Working Livery for childs first pony?

Trakky14

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16 September 2021
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Hi there, We are considering getting our daughter her first pony in the next 6 months or so. We have the option of keeping it on working livery at her school (they have their own equestrian centre) and for us it seems a good option as we could potentially go after school and of course weekends. The ponies are only used 4 days a week Mon-Weds and Fridays and over the holidays only really for pony club rallies etc...so the horses get a decent break. They are proposing they use it up to 2hrs a day, it's £45 a week working livery. We can take the pony off the yard for events etc at weekends so it does seem a pretty decent option. What do people think? She's only 7 but she is totally obsessed and her instructor at school feels she would be capable of having her own with supervision of course (I've had horses myself)...im aware of the downsides of availability and there is a 4 week trial period which they would like to check the horse is suitable for the riding school too so there is a risk that it might not work and we'd have to find another yard....but at her age I'd like her to be able to ride with other kids so like the idea of her being based at a riding school. They have small numbers of children having lessons there (average of 6 or 8 lessons a day on the busy days) so some days the pony wouldn't even be used the 2hrs.

We've looked into part livery options near us but the yards are small and no other children so I'm not keen at the moment, perhaps when she's older.

Thanks
 

Trakky14

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I don't normally like working livery but with her age, the convenience and her ability to socialise with other children it could work out well for you.
Absolutely its never been something I'd consider before but does seem a good option for her, thanks
 

ruth83

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Sounds good in principle. Just make sure that you have a water tight contract including
The days when the riding school can use the pony and when they can't
Maximum number of hours to be worked (daily or weekly)
Ownership and responsibility for equipment
Responsibility for vets fees - does this change if he is injured whilst working?
Responsibility for organising routine care
What will happen if he can't work for a period of time.
Process for alteration of the contract, short or long term (EG if the school has a rally and they would like to use him a little more than usual, or if you want to take him away for a week of camp or to the seaside)

Also check on insurance requirements.

Riding schools change in size and approach. This one sounds ideal but don't rely on them not changing in the future.
 
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I wouldn’t personally be keen, but I can see in your case with your daughter being younger it could have positives.
Do you have the pony yet? I think a lot of this depends on the pony and their temperament and whether being in a riding school would suit them. Being used in several lessons a day the pony could get sour to the school which could spoil your daughter’s enjoyment when she wants to school. The pony could develop bad habits (eg if it’s used to following the ride in lessons and your daughter wants to ride in the school with friends, could it become nappy if she rides in open order?).
If you don’t have the pony yet, does the local RS offer to loan a pony from them? This could give you an idea of what it’s like to have a pony used in lessons. My daughter loaned from a RS once and as a result I wouldn’t want a pony on working livery because I didn’t like the downsides. However it might suit you. Hope that helps :)
 

windand rain

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a couple of things to add don't buy a pony from that riding school. Make sure pony belongs to th child in that she does the care and can ride when she wants to. I think it is great to have her amongst other kids but is that the only option they are offering
 
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I've had my horse on working livery at a local equestrian college in the past; this was about 12 years ago now and it was free! I had to pay half of the shoeing and half of the vets fees (however caused).

Now I think the college have put up the working livery to £18 a week; the horses are used most days for something, tho' not necessarily riding.

So IMO I think £45 quid a week is plenty enough to pay considering the RS is getting use (and payment for) having the pony there. However as your daughter attends school there it would make good practical sense to keep the pony there too.

As someone else has said, make sure you sign a proper contract.
 

Winters100

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To be honest I would personally not really like this arrangement. If someone else was to ride the pony I would prefer to know who, and to be in control of the situation. I appreciate that it is probably more cost effective than just having the pony at livery, and maybe in some ways more convenient, but being ridden by a progression of beginners will not do any pony much good. In my opinion you would be better to just spend money on lessons until you are ready to have a pony without a working livery arrangement.

Edited to add that if you do go down this route you need to check about turnout etc. I would guess that on the days they use the pony they might just not turn out at all to save trips to the paddock, and this for me would be a big no.
 

