, they were few and far between. Tracks were useless for her, but having an individual turnout option would have been attractive.

I like your paddock-with-shelter option a lot. If I won the lottery and could have a yard, that is the sort of thing I would do.

Like Milliepops, sane management is key. Not totally neglient (that fence has been falling down for days, and who cares), but not micromanagement, either. Contracts are fine, so long as they're not crazy. For example, I ran fast and far from the yard had a contract specifying that you had to try "alternative remedies" on your horse before Danilon, or, ya know, calling the vet. Nope, nope, and some more nope.

A warm tack room is also pretty sweeeeeeeet.
 

splashgirl45

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i wouldnt like hay being fed in the fields with group turnout i like to know what my horse is getting... not so bad if only two in the field but i still prefer them to come in for individual feeding. what is important to me is daily turnout on well drained, well fenced fields with shelter , trees etc or a large field shelter and clean water.. at my last yard we were given a field between two of us and could turn out as much as we liked with the rule that they came in at night during the winter..i found that a good arrangement
 

Backtoblack

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A track system and paddocks with field shelters for those horses or owners prefer that. Mares and geldings kept separate.only barefoot horses kept together on the track,r,shod horses on individual turnout only but with acess over the fence to another horse to scratch. Very very clear rules for the yard eg time when yard closes for the night. A lunging ring
 

DizzyDoughnut

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I'd like option one and also option 2. With my old pony I'd have loved to keep him on a track year round my 2nd choice would have been your option 3 so he could still be with his mates without having grass.
I think based on the ponies I've got now who fingers crossed don't have any metabolic challenges at the moment I'd go with option 1 and option 3 as a back up for winter turnout. I'd basically be happy with anything as long as they were turned out in a herd or at least 1 buddy and not stabled for long periods.
 

milliepops

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Thank you. 10000 million question, apologies! How much space are you allocated and how does it hold up in the winter or do you bring in over night etc?

I really want to try and offer all year round 24/7 turnout when possible for health reasons and I love them living naturally where possible but it’s really hard with the british weather and keeping your paddocks in a reasonable state.
I'm not really on a livery yard now, I've got an arrangement with a private yard next door to my trainer so make a massive compromise on turnout, I have about an acre between them which I have to be careful with in winter. An all weather option would suit my horses well by comparison.

Normally on other yards I've had about an acre per horse.
 

Jango

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Your yard sounds fab!! For me decent winter turnout, good off-road hacking, sane management and a floodlit arena are essentials. With 12 spaces in a perfect world .. I would do 1x large mares field, 1 X large gelding field plus a couple of individual grass turnout paddocks plus a couple individual surfaced paddocks. Then injured horses/lami/awful weather the horses can still go out. I prefer single sex turnout, but in groups so they can express natural behaviours, but less agro!
 

windand rain

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I am not too fussy but wouldn't want ad lib hay anywhere mine are natives so rarely get hay. Tracks are great and are my way of keeping the ponies with access to foggage in winter. It would of course depend on the soil etc but as long as they were out a minimum of 12 hours with grass to eat it would be great. I expct mine to lose up to 100kgs in winter to allow them freeish access to grass in summer. Metabolically better for all horse to lose a substantial amount of weight in winter and healthier all round to live out 24/7. Sounds like a great set up though and would appeal to most liveries that also work. Rules have to be rigid and not changed on a whim so you need to be sure the system you choose works well. If you guarantee 365 turnout no matter the weather you have to provide it so many people arrive expecting turnout only to find the yard owner meant in any weather that doesn't damage bowling green level fields
 

mariew

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Depends on what type of livery you are going to do. 2 if part or full but no hay in fields as that easily causes ruckus. Especially as you can manage turn out and bring in. But be aware you may need to split fields up for summer/ winter, individual brats etc. It's important not to constantly change herd members though. 3 sounds good but also expensive to set up a load of turnout pens with artificial surface. This might appeal more to people with expensive competition horses and full livery.

Ad lib hay will be interesting, charge enough as people are unlikely to skimp on hay with this option.

It sounds like a great yard. Also think about your clientele and when they are likely to be up and ride.
 