Trakky14

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16 September 2021
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Thank you for all the replies, very helpful! No we don't own it yet, we are just looking into options 😊

We have looked into loaning or sharing at a local riding school but they only offer to use it twice a week and around excisting lessons...and have to be off the yard by 5pm which would not work for us on weekdays as she doesn't get back from school till 5. It might be an option for holidays I guess.

There are no livery yards near us that we can do part ot DIY livery that would work around our journey times for school (school finishes at 5om and we live 20 mins from there) which is the main reason we'd go for the school working livery option as we could go up after school even just to groom and feed etc.

We are in two minds about it as I am a bit cautious about the pony getting ruined but the school stables are very good and they don't seem to overwork the horses, given the small number of kids that ride there I think its probably not as bad as your typical riding school arrangement. Will find out more as suggested, many thanks 😊
 

Ambers Echo

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Lots of my kids' friends did this at my old yard which was a busy riding school. It was a fantastic arrangement for novice kids and owners. I almost went for it myself but my daughters were sharing their first pony and having 2 kid owners plus the RS hours seemed too much for a pony. But for many people it was a hassle free, stress free introduction to ownership. BUt the YO was lovely which helped.
 

GSD Woman

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It sounds like the pony would be used quite a bit in the riding school and will your daughter be happy that she doesn't get to ride when she wants to?

I was a working boarder in that I helped with feeding and such in the evenings. I took a break from riding my horse for a week or so and the next thing I know I get there to ride before working and someone else was on my horse. Ticked me off to no end. I wasn't asked about or given any advanced warning. That was the beginning of the end for me.
 
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I had my horse in working livery for a good number of years and I would be very careful about the terms of use. Personally I wouldn’t do it again but I can understand your situation given your daughters age is slightly different to mine.

the first thing I would consider is an extremely tight livery contract that details exactly what days/how often they will use the pony. Mine was supposed to be used 2x hours once a week which was the case in the beginning but as time progressed she ended up doing sometimes 4-5 hours a week including pony camp without seeking my permission first. This used to drive me insane as I would arrive to the yard to ride and someone else would tell me the horse had already been ridden, never the yard owner or manager which annoyed me even more as they were blatantly using her behind my back. This was the turning point for me that made me move yards as I felt if that was being hidden from me knowing that the horse worked and I was going to do a hard session with her, what else was being hidden? I also found later in the arrangement that her schooling started to suffer from being used in lessons. If I was working with someone else in the arena she would try to duck in behind the other horse as in a lesson file, and her refinement to my aids went downhill rather quickly as she was used more.

secondly I would consider your tack for the pony. This schools tack was not kept as well as private tack and mine was getting worn very quickly and I was having to replace reins/stirrup leathers etc very often which wouldn’t have been the case if it were just me riding. I stopped buying expensive leathers as I had to replace them so often.

I would also make sure the arrangement for payment of vet bills and shoes is very clear in the contract as in my case I was due to pay half of the shoes bill which lasted for about 5 months when the hind shoes were removed but I ended up continuing to pay what I always had.

If you decide to go down the route of working livery the very best of luck to you but personally, I would never do it again and don’t recommended it.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I can see the advantages for your daughter of keeping your pony there but does it have to be on Working Livery, or could you pay for part-livery? If so, that is the option that I would choose. There is another thread running about a working livery situation which tbh, I would not want for my pony/child.
 

Trakky14

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I can see the advantages for your daughter of keeping your pony there but does it have to be on Working Livery, or could you pay for part-livery? If so, that is the option that I would choose. There is another thread running about a working livery situation which tbh, I would not want for my pony/child.
That would be my first choice 100%, but unfortunately space is at a premium and they are not able to offer any other livery at the moment other than working livery. Ok I'll have a look thanks!
If I could find another yard for part livery nearby that would be my preferred choice but there aren't any!
 