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This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but following on from sane management/rules others have mentioned above...

The types of rules that would make me want to look elsewhere (eta: one or two of these I could work around, but the more were in place the more I would want to leave):
  • Being required to use a specific farrier/vet/trainer of YO's choice (of course a note in the contract saying owners must keep their horses in good condition is A-OK)
  • Having to pay a fee to use an external trainer on site (I of course would not mind if YO would want to know in advance who is teaching, proof that they're insured, etc and wouldn't mind if I had to pay a small fee for sole use of the arena during that time if that's something I wanted)
  • Having to pay extra to use specific facilities on a day to day basis (paying a slightly higher monthly rate to be allowed to use an indoor for example would be fine, as I know sometimes that flexibility is liked by people who don't need those facilities, but I wouldn't want to pay £3 each time I want to use the indoor. Yes, there's a yard near me that does this). I would rather pay a slightly higher monthly rate - otherwise it just feels like micromanaging.
  • Not being allowed to buy feed/hay/bedding from an alternative supplier if I can find an offer from someone who sells at a lower cost than the yard owner
  • Having particularly restrictive hours on when people are/aren't allowed on the yard (reasonable limits are obviously fine, I just mean if someone said I could only come to the yard between 7am and 8pm, that would be an automatic no for me because I would have to be up at the yard by around 6am to be able to ride before work. Something like 6am to 9pm or so would be fine for me)
  • [eta] Having weirdly controlling rules about whether or not owners can have sharers or are allowed to have friends ride their horse (obvi requiring liability forms to be signed for insurance or something similar is understandable. I'm specifically referring here to yards that require owners to pay the yard to be allowed to have a sharer and other weird things like that)

Generally would want somewhere unjudgmental and supportive. :)

Re turnout - I'm in an area where land is at a premium, so my priority would just be daily turnout for a good chunk of time. Beyond that, theoretically I would be interested in whatever suited my non-existent horse best - very interested in track systems, but might not work for all horses as some have mentioned.
 
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Caol Ila

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I viewed a yard once where the rules stated that owners were not allowed up on a Monday. What?? I gave the owner a look when she said that, and she said that having a day to herself, with no liveries traipsing around her property, was important. I sort of get that, but you should probably not be running a livery yard if that's how you feel. So, nothing like that.

I also ran away from yards which offered assisted/full on weekdays but only DIY on weekends. There are a few of those around here. My OH has a 9-5 job, so the only days that we can do stuff together that doesn't involve horses are weekends. I imagine lots of people are in similar boats, so don't do that, either.
 
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Widgeon

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A toilet.

I know it's not for the horses but I don't think it's been mentioned and it makes a huge difference to human comfort.
Yes! I wouldn't consider a yard without one. And a sane owner, a good stab at 24/7 turnout (obviously within reason) and an arena that doesn't flood or freeze. Ours are out 24/7 until the winter and mud get too much then they come in overnight for 5-8 weeks, ish.
 

Winters100

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The yard that I am on is fairly highly priced for our area and has a long waiting list. I believe that the main reason that it is so popular is that it is flexible. Turnout is unrestricted, and offered in a variety of ways, from individual, to large groups, or as mine live in a small group of only my own horses. Each horse will be turned out / fetched in once per day, with the times being sunrise, sunset and 1pm, so you can choose to either have them out for all daylight hours, or only for the morning or afternoon.

The grazing is not great, but you can have hay delivered to your paddock if you want it. I have a small paddock and a bigger field for 3 horses. This is a very nice arrangement as I can separate one easily to give hard food (I have one older poor doer who needs to be fed 5 times a day).

There are many options in my area, including a super yard about 500 m from my house, but I stay at this yard mainly because I like the owner. He will always help out in case of problems, and if I need extra things doing over and above what is in the contract he charges reasonable fees that do not leave me feeling ripped off. He is also careful about who he accepts on the yard and we have a pretty nice mix of people.

Facilities are good (indoor outdoor and outdoor arenas with lighting, lunge pen, horse walker, good storage, common room and kitchen for liveries to make lunch or drinks, proper bathrooms with shower, post and rail fencing with an electric tape attached), but this is pretty standard where we are.

Of course there are some things that are not exactly as I would wish, but I think the same goes for every yard,

Regarding a contract for me this is an absolute necessity, as is providing receipts for payments.

Now I think about it there is nothing really exceptional about the place, and the only reason that it is so successful is better turnout than some other yards and a reasonable owner who is present every day.

Good luck with your new venture!
 

OrangeAndLemon

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For me stable size is key. There will always be times when turnout isnt possible (either due to weather or horse health) so having a box big enough for him to move around in and sleep comfortably is vital. Most yards I turn down its because the stables aren't big enough. They also need to be well lit with natural light. I'd also want to see quarantine facilities and infection controls.
 

SOS

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Lots of replies above so will keep this short, I would add:

-A washing machine - absolute godsend to chuck a sweaty numnah, dirty boots etc. In after riding.
-Solarium - my horses get bathed a lot and having a solarium greatly speeds up the drying process! Fairly cheap to put in.

I prefer my horses on small group or individual turnout. Would love a field shelter in my field but would also require proper stables. I like hay to be fed in the field if needed and ad-lib hay the rest of the time. No pettyness over X kgs of hay allowed a day. An all weather turnout would be the dream.
 

sportsmansB

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Tracks are a nice idea for unshod / natives / retirees but I can't see my competition horse living like that so if you were offering a track only, you could be pigeon holing yourself to that market - who could be pretty price sensitive.
Maybe a track with paddocks inside, ideally a mixture of grass and all weather, with some shelter? Varying sizes so you can have individuals or twos?

My horse doesn't really play nicely with others reliably, so he has to have individual turnout but he also doesn't like to be alone so he needs to be able to see some friends. He is a PITA to be honest and until he is retired and thinks a bit less of himself I'm stuck with him on the competition yard where he currently lives, as he won't entertain the idea of the yard I would actually like him at - which would include a run in stable / barn / shelter and free choice to a paddock (grass or all weather) - this yard is at my actual house, but I can't use it for him as he is a knob...
 
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I might as well add what facilities I want for the horses.

1. Good, group turnout every day, ideally 24/7 when possible. I have more than one horse, so I would be happy with being able to have mine as a group. I have also been on yards with separate mare and gelding turnout and this worked too. I haven't been on a yard with an all weather turnout, but I would be happy with that for bad weather. I would also be happy to try a track system even though I haven't had the horses on one before. I would not want individual for my horses.

2. A stable for each horse.

3. A tack room/feed room.

4. Good hacking.

RE feeding ad lib hay in the field. This has happened on previous livery yards and also I feed that way myself. Ring feeders set on a bit of hard standing so you don't get a quagmire is essential. Also if you have lots of horses you need more than one feeder to prevent arguments.


Personally I wouldn't use walkers or other fancy facilities, I probably wouldn't even set foot in the school other than very occasionally so I actually wouldn't miss them if they weren't there.

I have to admit that the CCTV has the potential to make me uncomfortable. I guess I've read too many reports of crazy yard owners and also I have known my fair share too. I would need to feel the the YO was sane and that it was to look after the horses, not spy on the liveries.
 

Polos Mum

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I would avoid hay included and go do hay available. Too difficult to price fairly between 13 hh native and 17.2 competition type.

I'm also mega picky about hay and I wouldn't want to be forced to use whatever the yard makes if they were unlucky with the weather and it was rubbish.

If you want DIY they key underestimated I personally think is space - 12 x a wheelbarrow, 12 x 3 dustbins for hay and 12 x a weeks worth of hay and shavings really take up space. If there really was the space I think you almost need another small stable per horse for storage.
 

teddypops

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When I’ve been on a yard, I’ve always had a field or fields to use as I like, so can divide, strip graze or whatever, it’s flexible so if you have a horse that needs less grass, it’s very easy to sort out. I would want all year round turnout also whether that be on grass or an all weather surface. I like to be left to do my own thing and not interfered with! I also can’t stand rats, so rat control is top of my list!
 
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