MissTyc

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I had my first pony on working livery, way back in the 80s. I recall getting a bit jealous when others rode my pony, but I was quite good at making it very clear that this was MY pony and other children could ride him but not LOVE him. I think, retrospectively, it was a very good arrangement for me/my parents. My parents didn't have enough knowledge; I had 4 lessons a week at the riding school where he was kept so that's given me a lifetime of professional training and knowledgeable horsemanship despite not having horsie parents. When I think of my childhood it was ponies, ponies, ponies. I almost forget my parents can barely stroke one.

PS - oddly, I remember the livery costs were the equivalent of my lessons. Can't believe I remembered that! They covered shoes; we covered vets. My pony died in 2008, retired with me here in the UK <3
 

bonnysmum

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I can see the advantages for your daughter of keeping your pony there but does it have to be on Working Livery, or could you pay for part-livery? If so, that is the option that I would choose. There is another thread running about a working livery situation which tbh, I would not want for my pony/child.
Yes, I assume this is my thread. OP I agree it sounds like a good arrangement on paper, but if it wasn't for our particular circumstances my pony wouldn't be on working livery and it definitely isn't something I would choose for a new pony with no RS history. If it's your only chance to get your pony on a yard with other kids then I can definitely understand the appeal, but I would take any other option if you can. As for us, we're now strongly considering moving yards and if we do there is no way the pony will be on working livery at any new place.
 

GinaGeo

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It’s what we did.

At the time it worked well. My pony got enough exercise to be truly fit and trim and was kept suitably quiet with enough work.

I got to hang around with other like mind children and had access to the other quirky ponies that needed riding which did expand my riding repertoire.

There were certain days we went down, and days that we did not. It meant that we were able to have a ‘family time’ outside of ponies.

I couldn’t do it now though. And I’m not sure I’d want it for a child/pony of mine. Although it did work well for me, and it did mean that I could have a pony of my own when it otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
 

paddy555

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Yes, I assume this is my thread. OP I agree it sounds like a good arrangement on paper, but if it wasn't for our particular circumstances my pony wouldn't be on working livery and it definitely isn't something I would choose for a new pony with no RS history. If it's your only chance to get your pony on a yard with other kids then I can definitely understand the appeal, but I would take any other option if you can. As for us, we're now strongly considering moving yards and if we do there is no way the pony will be on working livery at any new place.
OP, I would read BM's thread in detail. I think you can get into a situation where basically you are paying to everything eg insurance etc and still paying livery fees for the riding school to have a riding school pony.
That may be acceptable for you to get what want or when you study the detail it may not be.

BM, I'm sorry if you got a few "shocks" on your thread and hope you get sorted into the best possible situation.
 

bonnysmum

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OP, I would read BM's thread in detail. I think you can get into a situation where basically you are paying to everything eg insurance etc and still paying livery fees for the riding school to have a riding school pony.
That may be acceptable for you to get what want or when you study the detail it may not
OP this is true, however I always knew we would be vulnerable to this when we bought one of the RS ponies. I think you were already warned off that up thread! Many of our issues are due to certain people not being able to let go and me therefore being uncertain how many vested interests are behind the advice I'm getting. If you are buying a pony from elsewhere and bringing it to the yard you will probably not have the same problems.

I don't regret buying the pony btw, even if she was being an a****** this evening! And I still think we were right to keep her on working livery for a while given her RS background. But as I said originally, I don't think it's a choice I would make for a pony without that background.
 

Spot_On03

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It’s what we did.

At the time it worked well. My pony got enough exercise to be truly fit and trim and was kept suitably quiet with enough work.

I got to hang around with other like mind children and had access to the other quirky ponies that needed riding which did expand my riding repertoire.

There were certain days we went down, and days that we did not. It meant that we were able to have a ‘family time’ outside of ponies.

I couldn’t do it now though. And I’m not sure I’d want it for a child/pony of mine. Although it did work well for me, and it did mean that I could have a pony of my own when it otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
Exactly this. At the time there wasn't really another option for us as other yards were a good 30/40mins away in opposite direction of school and my dad refused to drive there and back before 8 am. I made a lot of friends I still keep in touch with, and a lot of good memories growing up. Horse was cared for even if I couldn't get down/away. Now I would be cautious, and want to make sure there was a contract in place.
 
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